To filter out the noise in our Facebook News Feeds, the social network has been trying to tone down the content that gets shared from its business and brand pages, and the change has gone unnoticed. Celebrities like George Takei have been vocal about the limited number of posts that are surfacing on their followers’ Facebook feeds, and you can imagine those using the site for advertising and marketing are none too pleased. Regardless of whether you’re happy Facebook’s trying to act as a filter or frustrated by the fact that you’re missing out on content, there appears to be a way for you to find what’s missing. Tom Waddington, designer and co-founder of Cut Out + Keep, discovered a hidden link [http://www.facebook.com/?sk=nf_all], which enables you to see the stream of most posts from your friends and those that you’re following without Facebook’s alterations. When we hit the link to check out how it stacked up against the feed we were seeing from Facebook proper, the difference was immediately obvious.
But don’t get used to this uncensored view. Facebook tells TechCrunch that the link was one that was used based on an earlier ranking algorithm it will probably get taken down shortly. The algorithm in question minimally filtered out news that friends and Pages were publishing, the problem being that so much information is constantly flowing into Facebook that the News Feed moves too quickly for us mere mortals to keep up with.
Facebook’s EdgeRank system is supposed to moderate this flow of content. EdgeRank, according to Facebook, surfaces quality and important content based on variables like the popularity of the post. But the social network has offered up the “Recent” view. This allows users to view a pipeline of the latest content shared by friends and Pages, EdgeRank free. It’s worth nothing that in a side-by-side comparison with the hidden link, you’ll recognize that the “Recent” News Feed still filters out a significant number of posts that would otherwise be surfaced.
To give its users an opportunity to surface content worthy of making it to the top of your friend’s News Feed and staying there longer, Facebook began charging users to promote their posts. Promoted Post charges users $7 per post for those with fewer than 5,000 friends. Users with more than 5,000 friends and subscribers are charged approximately $49. The charges for brands to promote their content, while flexible in terms of guaranteed reach, can be as little as $5 to hundreds of dollar depending on how many users a brand is looking to reach.
With complaints by users about brands not being surfaced enough and brands with Facebook Pages cynical about paying for the service, Facebook is stuck in a Catch-22 and has a tough job of balancing its EdgeRank algorithm to please both the brands and its users.
In other Facebook news from today, Facebook confirmed with Mashable that it was testing out comment ranking on brand pages to surface the most-liked comments. With this move, coupled with threaded comments, Facebook hopes to increase engagement among followers of brand pages.