Good marketing? Know Facebook’s famous algorithm

For web-marketers, community managers and online activists and bloggers, Facebook is an essential way of communication to reach the audience, build communities and detect potential interested people. It would be then smart to know how the home page (called news feed) of Facebook works. It is in fact managed by a complex algorithm which no one except Facebook developers know how it fully works. But here are some points that Facebook has accepted to make public:

EdgeRank, the definition

Crowd ? Yet managed
Crowd ? Yet managed

The first thing someone sees when they log into Facebook is the newsfeed. This is a summary of what’s been happening recently among your friends on Facebook. EdgeRank decides which stories appear in each user’s newsfeed. It actually predicts how interesting each story will be to each user. The algorithm hides boring stories, so if your story doesn’t score well, no one will see it.

Every action their friends take is a potential newsfeed story. Facebook calls these actions “Edges” That means whenever a friend posts a status update, comments on another status update, tags a photo, joins a fan page, responds to an event it generates an “Edge,” and a story about that Edge might show up in the user’s personal newsfeed. Facebook calls this algorithm “EdgeRank” because it ranks the edges. Then they filter each user’s newsfeed to only show the top-ranked stories for that particular user.

EdgeRank’s most important characteristics:

In 2007, a Facebook engineer said in an interview that only about 0.2% of eligible stories make it into a user’s newsfeed. That means that your status update is competing with 499 other stories for a single slot in a user’s newsfeed. The algorithm works mostly with 3 ingredients:

Affinity Score

Scientific formula
Scientific formula

Affinity Score means how “connected” a particular user is to the Edge.  For example you liked a page that several of your close friends also happen to like. If you interact with these close friends regularly, Facebook is going to assume you might want to see the updates more often. If you have a friend that you rarely ever interact with, but you both like the same page, the chances of you seeing this page’s updates go down.

Explicit actions include clicking, liking, commenting, tagging, sharing, and friending. Each of these interactions has a different weight that reflects the effort required for the action. More effort from the user demonstrates more interest in the content. Commenting on something is worth more than merely liking it, which is worth more than merely clicking on it. Passively viewing a status update in your newsfeed does not count toward affinity score unless you interact with it.

Affinity score measures not only my actions, but also your friends’ actions, and their friends’ actions. For example, if you commented on a fan page, it’s worth more than if your friend commented, which is worth more than if a friend of a friend commented. Not all friends’ actions are treated equally. If you click on someone’s status updates and write on their wall regularly, that person’s actions influence your affinity score significantly more than another friend who I tend to ignore.

Lastly, if I used to interact with someone a lot, but less so now, then their influence will start to wane. Technically, Facebook is just multiplying each action by 1/x, where x is the time since the action happened.

Affinity score is one-way. Your friend has a different affinity score to you than you have to him. If you write on my friend’s wall, Facebook knows you care about your friend, but doesn’t know if your friend cares about you.

Time Decay

As a story gets older, it loses points because it’s “old news.” Time decay is the act of devaluing (moving a piece of content down a page) a content update by a page based on when it was published. If you have 3,000 friends the time decay period is going to be very short. This means your window of opportunity to see something published by one of the pages you liked is going to be significantly shorter than your friend who only has 100 friends. Essentially, as friends and other pages update their content, they’re pushing yours off the page. The more friends you have or pages you follow, the more updates you see. The more updates you see, the less time anyone update will stay at or near the top of your page. Facebook is striving to keep the timeline fresh and updated with the newest content.

Weight

Every move matters
Every move matters

Weight is basically what types of posts are most likely to be interacted with by those that like your page. In order from most interaction to least based on historical data we have:

Photos, videos & album updates, then Links (internal or external), then Plain text updates.

In reality, these are just historic statistics. If your fans interact with it (no matter what you post), you’ll start to appear on more timelines and for longer periods of time.

Conclusion:

Facebook could decide that only approximately 16-percent of them could see your posts at any given time. Understanding Edgerank is half the battle. The other half is beginning to manipulate what you post to increase the engagement numbers of your audience.

Facebook is still essential and just like everything else in the internet marketing world we need to adapt, learn and custom-tailor our strategy to work with the changes rather than against them.

Inspired from: Jeff @ EdgeRank & Chris Warden

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