How To Take Back Control Of Your Facebook News Feed

Facebook News Feed - Mobile

Screenshot from my own Facebook iPhone app – notice this one post takes up the whole feed. It’s also a Promoted Post which the Facebook Marketing Page is doing more often.

As more and more content from the one billion Facebook users and the tens of millions of business pages pours into our News Feed on a daily basis, it’s getting harder and harder to see the content you really *want* to see. Not to mention all the paid features such as Offers and Promoted Posts that also go into the News Feed on both desktop and mobile.

And, of course, as a marketer, how do you compete for that valuable real estate with your own posts? Especially given that well over half of all Facebook’s users access the platform via their mobile devices – that’s a very small piece of real estate, despite the fact mobile users tend to be at least twice as active!

Well, my recommendation hands down is to make use of the awesome Interest List feature. Facebook introduced this new tool back in March of this year; the feature is designed to organize your news feed into a “personalized newspaper,” if you will. In other words, you can take back FULL control of exactly what you see in your News Feed by creating your own lists with your favorite people (friends and people to whom you subscribe) as well as your favorite business pages.

Once you create — or subscribe to — your favorite Interest Lists, you can add them to your Favorites at the top left side of your home page. And, voila! These become your own personal bookmarks, visible on both desktop and mobile, through which you can now browse the EXACT content you wish.

Browse Interest Lists

First, let’s take a look at existing Interest Lists to give you an idea of who has compiled what lists. You may find some Lists to which you’d like to subscribe. There are many!

Subscribing to a list allows you to see all the content from the people and pages featured on the list, without having to like the fan pages or subscribe/be friends with the people. ;)

To find where Interest Lists are listed, on your home page, look way down on the left hand column. You may need to click the ‘More’ button, then you’ll see Interests and click the next ‘More’ button. (See screenshot below). This is the direct link to that page: https://www.facebook.com/bookmarks/interests.

Facebook Interest List - Home Page Navigation

Find Facebook Interest Lists on your Home Page navigation

On the next page, click on the Add Interests button and you’ll end up here: https://www.facebook.com/addlist

On the list of Lists, you can hover over any List title and choose to subscribe from the hovercard (see screenshot below). Or, click the title of the List to see the stream (News Feed) of just that list and decide if you wish to subscribe. (The button is at the top right of the actual List page).

Subscribe to Facebook Interest Lists

Browse and Subscribe to Facebook Interest Lists

Create your own Interest Lists

To create your own Interest List, go through the same process above and you’ll see the button for “+ Create List” at the top of the Interests page (visible in the top right of the screenshot above).

Remember, Lists can have any combination of Friends, Subscriptions and Pages! To start with, Facebook displays a list of all the Pages you’ve already liked, all your Subscriptions (personal profiles to which you’ve subscribed) and Friends. (By the way, when you send a friend request to someone on Facebook, you immediately become a subscriber – which means you’ll see their public posts in your News Feed.)

Select the choices you wish and click Next.

Create New Facebook Interest List

Choose from Pages, Subscriptions and Friends in this first step of creating a Facebook Interest List.

Choose your List privacy

Now, another cool aspect of Facebook Interest Lists – similar to Twitter Lists – is you can choose to make the list visible to Public, your Friends, or Only Me (completely private). My suggestion is that you make your lists private (Only Me) at first while you work on adding new pages and people to build out the list. Private lists are also VERY handy to keep an eye on your competition, for example.

Facebook List privacy

Type a name for your Interest List and select the privacy level.

Add your Lists to your Favorites

This part can get a bit tricky to maneuver but once you’ve done it once, it’s easy! First, go back to your list of Lists (bookmarks page), you’ll see the little pencil icon next to each list. Click the icon and select Add to Favorites as shown in the screenshot below. (By the way, the little blue Interest List icon is for Lists you created; the green icon is for Lists to which you subscribe).

