This is the first in the Facebook Marketing Basics Series for beginning Facebook marketers.
What is Facebook EdgeRank?
EdgeRank is the algorithm that Facebook uses to decide what posts appear on Facebook users’ walls (also known as the “news feed”). Only a small percentage of the posts from users’ Facebook friends or brand pages users “Like” will actually appear in their news feed. This percentage can vary, and can be increased when friends or brand pages post more of that Facebook considers to be “engaging” content — content that gets lots of Likes, Shares and Comments.
Here’s a more detailed explanation of EdgeRank:
Facebook EdgeRank is comprised of three parts: Affinity, Weight and Time Decay.
Affinity: Facebook determines the relationship between you and the person posting. If that relationship is close (say, a close friend or family member OR a brand with whom you interact frequently) those posts score higher for Affinity and they are more likely to appear on your wall.
Weight: Facebook ranks certain types of posts higher than others. For example, Facebook tends to rank Photo posts higher than links. I’ll talk about this more below.
Time Decay: The older the post, the less likely it is to appear on your wall. This keeps your news feed looking up-to-date with the latest news.
Why is EdgeRank Important to Marketers?
Because the news feed is where most of your fans will see your content. 96% of fans will not return to your Facebook Page after Liking it. That’s right! The vast majority of their interaction with your brand and the things that you post to your page will be in their Facebook news feed.
So making sure your posts appear on your fans’ news feeds is critical to your success on Facebook. (Although it’s also a good idea to make sure users can find your Facebook Page in the first place, and that it looks attractive enough for them to Like.)
The Best Ways to Maximize EdgeRank
Should EdgeRank dictate how you post to Facebook? Not really. Attempts to “game the system” are generally exercises in frustration. However there are a few guidelines for posting that will help you improve the chances that your posts will appear in your Fan’s newsfeeds.
1. Post a variety of content.
2. Post photos and status updates more frequently than links.
3. Post frequently. At least once a day, if possible, with 4 hours minimum between each post.
What Does “Reach” Mean?
One way that Facebook lets you know if your posts are appearing on your fan’s walls is by sharing the “Reach” number at the bottom of each post. This number is visible to Page Managers only.
Facebook defines Reach as ‘the number of people who have seen your post in the first 28 days after a post’s publication [on both desktop and mobile]‘. ‘…Your post counts as having reached someone when it is loaded and shown in News Feed’.
In plain English that means, the number of people who saw your post in their news feed (wall).
As I mentioned in the previous section, this number is typically a small to medium percentage of your fan base. Two ways to increase your post’s reach are:
1. Post engaging content — when your fans Like, Share or Comment on your post, their friends are more likely to see it on their news feeds. Here’s an oldie-but-goodie post from my blog with some unique engagement ideas to try. Another engagement strategy is to run a Facebook contest.
2. Click on the “Boost Post” button (on some pages, this is called “Promote Post”) and pay to have your post reach more people. Yes, this costs money and shouldn’t be done lightly. Jay Baer gives some excellent advice on when to promote a Facebook post.
UPDATE August 2013: Facebook has made some changes to its newsfeed algorithm, including not calling it EdgeRank anymore. However, this post and the definition of the algorithm still applies. “The three primary EdgeRank factors — Affinity, Weight and Time Decay — are still important pieces of what is today a much more complicated News Feed ranking algorithm.” -Lars Backstrom, Facebook.
In other words, continue posting the most engaging content you can come up with. Read more about changes to the News Feed ranking algorithm.
Read more posts in the Facebook Marketing Basics Series: How to Schedule Facebook Posts.