Did you know that if you run a company page on Facebook, your updates are only being shown to a smallish percentage of your fans? If you take a peek into the Insights area of your Admin Panel (just visit your company page when logged in as an administrator and you’ll see Insights near the top – there’s a phenomenal amount of data within, so we’ll save that for a future blog post!), a quick glance at the Overview will give you reach figures for recent activity and you’ll see that it’s most likely a fraction of your total overall ‘likes’.
So, what’s going on? How does Facebook decide who sees your content and who doesn’t?
Welcome to EdgeRank! EdgeRank is Facebook’s name for the algorithm they use in displaying content within users’ Newsfeeds. Obviously the exact details are known only to Facebook and are subject to change, but what we do know is what elements it contains:
Affinity x Weight x Time Decay
The question is, what does that mean for you as a Facebook page owner?
This is the affinity a user has for your brand, as measured by their propensity to respond to your Facebook activity. Put simply, the more someone likes, shares and comments on what you post, the greater their Affinity score for you. If you’ve ever wondered why Alan seems to show up in your feed more than Doug does, the Affinity part of EdgeRank might well be the reason – if they’re similarly active but you tend to be more responsive to Alan than to Doug, Facebook is more likely to display more of Alan’s posts in your newsfeed.
Whether you’re a company or an individual, Affinity is a one way process, so you can’t directly influence someone else’s Affinity for you. What you can do, is make your content as inviting of action as possible in order to help stimulate actions that will factor into the Affinity score.
- Create fun and interesting content that people will want to like and share – infographics work well for business, but if you can find a way to make it relevant to your industry it’s fairly safe to say you can’t underestimate the internet’s fascination with cats.
- Directly invite participation – ask closed questions (“Which do you prefer? Product 1 or Product 2?” is more likely to get people to respond than an open-ended “Which products do you like the best?”) to encourage people to leave comments. Create competitions that invite likes, shares and comments.
- When it comes to sharing blog posts, don’t just say ‘click here for our latest blog post’ – take a couple of minutes to summarise your main question or observation to catch people’s interest and make them more likely to click through and share.
- If you’re sharing images, make ‘em Facebook-friendly – tall or wide images get cut off to fit the newsfeed, so watch you’re not getting your main point chopped off.
Facebook assigns different types of content and activity different weights. Generally speaking, the longer it takes someone to perform an action, the more weight it’s likely to carry. So, for example, a comment is likely to carry greater weight than a ‘like’, and there’s experiential evidence to suggest that images carry more weight than simple text updates.
A word of caution, though. For some time, received wisdom was that Facebook folk like the visuals and so image-based posts were The Way Forward for maximum reach. Following their algorithm update in September 2012, which intended to reduce spam reporting, page managers are starting to notice that it’s no longer quite that simple. There’s evidence to suggest that while image-based posts tend to result in more likes and shares etc, text updates which include a call to action appear to be garnering greater organic reach. The answer for you lies in testing and in your priorities. Test different types of content posted at the same sort of time of day and see which achieve a wider reach and what provokes the likes and shares. If there’s a discrepancy, mix it up a little (that’s a good way to keep people interested anyway), but you might want to consider skewing your post types in line with your priorities for your Facebook page. If what you really want is to drive the most engagement from existing fans and win new fans, you’ll want to go after the likes and shares. If, on the other hand, you want to make sure your message is seen by as many people as possible, it’s the post types with the widest reach you want to aim for.
This is where knowing your Facebook fanbase is crucial. As a simple rule, the older an update is when someone logs into Facebook, the less likely it is to appear in their newsfeed. So, to stand the greatest chance of the greatest number of people seeing your post, you’re going to need to post when they’re most active – there’s no point posting at midnight if your fans are all in bed rather than on Facebook.
How can you possibly know that? Well, you’ll have a head start if they’re mostly in one country as you’ve only one time zone to worry about, but having read advice that suggests weekends are the absolute best times to post and other advice that suggests the exact opposite, my recommendation is, quite simply, test!
Fortunately, you don’t have to be on Facebook at all hours to figure out whether your fans are most responsive at 7am or at 11pm! Just click the little clock icon that’s bottom left underneath where you’re entering your status update and you’ll be able to schedule your post for whenever you like:
Once you’ve played around with posting updates during different parts of the day, you should start to get a sense of when you’re most likely to reach people.
Factor in all of these elements, and you should be able to increase reach and engagement for your Facebook page significantly.
Keen to know more about EdgeRank and Facebook Insights? Leave a comment!