Understanding Facebook

As the world’s largest social media network, Facebook is being subject to a lot of competition. The news feed is limited and it isn’t possible to display every post from every page a user follows. Facebook uses an algorithm to determine what content to make visible in a user’s news feed. It’s a complicated process and not all of the elements that form the algorithm are being brought to public knowledge. The elements already known include the following:

·        The post type (text, photo, status, link, etc.)  the user finds the most interesting

·        How much engaging is the post to the audience

·        Posts being reported as spam or being hidden by the user

·        A user’s interaction with Facebook ads

·        The Internet speed and the device of the user

 

EdgeRank

EdgeRank, the original news feed ranking system, used by Facebook is still a part of the present news feed algorithm.

Every friend’s action on Facebook appears in the newsfeed. Facebook calls these actions Edges.

EdgeRank is the algorithm that ranks the Edges and displays the ones scoring well.

Why should I care?

Facebook ranks all stories according to their EdgeRank score. The stories with the highest score appear at the top of the user’s newsfeed. If according to the algorithm a status update is boring to a particular user, that status update will never be even shown to him.

How does EdgeRank work?

The EdgeRank is unique to each user. The algorithm was revealed at Facebook’s 2010 F8 conference. It consists of the following 3 elements:

1.     Affinity score

2.     Edge Weight

3.     Time Decay

Affinity Score

The Affinity Score calculates how connected a particular user is to the Edge( the action). It takes into account 3 things:

1)    The strength of the action

2)    How close is a particular user to the one who took the action

3)    How long ago did the action take place

Two users, interacting with each other on Facebook have different affinity scores relative to one another.

 

EdgeWeight

Each action has a different weight, reflecting the efforts required for the action. The actions include liking, clicking, commenting, sharing, tagging and friending. Apart from clicking, every action creates a potential story. The principle of the EdgeWeight is simple: the more interested in the content a user is, the more effort he or she puts into a specific action, connected to that content. That is why commenting is worth more than liking and liking is worth more than clicking and posting photos and videos, instead of links scores your story higher. Simply viewing a status update in your newsfeed does not include any form of interaction and does not count toward the affinity score.

New Facebook features usually have a higher EdgeWeight. The intent behind that is to promote the features to the users.

Time Decay

The time of the interaction is another key component of the algorithm. If a user interacts with someone a lot, but not so much lately, the influence of the user’s affinity score starts to decline. In short: the older the story gets, the more it loses points. Facebook measures this by multiplying each action by 1/x, where “x” is the amount of time since the action took place.

When a user logs into Facebook and visits his newsfeed, among the stories posted most recently, the ones with the highest score appear. So, a status update made by a user will show up on the newsfeed only if it has a higher score compared to other newsfeed stories that happened at the same moment.

How do I check my EdgeRank score?

Facebook keeps this algorithm a secret. Instead a user can measure the effects of EdgeRank by checking how many people he reached. Since the engagement impacts the EdgeRank, the user can also measure the engagement that he or she gets with the help of a Facebook analytics tool.

Since there is no such thing as general EdgeRank score, each user has a different affinity score with a page.

 

Facebook Changes

Last June Facebook announced they would be limiting organic news feed impressions for brands, so as to provide users with a “higher quality content” in the news feed. The social media believes that users don’t want to see this promotional content in the news feed. This applies to organic content only, not ads. Facebook defines any of the following as being promotional:

1.     Posts that solely push people to buy a product or install an app

2.     Posts that push people to enter promotions and sweepstakes with no real context

3.     Posts that reuse the exact same content from ads

 

Manipulative practices such as like-bating (posts that ask fans to complete specific actions) and posting spam and frequently circulated content are subject to restrictions, as Facebook updated their news feed spam algorithm. Another tactic that Facebook banned in 2014 is the like-gating. Many pages like-gate their content by requiring users to like pages before they can gain access to special content.

How to promote my content

Many marketers rely on Facebook reach to measure whether their efforts are paying-off.  Reach is the number of  Facebook users who see a page’s published post – and it’s been steadily declining in 2014 due to Facebook algorithm changes. Business that are new to Facebook assume that the majority of fans see their posts and it comes as a shock when they realise that’s not the case.

Things you have to avoid:

Buying fans is not a good business tactic. First, they don’t add real value and second, a little or no engagement to a page with numerous fans is a signal to consumers that they are fake. The less of engagement also means that Facebook will be less likely to display your content by making it visible to/ for the real fans.

  • Avoid “click-bait” text.This refers to post that are heavy in words like “Click here”. This may reduce your reach.
  • Avoid posts containing appeals encouraging people to take a specific action or purchase something.
  • Don’t overpost or underpost. Content should be posted on a regular basis and not more than 2 or 3 times a day.

Things that will help you:

  • Post content that leads to high engagement. Businesses should post as much original content as possible. Low-quality posts diminish the overall organic traffic. When you’re posting content with low engagement rate, it serves as a signal to Facebook, saying “My fans don’t find that interesting enough.”
  • Include an image, link or video with your post. Do so in order to make the post more interactive. It is proven that 40% of users will respond better to visual images.
  • Post at non-peak times. At times of the day when little content is being shared, your posts will be more visible.
  • Add a call to action for increased likes or shares. If you want more likes and shares encourage fans to like and to share your content.
  • Engage your community with questions

Facebook Insights

Using Facebook Insights can help you learn more about your audience. It’s a proprietary analytics platform with different data sets.  Facebook Insights consists of five metrics: Likes, Reach, Visits, Posts and People.

Likes show how many people have liked your page within a given time frame. It also provides information on the number of people who “unliked” your page, as well as on the proportion of paid versus organic likes.

Reach is indicative for the number of people who have seen your posts. It also displays metrics like comments, likes and shares, indicative for the engagement of the audience.

Visits gives you a breakdown of which pages (tabs) were visited (i.e. timeline, likes tab, custom tabs, etc.) and also which referring sites (external) brought people to your Facebook page.

Posts provides an analysis of your content by using indicators (metrics) such as post type, engagement of the audience, total reach and time of the day.

People gives information on the demographics of your audience according to their gender, spoken language or location. It also compares people reached versus people engaged.

Facebook Insights gives brands a complete picture on the performance of their page.

It is important for brands to create online communities and to connect with their target audience through social media. However Facebook does not foster free promotion regardless of the quality of the content or the level of engagement of the audience. Paid ads and sponsored posts are a good option for promoting your content. With Facebook advertisement you can target your ads specifically to the audience that is interested in your content and services.