Note: This article first appeared on Social Media Examiner. It has been updated since original publication.
Ever wonder why you can have 548 friends on Facebook yet only 15-20 show up in your news feed? It’s not that those other friends have stopped using Facebook. Chances are, they are still there. It’s just that they aren’t showing up in your news feed.
If you haven’t noticed, there are two settings on your Facebook news feed: “Most Recent” which shows most of the content published by your Facebook fans in chronological order and “Top Stories,” which filters content based on “edgerank.” Friends and fan pages with a high edgrank are more likely to show in your “Top Stories” stream. Users with a low edgrank may not even show in your “Most Recent” news feed.
For businesses or others looking to market, promote or just interact through Facebook, the implications of this are huge. “Top Stories” is the default setting so unless a friend or fan changes his default, it’s quite possible that they will never see your updates. No matter how good the content, no matter how well you manage your Facebook page, edgerank might be holding you back.
Facebook looks at everything published as “objects.” These can be status updates, links, photos, video or anything else that can be shared on Facebook. Every object receives a ranking (edgrank) which determines if it will show in your personal news feed. Objects with a high edgrank appear in your “Top Stories” feed. Objects with a low edgrank will not. According to a study conducted by The Daily Beast, objects with a really low edgrank may not even show in your “Most Recent” news feed.
An object’s Edgerank is based on three factors: affinity or the relationship between the creator and user, interaction with the object (likes, comments, etc) and timeliness. Add the three factors together using a formula that only Facebook truly knows and you’ve got an object’s edgerank.
Unlike Google’s Page Rank which stays the same from user to user, every object is scored based upon the individual Facebook user who may (or may not) view the object in his or her news feed.
Let’s take a closer look at the three factors that determine edgerank.
An object’s affinity score is based upon the interactions you have with the “friend” or fan page that published the object. Friends or fan pages with whom you regularly interact receive a higher affinity score. Each time you visit a fan page, click the “like” button, comment on a user’s status or look at a picture, you increase the affinity score with that user.
As The Daily Beast study points out, this affinity score only works one way. I can’t increase my affinity score in another user’s feed by constantly clicking on his “like” buttons or looking at his pictures. Although doing so will increase the likelihood that you’ll see their updates, your objects won’t do better in their his feed until he returns the favor.
Level of Interaction
Different types of interactions are weighted differently in Facebook’s eyes. Activities which require higher levels of user engagement get a higher score than those that don’t. For example, leaving a comment on a photo takes more effort on the user’s part than clicking the “like” button. Objects that receive higher levels of interaction are more likely to show in a users news feed.
Most people don’t want to read yesterday’s news. Newer objects have a better chance of showing up in your news feed than older ones.
Armed with an understanding of these three elements, there are a number of things you can do to increase the likelihood that your content or objects will appear in your friends’ or fans’ “Top News” feed.
Publish Objects that Encourage Interaction
Unless they are interesting enough to draw comments, simple status updates aren’t going to move you into Top News feeds. Publish content that naturally encourages click throughs or creates discussion. Objects such as creative games that require a response (ie. trivia, caption contests) open up opportunities to add highly weighted interaction and build affinity with new users.
Create a Forum
Ever notice how political comments on Facebook can generate a ton of comments? Although it doesn’t take long to realize that Facebook and politics don’t mix, people love to debate and discuss hot issues. Make your fan page a place a place for constructive discussion on the latest industry topics. Although this approach takes careful management, objects from a fan page filled with healthy discussion are more likely to receive a higher edgerank.
Make the Most of Photos and Videos
Photos and videos show up in the Facebook news feed as thumbnail images. Due to their size, they almost require interaction as users click on them to make them large enough to see. Be sure to add a comment that encourages users to open the photo and add comments of their own.
Links require interaction as users click on the link to view the object. While it’s good to share content from your own website, don’t be afraid to promote content of interest from other sources. Twitter users discovered long ago that the more content of value you share, the better chance you have of driving followers to your own content when the time comes. Again, a comment that encourages opening the link or leaving comments can go a long way.
Keep it Fresh
The Facebook stream moves quick. If you’ve got objects that aren’t getting a response, don’t be afraid to let them go and move on to the next thing. If the object is good but didn’t get the response you desired, consider repurposing it or sending it out again at a different time of day.
Ask Users to Share
Don’t be afraid to ask users to share objects or click on the like button – especially if you are new to Facebook. It can take a little while for a Facebook page to gain momentum. Anything you can do to help it along will only speed the process.
Although the introduction of edgerank may make it more difficult to share information on Facebook, ultimately it still comes down to content. Publishing content that users want to share and interact with has always been vital to any Facebook marketing campaign. With the recent Facebook changes, that content may now need a little extra push to give it the attention it deserves.