When you make an update to your Facebook Page, not all your fans will see it.
For some pages, it can be so bad that less than 10% of your fans see the news. And it’s mostly because of Edgerank.
What is Edgerank?
Facebook users have many friends, and they may like numerous pages as well. With all the activity this generates, a News Feed could become overwhelming. Facebook sorts through the mess for by prioritizing content, which is what Edgerank is all about.
Facebook uses the Edgerank formula to pick content for the “Top News” section of your news feed. Top News is the default view:
How Does Edgerank Work?
Objects and Edges
The first thing to understand is that any new piece of content on Facebook (pictures/statuses/etc.) is an object. Every interaction with this object (likes of it, comments on it, and even its initial creation) is an edge.
The Edgerank Formula
Facebook’s Edgerank formula appears to the right. The Edgerank of an object is the sum of the scores of all its edges. Each edge’s score is determined by three factors.
- Affinity Score - If you frequently interact with a particular person/page or their content, their updates will have a high affinity score for you (this is what personalizes Edgerank). Affinity score only goes one way – if you always like a person’s updates, this will not make them more likely to see yours.
- Weight for Edge Type – Certain types of content are given priority by Facebook. I’m not sure this is totally public, but the general idea is something like videos are greater than photos, which are greater than links. Statuses come last, and the “question” option (often referred to as polls) is probably first. Weight is applicable for interaction with objects as well, with comments and shares given higher weight than likes.
- Time Decay Factor – The third factor is time. Just as you’d expect, as time passes the edge loses priority.
Again, these three factors are multiplied together for each edge. Then the edges are added up to decide the priority for your update – once it crosses a certain level, it will appear in the “Top News” feed.
Whether the formula makes sense or not, read on to learn how to take advantage of it.
How Edgerank Affects Businesses
Edgerank is a big problem for some companies. If you have a bunch of people who just decided to like your page because your business is so awesome, then they’ll probably like/comment/share your posts as well, and Edgerank will be just great.
But if you’re like many businesses, that worked hard to get likes (whether by through paid ads, promotions such as freebies/contests, or just asking a lot), the odds are your fans aren’t as interested. They won’t interact again, and your updates will stop appearing on their feed.
As an aside – there have been many articles about the “value of a Facebook Fan.” This is great to try and calculate, but the value varies dramatically by company/Page/industry/etc, partially because of Edgerank – so don’t fall into the trap of reading a Fan is worth x dollars and applying that to your business. You have to experiment and see how many sales your fans drive.
Facebook’s Suggestion – Sponsored Stories
Some will argue that Edgerank is just a way for Facebook to make more money. Although I think the system also makes a News Feed much more readable, there is certainly a monetary incentive for Facebook. Brands can use Facebook Ads to amass thousands or even millions of Fans. Before Edgerank, they could then spam these fans with as many ads as the fans would tolerate, right in their News Feed – for free.
Edgerank means that people don’t have to unlike a page to stop seeing it’s updates. They just have to get bored. For companies sending primarily promotional messages, this is likely to happen. So now Facebook asks companies to pay up again by running Sponsored Stories, which are a paid method that can guarantee your updates show up in front of your likers (and their friends as well, if you choose).
This isn’t a bad option for businesses, but is certainly not as nice as getting the promotion for free. For more on these ads, read my introduction to Facebook Sponsored Stories – or, for a cheaper option, you can try to increase the Edgerank of your objects.
In order to make Edgerank work for you, rather than against you, the goal is to increase engagement with your updates. A few suggestions include:
- Use Different Update Types – Not only does Facebook give preference to questions, photos, and video, but these also tend to generate more interaction (an interesting question can be amazing).
- Ask For Interaction – This can be something as simple as asking “what do you think?” when adding a link. But it may be a bit more creative. You see a fair number of Pages posting photos and asking readers to offer captions – with each caption submitted increasing engagement. And remember, these comments count for more than likes.
- Get Controversial – Some brands won’t want to go here, but few updates get comments like controversial posts. Whether this is an industry subject, politics, music preferences – you should know your audience well enough to guess what will get them going. Just be careful, the idea isn’t to alienate half your fans.
- Share Interesting Stories – Don’t have any ideas for an update? Find something great at another website. Share the link. If people like/re-share your post, you’ll get credit in Facebook’s formula.
- Watch Your Timing – Always post during the workday? Try one at night or on the weekend. Some pages experience much better engagement at particular times. Also experiment with update frequency – you don’t want fans to forget about you, but too many updates and you’ll likely be ignored.
- Sponsored Stories – I know we’re trying to get away from these, but running sponsored stories at your existing fans can be a way to re-engage people that are no longer seeing your updates. Then, with your new Edgerank strategies, they will hopefully stay engaged down the line.
All these methods for increasing Edgerank have a double-benefit:
- For the object – The item being commented/liked/shared will gain a higher Edgerank and be distributed out to more and more people.
- For your Page – The people interacting with the item will increase their affinity score with your page, increasing the odds they see your updates in the future.
Facebook wants your Page to either offer such great stuff that people start interacting – or else pay up for continued access to your fans. Edgerank, the formula which makes this happen, has been a painful experience for companies that talked at, rather than with, their customers.
In order to deal with this, companies need a strategy not just to gain Likes of their Page, but also of the content they post. This means monitoring engagement while trying to monetize all those fans. It may require some new strategies, but they are mostly things you should be doing anyway, as engagement will lead to better mindshare and positive feelings about your brand.
Although Facebook’s Edgerank may seem like a malicious money-grab to some, it’s really pushing you to do what’s best (extracting cash from those that won’t) – and making Facebook’s service more usable in the process.