Get an Edge on Facebook; Edgerank, Post Reach, and Ads Explained
Why do some posts turn up on one friend’s or fan’s page and not another’s and why do some post have great visibility and reach while others are nearly invisible? It’s not random, it is based on relationships and activity; and this is true for both Personal Profiles (individual Facebook profiles) and Business Pages (formerly Fan Pages). This blog is based on our presentation at Social Media Day Miami, #SMDayMIA and the presentation is available on Slideshare with examples of ads and some additional information.
Facebook uses an algorithm called Edgerank to calculate a numerical value for each “edge” (post, share, etc.) and Edgerank determines what posts show up where. Posts with high Edgeranks show up on more news feeds and have much greater reach than posts with very low Edgeranks. This is how Facebook thins out the newsfeed to show posts that are most relevant to each user based on their interests and relationships. Here’s how it works and some tips on how to create posts that will have great Edgerank and the best reach; first let’s understand a bit more about how Edgegrank actually works.
u = affinity or the relationship with the user
w = weight, or the relevance, importance
d = decay, as posts age the importance or rank decays
So here’s what it means…
Edgerank is the product of these three terms, e.g. these three values multiplied together. So if any of these values gets very small it crushes the Edgerank! For example a post that had a great Edgerank a month ago will have a much lower Edgerank today because the decay factor is getting smaller and pulling the overall value down. Likewise a post with a very low weight value will not show up because it does not appear to be relevant or interesting.
Edgerank also varies between users based on the relationship between each user and your page. For example the Edgerank for a user that visits your page often and has commented or Liked posts will be much higher than that of a user that has never commented or Liked any posts due to the affinity/relationship factor “u”.
The weight factor is determined by how relevant the post is to each user as well as comments and Likes. If a post is talking about Football it will have a higher weight for people that have been interested in Football than for people that have never mentioned Football.
How to Get an Edge on Facebook
Edgerank controls the reach and visibility of your posts so if you want to maximize the reach for your posts on your business page you need to optimize your posts. Here are some tips to write posts that will rank better:
How to Write Great Facebook Posts
- Short posts – Facebook is all about short and to the point posts, no one is going to read a paragraph. If you want to share something detailed or lengthy write a blog, post a link to the blog on your Facebook page with a short summary of what the blog is about.
- Intro is critical! We have found through countless A-B comparison tests that the first 3 to 5 words and/or title are absolutely critical and in fact determine the number of likes and shares. It must be immediately interesting or they simply browse right over it and move on.
- Interesting, funny, engaging, picture. The old adage says “a picture is worth a thousand words”, on Facebook it may be worth a thousand Likes. The picture has to grab the users attention in conjunction with the intro or title. And by the way, no picture = no interest.
- No, zero, none Advertorials. Resist the temptation to sell or directly offer products, deals etc. There are some specific instance where great deals or fun specials can work, but it you are just selling or boasting about your products interest is lost immediately and they will not be back.
- Likes, Comments, and Shares increase Edgerank! So great posts will actually increase visibility and reach.
How to Use Facebook Ads to Increase Edgerank and Page Reach
Most people think of Facebook ads as transactional, a single click event to either increase Likes (Fans) on a Page or to drive people to a product or website. While Facebook as do accomplish this, they can also increase Edgegank for you Page and posts, here’s how.
Two critical factors for Edgerank are relationships with users and weight(importance and relevance) of the post. Using Page Like ads is the obvious solution, it does add more fans to your page and will generate more likes and if you are lucky more comments. Promoting specific posts that are relevant and interesting to your community will generate more comments and Post likes which directly increases your Edgerank and pushes more of your content into the news feeds.
Facebook ads products are changing and the universally unpopular Sponsored Stories is going away while many other products will be combined and simplified. Sponsored Stories will be replaced by Social Context which will share stories about people Liking, Sharing or Commenting on your Page or posts. This will be automated and simplified so in the end it is a good change.
To get the most out of Facebook Ads you need interesting posts (as we discussed above) that are highly likely to get Comments, Shares or at least Likes.
Finally more thing to consider. It is now a general consensus that social media activity, Likes, Shares, Tweets, etc does affect SEO and search rankings. While there is still a hot debate about what that relationship is and how direct it is, the bottom line is that social media activity absolutely has a positive impact on SEO and search rankings. While it is not necessarily a huge impact on a post by post basis, it all contributes and we consider social media optimization, SMO, to be an essential part of a comprehensive SEO campaign.