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by Tara West on 16th September 2011
Ever wondered what determines who sees your Facebook updates, or what you see in your own news feed? Besides overcomplicated privacy settings, there is an algorithm that determines these factors, known as EdgeRank.
There are so many aspects to EdgeRank that contribute to determining what a user sees in their newsfeed, from both their peers and from business or fan pages. This post focuses on the factors that a business may want to consider if they have a fan page, and how to market to EdgeRank to get the most out of your Facebook page activity.
What is EdgeRank?
Each time someone posts something on Facebook, they are creating an ‘edge’. In addition to this, every time someone interacts with an object or something that has been shared on Facebook, it also creates an edge. This could be any post such as a photo or status update, to sharing a link, and it could be any interaction such as a like or a comment.
The top-level concepts which make up the EdgeRank algorithm are:
How ‘close’ are you to the person who posted the object and vice versa? For example, if they often comment on your posts, tag you in places or photos, send you messages, or even if they look at your wall often, they are thought to have a higher affinity score in relation to you.
Each kind of object posted or interaction behaviour (Edge) has a weight. For example posting a photograph creates a stronger edge than a regular textual update. This applied to interactions too, for example commenting on someone’s status probably creates a higher edge than just a ‘like’.
This means that the older post or the interaction, the less important it is and the lower the Edge.
The EdgeRank algorithm determines a score for each of these factors and then multiplies them together to create an EdgeRank. The higher the EdgeRank between two contacts, the more likely they will see your activity in their newsfeed.
In addition to these basic ideas, there are other factors which are thought to contribute to EdgeRank, such as how many times a link is clicked, or how many outbound links a user clicks on.
There is also debate over whether using a third party tool or API to post to Facebook can have a negative effect on your EdgeRank, as it is thought that the algorithm determines these posts as not being optimised for Facebook, or being scheduled, and so being of lower value.
How to optimise your Facebook Page activity for EdgeRank
Optimise for Affinity
Create content and posts that people will want to interact with! Don’t post rubbish.
This kind of post is likely to have a higher weight that a straight forward textual status update and it also encourages interaction which will increase their edge.
Hollyoaks encourage interactions by asking fans questions in their updates, for example:
Encourage fans to post on your wall. This could be through a competition or even just asking them to share their stories. The more they interact with your page the more likely they are to see your updates in their newsfeed.
If your fans also like these pages you have tagged in your post, they might be more likely to find your content in their newsfeed.
Don’t forget to interact with fans too. For example you could ‘like’ some of their comments. There is growing belief that EdgeRank also perceives the people that you message as having a higher Edge. You could try messaging your fans individually to see if it helps increase your Edge, for example Vodka Revolutions messaged me recently:
Following this, they seemed to appear within my newsfeed more. This may be coincidence or it may be as a result of EdgeRank.
Optimise for Time Decay
Experiment with the frequency of your posts.
There is a variety of software you can buy to measure the levels of interaction that your page receives when you post at different frequencies, which can give you a broad overview. It greatly depends on your industry too, for example a gossip or news page might post more often than a jewellery ecommerce brand. It also depends on what is happening in your industry, for example if there is an event you can be talking about you might benefit from posting more often. The key here is to find the balance, but remember you won’t please all the people all the time:
Ironically by interacting with the brand he has just increased the likelihood of being shown more of their posts!
You might want to start with a strategy where you post once to twice a day, depending on if you have additional newsworthy things to share of post.
It is important to remember to spread out your updates, as if you post too many in a short period of time, Facebook might collapse your updates and only show the most recent with a message that says ‘See similar posts’.
Optimise for weight
Give your posts weight by uploading videos and images sometimes. You could also try posting links and polls to add weight to your posts. Just remember to keep it relevant and interesting so your audience have a higher chance of interacting. If you have not got a business page but have set up a regular personal profile in the name of your business you could also try adding a location to your post (available to personal profiles but not business pages at the moment). This might be particularly useful if the post is relevant to a certain location, for example the opening of a new store or an event. This might mean it is more likely to appear to those who are in the area or have visited and been tagged in the area on Facebook.
When you are considering all these aspects of EdgeRank for optimisation, it’s important to think about them in conjunction with one-another, rather than as individual elements. One really good example of a social media campaign that achieved this is when Ikea asked fans to tag themselves in images from their catalogue in order to win them. This creates an update with weight by uploading a series of images, it encourages a strong weight of interaction by asking users to tag themselves, and it can help them build affinity with a wider audience by appearing in the newsfeeds of friends of those who have been tagged.
Tara West is an experienced SEO and PPC specialist at Koozai, with particular expertise within AdWords PPC and Remarketing. She has worked on a wide variety of verticals, from plumbing and travel to fashion and beauty.