R.I.P. EdgeRank: How To Optimize For Facebook’s News Feed Algorithm
As you may have heard, Facebook EdgeRank is no more. A Facebook insider confirmed that the term [EdgeRank] is no longer being used internally (and hasn’t been for over two years) and noted that there are currently over 100,000 factors that go into what a user sees on their News Feed when users log into Facebook.
While Facebook has not explicitly told us what these factors are, they have shed some light on the process involved in developing their most recent ranking algorithm update. The company surveyed thousands of users, asking questions to help determine what exactly makes a “high-quality” Facebook Page post. They then used this information to help make their News Feed ranking algorithm better than ever.
Facebook is improving on its ability to detect high-quality content. In order to best optimize for Facebook’s News Feed algorithm, marketers need to think of social comments the same way we think of content meant for Google and other search engines — in other words, if you want your content to be visible to your target audience, it must be timely, relevant, trustworthy and valuable.
Focus On Relevancy
According to Jon Loomer, the announcement that Facebook made back in August showcased the move toward transparency when it comes to News Feed algorithm changes. However, marketers are not happy about the move toward being more selective about what appears on users’ News Feeds.
Facebook’s aim with this algorithm update is to focus on the users’ needs — thus, when deciding which content to display, one key consideration is:
Is this timely and relevant content?
That question alone should be the Golden Rule of optimizing for Facebook. If the content you are posting isn’t relevant or of interest to the user, chances are one of two things will happen: it will either never be displayed to the user because of the News Feed algorithm, or the user will see it and fail to engage, as it does not provide any value.
Even if you are trying to get past the algorithm, here’s the bottom line: if your content sucks, so will your engagement metrics.
Focus On Content, Not Begging
Another question Facebook asked from a user perspective when tweaking the News Feed algorithm was:
Is the content genuinely interesting, or is it trying to game News Feed distribution? (e.g., asking for people to like the content)
Instead of being so focused on getting more “Likes,” Facebook marketers should instead start publishing content that is genuinely interesting to their current and potential consumer base.
In terms of News Feed rankings, Facebook has implied that negative results will come from asking for likes or engagement on content. But even if you do manage to rank well, begging for likes or shares is ultimately not a great strategy. It doesn’t provide true engagement or the metrics that brand should be looking for when it comes to social media. You wouldn’t print 100 flyers about your next sale and then ask people to simply carry them around, would you? Ideally, they would read the flyer and come in for your Labor Day sale the next weekend.
The same goes for actual engagement on Facebook. There is no substitute for true shares where comments come from crafting compelling social media content.
Focus On Quality
The call for high-quality content is not only relevant in the above questions, but also in three additional ones that Facebook lists:
- Would you share it with friends or recommend it to others?
- Would you call this a low quality post or meme?
- Would you complain about seeing this content in your News Feed?
Yes, posting links to content that your target audience base will find interesting is important, but it’s no longer enough to simply post a link and hope for the best. Facebook was created to bring people together and create a sense of community, and any content that you post should be published with that in mind.
That being said, links to great content need to have a concise summary or discussion question that is meant to increase engagement through comments, likes or shares. This is especially critical when you are posting your own content that is published on your blog or website.
It’s not enough that your content is amazing. The way you introduce it to the world through social media needs to be equally great.
Focus On Variety
Historically, Facebook Pages have leaned heavily on image posts to achieve optimal visibility and engagement. But with their recent update to the way links are displayed in the News Feed (Facebook boosted the image size on links), it’s time to rethink link posts.
Further, individual users each have an algorithmic preference for certain types of posts (e.g., images, text updates or links) — so if you only share one type, you may be failing to connect with large swaths of your fan base.
In addition to the aforementioned announcement, Facebook also gave more insight into a few features of its algorithm that ensure that important updates are seen by users in their News Feed. These features, called story bumping and last actor, can move previously posted stories up to the top of a user’s News Feed if they didn’t scroll down far enough to see it initially.
The stories that Facebook chooses for this are based on several factors, including the entity posting the update and the user’s relationship with that entity. For instance, if Molly regularly comments on your statuses and then posts that she is engaged, that update is something Facebook would be sure to make you see.
While this feature has only been used in user-to-user relationships, is a clear indication that Facebook is moving toward crafting its News Feed algorithm to provide users with the information they are most interested in, regardless of who posted it (e.g., a specific brand or user) or when it was posted.
This further speaks to Facebook’s dedication toward serving the most high-quality, relevant content that is interesting to each individual user specifically. Until brands start focusing their Facebook content strategy on optimizing through quality and engagement instead of click bait, the News Feed algorithm (and users themselves) will continue not to care.
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.
(Some images used under license from Shutterstock.com.)
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