The arrival of Facebook's much-loved EdgeRank algorithm some months ago meant that reaching high levels of engagement and impressions became even harder to achieve than ever before. Simply put, EdgeRank soon became the key factor in determining which posts, content and updates appeared in users' news feeds. It was no longer a case of posting content out in the hope that it would appear for all your fans to see, and in many cases, the amount of content that would appear in fan news feeds was reduced to as little as just 10 per cent. In light of this, a number of brands, online PR companies and page admins were eager to uncover as much information about EdgeRank as possible - how it could be combatted, which tactics worked and which didn't. However, despite EdgeRank no longer being the new kid on the block, many social media admins still haven't fully got to grips with how the algorithm works, with an even larger number of people still unfamiliar with its existence entirely. As a result, a large number of brand Facebook pages still continue to fall short of effectively reaching their audience. Additionally, with Facebook's recent f8 announcements hinting even further towards a shifting focus upon engagement, the importance of getting it right with regards to EdgeRank and the creation of interactive content has never been so relevant.
So how does EdgeRank work?
Despite a number of various considerations, the key contributing factors as to how EdgeRank assigns scores to each individual post and page are thought to be Affinity, Weight and Time. Essentially, EdgeRank examines the engagement and interactions (or affinity) that a user has with any content posted and increases or decreases the 'weight' (or relevance) that is applied to future content appearing in user feeds. For example, if a user has previously commented or 'liked' posts from a particular brand, the likelihood that future content will appear in their news feed from that brand is much higher than if the user doesn't interact with the content. The 'time' element here is also a key factor, with the longer a post has been out there, the less weight it carries - making it vital for page admins to time posts tailored to when their audience is most likely to be online and using Facebook. From a consumer perspective, these three factors combined ensure that fans are seeing content in their news feeds that is more likely to be of interest and relevance to them based on past interactions. From a brand perspective it means taking the time to carefully plan and create content that will be engaging, rich, relevant and that will tie in with the everyday interactions and lifestyle of users and fans.
How can I improve my EdgeRank score?
Increasing the affinity between your content and your audience is no easy task. However, there are certainly a number of key tactics that can be employed to better your chances of increasing engagement and as a result improving the EdgeRank score that your content and page carries.
Assets - Facebook posts that include videos, photos and links carry more weight than posts without. As a result, it has now become important to not only draft the right content, but to also ensure that you have the right assets to accompany your posts. Additionally, from a user experience point-of-view, creating assets that jump out of user news feeds due to intriguing and unique visuals are far more likely to receive engagement and grab the attention of users than those that are simply stand-alone text or links.
Include a clear call-to-action - Something that a large number of brand pages still don't make the most of is the simple use of a clear or exciting call-to-action within wall posts. Often, the simplest calls to action such as 'click Like' or 'this versus that' turn out to be the most engaging. As a result, these types of 'high engagement' posts should regularly be balanced with more detailed posts on an ongoing basis. However, even when posting a more detailed post, including a call-to-action is essential in order to increase the chances of reaching the most effective level of engagement.
Variety - Adding variety to the types of posts not only makes for a richer user experience but also contributes significantly to your EdgeRank score. A few examples of different types of posts include videos, images, polls and links. Of course, within each of these types of posts there is then another layer - in that each video, image or link posted should also be different from the next. It's always a good idea to minimise the repetition of assets as much as possible.
Links - It is important to include links where relevant within posts, however, linking to the same source more than once should always be avoided. Despite the common misconception that your Facebook page can be used to constantly drive traffic towards a particular web page or promotion via a link, the more frequent the same link is used, the less weight it actually carries. As a result, it is less likely future posts including that link will show up within user news feeds. Using link shorteners such as bit.ly to change the link can have a slightly positive effect, however, this is only slight.
Timing & frequency - Monitoring your posts to find out what is the best time to reach your audience is also very important, as the longer the content has been posted, the less weight it carries. Additionally, experimenting with the frequency of posting helps to ensure content strategies are more effective by discovering how many posts is the optimum amount to put out each day and week. Posting too much can often appear spammy and should always be avoided. However, if you are not posting enough you may be missing out on opportunities to reach your audience. Finding this balance is key.
With an increasing number of brands looking to social media as a key part of their overall marketing and PR campaigns, it is important to always keep in mind the fact that Facebook and the way it works as a platform is constantly evolving. In light of this, the introduction of key algorithm changes such as EdgeRank mean that, for brands and social media agencies, the key is to not only stay up-to-date with how these algorithms work, but also to become adaptable in their approach, constantly monitoring and tweaking their tactics in order to ensure that each social media outreach campaign is as effective as possible. As a result, the key factor at the heart of any successful Facebook campaign is still engagement and the creation of content that is exciting, unique, and interactive.