Saturday, April 26, 2014

This week's changes on Facebook - and what to do next

You know that happy habit Facebook has of changing things without telling you?

They did it again on Thursday - and I think all the changes we're now seeing are linked to two things
On the face of it, the first change is nothing for to us to get excited about - it's just Facebook trying to muscle in on the regular News newsfeeds that people enjoy following. 

The second change is of more consequence. First of all it has had a major effect on the Pages Newsfeed when in the Facebook Pages mode.

We now need to understand how our behaviour affects:
  • what we see in future and 
  • the extent to which what we do affects what is seen by us and by others.
Let me explain. (For those who prefer art and are missing "who painted this?" - try and puzzle out the painting - I'll fill in the name and artist tomorrow).

Woman in Black reading a newspaper (1912) by Rik Wouters
Oil on canvas
Royal Museum of Antwerp

I have a policy of trying to keep my Katherine Tyrrell Facebook Account personal to me and friends.

I then use my Making A Mark Facebook Page as the public and 'business' end of things I do in terms of posting my blog posts and highlighting my websites and then also sharing other things I read online with the public at large.

I used my Making A Mark Page to "like" a lot of other art-related pages such as art museums and galleries and I used to read the aggregated content of their feeds whenever I clicked the F top left when in Facebook Page mode.  Plus often shared bits I liked.

The thing is that newsfeed has now disappeared to all intents and purposes.

What happened to your Pages Newsfeed this week

This week the newsfeed in my Facebook Page mode/view stuttered and very nearly stopped. So I could see loads of my posts to my own Facebook Page and not a lot else.  At first I had the traditional "why me" reaction - and then wondered if it was just me - so asked the question
Anybody else think there's a whole lot missing in their newsfeed for their Facebook Page? (ie me, as my Page, trying to view other Pages I like but encountering adverts rather than real content)?
Turned out I wasn't the only person who was wondering what on earth had happened to the news feeds.

Then I found this in the Facebook Help Community
but at least I have it confirmed that it's NOT just my Pages newsfeed which is an out of date jumbled up mess.

It's taken a while to try and work out what's happened - and my analysis suggests it's going to require a bit of a rejig to our reading habits and 'liking' behaviour.

The newsfeed problem

The problem as Facebook saw it was that we were all suffering from newsfeed bloat - and spam.
The biggest of Facebook's problems, though, is bloat. Your News Feed has no doubt become a sea of baby photos, videos, pictures, inside jokes—virtually everything but news.
This is what Facebook had to say on the topicNews Feed FYI: Cleaning Up News Feed Spam | Facebook Newsroom (You didn't know Facebook had a newroom? No, neither did I!)
The goal of News Feed is to deliver the right content to the right people at the right time so they don’t miss the stories that are important and relevant to them.

The solution

What Facebook is doing

Facebook is going after and intending to shut down all those posts which 'played the system'. The Forbes article I listed below suggests there's going to be a lot less "like the cute kitten" features in future

Facebook is doing three things. It aims to:
  • detect like-baiting better and keep them from swamping the stuff we've already told them  that we like better (i.e. the cuddy kitten posts will be squashed!) Moral of the story - do NOT ask for likes, comments and shares on your Page - Facebook may think you're a link-baiter!
This update will not impact Pages that are genuinely trying to encourage discussion among their fans, and focuses initially on Pages that frequently post explicitly asking for Likes, Comments and Shares.
  • target the pages which frequently repost the information that lots of other people are also posting. Which means 
    • filling your page with lots of popular stuff from other people almost guarantees you've done the Facebook Page equivalent of "shooting yourself in the foot"
    • you need keep your content targeted to what your fans like e.g. mine will be strictly art from now on 
  • targeting spammy links - nobody likes spam and Facebook is going to make sure it disappears.  What they're saying is if content doesn't get liked and shared then it may be interpreted as spam. This is the really IMPORTANT one - it means we now need to make sure that decent content gets liked and shared if we are to keep seeing news from that source. I don't mean go mad - but the messages imply that a Facebook post never gets liked and never gets shared it may well be treated as if it were spam
By measuring how frequently people on Facebook who visit a link choose to like the original post or share that post with their friends, we’ve been able to better detect spammy links.

What you now need to do

You might have done some of their surveys recently where they ask you to click through various posts in your news feed and say whether you liked them or not.  If not, you will begin to wish you had.

Turns out that it's now going to be VERY IMPORTANT to make sure that:

  • you 'like' the things you actually take time out to read - and value
  • you 'like' the things you really like - otherwise you might stop seeing them and/or they might start to be regarded as spammy
Personally I think there's a problem with that.  My news feeds were full of stuff I was perfectly happy to read but I didn't want to sit there liking everyone just so that I could see more from that source again.

However it turns out that's what in effect we are going to be forced to do if we want the reading material we like (in a generic sense) to keep turning up.

