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Facebook is making some changes to how it handles comments in its algorithm to better promote real discussion.

Everyone knows that Facebook uses an algorithm to help sort which posts get shown to users, but you may not be aware that the social network uses a similar system to help rank comments.

With the new update, the company says it will do a better job or highlighting comments with specific “positive” quality signals, while demoting low-quality comments.

Comment Quality Signals

According to the new announcement, Facebook will be using four types of signals to analyze comments:

  1. Integrity Signals
  2. User Indicated Preferences
  3. User Interaction Signals
  4. Moderation Signals

Integrity Signals

Facebook’s “Integrity Signals” are designed to assess the authenticity of comments. Specifically, it will be looking to see if comments violate community standards or qualify as “engagement-bait”

Engagement Bait is a practice which involves either explicitly encouraging users to react, like, share, subscribe, or take any other form of action in exchange for something else. This can even be something as innocuous as asking followers to do push-ups.

User Indicated Preferences

User Indicated Preferences are established through Facebook’s direct polling of users. By doing this, the social network is able to directly ask users what they want to see in comments and what they think promotes real discussion.

User Interaction Signals

These are pretty self-obvious. User Interaction Signals are indications whether a user has interacted with a post.

Moderation Signals

Moderation Signals are based on whether other users choose to hide or delete comments made on their post. Facebook explains this practice in a bit more detail, saying:

“People can moderate the comments on their post by hiding, deleting, or engaging with comments.

Ranking is on by default for Pages and people with a a lot of followers, but Pages and people with a lot of followers can choose to turn off comment ranking.

People who don’t have as many followers will not have comment ranking turned on automatically since there are less comments overall, but any person can decide to enable comment ranking by going to their settings.”

Why Facebook Ranks Comments

As with Facebook’s post ranking algorithms, the primary goal of Facebook’s new comment algorithm update is to promote the best quality content within people’s feeds while hiding spammy or low-quality content. As the company says in its announcement:

“To improve relevance and quality, we’ll start showing comments on public posts more prominently when:

  • The comments have interactions from the Page or person who originally posted; or

  • The comments or reactions are from friends of the person who posted.”

You can read the full announcement from Facebook here.

Facebook is making big changes to how it ranks and shows videos in the news feed and “More Videos” section of its platform with three new ranking factors for videos. 

While the changes shouldn’t impact the number of videos Facebook is showing overall, the company says it is hoping to better prioritize original videos and content that people are actively looking for.

New Ranking Factors For Facebook Videos

To better sort and rank videos, Facebook is implementing three new ranking factors for videos on its platform:

  • Loyalty and Intent – Facebook will begin boosting the ranking signals of videos that people return to and view repeatedly.
  • Video and viewing duration – Facebook will begin to prioritize videos that keep users engaged for longer periods of times. This will look at both how long a video is (with videos over 3 minutes long receiving the biggest boost) and how long viewers have watched the video on average.
  • Originality – In an effort to cut down on the presence of repurposed or stolen content, Facebook will begin to strongly limit the reach and monetization for unoriginal videos.

In the announcement, the company stressed that while the changes may hurt those copying content or stealing videos, Pages creating original high-quality content should only see positive effects:

“While there are numerous factors that determine video distribution on Facebook, these changes will benefit video distribution for Pages that create original content people want to watch and come back to.”

Major changes are coming to Facebook as the company tries to balance a more privacy-focused approach with several new features aimed at encouraging people to interact with their Facebook accounts more.

At the company’s F8 developer conference this week, Facebook announced a wide range of features, changes, and redesigns which will roll out over the next year.

At the same time, representatives from Facebook hammered home the importance of privacy and protecting data with more advanced encryption and a huge redesign to shift how people use the platform.

The Redesign

Leading the pack of changes is Facebook’s most significant visual overhaul since its launch. While the most noticeable difference is the removal of blue on the page to create a more vibrant space for you to explore, it also holds many deeper revisions which intend to change how we use the platform.

For example, the interface will now highlight more Groups and private messages to make the platform feel more cohesive.

The redesign is already rolling out on Android and iOS mobile devices, though the company says it will take a few months for the full update to go live. Meanwhile, Facebook says it will begin testing the desktop redesign in the “next few months” before bringing it to the public.

Facebook Dating?

