Four factors behind Facebook’s EdgeRank

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Facebook EdgeRank explainedDallas Maverick’s owner Mark Cuban hit the news over the weekend with a complaint that the new EdgeRank algorithm on Facebook has meant he can’t communicate to all of the people that follow his Pages.  Now it’s up for debate whether fans want to read all of the things he has shared, but nevertheless it has caused quite a bit of debate in the industry.

So what exactly determines whether your update appears in the newsfeed of your fans, and have Facebook made it harder in order to try and sell sponsored posts?

Lets start with that latter point.  Obviously it’s going to be pretty hard to prove one way or another whether Facebook have been shifting the goal posts in order to make more money and arrest the decline of their share price.  What perhaps will help to illuminate this however is an understanding of how updates are judged in terms of whether they appear on a newsfeed or not.  This comes down to four distinct factors.

The four factors that determine news feed appearances

The four factors that determine whether a Page will appear in your feed are:

  1. If a fan interacted with posts before, (i.e., if you like every post from a Page you’re more likely to see them in future).
  2. Other people’s reaction to the post, (i.e., if other people complain or hide a post you’re not likely to get them either).
  3. How you responded to posts of that type previously, (i.e., if you like photos or videos from a Page previously then you’re more likely to get future photos or videos).
  4. If that specific post has received complaints by other users who have seen it, or the Page who posted it has received lots of complaints in the past, you’ll be less likely to see that post.

So in other words, the more engaging your content is, the more likely it will appear in peoples newsfeeds.  Of course it’s far from new that people are quick to blame others for a slump in performance, it’s something that search marketers have been doing for years, but if you want to do better on Facebook, the best person to look to is the person in the mirror.  Create great content that helps your fans and you’ll still be able to do just fine with your Page.

10 thoughts on “Four factors behind Facebook’s EdgeRank

  1. Just as with the search industry there is always going to be a gnashing of teeth whenever someone loses out due to algorithm changes. As you say, it's much easier to blame other people than look at the content you're churning out.

  2. I think this underlines why it's so silly to rely on Facebook for anything. They have their own motivations and giving you free tools is a relatively small part of that.

  3. I think folks just get carried away when they read about Facebook having 1 billion members and millions accessing it every day and think by having a Page we tap into all that.

    I mean we don't have these kind of expectations on Twitter. Not everyone will read our tweets, and that's fine, we expect that, so why should it be any different on Facebook?

    • Exactly Rick. If you look at email open rates (for instance), around 15-20% is considered decent, and that's roughly the percentage that will read an average Facebook update, so I don't really know what people are complaining about.

  4. The fact remains though that Facebook are quite happy to see garbage in our newsfeed providing that the company producing the garbage is willing to pay for it. This isn't some crusade on behalf of their users.

    • It's a fair point Andy, and many will argue that if you're able to subscribe to a companies stuff then you should receive all of it in your newsfeed, and then use the unsubscribe/reporting tools to remove them if you don't like what you see. It's worth remembering though that Facebook is a business and so moves to get companies paying is not unusual.

  5. Hmm, I'd like to comment on your above remark when you say "I don't really know what people are complaining about". I think was pisses people off is that the rules of the game are changing along the way, without prior notifications. You say email get 15-20% open rates? That's right, but things didn't get that way overnight. Sure, there was a time when marketers could achieve somewhat better results, but with email overload, performance reached this level today.

    But for Facebook, some brands do churn out some really engaging content and have thriving communities. These brands have experienced a drop in engagement, reach and virality after the EdgeRank changes. So now they should have to pay in order to get results they used to have without cost? (other than internal resources – notice I didn't say free)
    That's the frustrating part. Sure, there are pages that suck, so they will continue sucking and will have to pay more to get some decent reach and engagement. But for those who do things by the book and hustle to have a good community going, it's a frustrating process. And that is why Mark Cuban and many others are considering leaving ship. Whether they really do it or not is a whole different matter… ;-)

    Cheers,
    Frederic

    • Sorry for not replying sooner Frederic, this had gone into the spam folder for some reason.

      I think the question here boils down to how it has got to this situation. Was the 15% figure achieved because Facebook changed things for the worse, or is it a natural consequence of brands not providing engaging content and thus their updates becoming less visible as a result?

      If you put yourself in Facebook's shoes, their users will remain a big priority for them, so them filtering brand updates that aren't engaging out is something that isn't surprising. It kinda underlines the fragility of doing so much social media on third party platforms.

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