It also turns out that the stuff we take time out to read is more highly valued if there is a delay between when we click to read and when we award the like. In other words a like after it's read seems to have more value than one awarded because of a headline you like the look of and awarded before you click to read.

This article is very good at explaining how the "like" activity actually works in terms of factoring into the Facebook algorithm and affecting what you see - Here's The 'Secret Sauce' That's Making Facebook More Addictive Than Ever

Whether or not Facebook "gets" that we don't always 'like' things even if we 'quite liked' it, I really don't know.

All I can suggest is this is the obvious reason why my news feed dried up.  I'm not a serial liker. I am now going to have to learn how to 'like' more!

So PLEASE if you 'like' my posts - can you please make sure you actually click the 'like' button otherwise you might not see them in your news feed any more. I obviously won't ask you to do this on Facebook for all the reasons outlined above!

The other important point is to NOT LIKE stuff you enjoy less i.e.
  • DO NOT not like posts just to be polite - be much more discriminating
  • DO make sure you hide the posts you really don't want to see in your feed (to do this you go to the drop-down menu next to the name of the person who posted it and click the option to hide the post).

The way round the Pages newsfeed problem #1

There is a "sort of" way round this.

If you got the left hand column of your Facebook ACCOUNT and scroll down until you reach the PAGES section, you'll find that underneath your Page is your Pages feed. If you click this you will then see the posts by all the PAGES you have liked.  It seems to have merged the Page newsfeed with the Account newsfeed. It's very odd. Muddled even. Nevertheless it has posts from people and places you recognise - and not a lot of rubbish (or only as much rubbish as you have liked!)

It's better than it was - however I'm still finding that it's way out of date in terms of hours and hours old but it's better than situation earlier this week where it was days old!

The way round this #2

This is my preferred option - purely in terms of scope and ease of tweaking and better timeliness of posts

You need to create a list of the Accounts and the Pages you like. I'd already done this when I created Lists. Now lists don't exist anymore so far as Facebook is concerned - except in its Help Pages - where it still tells you how to create a list.

To create your own interest list:
  1. Go to your Interests page and click the Add Interests button.
  2. Click Create List.
  3. Search for the people or Pages you want to add to your list using the search box at the top of the page, or use the categories on the left to browse.
  4. After you've selected the things you want to include on your list, click Next.
  5. Pick a name for your list.
  6. Select a privacy setting. Choose Public if you want others to be able to subscribe to the list you've created.
  7. Click Done.
If you think one of your friends would enjoy seeing the information featured on one of the lists you've created or subscribed to, you can share that list with them:
  1. Go to the list by clicking Home > Interests > More > click on the name of the list
  2. Click Share at the top of the page
Note: You don't have to like a Page or follow a person to add them to your list. Adding things to a list and subscribing to a list are different from liking Pages or following people featured in the list.

What you have now instead of Lists is Newsfeeds - and they all have their own unique pages and their banner image comes automatically from Pages you have liked. In fact I rather like this.

It's also then easy to edit your feed and add in new pages to read which you don't have to like to read.

The great thing about these newsfeeds are they are bang up to date and only minutes old......

Katherine Tyrrell's Newsfeeds

So here are some of mine - and note that YOU CAN FOLLOW THEM!  What I'm going to do is start sharing the links to these listings on my Facebook Page - from tomorrow.  I think they will only work if you're logged on to Facebook.
I have a lot more so watch out for them on my Facebook Page where I will share all of the ones I want to share.  

You won't be surprised to find out I shall only be sharing the art-related ones!

More about the Facebook news feed changes

Here are some articles which describe what's been happening and what it means for people


  1. Thank you for highlighting this important change Kathereine. I feel that as soon as I get the hang of something it all changes. I was wondering what had happened to my pages feed. It all feels very random.
    But much more important please bring back "Who painted This?" on a regular basis.
    My Saturdays have been very boring without it !

  2. This makes me even more thankful that I follow your blog first. No Facebook newsfeed changes to negotiate!

  3. An interesting article and something I wasn't even aware they had changed.
    Thank you for your useful resources.

    Julian Lovegrove Art

  4. Artist.....Rik Wouters
    Title ....Woman in Black reading a newspaper
    Medium....Oi on canvas
    Where....Royal museum of Antwerp
    How...I thought was an impressionist, tried a few and got it when i Googled woman+newspaper+Manet+painting. It was on Pinterest on a page with a Manet painting.
    I presume you just want the basics as you are planning to give the result tomorrow....glad to be getting my Who Painted This fix again!
    Bernadette Madden

  5. Very interesting and informative article. I haven't clicked through to all the links yet but certainly will take time out next week to do so. Most of my sales come through fb so this is very important to me.

    Thank you so much for sharing your findings.

  6. WOW… thanks for the good info… I'm going to share your blog post.

  7. I had a blank page feed for a day, which I reported. It seems fairly normal now. I don't appear to be missing any pages, but I don't know :?


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