Facebook Dating

Image Source: Facebook

One of the most bizarre introductions during this year’s conference was the launch of a new feature called “Secret Crush” which allows users to pick nine of their friends which they have a crush on. Then, if any of those nine friends also select that user as a crush, they will be notified. If the attraction is not returned, however, the other person will never know.

Meet New Friends

In a similar (but less creepy) vein is Facebook’s coming “Meet New Friends” feature. As you might expect from the name, the opt-in feature aims to help connect people who share schools or jobs, or those who live in the same city.

Messenger Comes To Desktop

Image Source: Facebook

As part of an effort to make Facebook’s Messenger a more widely accessible platform, the company is launching a standalone version of the service for desktop computers. While Messenger has always been available on the desktop version of Facebook, it has been limited in several ways. For example, features like Group calling have been exclusive to the mobile app. With the launch of the desktop app, users will now be able to take advantage of all of Messenger’s features from any type of device.

Instagram Create Mode

Instagram Create Mode

Image Source: Facebook

Facebook isn’t the only platform getting an overhaul. Instagram also has several changes on the way, including a considerable reworking of the camera in Instagram Stories. With the new Create Mode, users can now create images for Stories that don’t come directly from their phone without extensive workarounds. Now, you can easily edit your Stories to create the images you want to share without leaving the app.

Instagram Likes Go Secret

Instagram Likes Disappear From View

Image Source: Facebook

One of the more surprising tests Facebook announced is that it will begin hiding the like count on photos and videos on Instagram in an effort to encourage people to pay more attention to the content and focus less on popularity contests.

In the test, followers will not be able to see a photo’s total likes or a video’s view count while viewing the content in their feed or visiting another user’s profile. However, the person sharing the content will still be able to look at their post’s metrics by tapping through a post. The test is expected to begin this week for users in Canada, though it is unclear when this might appear in the US.

Facebook has announced sweeping changes to its news feed and the way it handles groups or pages that violate the company’s content policies.

The new changes, including a new algorithm signal, are aimed at reducing the reach of sites spreading content with misinformation by judging the authority of the sites the content comes from.

If Facebook believes the site producing content shared on the platform is not reputable, it will decrease its news feed reach and reduce the number of people seeing the content.

How Facebook is Changing its Algorithm

In the past, Facebook has teamed up with highly respected organizations like the Associated Press to validate sites spreading content across the platform.

Now, the company says it is introducing a “click-gap” metric designed to automatically evaluate the inbound and outbound linking patterns of a site to judge if it is authoritative.

Essentially, the click-gap signal measures the inbound and outbound linking patterns to determine if the number of links on Facebook is higher than the link’s popularity across the internet. This will allow the company to distinguish the forced spread of content rather than organic virality.

As Facebook explains in the announcement:

“This new signal, Click-Gap, relies on the web graph, a conceptual “map” of the internet in which domains with a lot of inbound and outbound links are at the center of the graph and domains with fewer inbound and outbound links are at the edges.

Click-Gap looks for domains with a disproportionate number of outbound Facebook clicks compared to their place in the web graph. This can be a sign that the domain is succeeding on News Feed in a way that doesn’t reflect the authority they’ve built outside it and is producing low-quality content.”

Changes to Groups

Notably, this new algorithmic signal isn’t just being applied to news feeds. The company explained it will also be using these algorithms to automatically remove low-quality content posted in groups, including private groups.

The company defended the decision by saying they can now identify and remove harmful groups, whether they are public, closed, or secret.”

“We can now proactively detect many types of violating content posted in groups before anyone reports them and sometimes before few people, if any, even see them.”

Admins are Required to Police Content

Along with these changes, Facebook clarified that its algorithms will consider what posts a group’s admins approve as a way of determining if they are a harmful group or eligible for removal.

The company says it will close down groups if an admin regularly approves content that is false, misleading, or against Facebook’s content guidelines.

This is how Facebook explained the new policy:

“Starting in the coming weeks, when reviewing a group to decide whether or not to take it down, we will look at admin and moderator content violations in that group, including member posts they have approved, as a stronger signal that the group violates our standards.”

