Facebook’s EdgeRank Explained

It seems like every day there’s some debate about how Facebook is handling ads, spam, the newsfeed and their overall features. Most social media blogs seem adamantly opposed to any change Facebook makes. Others blindly defend Facebook’s strategies regardless of what they are. It seems hard to find an objective view of what’s really going on behind the scenes at Facebook.

The latest debate is about EdgeRank. For those of you unfamiliar with EdgeRank, it’s essentially an algorithm (fancy word for formula) that determines which ads and stories appear in a user’s newsfeed. It has sparked a lot of debate because businesses feel that they now have to pay a higher cost for exposure than they were paying (or often not paying because it was free) through the traditional organic placement of their ads and stories.

In addition to the cost involved in targeting users, business social media users are complaining that their ads and stories are not being seen by enough of their fans. In looking at the their social media statistics, they’ve found that their cost per impression has gone up slightly and that a smaller percentage of fans are seeing their messages in their newsfeeds than with the previous system. The reason is that the EdgeRank algorithm has focused on three factors to determine if users will actually see your content:

  1. Affinity Score: How close a user is to people who interact with your brand. Essentially if close friends who “talk” every day interact with a business’s post, they’ll have a higher chance of seeing that company’s posts.
  2. Edge Weight: This prioritizes the level of engagement a user has with a business’s post. For example, a comment gets a higher edge weight than a like.
  3. Time Decay: The newer an interaction is, the higher its score and the more likely it will stand the test of “time decay.” Essentially the life of a post gets renewed as people continue to interact with it.

To answer the question that a lot of people using social media have, yes, you will likely have to pay for those eyeballs, but that cost is only going to be thousandths of a cent per user, which is pretty much consistent with how it’s been for awhile. To put that in real terms, a certain famous Facebook user (identified at the end of the article) showed a report saying that he reached 1,000,000 fans for $3,000. That’s a reasonable, even inexpensive, price to pay to reach that number of users, especially if they’re engaged in your content and happy to see your messages.

My perspective on EdgeRank is this: 

If you want to compete, you have to work at it. People bashing Facebook have forgotten two key points:

  1. Facebook is a business and their purpose is to make money.

Facebook is free for end users. As a business, you are not an end user. You are leveraging Facebook as a tool to make money. In your aim to make money, is it really fair to criticize Facebook for doing the same thing?

  1. Simply using social media and creating a basic fan page with some posts is not a viable business social media campaign.

No matter what medium you’re using to reach current or potential customers, whether it’s traditional print, television, email or social media, you should always be striving to create quality, relevant and engaging content. The new EdgeRank algorithm may be just the push you need to test whether you’re doing this the right way. Go back to the basics of creating engaging content that users like, share, comment on and interact with and you’ll be well on your way to capitalizing on Facebook’s new EdgeRank.

For more details about EdgeRank and to read an interesting rant by Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, check out this article at Briansolis.com.

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