Monday, November 19, 2012

A Guide to Facebook Interest Lists (Part 1)

Are you conscious you're not seeing all the content you want to see on Facebook?
Maybe you're fed up with seeing rather too much of what you don't want to see?

This post looks at how you can use Facebook Interest Lists to make it very easy to access all the content you want to read.
  • In Part 1 I'm sharing what I've found out about news feeds and falling traffic and why Interest Lists are a good idea. 
  • Part 2 tomorrow looks at how to make an effective Interest List.
How your favourites get into your Interest Lists
Unison Pastels in the Pastel Drawers in L. Cornellisen & Son © Katherine Tyrrell
Unison Pastels (the manufacturer) are in two of my Interest Lists
(1) 'Art Materials & Supplies' and (2) 'Pastels and Pencils'
However L. Cornellisen & Son (art shop) is in neither as it does NOT yet have a Facebook Page
(even if it has finally developed online ordering)
Some of the organisations in my 
Art Materials & Supplies Interest List
PLUS - Today I'm also sharing some of my Facebook Interest Lists which are relevant to artists and have a public status.

Take a look and check them out (you need to be signed into Facebook). Do please bear in mind I'm still developing these!
I'm also developing one about artists......

To be honest I'm not sure I've got all the settings rights as yet but I'm sure you'll give me feedback if there's anything not working correctly!

Why learn about Interest Lists?

Two simple reasons - First, they enable all of us to determine better what we see and read relating to what interests us.  

Second, if we encourage other people to use Interest Lists too - and to include our Facebook account or Page - then our content might be read by more people and we might get more traffic to our websites/blogs.
There are three more reasons for learning about Interest Lists
  1. Interest Lists offer a filter - a way forward for dealing with the constant stream of new content which is arriving from all the pages that we have liked.
  2. Interest Lists also enable us to sort news by differentiating between different categories of news relating to our "interests"
  3. Interest Lists also offer a way of getting round the Facebook algorithm which determines how much content we actually get to see.  Think Google and search engines and how content gets ranked.
What determines what news we get to read?

You've got new content trying to find its way into your news feed all the time.  Facebook continues to grow and we continue to "like" more and more people and pages - which means managing news becomes a major issue.  It's very easy to feel swamped.  It could all turn into one big mess - at which point people give up and switch off.

Also the extent to which other people see content from our Personal Accounts or Facebook Pages  determines how many people click links and create traffic for our websites and blogs.

So - being on Facebook can be a good thing - but only if:
  1. your news gets read by other people who are interested in it - and it creates traffic for your art and websites (ie links are clicked)
  2. you get to read what you're interested in and get to click links you want to click
However, in recent times, many people have been noticing that traffic has been dropping off - round about the same time that Facebook started to promote its own paid ADVERTS ("promoted posts" - the ones which land at the top of news feeds).  It wasn't helped by the fact that people started to work out what sort of return they might get for spending on promoted posts - and were not impressed!
promoted posts are meant to be a simplified advertising tool for the "millions of small business Pages posting to Facebook everyday," who don't have sophisticated tools like larger companies have.Matt Idema, Facebook's Director of Monetization Product Marketing
How does Facebook decide which posts you see? Let Yoda explain
There's now a lot of blog posts and articles out there commenting on this drop off in traffic,and asking what's happened to the news feeds and whether it's all a big fix to make sure people pay for promoted posts.  Many of these articles appeared last week due to the fact Facebook decided to explain how things work!
Back to who controls what you see in your news feed!

First - Facebook is managing what we actually get to see on our Facebook wall.