What This Means for You

As long as the pages you participate in or run are sharing content from reliable sources, the new policies should have little effect on your day-to-day operations. However, the changes could have considerable impacts on brands or influencers who go against mainstream science or other non-approved sources. These types of industries have flourished on the platform for years, but may soon be facing a reckoning if Facebook’s new content guidelines are as strict as they sound.

A new survey sheds some light into the real reasons why consumers like, share, and follow brands on social media.

As Yes Marketing reports, their survey of 1,000 consumers reveals:

  • 63% of consumers follow retailers on social to learn about sales.
  • 60% follow retailers to keep up with new products.
  • 29% follow to show support for the retailer.
  • 23% follow because the retailer shares funny and interesting information.
  • 23% follow because the retailer has a positive reputation
  • 16% follow because they agree with the retailer’s stance on social and political issues.

When it comes to specifically why customers engage with content from retailers on social media, here’s what people had to say:

  • 36% engage with content because the retailer promises a discount for sharing the post.
  • 36% engage in order to share a product update or sale with their followers.
  • 35% engage because they agree personally with the content of the post.
  • 30% engage because the post is funny or interesting.
  • 29% engage in order to share positive feedback with the retailer.
  • 20% engage in order to share negative feedback with the retailer.

As for which demographics are active on which social networks, the respondents broke down as follows:

  • Gen Z consumers are more likely to have YouTube (77%) and Instagram (77%) accounts than a Facebook account (74%).
  • Millennials (89%) and Gen X (88%) are most likely to be on Facebook.
  • More Gen Z consumers (56%) are on Twitter compared to Millennials (50%) and Gen X (39%).
  • Snapchat is the least used social network among all respondents (30%), followed by Twitter (36%).
  • Only 11% of respondents are not on any of the major social networks.

Get the full report here to learn more.

Facebook is launching a new tool, called Creative Compass, aiming to help advertisers predict how well their ads will perform.

Creative Compass will assess your ads by examining key elements and scoring them on a scale from “low impact” to “high impact”.

Creative Compass Preview

Specifically, the tool will evaluate:

  • Noticeability
  • Brand association
  • Brand fit
  • Message comprehension
  • Believability
  • Information content
  • Emotional reward
  • Call to action

More than anything, Creative Compass is designed to help you understand how your ads will perform and how likely your target action is to take action after seeing one of your ads.

For now, the tool is being tested with just a small number of select partners, but Facebook says it aims to bring the tool to all marketing partners in 2019.

Facebook is launching a new feature for all Pages that allows you to publish pre-recorded “live” videos.

That may sound contradiction, but the new “Premieres” feature brings the best of Facebook’s live video and pre-recorded video features into one convenient package.

The biggest benefit of the premiering pre-recorded videos is that you can get the same boost to visibility received by “going live”, being placed in the top of feeds. Facebook will also deliver notifications alerting users to your video debut to those who have enabled them.

Additionally, “Premieres” will be included within the Facebook Watch tab, making it easier for them to be found by more users.

While these videos get all the benefits of live streaming, they are also eligible for a number of Facebook’s tools for pre-recorded videos such as monetization, interacting with your audience through chat, and branding.

How to use Facebook Premieres

Posted by Facebook Media on Friday, September 28, 2018

When created, a premiere will be turned into a post notifying users about your upcoming launch. Then, at the scheduled time, the video will be played “live” until it is completed. Finally, after the Premiere has ended, the post will turn into a typical on-demand video post.

Currently, Facebook Premieres are only able to be uploaded and schedule on desktop computers and must be scheduled at least 10 minutes in advance. The furthest ahead of time they can be scheduled is one week in advance.

It should be noted that Facebook does have some limits on what videos are eligible for the Premieres feature.

The company says content must be entirely original and not available anywhere on Facebook or elsewhere online before the Premiere, though it is not entirely clear how they will ensure this.

Videos must also be at least 30 seconds long and no larger than 10 GB in size.

Facebook is finally allowing all advertisers to run ads during users’ Stories.

The social network has been allowing a limited number of brands across three countries to create ads that appear during Stories published on the site since May, but this is the first time the company has expanded the option to smaller businesses.

Notably, during this time period, the number of people watching Facebook Stories each day has more than doubled from 150 million to over 300 million viewers.

In addition to making the ads available to a wider range of brands, the company has also rolled out a number of new tools and features to better target the ads and improve performance.