Facebook Interest List - Add To Favorites

Add an Interest List to your Favorites

Next, now go look at the list of favorites at the top left of your home page. Hover over any item and then click the little pencil icon. From there, click Rearrange. Now you can drag and drop the order of anything you have in your Favorites. You can have Interest Lists, Friend Lists, Groups, Apps, and Pages as Favorites by going through this same process. If this is new to you, you’ll soon wonder how you ever managed Facebook without Lists and Favorites! Your Favorites are visible on mobile, too.

Facebook Favorites

Rearrange your Facebook Favorites

Add more people and Pages … without liking, subscribing or friending!

PROFILES: In order to add a personal profile to your Interest List(s), the Facebook users MUST have their Subscribe button enabled. You cannot add anyone to an Interest List who does not allow Subscribers*. You can choose to subscribe to the person, or not. Either way, you can still add them to your Interest List. Just look for the little gear icon to the right of the Friend/Subscribe buttons as shown in the screenshot below:

Facebook Personal Profile - Add To List

Add a Facebook Personal Profile to your Interest List

PAGES: Of course, as a fan page owner, we *want* people to click that magical LIKE button. That’s the only way Facebook users see our page content in their News Feed, right? Uhm, not quite! Facebook users can “subscribe” to your fan page, meaning they can add your page to a list without becoming a fan first. Here’s how:

Next to the Like button of all fan pages, you’ll see a little gear icon. Click that, then select “Add to Interest Lists…” (see screenshot below). A list of your Interest Lists pops up; click on the list or lists to which you wish to add the page. You can also create a new list right from the same menu.

Facebook Fan Page - Add To List

You can add Pages to your Interest Lists – without liking the Page

SIDENOTE: As a fan page owner, you might wonder how you can tell who has added your fan page to Interest Lists without being a fan. Easy. Go to your fan page > show your Admin Panel > next to the New Likes section, click See All > select Subscribers. ;)

Facebook Fan Page Subscribers

See who has added your fan page to an Interest List.

Got Facebook questions? Come join my community of over 510,000 fans and subscribers! Just click the Subscribe and Like buttons below to connect with me on Facebook!

Discover other people’s lists

To see what lists other Facebook users have created and/or subscribed to, just go to their personal profile and click on the thumbnail for Subscriptions. That displays all Interest Lists the person has created, the ones to which they subscribe, plus all the individual people to which they subscribe. By way of example, here are my Subscriptions.

Check out these lists!

My most popular list by far is my Facebook Experts & Resources with 118 people and pages featured on the list and with currently over 29,000 subscribers! I look at this list multiple times per day to stay up to date with news, tips and creative content pertaining to Facebook. As you can see in the screenshot further above with my own Favorites, this list is the top item (under News Feed, which can’t be reordered).

Other popular lists I’ve curated are:

Enjoyed this post? Tweet to let me know – just click the button below (opens in a popup, you’ll have a chance to see and edit the tweet!):


Now, it’s your turn: go create and subscribe to some Interest Lists! Then feel free to share the URL to your favorite lists in the comments below. Plus, let me know who else I should add to my own lists.

FREE Facebook Subscribers Report

*If you’re still confused as to what the Subscribe function does, what Subscribers can see, and whether to enable your button or not, please enter your name and email below to download my free 20-page report: 5 Fantastic Ways To Build A NEW Facebook Marketing Channel





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  • http://www.solo-e.com/blog Terri Z

    Mari — a quick question. I created an interest list, and as I’m perusing, I’m noticing a lot of “so and so is now friends with x y z” posts. I know I used to get those in my news feed but don’t anymore…how do I stop them from being in my interest list feed? (hopefully without editing them person by person)
    TIA!

  • http://www.solo-e.com/blog Terri Z

    One more question — the little numbers on a blue background next to the list — is that the number of subscribers to that list? And, is there a way to see who has subscribed to your list(s)? (Guess that’s two questions!)

