Facebook brand page managers have noticed a change for the worse in the last couple of months. Their brand page reach – the number of followers that are seeing their posts – has decreased. This is because there has been a tightening in the Facebook algorithm EdgeRank.
EdgeRank determines what appears in the newsfeeds of your followers on Facebook. A recent change in EdgeRank is why your reach dropped. For example, 12 weeks ago if you made a brand page post and noticed that by the end of the day that “100 people saw this post,” a similar post today would likely read “20 people saw this post.” The drop has been quite dramatic.
In this article I discuss the determining factors of EdgeRank and how your brand can adapt to ensure that your reach on Facebook not only returns to form but becomes better as you move forward in the future:
Affinity on Facebook is a score based upon the strength of the relationship between one Facebook user and another. The more interaction (comments, likes, shares) there is between you and another, the more likely you are to see them on your newsfeed and vice versa. If you alone visit their Facebook profile/page often then the more likely you are to see their posts in your newsfeed as well. The converse is not the case however. You as a brand page can visit a fan’s profile all day but doing so will not increase the likelihood of the fan seeing your posts unless that fan has been visiting your page frequently as well. Affinity is a one-way street.
Implication – Affinity encourages real interaction. If you, as a brand page hope to take advantage of affinity, then the best you can do is to not just follow the posts of your followers, but to contribute. If a follower posts a picture or poses a question that you feel you can provide interesting commentary on, and you do, there is a good chance that the follower will respond to your comment which will then increase their affinity to you. They now have a better shot at seeing your next timeline post. The more affinity others have to you, the more edge your brand has on Facebook.
Weight’s role in EdgeRank is looked at in a couple of ways. First of all, Facebook gives more weight, or credibility, to a “comment” than a “like.” Thus it’s clear that efforts should focus on encouraging “comments” above “likes.” Easier said than done right? Weight as a method also factors in which types of content have a better shot at appearing in the newsfeeds of followers. It’s no secret that images, videos, and links used in updates offer more engagement and in turn they are often given more weight by Facebook. Now keep in mind that the EdgeRank algorithm is increasingly sophisticated. Some users don’t respond as well to pictures, videos, or links and may prefer “old fashioned” updates with witty text alone and their past behavior (recorded by Facebook) reflects this. In that case, there would be less weight given to updates directed at this person when photos, videos, and links are involved. Confused? Don’t worry about it. For the most part, your followers likely respond better to the aforementioned.
Implication – Provide a good mix of photos, videos, and links in your updates and every once in a while when you can come up with a creative one liner throw it in there for good measure. Well rounded posts using a variety of media will increase your weight and once again give you more edge.
3. Time Decay
Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm dependence upon the freshness of content is looked at as both a positive and a negative. Rewarding fresh content sounds wise but penalizing an otherwise engaging brand post from early in the day by restricting what a follower sees in the newsfeed when they check theirs for the first time in the evening may have robbed them of viewing content directly relevant to them. The older the news, the less likely it will appear in a follower’s newsfeed. On Facebook, a few hours is considered old.
Implication – Post your best updates when your followers are online. You may prefer getting up at the break of dawn and getting your Facebook posts out of the way but the chances are that your followers aren’t online at the same time. Of course, using a schedule service like HootSuite will solve that problem unless your business depends upon being timely with respect to current events throughout the day (e.g. a community news site). On the other side of the coin, you have to be careful not to post updates when others are flooding Facebook newsfeeds with posts. The more content entering newsfeeds at the same time, the less likely that your post will be seen, liked, commented on, and shared which will have no impact in improving your EdgeRank. Get to know the habits of your followers and work around the “noisiest” times of the day. Post updates on a strategic time frame and get more edge.
In summation, it really comes down to affinity. Both your day-to-day brand Facebook updates and future campaigns should start with building affinity between your brand and your followers. Provide REAL feedback comments when your followers post updates that you have an authoritative knowledge on. Pose questions that your followers want to answer or want to know the answer to. Start debates by taking a stance that will encourage others to give their opinion. When you do all of this, consistently use images, video, and links in the communications with the odd text update here and there. Finally, plan updates throughout the day to target your audience. Combine your efforts in that manner and you will slowly but surely boost your EdgeRank on Facebook.