As part of these features, Facebook Stories now allow brands to optimize for all objectives available for Instagram Stories ads, including:

  • Reach
  • Brand awareness
  • Video views
  • App installs
  • Conversion
  • Traffic
  • Lead generation

Facebook has also brought all of its targeting and reporting tools for ads to Story ads, allowing brands to better track their performance.

As part of the official announcement of Story ads, Facebook emphasized how popular their Story feature has become and the impact of ads viewed during Stories:

“Advertising in stories has proven to drive valuable business outcomes. In the Ipsos survey, 62% of people said they became more interested in a brand or product after seeing it in a story. And brands testing Facebook Stories ads are already seeing results. iHeartRadio, Kettle Chips and KFC are among the advertisers who have seen brand lift from their Facebook Stories ad campaigns.”

The company also noted some other interesting statistics about Stories, such as:

  • More than half of people surveyed said they’re making more online purchases as a result of seeing stories.
  • 38% of people said that after seeing a product or service in a story they talked to someone about it.
  • 34% said they went to a store to look for a product after seeing it in a story.

in a year full of scandals and congressional inquiries, people appear to be changing how they use Facebook.

A new study from Pew Research Center shows that a huge portion of users has taken steps to reduce their usage and increase their privacy within the past year.

Interestingly, the findings show that users are specifically ditching the Facebook mobile app, with more than a quarter of US adults deleting the app on their phone. Even more have gone on a trial separation by taking a break from the platform entirely.

Among the findings of the study are several notable discoveries, including:

  • 54% of users have adjusted their privacy settings
  • 42% have taken a break from checking Facebook for several weeks or longer
  • 26% have deleted the Facebook app from their phone
  • 74% have done at least one of the above

These numbers on their own are very concerning for Facebook, but they become even more illuminating when broken down by age group. The survey shows that young Facebook users are widely stepping away from the platform or restricting their privacy.

Among users aged 18-29, 44% have deleted the app, compared to just 12% of users over the age of 64. Similar shifts were found among those who have changed their privacy settings.

Notably, there was no significant difference between the ages of those who have taken a break from Facebook.

The survey was conducted between May 29th and June 11th this year, after news broke about Facebook’s involvement in the collection and selling data on millions of users by Cambridge Analytica.

While these trends are certainly eye-raising, it remains unclear exactly how Facebook’s scandals have actually affected the company. The company’s latest quarterly report indicates the average daily users in North America has remained steady throughout the year.

Facebook is running an extremely limited test letting just five publishers create and test responsive headlines, images, videos, and copy to see which versions of their posts perform better in real time.

The new tool allows the select few publishers to test up to four unique versions of any organic post, according to Digiday. It also allows these publishers to see data such as interactions and click-through rate, as well as predictions of these metrics as the ads roll out. This way, publishers can actively gauge which version of their content fares best.

While Facebook wasn’t willing to release specific data on the test yet, Facebook product manager Mollie Vandor said that more than half of the time, publishers wound up choosing a different version of the story than they had originally created.

The intention is to help boost organic performance for publishers in a time where organic reach and engagement continues to fall across the platform. According to BuzzFeed News, one of the publishers given access to the test, the tool does improve performance. However, it isn’t enough to mitigate Facebook’s ongoing demotion of organic reach.

“This comes as everyone’s traffic on Facebook has gone down a lot, so it’s good to be able to get the most out of our posts, but we’re still getting a lot less,” said BuzzFeed news deputy director, Fran Berkman.

As a Facebook rep told Marketing Land in a written statement:

Our goal with this test is to provide more visibility into how their organic content is performing on Facebook on a post by post basis. Also to enable publishers in the test to derive learnings and identify their own best practices over time. With this level of insight, publishers are better equipped to drive meaningful engagement around their content and have a stronger sense of control over how their content performs on Facebook.

Vandor echoed this sentiment, saying the tool “is a way to maximize how they pitch their content to people on Facebook.”

“Instead of us saying, ‘Here’s a list of universal best practices,’ we’re trying to give publishers the tools they can use to develop their own best practices.”

When asked if the tool would be available to other publishers and advertisers in the future, Vandor wouldn’t say anything decisively. She did, though, say the company is “actively exploring” expanding the tool to others once it is made easier and less resource-intensive to use.