Why Facebook’s Frequent Algorithm Tweaks Leave Some Brands Out In The Cold

Earlier this year, your Facebook news feed was littered with every article your friends read–And then all of a sudden, nada. Did your friends stop reading? As the media companies that built those news-sharing readers have bitterly learned–starting April 15–building an app on top of Facebook is a frightening game of chicken.

WHAT HAPPENED1 Facebook tweaked its all-powerful algorithm.
These swings correspond to tweaks of Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm, which have alternately made social readers prominent or hidden in news feeds. “Developers have to stay nimble,” says Inside Network research analyst Bonnie Ho. “Facebook can make changes at any moment that dramatically affects their business.”2 Facebook likes video–for now.

Those algorithm changes may not have been random: Social readers are annoying. “Have we killed the guy who came up with the Social Reader thing yet?” tweeted @funkmastabaker. “We should get on that.” Facebook apparently chose to favor “Instagram for video” apps like Socialcam. One thing’s for sure: That honeymoon won’t last either. [Image: Flickr user Nigel Goodman]

A version of this article appears in the September 2012issue of Fast Company. – By Jason Feifer August 8, 2012

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