I knew it would be too easy. Once again, math and marketing join forces. And this time, it’s thanks to Facebook. Their algorithm (called EdgeRank) for determining what is seen by it’s users (or not seen, something that has upset a few business leaders) is pretty much based on three variables. Those are affinity, weight, and time decay.
Affinity is defined as “the relationship with the user”. This means that if users interact with your posts more often, they are more likely to see your posts in their News Feeds. There have been a few changes to this variable, but that will be discussed later.
Weight is determined by the type of post you put up. Since there is a determined hierarchy of what types of posts get more interaction, what you post actually “is” can determine what is seen. Pictures and videos have the highest weight, followed by links, and finally plain text.
But, affinity makes sure this isn’t the largest determining factor. If you put up a plain text post, and receive much more engagement than you did when you posted a photo, the plain text post is more likely to show up.
The final variable is time decay. This one is pretty straight forward. If your post is newer, it is more likely to be seen, if it is older, it is less likely to be seen. This is another variable that has recently been updated, with the addition of Story Bumping. This is where a post a user may have missed can be still be seen by being “bumped” to the top of the list. This only happens when the post is determined to be relevant to the user.
If it isn’t relevant, it’ll vanish into thin air (or snow)
So, those are the variables. But what is it that Facebook really takes a look at to take them into account? There are four main things that EdgeRank looks at:
1) user’s past interactions with the author (pretty much the affinity variable)
2)user’s past interaction with that post type (a mixture of affinity and weight, higher interaction with link posts will result in seeing those types of posts more often)
3) reactions from other users for that particular post (the more users who engage, the more likely others will see your post)
4) amount of complaints or negative feedback on that post (the more negative feedback a post receives, the less likely it is to be seen)
So, let’s say you are a business with a presence on Facebook and you want to increase your visibility. What would be a good way to get started on that?
One of the best things to do would be to create content that encourages engagement with the users. This raises helps raise your affinity (assuming it is good engagement) and shows that you are popular and that people like you.
Another really good things to do is to publish content to Facebook regularly. This sort of helps curb the time decay of your posts, and will hopefully reduce that to the point where your posts will be seen by more people. Something else that you can do is look at your feedback. Find out what kind of posts get more engagement (photos, videos, links, text) and start posting more of that. If you are submitting plain text when none of your followers want to see it, it will not be engaged with, and probably won’t have a very wide reach. Those are some really good starting points for a business who is wanting to use Facebook more to attract more potential customers.
So, that’s it. EdgeRank has been explained. Case closed. Done.
Except, Mark Cuban has a beef with Edgerank.
Mark Cuban doesn’t really seem to understand Facebook. He seems to get that it is really good for spreading awareness, but that’s about it. So, when he found out that the posts for some of his businesses (sports teams?) weren’t reaching people who “liked” that page, he was a little peeved, and did what most rational people do: write a blog post about how they are displeased with something.
To sum up his frustration, Mark Cuban was angry that some of the people who like the Facebook page for the “Dallas Basketball Team” (as I call them) weren’t seeing postings in their news feed. Not necessarily the people who weren’t getting the posts, just Mark Cuban. So, does he have a point? If you like a page, should you see every post that comes from it?
I would say no. The EdgeRank algorithm is there to help “weed” out the bad posts. While Mark Cuban’s posts, or at least his business’ posts may not have been “bad”, they weren’t really driving engagement. As time goes on, it is less likely that people are going to see the post, especially if not a lot of people interacted with it. It’s a slippery slope. If every post that every business put out went to the top of people’s news feeds, it would be insane to try and find what the customer would want to see. Realistically, Cuban should be thankful that EdgeRank is in place. If he were to start putting out content that everybody wanted to interact with, then more people would see it.
And if he doesn’t want to use Facebook anymore, why not try a better social media site?
Facebook is just a giant popularity contest. As the saying goes “if you can’t beat them, join them”. In this case, joining the people that make good, engaging content would probably be a good thing.