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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:

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:

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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Mari Smith

Often referred to as “the Queen of Facebook,” Mari Smith is widely known as the Premier Facebook Marketing Expert and a top Social Media Thought Leader. Forbes describes Mari as, “… the preeminent Facebook expert. Even Facebook asks for her help.” IBM named Mari as one of seven women that are shaping digital marketing. Mari is an in-demand keynote speaker, corporate social media strategist, dynamic live webcast host, and popular brand ambassador. She is coauthor of Facebook Marketing: An Hour A Day, and author of The New Relationship Marketing.

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  1. Karen Cantrell on April 4, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    Excellent and Thank you!

  2. mark roberts on December 30, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    she must have been a betty back in the day

  3. amit on November 30, 2012 at 3:09 am

    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”

  4. Melanie Diehl on November 27, 2012 at 5:58 am

    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.

  5. Talking Finger on November 8, 2012 at 7:23 am

    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?

  6. Andrew Planet on November 3, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    Thanks Mari

  7. Harry on October 29, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    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?

  8. jan ferguson on October 28, 2012 at 7:59 am

    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.

    • Wayne Liew on October 29, 2012 at 11:38 pm

      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:

  9. Trouble Ensued on October 23, 2012 at 9:47 am

    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!

  10. Wayne Liew on October 20, 2012 at 9:58 am

    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.

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