If you’ve been operating your brand’s Facebook page as one of many lead generation techniques, you may have noticed that some pages appear higher and more consistently on your News Feed than others and you’re probably wondering why that’s happening. Answer: Facebook ranking algorithm.
If you have content that previously performed really well for you but no longer does, it’s safe to say that the algorithm impacts you. Even though I’m not a mathematician, I understand how EdgeRank works, so I’ll do my best to explain the Facebook ranking algorithm in practical terms.
The ranking algorithm used to sort and prioritize content found in the News Feed is named “EdgeRank.” It behaves similarly to Google’s PageRank, which is used to provide users with the best possible search experience, but Facebook’s EdgeRank is designed to sort content immediately, so the freshest and most popular items shoot the top and the less intriguing content can be discovered by scrolling down.
You must first understand that on Facebook, everything is an “object.” A post you publish on your Page is an object on its own, but so are comments and Likes on your post. Every object is being continually measured from the moment it’s published to the moment it falls off the scroll of your fans’ News Feeds. What does this mean? It means every activity involving your Facebook Page and every reaction to that activity is being used to self-regulate the delivery of content to fans. Objects aren’t limited to Page posts; they include Likes, event invites, event RSVPs, comments, shares, page views, video plays and practically any other type of activity a user can perform on Facebook. Facebook describes these objects as “Edges,” which could be interpreted as different types of content and activities. Facebook’s Open Graph treats everything as an object, which ultimately influences EdgeRank.
So, here’s the current breakdown of the Facebook EdgeRank formula, which was announced at their 2011 developer conference:
This formula breaks down to these variables. It’s okay; there won’t be a test afterward.
Edges – Any interaction a person has with an object. (Examples: Likes, comments, shares, RSVPs, tagging, etc.)
Affinity – The relationship between an Edge creator and a user. Think of this as the degrees of separation and conversely, how many people are in common between a user and an Edge creator.
Weight – This measures the interaction (reaction) to the media type from the Edge. Example: Bob comments on Sally’s photos frequently. He also shares the Page’s post frequently.
Decay – How new or old is this content from the Edge creator and user and similarly, is this content new or old amongst their friends?
Internally, Facebook ranks and scores every Edge/object for every user. Let me clarify a little more: Facebook’s EdgeRank is designed to rank content for users– not brands. Unlike Google’s PageRank, EdgeRank changes rapidly and operates in real-time to new content. Facebook Pages are only one Edge (or object) type. You’re battling it out among user’s friends, photos, videos, celebrities, games and other sponsored content. Simply, EdgeRank is designed to score a user’s behavior to induce more favorable behavior for Facebook.
All of this happens behind the scenes, so you don’t know what your EdgeRank scores are, nor one’s Affinity, Weight or Decay. Facebook stores this data securely on their servers and doesn’t allow it to be accessed by third-parties. Despite some online services claim to provide one’s EdgeRank, it’s flawed to say a Page has EdgeRank, as it is only one variable among many being used to rank the News Feed.
Now, let’s put it all together so it benefits small businesses that operate Facebook Pages.
- Try different media types. This means mixing up and using photos, videos, polls and more to communicate with fans. Likewise, try using Facebook’s own targeting tools to send updates to the most appropriate fans.
- Publish at different intervals. If you often publish between 8AM and 5PM, consider different hours so you can be the “freshest” content available at 8PM at night.
- Publish less frequently. Unlike Twitter, content published from a page is often not seen by more than 3% of fans at a time, which can be seen as a detriment to your News Feed ranking, according to the algorithm. So, instead of publishing several times daily, try a limiting to several times per week, and you’ll likely see improved presence in the News Feed.
- Don’t worry about EdgeRank. The algorithm has changed many times before and it will likely change again. You aren’t striving to attain a high EdgeRank score; it’s there to help you understand how Facebook prioritizes and displays content to users.
- Continue to engage and provide interesting content. There is no “cookie-cutter” template for ideal posts to publish on Facebook. It’s always real-time, so continue to try new ideas, measure its impact and give yourself permission to makes mistakes and try again.
I hope this overview clarified Facebook’s EdgeRank process so that you have a better understanding of how and why content appears in the News Feeds and for how long. Now, go on and create some amazing content that inspires your fans to share and interact with you!
For more marketing tips for your small business, download “The Infusionsoft Guide to Sales and Marketing.”