The guide to gaming Facebook's EdgeRank
I'll admit that I've been advising brands simply not to use Facebook as a marketing tool unless they are willing to shell out cash for ads and Promoted Posts. Gone are the days of democratic distribution of your message; Facebook's EdgeRank now determines which content users will see and what they won't.
That being said, BuddyMedia has created a useful whitepaper to... well, not exactly game the system, but being aware of which content is more likely to increase Facebook engagement and therefore your Page's EdgeRank. It turns out that Facebook users spend 27% of their time in the News Feed, so if you want your Page's posts to be seen and engaged with, it's important to maximize their exposure.
What is EdgeRank
The quickie summary: Facebook shows two feeds, "Most Recent" (the timeline) and "Top Stories" (EdgeRanked posts from the person's Friends and Page affliations). As BuddyMedia summarizes the EdgeRank system:
The above factors all play into an algorithm called EdgeRank. Any item that appears in the News Feed – such as a status update or video – is called an “object,” and any action taken on the object – such as a like or comment – is called an “edge.” Each edge carries a different weight value, as does the type of object on which it appears, hence the name EdgeRank.
An object’s EdgeRank is based on three factors: affinity, weight and relevancy. When multiplied together, they have the ability to push your content to the top of the News Feed, where people see what you have to say.
How to improve your EdgeRank
Fortunately, the advice on improving your EdgeRank is pretty simple and intuitive. BuddyMedia recommends:
- Ask questions. More comments = higher EdgeRank. Even negative ones increase the ranking. Plus, people love to give their opinions; don't you? And here's some more statistical fun: posts with keywords “where,” “when,” “would” and “should,” show a higher fan engagement. The word “would” drives the highest spike in Likes. So ask what fans would like to see or do.
- Post games and trivia. Games that ask fans to caption a photo or answer a trivia question increase engagement. We all love to show off our wit and knowledge, right? Anecdotally, one of my most engaged Facebook posts was a request for podcast fans to write limericks. Over 50 very fun responses!
- Reply, reply, reply. The longer the reply thread, the higher the EdgeRank. Respond to comments and interact with fans. Keep the conversation going.
- Post photos and videos. Visual content such as photos and videos tend to garner more engagement and responses than text content or links alone. And fans tend to love photos of the brand's staff in casual situations, so posting a pic of a staffer about to go on stage usually becomes popular.
- Ask about current events. It turns out that 51% of users who get news online use social networks such as Facebook. Generate conversation by asking about related current events and news. Remember, more comments equals higher EdgeRank.
- Tell fans what to do. Studies show that fans follow instructions quite well. Tell them simply and sweetly to share the photo if they agree or to comment with their opinions.
So, while I personally am becoming less and less a fan of Facebook, there is still value in engaging with fans through a Facebook Page. And there is no need to pay for ads or posts--keeping engagement high will affect EdgeRank and keep your Page's posts at top of mind and top of feed.