Edgerank. The name sends shivers down the spines of Community Managers. But what is it? Well Edgerank is the name of Facebook’s algorithm that determines which posts are seen by fans in their newsfeeds and which ones are not. Since the average person has around 130 Facebook friends it would be overwhelming for users if, every time they logged in, they were confronted with new status updates, photos and links from each of their 130 friends. Add this to the fact that the average Facebook user likes 4-6 pages a month and suddenly the prospect of merely logging into Facebook comes with fears of being inundated with random and uninteresting drivel. Because of this Facebook recently ‘tweaked’ their algorithm for Edgerank and Community Managers have been howling in protest.
The reason that Community Managers are so angry is because that they have found that in the last few weeks their posts are not being seen by as many people. The reach of their posts has been stunted and that does not look very good on a monthly report to the big bosses. Many Community Managers have been getting angry at Facebook for making their jobs more difficult but Facebook does have its reasons.
The new Edgerank algorithm does not mean that your posts will never be seen by anyone. What it means is that the least popular posts will not be displayed in the fans newsfeeds.
The most obvious reason for changing their algorithm was to force the hand of less popular brands to engage in paying for ‘promoted posts’. This is a sure-fire way for Facebook to being monetization of their billion plus user base. With the disastrous IPO earlier this year Facebook has to prove that they are able to make a long-term profit and a sustainable business model. Because of this they have changed their algorithm so that less popular posts, in order to be seen, have to purchase space at the top of their fans newsfeeds. Whilst once cannot blame Facebook for resorting to such tactics one can still get quite annoyed because of this.
However before all Community Managers cry havoc and let loose the tweets of war there are a few things that they should know. The popularity of the post is irrelevant if they have their fans have their Facebook newsfeeds set to sort by ‘Most Recent’ rather than ‘Top Stories’. This means that if the Facebook fans are on their news feed when your post is published it will automatically be seen at the top of the page. Any good Community Manager should know the statistics of their demographics intimately. One of the basic statistics that you should have is an understanding of when the best time to post is. For adults the best time is between 12pm and 3pm, for teens it’s later in the afternoon and early evening when they get home from school and finish dinner (these times often fluctuate so be sure to always check the latest surveys). Always schedule your posts to be published when you’re sure you’ll get the most eyes on them (that’s Community Management 101 by the way).
But what if you don’t know the best times to post or your fans have their newsfeed set to ‘Most Popular’? Well that means that you’re simply going to have to work extra hard to create an engaging post. The new Edgerank algorithm does not mean that your posts will never be seen by anyone. What it means is that the least popular posts will not be displayed in the fans newsfeeds. You can choose to have your posts displayed at the top in two ways:
1) Pay to make a post ‘promoted’. This means that it will display prominently at the top of the page.
2) Create a really engaging post that your fans would ‘like’, comment on and share.
Now this seems silly. Every post you create should be engaging. This is true. However there are some lazier members within the social media community who believe that by simply posting they have automatically reached their fans. This is no longer the case . I’ve posted before about how you can improve your Facebook engagement but it’s always best to have a trial and error period to see how your fans respond to pictures, status updates, links etc. You may find that your fans buck the trend and that they hate pictures and love links. Because of this you may lose some slight engagement whilst your fans respond positively or negatively to your new posts. However if you can find the right balance that gets you the best engagement with your fans then you’ll reap more engagement in the long run as you won’t have to worry about the new Edgerank algorithm.
Or you could just pay for your posts to appear on the top of the page….but why would a fan comment, like or share a post that’s not engaging in the first place?
UPDATE: In the last few days Facebook has released a report stating that paid content reaches more fans than free content. This isn’t exactly surprising news. Facebook is justifying changing their entire Edgerank algorithm and of course paid content is seen by more fans. But they highlight three companies here: Samsung, an unnamed major retailer and an unnamed major financial services brand. These are all multi-million (or billion) dollars brands that can afford top dollar advertising throughout a variety of social networks. The concern that I, and many Community Managers, have is that smaller companies do not have the money to buy major ad space every campaign. For us we are left to simply create as many engaging posts as possible and hope for the best.