Ever log into Facebook and wonder why the same people or pages seem to be hijacking your home feed? How come those particular people get all the attention, all the time? It may seem like every time you log in, there they are, even if their status is 24 hours old.
One (real) reason: EdgeRank.
And because of EdgeRank, people get the impression that I am on Facebook 24 hours a day, when really, I am on Twitter 24 hours a day (duh). This misunderstanding has me worried.
I was sitting with my mom and we were on Facebook, and she said in a playful but just slightly irritated way, “Oh your stuff is always at the top of my feed.” Now, she only has a couple hundred friends, so the case with her may not be the case with all of my friends, but considering that the average Facebook user has 130 friends, she’s a very good example to use. Her experience with my updates in her home feed is likely the same as many other friends of mine. She’s not the only one who has the perception that I am a Facebook addict.
EdgeRank is the “ranking” or “weight” of a status update on Facebook. Like search engine ranking, you can influence it but you cannot control it. When Facebook created the “Top News” feed on your Facebook home page, they had to create a way to figure out what was top news. That resulted in an algorithm called EdgeRank.
… whenever another user interacts with that Object they’re creating what Facebook calls an Edge, which includes actions like tags and comments. (techcrunch.com)
EdgeRank consists of three main things:
- The relationship between you and the person/page that created the status update.
- The weight of that update in terms of associated actions (likes, comments, shares, etc.)
- How old the status update is.
EdgeRank isn’t a new concept; all of the major sites have discussed it and most social media professionals know what it is. I did a quick search on Google and found edgerank workshops, discussion boards, videos, and everything in between. Soon, someone is going to create a company entirely devoted to EdgeRank optimization and charge big brands tens of thousands of dollars a year for their “expertise.”
EdgeRank is cool… but there is some cause for concern.
The only problem I have with EdgeRank is that it is perpetual. If you’re one of those lucky ones who has high EdgeRank because everyone engages your stuff, your stuff will be more likely to be seen than other people’s stuff. And because of that, your stuff is more likely to be liked or commented on or shared. And because of that, your stuff is even more likely to be seen.
And the cycle continues. Next thing you know, people are like “OMG, I love her, but, I am sick of seeing her stuff!”
And think about business pages… since Facebook got the un-brilliant idea to stick the “Unlike this page” option directly within the status update, they make it incredibly easy for someone annoyed with your prominence to just unlike you right then and there.
Facebook EdgeRank in Action
There is a massive difference between what is in your Top News feed and your Most Recent feed. Chances are, you probably hardly ever look at your Most Recent feed. I certainly don’t. (Well, only when I’m really bored.) Facebook uses the Top News feed to filter the status updates and show you what you really want to see, or at least, what the EdgeRank algorithm assumes you will want to see.
What does Facebook think you want to see?
- Stuff people are talking about. The more conversation happening around a status update, the longer it is going to stay in Top News. This means comments, primarily, but also likes and shares.
- Stuff that’s new. Of course, this is just a small part of it. It has to be both new and conversational to get high EdgeRank.
- Stuff from people and pages you interact with. The more you engage with a friend or a page that you like, the more Facebook is going to show you their stuff.
Do you see how EdgeRank can be perpetual? If a particular friend of yours or page that you have liked always seems to spark conversation, and the conversation typically revolves around images or video, and you typically ‘like’ the updates or comment on them every day or every other day, that friend or page is almost guaranteed to lock in that top spot in your home feed. Facebook has assumed, rightly so, that you want to know when that friend or page makes an update.
It’s intelligent. And behind the scenes, which makes it sneaky. But so is Google…
There’s a whole lotta conversation about edgerank and what it really is and how you get more of it. For businesses, it’s kinda crucial. Without good EdgeRank, the probability is that no one is seeing your posts and you’re wasting your time.
The Two Big Gotcha’s with Facebook EdgeRank
1. It’s hard to catch up. Because of the perpetual thing I was just talking about, it’s pretty hard to catch up. Once someone monopolizes your home feed (however unintentional it is), they are more likely to continue to do so. They will simply continue to gain visibility unless people stop liking and commenting on their stuff. It doesn’t have anything to do with frequency, really. In fact, frequent posts with no engagement are more likely to lose EdgeRank than improve it.
2. Once you lose it, it’s hard to get it back. The other problem is that if you’re losing EdgeRank, it’s really, really hard to get it back. You might start gaining it if you get a bunch of new friends or fans who actually go to your wall and engage with your stuff there, but since many people engage with posts directly from their home feed (especially mobile users), that’s sort of unlikely, unfortunately. The best suggestion I have (and I’m talking mostly to business users now) is to start mixing your content types, since videos and images rank better than regular status updates or links because they are more likely to spark conversation.
Anyway, this isn’t an ‘everything you need to know about EdgeRank’ post because EdgeRank is like SEO, the more people try to explain it, the more it is going to change. Secret algorithms are secret for a reason. So, I’m not about to try and become an EdgeRank expert.
I got tired of chasing tails a long time ago.
All I really want to say is, I’m sorry.
If you want to read more about EdgeRank, check out:
- EdgeRank: The Secret Sauce That Makes Facebook’s News Feed Tick (techcrunch.com)
- 6 Tips to Increase Your EdgeRank and Exposure (socialmediaexaminer.com)
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