You might assume that your Facebook fans see all the posts you make. After all, they like your page, right? Wrong!
Behind the scenes of Facebook, there is a news feed algorithm that determines who sees your posts in the news feed and who doesn’t. It’s called the EdgeRank, and it’s something worth looking into if you want to understand how many different factors play into the success of your Facebook fan page.
As seen in the graphic above, by @ladyxtel, Facebook’s EdgeRank may seem complicated at first glance. Upon further investigation, though, it’s actually only a matter of a few factors (plus some secret code) that make the whole thing work! Essentially, the EdgeRank is an ever-changing “score” for your page and the posts it publishes, and that score determines who sees each post and how far a single post travels through the news feed.
Though the specific algorithm (code) behind the ranking system is kept secret by Facebook, we can break down the three other most important factors in computing the EdgeRank. These factors will have the biggest impact on your Facebook marketing efforts, and should therefore be considered of utmost importance in your marketing plan.
1. The affinity score between the viewer and the creator. Facebook keeps tabs on how frequently a user interacts with a certain friend or brand page. The more a user views a particular brand page or engages with their posts (by liking or commenting), the higher the affinity score between that user and brand. For example, if I always “like” and comment on Fanpage Toolkit’s status updates, Facebook raises the affinity score between Fanpage Tooklit and my personal profile, making it more likely that Fanpage Toolkit posts will continue to show up in my news feed. Basically, this is a positive feed-back loop.
2. The weight of each type of engagement action and post type. Facebook “weighs” each form of engagement with a post (like, comment, share, etc.) and factors this weight into the EdgeRank. We’ve heard that studies have shown a “like” has a smaller engagement weight than a comment, for example, while a “share” has the greatest, most influential weight of all actions. Similarly, the type of post you make as a brand page carries a weight factor. Photo posts, for example, have more weight than a plain text status update or link. Think about the weight of your posts and how your fans engage with the posts when considering your content strategy. With these facts in mind, theoretically, a photo posted from your brand page that is then shared by many fans would create the highest weight in the EdgeRank, exposing your post to the maximum number of users. More on that below.
3. The time of posting (or how old a post is). This is the most logical factor in determining the EdgeRank. Older posts have less of an Edge, simple as that. Just like Twitter, the Facebook news feed is an ever-updating stream of information. As posts get older throughout a day, the less likely they are to appear to users. In the case that a post receives engagement (after it has passed its prime time), users may see the post brought back to the surface of the news feed. But, in general, page admins should keep time of posting in mind when creating content. I spoke about posting strategies in an earlier blog, and timing is clearly something you should consider when updating your Facebook page.
So, we see that a clear factor in one’s EdgeRank is the type of content posted from brand pages. Are you taking that content factor into your posting strategy? Do you alternate what types of posts you create for your fans? Some of the most memorable posts by brand pages I can remember are photos, and of those posts, the brands usually get a “like” out of me and their fans. In the best cases, I share their photo. It’s no wonder, then, that photos were found to earn the most engagement per fan in studies of Facebook posting strategies. In a great post by Small Business Search Marketing, the results are clear. Photos earn the most engagement.
The beauty about posting engaging photos is that the more a single user interacts with your content (a photo, for example) the more that future content of yours is likely to show up in their news feed! By making the connection to fans with content such as a photo, in the first place, you set yourself up to increase your page’s EdgeRank.
After learning about what the EdgeRank is, and for those wondering how their page ranks in the scheme of things, you can certainly try out EdgeRank Checker for yourself, as they offer a great, comprehensive service for pages interested in increasing their visibility on Facebook.
Create Unique Content for Facebook
One of the greatest errors a social media marketing professional can make is to post the same content across multiple platforms. First of all, many features like name tagging and hash tags (#) don’t translate between Facebook and Twitter, but more importantly, each platform achieves engagement based on very different post types and strategies. Posting Twitter-like content to Facebook will not achieve the best engagement for a post, HURTING your EdgeRank. In fact, Facebook users seem to “like” posts that are just a bit longer than Twitter’s 140 character limit. With this in mind, make Facebook content that takes advantage of the longer character limit.
Clearly, people engage differently on Facebook than Twitter, but people also respond differently to certain types of posts within Facebook. Below, we’ve outlined what has been considered to be the best posting strategies for the different types of Facebook posts.
The BEST Types of Posts for EdgeRank on Facebook
- Photo with a minimum of 140 characters of descriptive text
- Link with a long description to introduce it
- Status with a long (280+) character body
- Video with a long (280+) character introduction
The WORST Types of Posts for EdgeRank on Facebook
- Photo with an excessively lengthy description
- Link with a short description (not enough context)
- Status under 140 characters in length
- Video with a very short description or introduction
We suggest keeping this list of best/worst post types around when creating content for your Facebook page. There are equally as many “bad” types of posts you could make as compared to “good.” Of course, this list should not bee seen as an easy “solution” to the EdgeRank algorithm, it is just a helpful set of guidelines for achieving maximum engagement for page posts (which in turn, improves the EdgeRank score of your page and posts).
Though EdgeRanking may seem a bit complicated, it is clear that there are a few definite strategies you can draw upon to increase your odds of standing out in the Facebook news feed. To wrap up, I leave you with a couple summarizing take-away points.
- Create different content for Facebook and Twitter, and DO NOT auto-post a single status to both accounts. Using Twitter hash tags in Facebook posts do nothing, and will only turn people away from engaging on Facebook.
- Ensure that photos are a part of your posting schedule. Work them into your content calendar
- Lead each photo, video, or link with a text description. People want to know the context of what they’re watching, clicking, or seeing.
Hopefully you’ve learned a little bit more about what is happening behind the scenes with you post from your Facebook page. Have you had any success with specific posting strategies, or have you found a better way to resonate with your fans through posts? As the EdgeRank and posting strategies evolve we’ll keep you updated, so stay tuned!
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