In a nutshell, Edgerank is the force that dictates who will see your Facebook posts and when and where they’ll be seen.
There are over 800 million active users on Facebook, 50% of whom will login daily. According to a recent study by the Washington Post, the average user has 245 friends, who spend 700 minutes a month posting comments, pictures, links and videos, updating their status, and generally interacting with other users. Now consider that every 60 seconds on Facebook there are:
That’s a lot of activity, and Facebook needs a system to help order that content.
Understanding how search engines work is critical to success in search marketing. Of course, the ultimate goal for SEOs is to improve the visibility of websites within the major search engines, thus increasing website traffic and goal conversions.
Visibility is equally important when it comes to social media marketing. For instance, if you’re utilising twitter as part of a marketing campaign, it’s essential to schedule your tweets at times which will achieve maximum visibility.
Tweets are displayed according to the time that they are tweeted, so no matter how brilliant your content is, if you tweet while all of your followers are tucked away in bed, there’s little chance of it being seen.
Facebook is different, as it operates in a similar way to a search engine; it displays content in the News Feed according to what it deems as important, meaning content considered newsworthy can sit at the top of the News Feed for an extended period of time.
The method in which Facebook ranks content in the News Feed is called ‘Edgerank’ and is arguably the most important thing to consider when it comes to Facebook marketing.
As internet marketers, keeping up with Google’s ever-evolving algorithm is a constant battle. Edgerank is different, as it’s influenced by a handful of fairly simple factors.
What is an Edge?
An edge is effectively any interaction within Facebook. This includes updating your status, commenting, likes and shares, uploading a photo, making changes to your relationship status etc..
What affects Edgerank?
Edgerank is based on ‘Affinity’; an algorithmic score of how’ close’ you are with someone. Facebook measures your friendships by the amount of interaction you have with another person. This includes commenting on your best buddy’s status updates, check-ins, liking and sharing their photos, posting on their walls, even messaging can influence your Affinity.
It’s Affinity which affects who of your friends’ updates you see the most.
However, Affinity is not a one way thing, and it takes two to tango in the world of Facebook. Two way interaction is required to strengthen the bonds of friendship, so just because you regularly ‘like’ someone else’s status, doesn’t mean you’ll appear more frequently in their News Feed.
For marketers, the best way to strengthen Affinity with ‘fans’ is not in liking every piece of content they post, but by inviting them to interact with your own content.
Weight is a score system that judges the value of a certain interactions. We give weight to different pieces of content based on how we interact with it on Facebook (through shares, comments, likes and clicks). These interactions are assigned a different weight/value or ‘importance rating’. Generally, actions involving higher levels of engagement are deemed more important.
The amount of weight given to interactions is ranked in the following order:
Share > Comment > Like > Click
Posts that have a lot of shares will generally remain in a friend’s news feed longer. A high number of comments will give a good amount of weight to a post, but likes and clicks tend to be of lower value in Edgerank.
However, not all content is considered equal in the eyes of Facebook. Typically Facebook prioritises different pieces of content according to its format.
Content weight is prioritised in the following order:
Videos > Photos > Status Updates > Links
Videos are considered the ‘juiciest’ content by Facebook, while photos also carry a fair bit of weight. This is why videos and photos tend to remain at the top of a news feed for a longer period of time.
A post which has a high numbers of shares, comments and likes will continue to loiter in a news feed for much longer than a post with no interactions at all. However, Edgerank score does naturally decay over time, and posts with low interaction will tend to disappear quickly.
The volume of Facebook users who actually see posts is quite small; Techcrunch suggests that the figure is around 12%. So for businesses it is important to publish content that encourages a high volume of social interaction.
It’s also important to consider that on average, 84% of Facebook users who ‘like’ a Facebook Page will never return to that Page or/and will never see your post in their News Feed.
It’s important that marketers spend less time worrying about increasing their number of Page likes, and focus more on engaging their audiences.
Many brands use Facebook, but few have mastered the art of true engagement. One brand that sticks out in my mind for its effective use of engagement is Cadbury Wispa. Anyone looking for examples of content that inspires user interaction should take a look at www.facebook.com/wispa.
Here are some tips for boosting Edgerank:
Post content that sparks engagement
Ask engaging questions to encourage a response from your audience. Even better, start a debate. To improve Affinity with your ‘fans’, it is essential for there to be two way engagement. Not only will discussion strengthen Affinity with your fans (thus increasing the visibility of your posts in their news feeds), but lots of engagement with your content will also increase its chances of staying at the top of users’ News Feeds.
Cadbury took Facebook engagement to the next level when they decided to re-release old time chocolate favourite Wispa Gold, after a collective of fans petitioned for it on Facebook.
Post lots of multimedia images and videos
Images and videos hold more weight than text alone. If you are making any important announcements or promotions for your business try posting your content in the form of a picture rather than just plain old text. Try to choose multimedia that will interest your audience and encourage social shares, likes and comments.
Encourage your audience to do something
Ensure that there is a clear call to action on the majority of your posts and think about what it is you want your audience to do; click a link which takes them to a page on your website? add a comment to your post? like your post? Whatever it is, your call to action must be clear and simple.
Time-decay is one of the three pillars of Edgerank, and the timing of a post is important. Ideally, content should be posted at a time when it will be visible to the most amount of people. Consider the location of your audience, and time differences.
To reiterate, marketers need to spend less time worrying about increasing their number of Page likes, and focus more on engaging their audiences.
Edgerank is an algorithm, but success truly lies in the ability to create good quality content and engage with audiences on a human level.