Ever notice how even after accepting that “friend” requests from someone you really didn’t want to, but awkwardly felt obligated to accept, their posts conveniently never show up in your Facebook News Feed? And on the flip side your best friend’s status updates seem to always show up at the top of your News Feed? And come to think of it, you really only seem to see content from the same 50-or-so people? Wonder why you never get updates from the other 300 people you are friends with? Similar to how Google uses an advanced algorithm to show you the most relevant results for your searches, Facebook has figured out an algorithm to only show you content that it thinks you would find interesting. Until recently, this algorithm was called Edgerank. It has now evolved into something much more complex, going from using only three variables to now using over a thousand different variables to rank each post.
The new algorithm is very complex, but it helps to look at the old Edgerank to get an understanding of what is happening in your News Feed, starting with the three main variables, affinity, weight, and decay.
Affinity looks at your relationship with other users. So the more someone interacts with you on Facebook, the more likely your content will show up in their News Feed. The algorithm figures if that person is already going out of their way to interact with you on facebook, why not make it even easier for them and give your stuff higher priority.
Weight ranks your post based on the post type. Facebook has found that not all forms of posts are as engaging as others. Most often, users interact more with videos or pictures posted, followed by links, and least of all are simple updates consisting of only text. That’s not all though, it gets even more complicated – likes and comments factor in as well. So even though a picture may be higher up in the ranking hierarchy, if you post a simple text status that gets 50 likes and several comments, your text status will show up higher than a picture with only five likes and no comments.
Time decay is simply how old the post has been there. The more time that passes since you wrote that post, the less likely someone else will see it in his or her News Feed. Of course it’s a little more complicated than that since it also takes into account how often a Facebook user logs in to Facebook. If historically a user only posts once or twice a week, that post will usually remain relevant longer than someone’s who posts several times a day.
But like I said before, Edgerank has evolved and is now much more complex. Affinity, Weight, and Time Decay are all still important, but there are also many different levels that affect who does and doesn’t get to see your posts:
- Relationship Settings have recently been added as a way for the user to help determine how his or her newsfeed experience is going to look like. If someone keeps showing up in your News Feed who you really cant stand, you now can now label them as a “close friend”, in which you would get a notification every time that close friend of yours posts something on facebook. You also have the option of opting out of all updates expect for the most important ones.
- Post Types: you’ll find that Facebook recognizes the kind of posts you are more prone to interacting with, so say you are really into clicking on links that other users post, Facebook will start giving posts with links higher priority in your News Feed than other types of posts.
- Hide Post / Spam Reporting is a cool new feature that allows the user to give Facebook feedback if they feel that the post wasn’t something they wanted to see in their News Feed.
- Clicking On Ads: the algorithm that helps Facebook determine which ad to show on your News Feed is completely separate from the algorithm that decides which of your friend’s posts you are going to see. But how you interact with those ads does influence which ads Facebook will show you.
- Device & Technical Considerations: What I think is really cool is that in choosing what to show you, the algorithm is able to take into consideration your internet connection speed and which device you are accessing Facebook from. So say you are a little behind the times and are still holding on to that old crappy phone of yours – you most likely will not be seeing a lot of posts containing videos or images and instead you will be seeing text posts which will be a lot easier for your phone to load.
So how does this look like for a Company’s Facebook page?
Brian Solis has a good explanation of how a Business should be approaching Facebook for their marketing:
“Businesses confuse Facebook as a utility or service that’s there to help broadcast messages much in the same way businesses pay wire services to distribute press releases or brands buy advertisements on TV or radio to reach as many people as possible. Facebook is a social network to help people communicate, share, and discover. Therefore, businesses must learn that relationships are earned and earned again and communities are built upon a foundation of mutual value, entertainment, and empowerment.”
It all comes back to value creation. With all the other advertisements consumers are being bombarded with on the Internet, the most effective way to use Facebook is by creating content that your fans find entertaining and of value. So if you want your Company’s posts to appear higher up in your followers newsfeeds, don’t just spout out posts that sound spammy. Instead, share photos that are self explanatory. You can encourage engagement by asking questions or posting a picture and invite users to come up with the best caption. Also make sure to post on a regular basis, especially during the week days when users are most likely to be checking their News Feed. The more interactive and interesting content you create, the more likely it is that the algorithm will show your posts in your followers news feeds.
Now, if you are thinking of your own personal Facebook page, here’s a funny article titled 7 Ways to Be Insufferable on Facebook that should help you figure out exactly what NOT to do. (Interestingly, this article was at the top of my Newsfeed right as I was getting ready to start writing this blog… either just a coincidence or this algorithm has gotten reeeeally GOOD)