Visitors to Facebook pages will be familiar with the options above that appear when viewing their News Feed. By default, Facebook displays the ‘Top news’ stories as determined by an algorithm called EdgeRank. By clicking the ‘Most recent’ option Facebook users can switch back to the original view which shows everything posted by your friends in chronological order. The number (276 in the example above) shows how many items in total have hit your news feed since you last visited.
The ‘Most recent’ link is regularly clicked by just over half of all Facebook users and it probably should be called ‘Everything’ as that’s what it gives you. Facebook is, however, understandably keen to keep its users on the ‘Top news’ view because this helps maintain the relevance and quality of the content they see. It also prevents over-jealous frequent contributors from dominating the default feed; an experience that would frustrate many users.
So, what is this mysterious EdgeRank algorithm and how does it decide what appears within the default ‘Top news’ view?
Meet Dave: Think of EdgeRank as an intelligent fireman, let’s call him Dave, who controls the firehoses of content coming from all of your friends and fans on Facebook. Without Dave you’d be constantly flooded with updates from multiple sources, but thankfully Dave knows which hoses typically bring you the type of showering you enjoy. So Dave works silently in the background for you opening and closing hoses based on your personal preferences. (image credit: Wikimedia)
Here’s how EdgeRank is calculated. The EdgeRank score attributed to each newsfeed object is derived from three factors:
EdgeRank = Affinity x Weight x Time Decay
- Affinity (u): based on how often the user or user’s friends interact with content form the Page that published the content. Note that affinity is not two-directional, i.e. if you have an affinity for content from someone else, they do not have to have any affinity for the content you create.
- Weight (w): each type of content is weighted differently for each user based on the user’s past interactions with each type of content. So, for example, if you regularly interact with photos that are posted, other posts with photos will be given higher priority
- Time Decay (d): the age of the post, the fresher it is the better
Understanding how EdgeRank works is essential if you want to make sure the posts you make on Facebook stand the best possible chance of being seen by friends or fans.
So, here are my nine top tips on how to protect and enhance the EdgeRank of your Facebook posts and pages:
- Monitor how many interactions you get for different types of content. If few people click video links you share, maybe video content is not the best thing for your audience. Or, maybe it’s the time of day you’re posting that is causing low interaction levels; test posting at different times.
- Shift some emphasis from acquisition to engagement. Many page owners are obsessed with growing their fan-base instead of worrying about how engaged their fans are. Disengaged fans are worthless as you’ll never appear in their Top news view. Break the cycle by finding ways to re-engage existing fans before you recruit new fans.
- Avoid posting multiple instances of the same link. Clickthrough rates will drop and your EdgeRank will be penalised.
- Links within the Facebook environment are given higher ranking than links to external content but don’t fret about this too much. It’s far better to share a great link than one whose provenance lies within Facebook.
- Try to get fans to upload their own content like videos and photos so you can engage with their content to encourage reciprocal behaviour.
- When posting, little and regular work best. A steady stream of updates is far better than fits and starts. Don’t be too predictable, but do be consistent.
- Make your calls to action really obvious and highly visible to maximise interaction levels. Asking questions and inviting a response can do wonders; that’s what social media is all about after all.
- Create social objects, little pieces of content that invite a response and are likely to be shared by others. If you’re very lucky and your content goes viral, your EdgeRank will soar.
- If interaction levels are poor, low affinity levels may make your EdgeRank irretrievably weak. Evaluate advertising to existing fans who are perhaps no longer seeing your news feed content to encourage them to re-engage with you.
- EdgeRank Q&As on Quora: http://www.quora.com/EdgeRank
- TechCrunch: http://techcrunch.com/2010/04/22/facebook-edgerank/
- Get Elastic: http://www.getelastic.com/edgerank-explained/