Facebook has taken a page out of search giant Google's playbook. Similar to how Google uses an algorithm to display users the highest quality and most relevant results, Facebook now prioritizes posts on people’s “news feed” based on a range of factors called Edgerank.
If you run a Facebook Business page you may have noticed in the past year or so that less of your posts are reaching those that have liked the page. This is because of a tweak to the Edgerank algorithm, which ranks your post’s importance compared to every other page and friend that user is connected to.
How many likes your page has is being taken over by how important your posts are to each person. A large chunk of your followers are therefore not seeing your posts at all.
There are two main factors within the algorithm that decide whether a post is displayed to a follower. Affinity: how often the user has engaged with you previously, and Weight: how popular that particular post is, in terms of likes, comments, shares etc.
If somebody regularly views your page of their own accord, comments on and likes your posts – they will have a close affinity to you and will generally see all of your content; unless they gradually stop interacting. You will become even closer if you directly reply to their comments and have regular discussions.
On the flip side, somebody who has liked your page but has since ignored everything you’ve posted, will eventually be left out, unless you’ve paid for a Boost or a post goes particularly viral.
This can simply be described as the popularity of a single post. If a lot of followers who have a close affinity with your page have liked, commented, and shared the post, this will increase its weight and make it more likely that those with less affinity see it in their feeds. Catch lighting in a bottle and the post goes viral.
You will notice that after a particularly popular update, the posts that follow will reach more people. That’s because you’ve increased your affinity with other users.
Although the specifics are unknown, decay refers to the gradual decrease in your post’s ability to be seen, or the timeframe in which it is displayed.
As soon as you make the post it will start being displayed to those with a close affinity, and will eventually peak after a few hours. Interactions with the post extend its lifespan, and more and more people will have the opportunity to see it in their news feed.
Really popular posts can stick around for over 24 hours before dropping off.
Because of decay it is important to post your content at a time of day when your followers are likely to be online. In other words not 3am in the morning.
Furthermore you also shouldn’t saturate your page with tonnes of posts each day. It’s certainly possible to reach a point where you’ve posted so much that only a handful of people see each one.
There is no sure fire way to optimize a post for Edgerank, ultimately your success boils down to how engaging your content is, and that cannot really be taught. You can’t fake engagement.
However if you are using your Facebook page to promote products or services, rather than a content rich site like a blog or news site, then it is a good idea to strike a balance between hard selling and more entertaining posts.
For example if all of your posts are just links to products, nobody is going to engage with you and build affinity. But if you intersperse the hard sell with related news articles, funny photos, and genuinely interesting content – when you do decide to directly promote something it will reach more people. Of course this should all be relevant to your niche, but even accountancy has its fun side.
Experiment with different engaging options. Some examples may be:
Call To Action: A call to action is when you prompt a user to respond in some way. When making posts don’t just link to a page or make a bland statement, actively reach out to the people on the other end.
You can ask a question “…What Is Your Favourite Action Cam?”
Or spark a debate “…I prefer the GoPro Hero because X, what do you guys think?”
Freebies: Depending on what you're promoting freebies are a great way to build affinity and attract customers. These could be discount codes, free e-books, “like for a free desert” … as long as the call to action has a hook (i.e. the user must engage with the post to get the freebie) you’re on to a winner.
Spend Money to Make Money: You could argue that the tweaks to Edgerank were a cynical way by Facebook to get page owners to pay for exposure. While that may be true to an extent, you also have to admit that the average person has so many friends and liked so many pages that Facebook would break without some kind of prioritization.
If you have the budget boosting a post or taking out an ad campaign is extremely effective. Not only will all of your followers see the post, but you can also target those outside of your page with some very specific filters.
Furthermore once you've promoted a post, any affinity you gain sticks as if it was a non-paid post.