Hacking Facebook’s Edgerank: Part 1

Earlier this year, Facebook announced that the average Page post reaches only 16% of fans. This had some marketers wondering if buying into the social media hype was worth the investment. However with Google’s recent Panda 3.9 update and Bing’s continuing social search integration efforts, social media has proven to be more than just a buzzword.  With social becoming a heavy search influencer, social media’s largest network is something marketers cannot afford to ignore.

So how can your business compete for newsfeed face time against Facebook marketing giants like Coca Cola or Red Bull? Before reaching for paid options like Facebook’s Reach Generator or Sponsored Stories, make sure your page is taking full advantage of Facebook’s organic reach. Understanding Facebook’s Edgerank algorithm is the first step in crafting a successful Facebook marketing strategy.

What is Edgerank?

Facebook optimizes news feed content based on what is most interesting to you. As Facebook engineer, Phil Zigoris, explained to Inc.com, the news feed algorithm, “takes many factors into account… including how often two people interact, how many people have liked, commented on, or shared a story, and the type of content that is being shown.”

We can break Edgerank down into an equation of three components:

1. Affinity Score: Affinity is used to describe the level of interaction between your page and the viewing user. If a user often visits our page and/or frequently interacts with your page posts, your post has an increased chance of appearing in this user’s newsfeed.

2. Edgeweight: Each object in your newsfeed can be described as an edge. Facebook algorithm assigns each type of edge (status update, photo, video, etc.) with a corresponding ‘weight.’ Edges that inspire increased user engagement, such as photos, boast a heavier Edgerank influence than a text status update.   The weight varies depending on precisely how fans interact with your content. Likes and tags will certainly give your post a boost, but comments add the most ‘weight’.  Why? Since comments require the most effort (and reputational risk) from the user, Facebook considers the strongest signal of user interest.  Now with Timeline in the mix, posts with the strongest Edgerank for each user will make the newsfeed’s top stories, while ‘light weight’ actions, such as Likes, may be relegated to the ticker.

3. Freshness: This third element is a bit simpler—the older the post, the less likely it is to appear in your audience’s newsfeed.

Now we’ve laid a solid foundation to understanding how Facebook filters a newsfeed.

Next week: we’ll feature a follow up post to dish a few tips on how you can maximize your Page reach. Stay tuned!