Facebook needs to be a part of your marketing. It now has well over 1 billion users. For the sake of this article we’re going to assume you’re already on board with FB and have set up a fan page for your business. What does it all mean though? There are fans, likes, posts –how do they all work together? More importantly, how can you get more of your message in your customers’ news feeds?
Step 1 Eliminate the myths.
Anytime you’re dealing with newer technologies you are apt to run across new myths and misconceptions. One we hear all the time from clients is, “If I post it on my FB page all my fans will see it” or the counter statement, “I have a lot of fans, but it doesn’t seem like my posts get seen by them.” Well that’s because FB relies on a proprietary system called “EdgeRank.”
Step 2 Learn about EdgeRank.
Facebook and their army of engineers have come up with an algorithm designed to select the content that users are shown in their newsfeeds. It also determines how high your posts will be displayed. This is an integral part of the Facebook system and it is important that you understand how it works. Knowing the details can help you ensure your posts get seen.
Step 3 What are the ‘Edges’?
If we have an EdgeRank, then there must be Edges right? Generally speaking these ‘Edges’ are things that happen on FB including status updates, comments, shares, likes etc. For the sake of simplicity we’re going to keep things on a surface level.
Step 4 How is EdgeRank calculated?
Don’t worry I won’t be asking you to do any long division. But the basic equation that determines where your posts will end up is this: Rank = Affinity x Weight x Decay
Each of the Edges (likes, comments etc.) is made up of three key factors that form it. These are Affinity, Weight and Decay. The higher each of these factors is, the higher the EdgeRank. The higher the EdgeRank, the more people see your content.
Step 5 Learn a bit more about each Edge, or elements of the equation.
Affinity – this is a measure of the closeness the viewing user is to the content creator. If a user has many interactions (likes, comments etc.) with the Edges of a specific fan page then their affinity will be greater. Anecdotally, you may have noticed that you tend to see more stories from pages you have recently interacted with. While you may have ‘liked’ hundreds of pages, you are more likely to see content from the ones you may have recently commented on, liked etc.
Weight –Every type of Edge, whether it is a question, photo, update etc., is given a weighting. If you publish content of a greater weight you are more likely to increase your Edgerank. We’ll dig into that subject a bit more later on. Worthy of noting though is that actions that are more user intensive (e.g. a comment versus a like) may be of a higher weight. The concept is relatively simple. If a user took the time to write a comment they are more engaged than simply clicking the like button.
Decay – While I’m writing this around Halloween, decay in this context is not particularly morbid. In our example decay simply means the length of time since the edge was created. In very broad terms Facebook gives preference to items recently created, posted etc.
Step 6 Learn how EdgeRank affects your content.
The little FB elves simply calculate all of the ‘Edges’ related to your piece of content. Generally the content with the highest EdgeRank will be placed at the top of the feed. I use the term “generally” because sometimes Facebook just likes to mix it up with a curveball.
Step 7 Back to the Weight of your content.
It seems as though there is a bit of a consensus around the office. Certain types of content seem to affect the weight more than others. Because I’m trying to keep this article fairly short we’re going to just mention this briefly. After looking through dozens of reports it appears that photos do very well as well as video posts. To be clear, this is not an exhaustive research project, just a generalization regarding our clients and past experiences. There are many factors that may have played into our statistics including which photos were posted and time of day, but it does appear that overall we have been successful with images.
Step 8 Making some progress on your EdgeRank
EdgeRank is a proprietary formula. In other words we only know a few of the factors involved or else it would be a secret algorithm right? We can’t predict exactly what will happen, but we can suggest a few things that may help you to increase your EdgeRank.
Keep Posting! If you keep posting regular content you keep your page fresh thereby reducing the decay levels.
Keep posting a variety of things! While data suggests that certain types of posts may carry more weight, it is important to mix it up. A good blend of content will give you the data to look at which posts engaged your audience effectively.
Keep them guessing by posting at different times of the day. Find out what time of day your posts are most likely to be read and responded to by your fans.
Measure your posts. You don’t have to rely on outside software packages to accurately measure your results. FB has provided some fairly in-depth tools to help you evaluate your content. Take a look at this data regularly to see your impressions, reach etc. Then use this information to focus on the types of posts and times posted that work best for you.
Step 10, Conclusion
What does this all mean to us? Well if you’re a marketer or owner of a business you have to can no longer just throw things against the wall and to see if they stick. Social Media is now completely measurable. Take a look at your results and see which posts are effective. Use your time wisely, it’s a limited commodity.
Facebook lists this piece of advice on their site. “Posting regularly with engaging content gets more people to talk about your business with their friends. As a result, you end up reaching more people overall.”
Good advice indeed. Post often, post well, use multi-media images and video and you should be on your way to getting your content at the top of your fans’ newsfeeds.