  • http://www.solo-e.com/blog Terri Z

    I think I’ve figured this out, but want to be sure — while viewing the Interest List, click “Manage List” and then unselect Comments and Likes. I’m guessing this will remove both posts of people commenting on content of other people (that you may not be connected to) as well as those pesky “now friends” posts. Is that correct?

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  • http://marismith.com Mari Smith

    The little numbers next to the list (in the Favorites) are the # of new posts from members of the list!

  • http://marismith.com Mari Smith

    Correct — you can control the types of updates from each List. I didn’t include this part in my tutorial… there are SO many components to Interest Lists, it’s no wonder the ‘masses’ haven’t quite gotten the hang of them yet, eh?!

  • http://www.solo-e.com/blog Terri Z

    Indeed. And the list of things under Manage Lists aren’t really clear (and don’t you love how the help items on FB are often just a repeat (or slight rewording) of the info about that feature…

  • http://dsen.co/ Direct Selling Entrepreneurs

    Hi Mari… question relates to engagement of those who are subscribers not likers…. does their engagement still impact on your edgerank and visibility and is it included in insights… and if they do would the like:people talking about this ration in fact be better with subscribers who are engaging?

  • http://www.solo-e.com/blog Terri Z

    Finally figured this out, after unselecting Comments and Likes didn’t do
    the trick…click “Manage List” and then unselect “Other Activity” :)

  • richard

    Mari, is there a way to add ‘pages’ to interest lists and that they then disappear from the timeline. I would prefer to use my timeline for real friends and family and use the interestlists for ‘pages’ etc.

    Is that possible

  • http://www.facebook.com/eric.mabille.brussels Eric Mabille

    Does the “subscribe button” automatically appear on every page or shall I install it myself?

  • richard

    I might have found the solution but it is rather cumbersome … I add pages to an Interest List and then ‘hide’ posts from those pages in the time line

    As said, I think it is rather time consuming .. is there another solution?

    Thanks, richard

  • http://www.facebook.com/drdazthornton Dr-Daz Thornton

    Elloooo Mari! I too have been working on the news feed issue for a while now – and came up with the same solutions as you – yeyyyy :) I’m such a list geek it’s untrue – hee heeee! I love having all my lists in order so if I need a particular piece of content I know straight away where I can find it! I was always curious though as to whether EdgeRank was ever affecting my lists – even just a little bit…… so I created a list and put EVERY page I’ve liked into it. Fantastic I thought – if I now want to scroll through a collection of my favourite pages I’ll be able to see them just as I would in my stream on Google+……….sadly this wasn’t the case – I was gutted! When I checked them against what and when pages had ACTUALLY posted, if found that several posts were missing – even though all the options were ticked for what content I wanted to see. So….one of my theories is that lists are more accurate at showing what you want to see from your selected pages if they have less pages actually in them. My HUGE EXPERIMENTAL list with all my pages in it contained nearly 600 pages, but my others have much less in them. I don’t know if you have any words of wisdom to explain this Mari – but I need to do some more experimenting to see if this is the case – just when I thought I had beaten the mighty Facebook as well!!! :( Speak soon…. Dr Daz

  • http://about.me/jenniferlmacdonald Jennifer MacDonald

    Mari thank you for the reminder about Interest Lists. I created one for members of the International Franchise Association when lists first came out, great content for me to re-purpose today.

    Lists are the easiest way to see the content you want without being bombarded with non-relevant posts. Great post!

  • http://www.mynotetakingnerd.com/blog Lewis LaLanne – NoteTakingNerd

    I love the idea of taking back control and sifting and sorting the content I want to see. It always irks me when I feel like stuff gets muscled into my feed. Especially the politician stuff. Grrr.

    I love the structure of the post in that you didn’t just tell what we could do, but you instead also showed us how. Posts like this can be a pain to create but they’re they’re sooo much more potent when it comes to helping people and of course this is what leads to it getting spread far and wide.

