Friday, March 11, 2011

News Feed Settings - Top Friends vs. All Friends

You may have seen friends posting status updates lately telling you to change your news feed settings because you're not seeing updates from all of your friends (or if you haven't seen such a message, this might be why.) In addition to giving you the ability to see "Top News" or "Most Recent" posts in your news feed, Facebook provides the ability to customize the "Most Recent" feed. The feed can show posts from all of your friends and the pages you like, or only the friends and pages you interact with most.

Many users are crying out in outrage that Facebook would hide posts from them. Personally, I like this feature because it ensures that I will see the updates that I'd be most interested in. I also customize my news feed by hiding posts from apps like Farmville, or posts from acquaintances good enough to call Facebook friends but distant enough that I don't need constant updates on their lives. It only makes sense to me, therefore, to trust Facebook's algorithms enough to show me posts from the users I interact with most. I like noticing when I have visited a friend's profile or interacted with a page more often and I see their posts begin to show up in my news feed. The difference is most obvious to me when I use the Facebook for iPhone app, where the news feed shows me posts from all of my friends and pages and I have to slog through to find posts that I'm interested in.

Since there has been interest in how to change this setting though, here's how:
  1. In the news feed, click on the "Most Recent" dropdown. (Notice here that you can also customize your news feed to show separate categories of posts - Status Updates, Photos, Links and updates from Pages. You can also show posts only from friends lists - I have two lists created for people who have limited access to my profile information.
  2. Click "Edit Options"
  3. On the "Show posts from:" dropdown, you can select either "Friends and pages you interact with most" or "All of your friends and pages"
  4. Select the option you want and click "Save" at the bottom of the box
In a way, opting to see posts from all of the friends and pages you follow makes your Facebook news feed more like a Twitter feed. It also means that depending on when your friends post and when you log on, it might become more expedient to visit their profile pages to see their posts. Remember that if you do opt to see posts from "All of your friends and pages," you can always customize your feed by hiding individual posts, posts from apps and posts from friends or pages you are no longer interested in. That's something that Twitter unfortunately can't offer.

From the standpoint of Facebook for businesses, business pages would probably prefer that users show posts from all of their friends and pages, because it increases the likelihood that the business's posts will be seen. If users opt for all friends and pages, businesses must time their posts ever more carefully to maximize impressions. If users opt to see only posts from the pages they interact with most, it becomes even more important that business make the posts on their Facebook pages relevant and interesting to their users.

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