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Understanding Edgerank

With as many friends and pages that users connect with on facebook, it makes sense that between logins (or in my case incessant scrolls on my iPhone) each user builds up on average 1500 potential unread stories.  If our newsfeeds displayed everything, there’s a pretty good chance we’d just get overwhelmed and use the site less. It uses complex algorithms (Edgerank) to narrow that number down to a more manageable 300 that they think we will actually care about. 

So what does this mean to small businesses and marketers?  On average your (unpromoted) posts will be seen by 20% of your connections.  

According to Facebook, their method is simple. “When a user likes something, that tells News Feed that they want to see more of it; when they hide something, that tells News Feed to display less of that content in the future.”

But it really is a lot more complicated than that.  How exactly does Facebook determine what users see and what they don’t?  The world may never know exactly.  But put simply, they rank edges!  Edges are essentially all the things that happen on the site. (e.g posts, likes, comments, shares, profile views)

And what makes one edge rank higher than another? There are three main factors; AFFINITY, WEIGHT & TIME DECAY

  • Affinity is a one way relationship between the user and the page or person they follow or are friends with.  Over time, the more often you comment, like or message that person or page,  the more likely they are to show up in your feed. But keep in mind that affinity is a one-sided equation: No matter how often you interact with someone, if they don’t interact back equally, you won’t show up more often in his or her feed and he or she does in yours. 
  • Weight: Generally, Edges that take the most time to accomplish tend to weigh more.  A like takes less effort than a comment and will be weighted less valuably by the system.  By that same rule,  shares are more valuable than comments. 
  • Time Decay refers to how much time has passed since an edge happened; the older it is the less valuable it is.  As edges age, they become less important in determining newsfeed content. This keeps our newsfeeds fresh and keeps us coming back for more.

So how can you use your new found understanding of edgerank?

Ultimately your brand will be judged (and ranked in newsfeeds accordingly) by your ability to engage your connections.  While some brands naturally invite more engagement than others.  For example, sports teams with high offline affinity among fans tend to have very high online engagement and affinity. 

But even if your brand isn’t quite as exciting as that of Drew Brees, you can still outrank your competitors if you follow one simple rule: Give the people what they want!  They will like  you more for it (online and offline) and Facebook will reward you accordingly.