    Recently we came across a software that we’ve fallen in love with a software called Steps Steps that makes putting how-to guides look amazing without a bunch of hassle. Here’s an affiliate-free link where you can check it out if you want . . . http://www.bluemangolearning.com/screensteps/

  • http://marismith.com Mari Smith

    Oh thank you so much for your kind words!! I’ll check out the resource, too. :)

  • http://marismith.com Mari Smith

    Woohoo – thanks heaps, Jennifer!

  • http://marismith.com Mari Smith

    Subscribe for personal profiles is optional — enable/disable at https://facebook.com/about/subscribe. For fan pages: the ability to add to any list is automatically there. When someone adds a fan page to a list without liking the page, they are a subscriber. Some fan pages have a subscribe button as well as a like; I think Facebook is experimenting with this on a few pages. Seems like overkill to me. Hm!

  • http://marismith.com Mari Smith

    Oh absolutely. You could theoretically unlike all fan pages and then just add your favorite pages to a ‘pages interest list’ ;)

  • http://marismith.com Mari Smith

    Great question — PTAT (people talking about this) is ALL people whether they have liked your page or not. So, it’s actually a good thing if someone adds your fan page to a list as they may be paying more attention. When you export your page insights, you can also see the PTAT as it pertains to just your fans + fans and others.

  • http://marismith.com Mari Smith

    Ohhh woah, that is very bizarre. It has been my assumption that lists display all posts … unless the settings have been adjusted. Hmmm, I’ll have to take a closer look!

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  • http://www.facebook.com/RavenDelana Raven Robinson

    Hi Mari, I’ve seen some pages in the past few days with status updates that say that if their fans don’t add them to an interest list, they will no longer see their posts in the news feed at all. Although that doesn’t seem entirely true, do you recommend this tactic of a page owner posting a status informing fans how to best engage with the page? I’m considering something that humorously says, “if you don’t like/comment facebook will think you’re no longer interested and drop me from your feed”

  • http://midiatechdesign.com/ Akharoh Omoifo Ibrahim

    Thank you Mari for this timely information. Now I can take control and take charge of my facebook feed. In fact starting now am creating a list that will keep me on the pulse of things am really interested in. You are one of them. Thanks again.

  • http://www.facebook.com/drdazthornton Dr-Daz Thornton

    I’d love to see if you find the same as me Mari!! :)

  • http://www.sproutgeek.com/ Wayne Liew

    Very useful guide, Mari. I actually learned something similar from Robert Scoble’s Facebook post on how to reduce the noise on our News Feed without unfollowing everyone and build our social graph all over again.

    He did recommend using Interest Lists, which I like a lot because Facebook will pull popular posts from these lists and publish them to your News Feed as a small collection of interesting content.

    The other method that Robert mentioned is to take time and put your friends into the “Close Friends” and “Acquaintances” lists. Hard to do for somebody who has a ton of friends but I did it and with the Interest Lists method above, almost 80% of the posts on my news feed are relevant to me.

    P/S: I blocked a ton of games and apps too.

  • http://TroubleEnsued.com/ Trouble Ensued

    This was an incredibly helpful post! I’ve shared it with all my friends (at least I hope that FB allowed my friends to see it in their news feeds). I have been missing so many important updates on my newsfeed, and utilizing your Interest List technique, it appears that I’m able to see everything once again. Thank you!

  • jan ferguson

    Hi Mari, I always love your post – so informative and easy. HOWEVER myself and many of my friends do not have the Interests button – why is this – I am in the UK – do we get it at a later date. Jan.

  • Harry

    I’m still VERY confused. I used to have everything show up in my newsfeed, and I was fine with that. NOW, most things I’ve “liked” don’t show up in my newsfeed only in my interest list, so I have to look at 2 lists??? Is there a way I can just get everything to show in my newsfeed?

