Learn about Facebook’s secret algorithm, which decides why some friends seem to pop up constantly, while others are never shown.

Every time you write something on Facebook, it will appear in the news update of all your friends, or at least that is the case in theory.  In reality some of us will find that no one sees what we write, while others are shown in the updates all the time, why is that?

The fact is that Facebook uses an intricate algorithm that weights who our true friends are, not to mention which of these friends that are the most interesting. You’ve probably noticed that most of the updates that you see usually comes from your closest friends. Old classmates and colleagues that you don’t contact often will not show up as often. Exactly the same filtering is done for you and your posts.

And this is where the harsh reality of life comes into play. If Facebook considers you as a person with few friends and little appeal, they will choose not to show your updates, and instead show updates from people who are considered to be more popular.

Now, journalists in The Daily Beast has sat down to figure out exactly how Facebook proceed to estimate your popularity. They created a test account and experimented to discover the how the algorithm behind this actually works. And as they write, “some remarkable findings began to emerge”.

These are their 10 tricks to ensure that Facebook makes you popular:

1. Facebook’s Bias Against Newcomers.
If there’s one thing our experiment made all too clear, it’s that following 500 million people into a party means that a lot of the beer and pretzels are already long gone. Poor Phil spent his first week shouting his updates, posted several times a day, yet most of his ready-made “friends” never noticed a peep on their news feeds. His invisibility was especially acute among those with lengthy, well-established lists of friends. Phil’s perpetual conversation with the ether only stopped when we instructed our volunteers to interact with him. A dynamic which leads to…

2. Facebook’s Catch-22: To get exposure on Facebook, you need friends to interact with your updates in certain ways (more on that below). But you aren’t likely to have friends interacting with your updates if you don’t have exposure in the first place. (Memo to Facebook newcomers: Try to get a few friends to click like crazy on your items).

3. The Velvet Rope: “Top News”: The real fun began when we eventually instructed different subgroups of our volunteer-friend force to interact with Phil in a controlled manner.

Suddenly, Phil began popping up on feeds. But which ones? The current newsfeed system offers users two options: “Top News,” a highly selective feed of updates from friends, and “Most Recent,” a “fire hose” that shows updates in reverse chronological order.

A bunch of interactions, however, still do not guarantee that you’ll get on anyone’s Top News, which is how a vast majority of Facebook users get their information. Some of our volunteers reported frequent sightings of Phil’s updates in their Top News feeds, while others saw him rarely—and in some cases, never. Top News will show you hours-old updates from some friends while ignoring newer postings from others.

Facebook has a reason to do this: If users saw all of the posts for all of their friends, they might be overwhelmed (or bored) and tune out—a disaster for Facebook, which needs eyeballs to earn revenue. But in doing so, Facebook’s ranking system makes judgments about items it thinks you’ll be interested in.

What became clear after two weeks was that it’s not the amount of activity you have, but the type (more on that below).

4. “Most Recent” News Is Censored, Too. As veteran Facebook users know, it’s a simple matter to switch from the filtered-and-prioritized Top News feed to the “fire hose” of Most Recent. In Most Recent, items are displayed in reverse chronological order. So many users naturally assume that Most Recent contains every update from all of their friends.

Not so, as our experiment showed.

Even with test-subject Simonetti posting updates, links, photos, and videos several times a day, a few of our volunteers found that the items didn’t appear in their Most Recent feeds. (At least, not until we took additional steps to up Phil’s visibility.) If you’ve never tinkered with the “Edit Options” button on your Most Recent feed, this underscores why you should check it out—there’s a little-used setting
that caps the number of friends shown in the feed.

5. “Stalking” Your Friends Won’t Get You Noticed.
Maybe you’ve fretted about it while poring over photos of an old flame or estranged friend on Facebook—or maybe you’ve diligently worked to get on someone’s radar by clicking all over their page. Do Facebook’s mysterious algorithms factor your stealthy interest in another person into that person’s news feed?

To find out, our test subject spent several days obsessively checking out the posts and photos of some volunteers who had yet to spy him in their feeds. The result was clear: The stalking accomplished precisely nothing.

6. Having Friends Who Stalk You WILL Help Your Popularity.
Stalking does work in the other direction, we found. After Phil spent days posting updates in vain, with most of our volunteers seeing none of them, we tasked a handful of friends to start showing more interest in Phil. Even though he wasn’t showing up in their feeds, they sought out his Facebook page repeatedly, clicking on links he had posted and viewing his photos. This was the point at which Phil finally began to break through. It took a few days of constant clicking, but not only did the friends doing the stalking begin to see Phil in their Top News feeds—others who weren’t stalking began noticing him as well.

7. Links Trump Status Updates. We’re sure you consider all of your musings fascinating—but Facebook doesn’t. At various points in our test, Phil switched between writing plain status updates and posting links to content elsewhere on the Web. Even before some of our friends began stalking Phil, for those who were seeing updates from him, links appeared more frequently than status updates—presumably because links are more effective at driving “user engagement,” which translates into people spending more time on Facebook.

8. Photos and Videos Trump Links. Just as links proved more potent than status updates in making it past Facebook’s filter, so did photos and videos Phil posted. Here, too, it is likely a matter of engagement. Think about times you’ve spotted a thumbnail-size photo from a friend in your feed and clicked to see it full-size. Facebook likes clicks, and photos deliver them.

9. The Power of Comments. If items you post attract comments from a few friends, it clearly raises your visibility overall. When our selected volunteers began stalking Phil, he finally appeared to many users for whom he had been a no-show. But when we stopped the stalking and moved on to the next phase of our trial, directing a different group of users to not only look in on Phil but also repeatedly add comments to his items, he surfaced on the feeds of still more friends.

10. Why Facebook Really is Like High School: After weeks of testing and trying everything from having Phil post videos to getting some of his friends to flood him with comments, by the end of our experiment, a few of our volunteers had still literally never seen Phil appear in their feeds, either Top News or Most Recent. These were the “popular kids”—users of Facebook with 600 or more friends.
(Conversely, those with only 100 to 200 friends were among the first to spot Phil.) So the key, as you build your coterie of friends, is making sure to include some without huge networks. They’ll see more of your feeds, interact in Facebook-approved ways, and up your visibility with all.

Read the entire Facebook survey @ Business Insider.

Eventually, it boils down to the fact that Facebook does not care about who you want to share your life with. On the contrary, Facebook only cares about who is interested in seeing it.

Ooh! And don’t forget to press the Like button and share this post 😉

(via Teknofil)