Have you ever wondered why some of your friend’s updates show up on your newsfeed, while others don’t? No, it’s not because some friends post on Facebook more than others (although, they do). This occurrence is due to Facebook’s internal algoritm, called, “EdgeRank.”
Simply put, EdgeRank determines which updates show up in a user’s news-feed. As a company, wouldn’t it be nice if all of your updates reached all of your followers? Before that can happen, you’ll need an understanding of how EdgeRank works. Much like SEOs need to understand the different factors that go into Google’s algorithm to rank higher, anyone running a Facebook Fan Page, needs to understand how Facebook EdgeRank works.
Here are the three “scores” that affect the overall EdgeRank of a post:
- 1. Affinity -This score is based on how often (if at all) a user checks your fan page. It also takes into account the time spent on your fan page looking through photos and/or newsfeed posts.
- 2. Interaction - This score is based on user engagement, and increases when a user likes, comments or shares your posts. A comment or share requires a higher level of engagement and thus will increase EdgeRank score, for that post and future posts more than a simple, “like.”
- 3. Timeliness - This score is based on when the update is published and how quickly it receives interaction. The more interaction that an update receives in a short period of time the better chance it has of showing up in other users’ newsfeeds and “sticking,” for a longer period of time.
Unless you work at Facebook it’s hard to know the exact percentages and values that Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm places on user actions. Businesses may be at a disadvantage when it comes to using Facebook fan pages because Facebook hopes to monetize their product by charging money to “promote” posts. If all of your posts automatically show up in all of your fan’s newsfeeds, then why would you pay for it? With all of this being said, marketers can still improve their chances of showing up in newsfeeds (without paying) by simply posting smarter updates. Crafting smarter updates means understanding Facebook psychology, knowing what types of content works and when to post it. Here’s a quick look at Facebook psychology:
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Types of Content You Should be Creating
Gone are the days when it was okay for marketers to post mundane updates like, “It’s SNOWWINGG OUT!!!” or “Check us out!” with a link to the homepage. Now you need a real strategy, and it all starts with one thing: content.
Here are 3 types of content you should be creating for better Facebook engagement:
- Visual Content- Humans are visual creatures, which is why networks like Pinterest and Instagram (for which Facebook plunked down $1 billion) have exploded in popularity recently. Images also stand out on Facebook newsfeeds and receive 39% higher interaction on average than posts without images. Visual content can come in the form of memes, cartoons or just beautiful photos. Another idea is to take a small screen-shot of an infographic and turn it into a micro-graphic. Accommodate image posts with “Caption this photo,” and “fill in the blank,” to get the conversation started and receive better engagement. The Atlantic does a good job posting visual content and getting their fans engaged:
- Entertaining Content- Facebook is a place where people go often just because they’re bored. They’re looking for a good laugh—something to brighten their day and entertain them. The psychology behind sharing an update on Facebook is simple: people share things that evoke emotion. People are likely to share content that entertains them because they want to share that entertainment with their friends. Entertaining content can come in the form of images or a simple but noteworthy text update, like a joke or a factoid. Updates that link to an entertaining blog post, video, SlideShare or GIF are also highly shareable. It’s important to remember when you create “entertaining” content, you should also strive to remain relevant. For example, a post about who won the Super Bowl is not something followers would expect from SEO.com. But a post about popular search terms on Google during the Super Bowl would be relevant to the SEO.com brand and would be something our followers would find entertaining. Here's an example of an entertaining post that hit home with some SEO.com fans:
- Educational Content- Besides just entertaining their friends, people on Facebook also want to share educational content that makes them look smart. Share an image with a compelling statistic or piece of data on it. “Did you know…” and “What do you think about…” are good conversation starters for informational content that will encourage users to engage with your post. The New York Times naturally posts educational content that receives a lot shares. Think about your company as a newspaper. What kinds of content can you share with your followers that will educate them?
By creating visual, relevant content that adds value to your fans, you’ll earn the right to promote your product or service some of the time without seeming too pushy.
The Best Time to Post
Knowing the best time to post updates to Facebook is half the battle of engagement. If you post at a time when none of your followers are on Facebook, no one will see your updates. If you’re posting when there is a high volume of updates, you risk being in direct competition other posts that will naturally have a higher EdgeRank. So how do you know when to post to updates to Facebook? For starters, if you are managing a business page, dive into your Facebook analytics and see what time your most popular posts were published.
A lot of data has been collected about the best times to post, but in my opinion companies should constantly be testing their theories because every industry and audience is different. Recent studies have shown that “non-busy hours” from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m. generally receive a better engagement rate than “busy hours,” from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. (Yes, you read that right! Overnight posts are the ideal time to post.)
Weekends, according to the study, are also great days to post content, especially on Sundays when Facebook users spend more time using the site. I’ve tested that notion for SEO.com’s Facebook page, and it hasn’t really been that effective. As it turns out, the time we receive the most engagement is from 3pm- 6pm on weekdays. For highly newsworthy updates, I’ll publish them within the 9am hour so we’ll show up earlier in the day. Ideal post times are likely different for everyone.
When it comes to the number of updates you should post, be weary of “over-posting,” and being too promotional. People are smart enough to know the different between a post that adds value and a post that is contrived. As long as you have quality, timely updates (think: like newspapers do) it's okay to post several times a day to keep fans updated with fresh content in their feed.
That being said, there’s no right or wrong when it comes to marketing on Facebook, as long as you can prove it works for you. Competitive analysis can also help you gauge your audience’s tolerance. Test different theories until you have enough data to understand what works best for your brand and industry.
Marketers walk a fine line when it comes to social media, and the line is thinner on Facebook. On one side, you want to drive traffic to your site and improve your ROI by letting your fans know about your offerings and steer them to your product. But you need to do that while not intruding on their personal space with too much promotional content. It’s annoying to have updates show up on your newsfeed that you don’t really care about. A fan will hide your updates or “un-like” your fan page if you’re not relevant, entertaining or informational.
In my opinion, engagement is the most important measure to track on Facebook because, at the end of the day, it’s what fuels revenue. Without engagement, you’ll never have the chance to build your brand and advocates. By keeping your fans engaged, you won’t fall off their newsfeeds. And when the need arises (i.e., a need your product or service), they will know exactly where to go.
How have you increased Facebook engagement? I would love to hear your comments below.