Business information written specifically for newspaper advertising departments

Facebook Updates Feed Algorithm to Highlight News Stories

Although local newspapers across the country felt like they were running to catch up to the social media movement, increasingly, this relationship is becoming more synergetic than ever.

In a way, social media giants, like Facebook and Twitter, are vying for the affection of newspapers, insofar as these sites want to be perceived as viable information resources that connect their users to the latest in breaking news and current events. Although local newspapers across the country felt like they were running to catch up to the social media movement, increasingly, this relationship is becoming more synergetic than ever.

On Monday, Dec. 2, Facebook announced on its blog that it updated the site’s feed algorithm to put a greater preference on news stories, which they deem “high quality content.” With this update, Facebook ensures that users will see more news stories posted by their friends. In the blog post, Engineering Manager Varun Kacholia and Software Engineer Minwen Ji wrote that these updates would be especially present on mobile devices, where more and more readers are getting their news.

Moreover, Facebook’s updated algorithm will cause some stories to appear in a user’s feed more than once. For example, you may see a news story when it’s originally posted by one of your friends, but you may see it a second and third time when other friends comment on that same post. This not only gives news stories a longer lifespan on the social network, but it also highlights the conversation that happens around them.

With this update, Facebook is certainly keeping its eye on its biggest competitor, Twitter. Twitter has become a go-to resource for breaking news and current events, because it has attracted many news outlets and their best journalists. They set up accounts that are followed by thousands of users wanting to stay informed. Twitter also is a great resource for news, because users can curate their feed to their liking, by following the accounts they most want to read. For news junkies, Twitter offers an ever-updated feed of brief synapses of circulating news stories from their favorite outlets.

However, Facebook is not letting itself get left in the dust by Twitter. In fact, its referral traffic to news sites increased 170 percent in 2012, according to TechCrunch. Additionally, a Pew Research study found that, in October, 30 percent of adults in the U.S. got their news on Facebook, and more than 75 percent of those readers got news while on the site for other reasons.

While you continue to update your advertising offerings to align your paper with the rise of social media, be reassured that social media is also directing its users to your paper.