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Facebook’s EdgeRank, in a nutshell

Henry Elliss
Henry Elliss
Managing Director
1 November 2011

If you’ve not come across EdgeRank before, I wanted to give a quick round-up of what it is, why you should care about it and some tips on how you can influence it. These tips apply just as much to marketers and Facebook page owners as they do to individual users. So whether you want to get your Facebook brand updates seen by more people, or just wonder why some of your personal status updates get more replies than others, here’s a quick intro:

What is EdgeRank?

Just like the search engines we all know and love, Facebook utilise a number of algorithms as part of their system for sharing information. EdgeRank is the algorithm which determines who sees what, basically – it determines what social “objects” (i.e. updates, posts, photos, actions etc) you will see in your Facebook news feed.

Why should I care about it?

Whether you work in marketing or just run an amateur Facebook page for your favourite band, knowing what you can do to have your updates seen by a wider audience is the key to spreading the word about your content. EdgeRank can make or break your updates – knowing how to exploit it can open you up to an audience you never previously had access to, of which the benefits are obvious.

How do we know about it?

Unlike Google, who keep their algorithms pretty close to their chest, Facebook regularly discuss the factors that make up their algorithms – particularly EdgeRank, at conferences and events for Facebook Developers. Unlike in SEO, where revealing the algorithm would immediately opens it up for exploitation, having people know the basics of Facebook’s algorithm (theoretically) just encourages people to create better content – which should be win-win for both Facebook and the user.

So what factors make up EdgeRank?

According to the Facebook nerds, EdgeRank is made up of three distinct “edges”:

  • Affinity – i.e. how well connected you are to the audience. You can see this in action as a regular Facebook user – if you regularly find yourself sharing content with certain users, Facebook will increase your “affinity” and you’ll see their content a lot more often. The same works with brands and pages – the more a user interacts with you, the more likely they are to see your content at other times.
  • Weight – i.e. how popular a piece of content is, as well as WHAT it is. Popular wisdom tells us that Video, Photos and Links have more weight than a regular status update, and are thus more likely to be shared with your followers. Weight is unique to different users though – if you’re the type of user that watches videos a lot, videos will be given a higher weight in your news feed.
  • Recency – i.e. how fresh the content is. To put this in simple terms, newer content is given more preferential treatment than old. Seems pretty obvious really, but it’s good to know that this is a factor.

A generic piece of clip-art showing a graph, obviouslyHow can you improve your EdgeRank?

EdgeRank seems to be the most popular topic for eBooks this year – you can find interesting pieces from Econsultancy, Social Media Examiner, Mashable and TechCrunch for a start. But as this is an “in a nutshell” guide, here’s a few tips to get you started:

  • Post content that encourages interaction. If you follow a lot of big brands that seem to show up on your feed more often than others, you’ll notice that they post updates that seem to get a LOT of responses. Whether it’s posing an interesting question, sparking debate with a controversial statement, or simply chatting with your fans – encouraging debate works wonders for EdgeRank
  • Use media creatively – one thing I’ve noticed seems to work particularly well for photos is to ask for funny caption suggestions…
  • Encourage tagging – people tagging themselves in photos immediately opens that content up to a wider base of the taggers friends, which is one of the reasons that brands often run “tag yourself and win a prize” competitions.
  • Encourage actions – don’t be afraid (once in a while) to ask for an action from fans, such as sharing a piece of content or hitting “like” underneath it. A word of warning though: incentivising people to do this (i.e. offering up a prize in exchange) can fall foul of Facebook’s promotional terms, so be very careful…
  • Post regularly – though don’t spam. Ensuring you have fresh content up every day (and at different times of day) means you’re giving out the right freshness “signals”, and also makes you less reliant on short-term success having an impact.

How do I know if I’m doing it right?

In simple terms, you’ll start seeing more interactions – though you need to keep a close eye on Facebook Insights to give you more fine-tuned information. There are also a number of services that claim to check your actual EdgeRank, including EdgeRankChecker.

So there you have it – EdgeRank in a nutshell! And we didn’t even try to sell you an eBook or a webinar either – that might be a first when it comes to EdgeRank guides… : )

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