Just a little over a week ago, Facebook launched an update to their News Feed, moving the default from a real-time feed to an algorithmic feed. After a week of the new feed default, the algorithm seems to have
- cut down a great deal on the number of game achievement cross promotions that had grown to over-take the real-time feed (TechCrunch suggested some developers had seen a 20-30% drop in traffic and usage because of the change) and
- put the “biggest” stories over the last 24-48 hours together. By biggest, it seems that stories that get a great deal of engagement (user comments primarily, but “likes” as well seem to contribute)
Like any good algorithm (think search engine optimization), developers are already attempting to understand it and figure out how to make their messages more pertinent. And the first visible testing I’ve seen is from Zynga in Mafia Wars. Occasionally, a player may ask their “mafia” friends for help on a specific job by posting to their own wall; that wall post would be seen by these friends and when they clicked to help, they would be rewarded with some experience points and some in-game cash. Below you can see how Mafia Wars has added a “Post Comment” dialogue box:
By prompting a user to add a comment, it’s possible that if a number of users respond, this message could get picked up by the algorithm and show up in the new default News Feed. It will be interesting to see if this catches on or whether users are becoming more savvy about filtering the home page news feed to get the kind of information they want.