Who Sees Your Facebook Posts and Twitter Tweets?
Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms play a not so transparent game with your social media posts and tweets. It is based on a highly complex thesis that their algorithmic learning engines can determine what a Facebook or Twitter user will likely find relevant and, therefore, what they will wish to read. We’ve known this behavioral filtering has gone on for some time now, especially with Facebook. But, the science behind it is now getting attention.
Why do the social media companies get between those posting on social media sites and those who consume the information? Good question. By and large, social media services realize that a user has a tendency to “Like” or “Follow” far more people or companies than he or she can really follow with any level of intensity. The fact of the matter is that some of us “Like” others on Facebook, or become followers of companies or high profile people on Twitter, because of peer pressure or out of curiosity. Or, maybe there was a promotion or contest we wanted to enter, so we had to “Like” that company’s page to have a chance to win. We go to that page one time to “enter to win” and never go back. Do we want to continue receiving their Facebook posts? Maybe…maybe not. But, few of us ever “Unfollow” or “Unlike” a Facebook page or Twitter site.
In reality, we can’t hope to read every post or tweet due to lack of time and a crowded timeline in the feeds sections of our personal or company social media sites. If you are like me, you may have a few hundred Facebook “Likes” (family, friends, colleagues, companies, sports teams, etc.) and the same level of interest in following others on Twitter. In turn, many of them may follow me back, or “Like” me on Facebook. But, I do have my favorites, while I relegate others to a secondary role and I’m only casually interested in reading their posts or tweets. The social media sites actually know this about you and me, and use technology to help us “filter” out the less relevant posts and tweets. They make the decision for us.
Here is a simple truth: if your company’s Facebook page has 100 Likes, and you put a post on your Facebook page, this post will not be served to all 100 news feeds of your Likes’ Facebook pages. Sadly, it is possible it may stream to none of them.
A Relevancy Filter
The fact of the matter is that while 100% of your posts do appear on your own Facebook page, a majority of Facebook users do NOT go to your Facebook page. They stay within their own Facebook cocoon and read the aggregated (and filtered!) News Feeds coming in from their friends, family and from the company pages they’ve Liked. Many are not even aware their news feeds are being filtered and that they may be missing posts from friends or companies they’ve Liked.
Recently, Facebook opened up a little to explain how this system works. Facebook used to call this post ranking process “EdgeRank,” but has since dropped that terminology. In a recent blog post on a Facebook engineering site, one of the engineering leads on this feed ranking system said:
For each user, we try to come up with a final score to determine how relevant that particular story is to that particular user,” Backstrom summed up. “In the end, those scores build your personalized News Feed.”
If you are interested, you can read more about the algorithm on this Facebook blog page.
At the end of the day, you can push tons of content out on your Facebook page or through Twitter, but your Likes and Followers may not even see it. Facebook’s software-based ranking filters will make that call…not you as the poster or tweeter, and not your Likes or Follows on the consumption side. However, your followers’ lack of engagement with your posts (Comments, re-posting or re-tweeting) does in fact weigh heavily on which news feeds that Facebook will send their way later. Ultimately, Facebook and Twitter use software to rank your “likely” level of interest in a post or tweet topic, and will use this as a basis for learning what you really want as a user. They then create a formulaic relevancy profile of you and send news and information to you based on your likely interest.
High quality content and relevancy, measured over the long term by user engagement, will be the most important criteria used to determine how much of your content gets fed to your Likes or Followers. Google has recently re-centered its own organic search engine ranking criteria around the notion of High Quality Content, too. We all need to keep that in mind as we write and post on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, LinkedIn or other social media sites. Considering the value Google’s SERP relevancy engine is placing on content quality, the same can be said for how you manage your website as well.