The secret to Facebook’s News Feed Optimization
In part 2 of this series, we looked at simple strategies to get your team started on Facebook. Now that we have the basics down-pat, it’s time to take your team to the next level and give them and edge over everyone else!
Going forward into 2011, understanding how the News Feed works is absolutely critical for success on Facebook. Let me explain…
Have you ever wondered why some people post updates that attract a tonne of activity, while others post and you can almost hear the tumbleweeds? Like it or not, it’s because Facebook has an algorithm that decides whether or not your updates are important enough to show in the News Feed. And since Facebook displays the Top News section of the News Feed by default, this is how most people catch up on all of their friends activity. So if you aren’t showing up there, you’re basically invisible! A lot of people seem to be confused as to why their friends or fans haven’t seen their latest updates. It’s not because they’re not interested in you, it’s because Facebook’s algorithm determines what it thinks you’ll find interesting! Given that many people have hundreds, if not thousands of friends, it makes sense that your unique News Feed displays content that’s deemed to be the most relevant to you.
The bad news is that new people who don’t have an online support Tribe will have a hard time gaining exposure initially. Here’s why:
- Their interaction history is almost non existent, so the ‘affinity’ value of anything they post is going to be pretty low.
- Since a new person has very few friends, its hard to build up your initial affinity. And since people with more friends who have been around longer will have a higher affinity score than you, the chances of showing in the News Feed of someone popular is extremely unlikely.
As a marketer on Facebook, understanding how to get into the Top News Feed could be the single most important strategy you learn
The good news is, that understanding News Feed Optimization (NFO) is pretty simple. The secret is to take a close look at their algorithm, otherwise known as EdgeRank.
Believe it or not, that less than edgy picture of EdgeRank holds the key to successful visibility on Facebook! EdgeRank is simply an algorithm, just as Google’s PageRank is and it will rank what it deems to be important. Before we break it down, there’s a bit of Facebook jargon to understand:
- Object ~ This simply means content e.g. a status update, a photo, a link or a video.
- Edge ~ This is basically any interaction that occurs with the object e.g. Likes, comments, tagging or sharing.
Now lets have a look at EdgeRank
- The affinity score between the viewing user and the edge/content creator. If you regularly interact and engage with another person’s objects, your affinity score with that person will rise. What this means is that their objects will be more likely to show up in your News Feed. Unfortunately constantly engaging with that person doesn’t mean that your objects will necessarily show in their news feed. There are some strategies you can implement here though which I’ll get into in a minute.
- The weight for this type of edge. Now this is the part of the algorithm that Facebook doesn’t completely reveal. From the research I’ve done it appears comments carry more weight than likes. All in all though, it’s the combination of all interactions that contribute to the weight.
- Time decay factor. Unlike Google’s PageRank where authority accumulates over time, an objects authority in the News Feed gathers dust after about 48 hours.
FB also states that they factor in the of the type of object you created. Given that links videos etc create engagement, they seem to be favored over status updates with plain text. Watch this space though as I’ve noticed a trend towards favoring their newest products e.g. check in’s through places.
So how do you use this knowledge to your advantage?
If it isn’t obvious yet, making it into the Top News Feed should be an important part of your overall strategy on Facebook.
In part 2 of this series we covered strategically connecting with thought leaders and people of influence in your niche. The question is, how do you get into their News Feed?
Unfortunately all the commenting and likes that you do on their profile, won’t have you showing up in their News Feed. When you engage with their objects, this builds your affinity towards them. Put simply, this will result in them showing up in your News Feed but not the other way around. So whats the answer?
- Create interesting and engaging objects that make the Top News Feed in their own right due to the amount of edge they receive.
- Leave valuable and interesting feedback on their objects so that they become curious enough to visit your profile directly. Once you have them interacting with your content, their affinity score towards you will increase and so will your chances of showing in their News Feed.
On a final note, you want to start testing the different days and times that engagement is at it’s highest. Social Media Management company Vitrue, who analyzed Facebook Fan Page data from 2007 – 2010, came up with some interesting findings in their white paper ‘The Anatomy of a Facebook post which you can download here. Mashable did a great story on this 2 months ago highlighting the busiest time for conversations is 3pm US EST. Keep in mind that this was a study of Fan Pages. If you look a little closer, you’ll find that this includes brands that promote coupons at the time of day that people are hungry etc. It’s only through testing and tweaking your own posts, that you’ll be able to discover when your audience are most likely to give your object an edge!
If you’ve found this helpful and you think News Feed Optimization is something your friends would find valuable, make sure you share this on Facebook. I would love to hear your thoughts and comments below on how understanding EdgeRank has helped your visibility.