We know we have two controls over what the Wall looks like.  We can sort (see top right of the wall at the top of the column)
  • Top Stories
  • Most recent
However Facebook controls what gets into your news feed - see How does my news feed determine which content is most interesting?
The news feed algorithm uses several factors to determine top stories, including the number of comments, who posted the story, and what type of post it is (ex: photo, video, status update, etc.).
If you feel you're missing stories you'd like to see or seeing stories in your news feed that you don't want to see, use the different news feed controls to adjust your settings.
In essence what that means is that
  • if you click on it you'll see more of the same.  
  • If you just read and do nothing, you might not see as much in future.  
  • If you hide a story from somebody (maybe they were a little too political for your liking and/or play silly games) then you may see a lot less or nothing from that person in future.
A typical post to a Facebook page is seen by less than a fifth of the people who follow that page, because Facebook uses a relevance algorithm to selectively insert page posts into users’ News Feeds.Wired - Facebook Has Good News for George Takei and Mark Cuban (my bold)
What that also means is that if you have a friend who doesn't produce top content and/or doesn't get a lot of comments and you've got your news page set up to serve up top stories, then you also won't get to read what they've written.

Second - we also control what we see in our feed.

However sometimes we make a change which we don't mean to be permanent.  Or maybe we're just not aware of all the adjustments and what they do.

This is why you're seeing suggestions from people that if you want to make sure you see their feed you should include it in an interest list.

Take a look at How do I control what I see in my news feed?  for an explanation of controls you may have used in the past (eg switching off the newsfeed from a friend during their rabid election phase!). Which is how I got to find out that hiding one story or one friend's post apparently means I could have mistakenly hidden their news for ever more - although I thought it only related to one post!

(Read the bit about Unhide stories from a person, Page, group, event or app if you want to retrieve stuff you may have indvertently hidden! Ditto Manage the updates you're subscribed to helps to educate as to why news feeds from individuals may have completely disappeared.)

Third - we can also access the Pages News Feed directly - from the left hand column.  See Pages Feed under Pages.  There's still some selection - but not as much as currently happens in relation to the ordinary news feed.

What is a Facebook Interest List?

This is an additional filter which we control.  We can decide which feeds we see from which people or organisations.  (It works in a similar way to the Friends listings). Think of them like:
  • a personalised newspaper.  
  • Or a Twitter list.  
  • Or a feedreader category.  
Essentially they're a way of organising content we're interested in.

What do they do?

What they do is enable you to ensure you see ALL the content from a particular account related to a particular interest irrespective of what Facebook thinks you ought to see.
  • This is the Facebook version What are interest lists?
  • They're like the Friends Lists we can make - but these lists are focused on Interests.  Which means Friends can be on them, for example, if for example you have a list called Artists.  
  • They can include both personal accounts and Facebook pages.
Where can I find them?
  • You find Interest Lists only in your Personal Account (ie not your Facebook Page) 
  • They're in a section called "Interests" in the menu column on the left hand side.  (This is the column which you can see but other people can't.) If you've not looked at these as yet chances are that the Interest Lists are right down the bottom
Why use a Facebook Interest List?

They're a fast and efficient way of being able to look at all recent news from a particular type of Facebook Account.  They speed up the way you use Facebook and enable you to focus on a specific topic and see all recent news related to that topic - as determined by your choice of people and organisations on the list.

Tomorrow - Part 2: How to make a Facebook Interest List.


  1. I understood that FB made changes to the feed post-"promotion" addition, but was aggravated enough not to want to go hunting for the solution. Thank you for being the "not lazy" one and going to the trouble of consolidating information for us once again.

  2. Now that my page post reach is 15% of what it was, I wonder how long it will take to reach those who aren't paying attention to the "Interest List" issue. I know putting my own interest list together is something I have put off. Too bad I can't eliminate all of the extra ads I receive now on my feed...
    Thanks for putting this together, Katherine. As always, you are the solution!

  3. Thanks for this information Katherine! I get confused with FB sometimes and I will find this very helpful!!

  4. Thanks for this excellent advice. I took a look and realise that In an effort to keep my feed 'tidy' and relevant, I sorted my friends in the way you have suggested we sort interests. I have family, school, quilting, young ones and 'everyone else'. Some posts come into the news feed, I have been able to control posts I don't want to see every day and if I do want to see everything I click on the appropriate tab. It's not done in groups, just friends. I see the interests at the bottom and assume it will work the same way when I sort the pages I like. Great idea. I also
    admin a page, so the next step would be to encourage my quilting buddies to do the same as you suggest.

  5. Excellent post! It's hard keeping up with Facebook.


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