According to Facebook, whenever someone visits News Feed “there are on average 1,500 potential stories” from friends, pages etc., and since nobody got time for that, Facebook uses an algorithm to determine which stories people see. If you’re promoting yourself via FB it makes sense to know how the algorithm works, and so I’ve done some research (links below), and summarized what I’ve found. Enjoy!

The algorithm, called EdgeRank, works like this:

Rank = affinity x weight x decay, or:

your relationship with users x post type (eg photo/text) x post age

Affinity

When ranking your new post within a user’s news feed, Facebook will first consider the user’s history with you and their past interactions with the type of material you are posting (photo, text etc), as well as reactions other people have had to your new post. Obviously, the more interactions the better.

If, within a person’s last 50 interactions, they’ve interacted with you, then FB will prioritise your content (providing that person hasn’t interacted just as much with others). Now I’m sure sneaky tactics like tagging people for a response won’t work (I’m looking at you, incessant shoe ads), but if you make yourself available online, keep conversations open and be involved, then you’re bound to be high in people’s interaction list.

Weight

Step two in the EdgeRank algorithm is assigning post weight. Photos and videos are heaviest, then text with links, then plain text. It’s instinctively obvious this is because visual posts are just more engaging – and I only have to look at last week’s stats on my Facebook band page to see the proof:

Facebook Stats

Want to see the posts in question? Check out our page

Comments have their own weight too, at just a little heavier than a like. So a conversation-provoking text update could end up with a higher weight than a picture, and therefore a higher priority in people’s news feeds. Louis Caballero of Ad Age suggests, using relevant content can spread your brand’s conversation further. So a Facebook update about a twitter trending topic could generate a larger conversation, which would then add more weight to your posts. And as the Folks at EdgeRank say, “It’s hard to trick an algorithm into thinking that your content is interesting. It’s much easier to rewrite your content so your fans leave more likes and comments.”

Some organisations use pictures to promote the posts they know will open up the most conversation. A brand might post a plain coloured square with a question on it, for example, so that it first gets prioritised by Facebook because it’s an image, and then because of all the comments it has attracted. So maybe next time you’re linking to something promotional, post a plain text update with the link in it, then remove the automatic thumbnail and instead use a relevant image. Like this:

Looks more noticeable, to me.

Looks more noticeable, to me.

Remember that negative feedback severely reduces your priority in News Feeds. It should go without saying then that you can’t just spam everyone with the same old promos about their book/blog/selves – yet people do it, so it pays to have a reminder in case they don’t realise that their innocent enthusiasm is coming across wrong.

Time Decay

This one’s pretty obvious; recent posts are more relevant, and therefore it pays to know when your fans are online. Luckily you can find that out by visiting See insights > Posts, in case you didn’t already know. However it also pays to know that if your page is relevant to users – i.e. they interact with it regularly – then time decay will have less impact as your stories will still have priority for them. So we go full circle, and get back to affinity…

Anyway, hope that summary saves you some valuable post-tweaking time. Want more? Here’s where it came from:

Facebook.com News Feed FYI: A Window Into News Feed

EdgeRank.net A Guide To Facebook’s Newsfeed Algorithm

AdAge Digital Facebook’s News Feed Changes Will Require New Marketing Strategies

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