  • http://www.sproutgeek.com/ Wayne Liew

    Hi Jan, to get the Add to Interests List option on your profile, you need to go to Account Settings >> Subscribers and allow the public to subscribe to your profile without adding you as a friend. You can read more about the feature here: https://www.facebook.com/about/subscribe

  • http://crazydreamersdo.com/ Susan Daniels

    I’m happy to share a few of my lists with you.

    Start Ups: https://www.facebook.com/lists/10151131074469655

    Social Entrepreneurs: https://www.facebook.com/lists/10151379167480584

    My Online Lifestyle: https://www.facebook.com/lists/490094541022012

    Warmly, Susan Daniels

  • http://www.sciencepantheism.com Andrew Planet

    Thanks Mari

  • Sarah Schager

    There are some great tips in here! I hear so many people complaining about Facebook that just don’t understand how to use it to their advantage. I wrote a post on this today, I hope you’ll check it out! :)

    http://www.verticalmeasures.com/social-media/facebook-fan-page-complaints-realities-and-solutions/

  • http://twitter.com/talkingfinger Talking Finger

    Keep in mind…if your content isn’t good no list will help. We also have not truly seen an increase in traffic using lists at all across a ton of fan pages we admin and ones we experiment with. I think this is a fun tool, but EdgeRank will still keep your posts hidden if people don’t interact with your content. I would spend more time on creating and curating good content than worrying about lists. Lists have been around for over seven months…and the very very vast majority of users on Facebook neither use them or know how to set them up. When you look at a tool that has been around for that long and is not being utilized, is it sill a good tool?

  • http://www.facebook.com/melanie.diehl.79 Melanie Diehl

    Hi Mari. I admin our Chamber of Commerce page; part of our social media plan is to like our member’s pages and share their updates. However, we are not getting all the member page updates in our news feed. As a page (rather than an individual fan), do we need to create lists to keep getting the updates? I have not found this option, but maybe I’m looking in the wrong place? Thanks for your help.

  • amit

    As i read your article on Interest list, it is certaily helpful. But is it possible to share My Interest list posts to My second Interest List? I selecte my Interest List privacy as a “Private”

  • mark roberts

    she must have been a betty back in the day

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  • http://www.facebook.com/karen.cantrell.37 Karen Cantrell

    Excellent and Thank you!

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  • Jose Nacho Barrantes

    I created my Interests List. How do I add someone as an Admin to that list, I want her to be able to add pages to it as well as I can!

  • Liz Lizzard Arcuri

    The interest list feature is no longer working properly!! I have been using lists (for pages that I like) for quite some time…lately, myself, along with A LOT of other people, have been having the same problem: when you go to click on your list, nothing shows up in the list’s newsfeed (even if the counter says there are new posts)…it just says “there are no new posts”. The rumor is that, now, in order for lists to work, you have to enable everything into your main newsfeed. Doesn’t that make the whole point of lists…well…pointless?? Maybe you can help dig up the dirt, or get a response from facebook (because nobody else seems to be able to get one).

  • Elahn Zetlin

    Agreed. Facebook is a bloody mess now and specifically with lists.
    Like, Follow, Subscribe… total mind melt! It’s making me so angry.
    All I want to do is add a page to a list but not have it show up in the main news feed. Doesn’t seem to be able to do that now.
    Grrrrrrr!

  • Nila*

    oh u dont need to hide…. u simply UNFOLLOW those guys, then their newsfeed will not appear in main news feed section…….

  • Nila*

    heyy.. lists definitely do NOT show all posts!!! thats my experience. however there is a strange function, to “improve newsfeed”, ………… improve newsfeed is already a weird function, as why newsfeed should be improved? if it needs improvement, that means it definitly missing something out!

  • Nila*

    and u dont need to have 600 pages to prove that lol… i have a list for only 1 person (yes..) .. and i can see every day that normal newsfeed (with follow button) does not at all show SAME posts as the posts in interest list ………. haha fb.