UX Designer, 15+ Years of Print and Web Design Expertise
May 22nd, 2019
Facebook is constantly trying to improve our user experience within our News Feed. And by constantly I mean every time we visit the site and interact with it.
Usually, Facebook has “predicted” who we want to hear from by using its Ranking process, which they use to organize stories from our friends, pages we follow, and groups we’ve joined. Ranking organizes those stories so that we see the most relevant content at the top of our News Feed.
Giving Us What We Want
Last week, Facebook announced an update to its ranking based on surveys that have been conducted by the company.
The updates prioritize the friends users might want to hear from the most and the links they might consider most worthwhile.
Earlier this year, Facebook began surveying people, asking them to list the friends they are closest to. Based on these results, selected friends are now likely to show up higher in the News Feed.
The company has also surveyed people to learn what posts they thought were worth their time. We should soon see more links the Facebook algorithm deems more worthwhile to us.
This doesn’t mean we will have a custom experience based on just the user surveys, but it is one more aspect that will help determine what we see on our News Feed.
In other words, we partially control our own News Feed “fate” by our survey responses.
Why is a Positive User Experience Important?
Facebook has been saying for quite some time that it wants to continue creating a positive user experience. In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal and other bad press — focusing on user satisfaction is key to winning back users’ trust.
Not only is Facebook trying to make users happy, but it, along with most digital platforms, is attempting to determine how to keep users on its platform longer. By serving up content that users actually want, Facebook is making sure our average time on site or on app continues to grow.
When we see posts we like and that are meaningful to us, we engage with them on site and off. We tag our friends, share on our own feed, and talk about it around the dinner table. This type of engagement makes us feel great — and it makes Facebook a stronger brand.
Think about it: if we are literally telling Facebook what we want, we’re also literally telling it how to serve us better.
This Is All For the User, Right?
Well, it depends on how you look at it.
This survey process should improve our overall user experience on Facebook because we’ve now told it who and what we want to hear, but I’m betting this new ranking won’t stop there. The new ranking will help digital marketers better target users with more specific, better quality content and ads — a win-win for marketers and consumers.
I asked our resident Facebook Ads Strategist Ali Parmelee what she thought:
“While Facebook has immense amounts of data on users and their interests and behaviors that ad buyers like me can tap into, this is very interesting. This adds an entire other layer onto the advanced audience targeting that we rely on. These surveys mean that at a time where Facebook is rolling out the ability to clear your browsing history through the Pixel, we [marketers] have another way to make sure we still have access to this targeting.
While that sounds creepy, ultimately, Facebook is still simply trying to make sure you are having a solid user experience. So why not ask you what you want to see? Now you’ll see it even more organically and via paid ads.”
Facebook’s ranking process pushes marketers to produce higher quality content. The better the content, the more likely you are to get in front of the correct audience. The surveys give marketers another tool at our disposal to find the right audience.
Helping Us Help Them Help Us
As marketers, Facebook gives us the ability to analyze at a micro level. While it’s not clear yet how the information will be funneled to us, these surveys will just make the process even more customizable.
Some people have made the decision to cut the Facebook ties that bind us (or tried to). Those of us who visit on a regular or semi-regular basis all want the best experience we can get. If that means taking a survey to accomplish this, I’m all for it. And, accordingly, I expect a steaming hot plate of exactly what I want.
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