“I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all the kinds of things you can't see from the center.” ~ Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
One topic that we have discussed a lot is Search Engine Optimization and Google's algorithm for determine a website's ranking, called PageRank. As it turns out, business owners need to begin to understand another kind of algorithm and SEO: social SEO and Facebook's EdgeRank.
EdgeRank takes into consideration which stories an individual user has shown interest in in the past, and attempts to show them more stories that are similar, and less stories on topics and from Pages that the user may not be as interested in.
In other words, Facebook tries to hide the stories it thinks you'll find boring, and only show those you should be interested in. This is why we talked about how Facebook may be hiding posts from your Facebook Page and how to instruct your followers to make sure they're seeing more.
How is EdgeRank Computed?
Our current understanding of EdgeRank is that according to Facebook, every post is an edge, and the algorithm is the sum of three factors, Ue, We and De.
Ue: Affinity between user and edge creator: Facebook monitors how much you interact with friends and brands. Those people and brands that earn your engagement--liking, sharing, commenting and so on--are more likely to appear in your newsfeed. The people and brands you tend to ignore eventually disappear because Facebook (correctly) interprets that you simply do not find their content interesting.
We: Weight for this edge: Every one of us reacts with different types of content differently--you may love videos, I may enjoy photos and someone else may prefer text. This means each content type has a different "weight" for each user. In addition, as an "edge" gains comments and likes, it gains more "weight;" thus, as others interact with an edge, it increases the likelihood that edge will appear in other people's newsfeeds. The more your brand posts match topics and content type to users' interests, the greater the weight of your content and the higher the likelihood your content will appear in fans' newsfeeds.
De: Time decay factor for this edge: The last of Facebook's EdgeRank attributes is a simple one: The more recent the post, the more likely you are to see it. You do not often launch Facebook and see something posted a week ago. Facebook knows that we are all real-time junkies--if a band is hot, a TV show is great, a meme is growing or our friends found a great party, we must know now!
How, though, can a business achieve a higher EdgeRank and naturally get their updates and stories in front of more users?
One point that needs to be understood is the fact that your Facebook Page is not simply trying to get your fan's attention, you're also now quite literally competing with other similar Pages they may have Liked. This is where the social SEO comes in. If your fan has shown more interest in a competitor's Page, they're going to be even more likely to see more updates from that Page and fewer updates from your own Page.
Also, just like Google's PageRank, Facebook does not publicly release details about how the algorithm works, and updates can be released at any time. All we can do is observe how it effects our Pages, work on those activities and aspects which seem to improve our Page's EdgeRank, and be prepared for changes and updates in the future.
Unfortunately, at present, Facebook's only determination regarding whether or not a post is engaging to other users is the number of Likes and Comments. Therefore, businesses that have larger budgets can pay for promoted posts and sponsored stories to synthetically increase engagement.
You can, however, monitor your Facebook Page EdgeRank using a tool like EdgeRank Checker (https://www.edgerankchecker.com). We will discuss in more detail in a future post how to monitor and gauge your EdgeRank, but here's a screenshot of a sample report:
If you don't have the advertising budget to pay for exposure and engagement (and even if you do have a large budget, that doesn't necessarily guarantee fan engagement), there are three aspects to improving your Facebook "SEO."
1. Focus On Great Content
The most important element is creating content that is even more interesting and compelling. Make sure that you are providing real value and working to foster actual relationships with your fans. We have said it before and it's worth repeating: Social Media is about Social. If you try to treat Facebook and other social networks like Twitter or Google+ simply as marketing mediums, your efforts will fail.
2. Use Your Insights
Facebook provides your page with extensive analytics called Insights. Using Insights and research from other sources, you can determine better kinds of content and information to post, as well as optimum times to make your posts. We will talk in more depth another time about Insights, but for now, I'd recommend installing the Facebook Pages app for either iOS or Android and start looking at the statistics Facebook gives you for each of your posts.
3. Understand EdgeRank
By reading this article, you're already taking a great step toward understanding and improving your Facebook engagement and how you can use EdgeRank to your advantage. But it can't stop there. We are going to continue to publish articles on how to improve your Facebook presence, and we will also post news stories any time changes to EdgeRank are discovered. It is important that you continue to improve and stay informed of these developments. Your best option is to subscribe to our updates to the right in order to receive weekly email digests. You can also contact us if you'd like help with your Facebook campaign and content marketing.
Please share your questions and comments below.