Facebook: We Define News Feed Quality At Source Level, Not By Content Type

facebook-newsfeed-240pxStill coming to terms with Facebook’s recent promises to reward high-quality content in the News Feed, and what it means for your brand and/or clients?

In an interview today with AllThingsD, Facebook’s News Feed Manager Lars Backman, sheds a little more light on what the company is trying to do with the recent News Feed changes.

Backman downplays a comparison with Google’s Panda Update in 2011, which targeted low-quality content and websites — but Backman also warns that he’s not fully familiar with Panda. He repeatedly says Facebook’s goal “is to provide user value” in the News Feed.

Perhaps most interestingly, Backman tells Peter Kafka that the News Feed algorithm is currently defining quality at the site level, not based on the type of content.

Are you paying attention to the source of the content? Or is it solely the type of content?

Right now, it’s mostly oriented around the source. As we refine our approaches, we’ll start distinguishing more and more between different types of content. But, for right now, when we think about how we identify “high quality,” it’s mostly at the source level.

So something that comes from publisher X, you might consider high quality, and if it comes from publisher Y, it’s low quality?

Yes.

Backman says the changes aren’t about removing popular memes (i.e., Grumpy Cat) from the News Feed, because some users want that type of content. But he says the algorithm changes are no longer rewarding content that begs for likes and shares — i.e., Like this if you like puppies.

So, when the text or photo has a call to action, those posts naturally do much better. And in a traditional feed ranking, where we’re evaluating just on the number of likes, those things all did very well.

Emphasis in there should be on “did” — that type of content is much less visible in the News Feed, at least based on my recent experience.

Even though the algorithm is defining quality at the site level, Backman says Facebook isn’t trying to “rein in” specific sites like Buzzfeed, Upworthy and others that write articles with highly-shareable headlines.

“We don’t have any sort of specific enemies or targets,” Backman says.

Here’s the full interview on AllThingsD. It’s focused on the News Feed quality changes and doesn’t get into the more recent news that publishers should expect organic reach to decline going forward.

Related Topics: Channel: Social Media Marketing | Facebook | Facebook: News Feed | Social Media Marketing | Top News

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About The Author: is Editor-In-Chief of Marketing Land. His news career includes time spent in TV, radio, and print journalism. His web career continues to include a small number of SEO and social media consulting clients, as well as regular speaking engagements at marketing events around the U.S. He recently launched a site dedicated to Google Glass called Glass Almanac and also blogs at Small Business Search Marketing. Matt can be found on Twitter at @MattMcGee and/or on Google Plus. You can read Matt's disclosures on his personal blog.

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