Back in early December I attended AllFacebook’s Marketing Conference in New York, aspiring to help my clients better engage with their Facebook fans. AllFacebook, “the unofficial Facebook blog” setup an agenda filled with a diverse group of industry leaders to speak about the innovative nature of Facebook and the effects on digital media, along with solutions for marketers.
A major theme heard throughout the conference was EdgeRank and Open Graph. Understanding how these two tools work can give you a big advantage in increasing your brand’s exposure and user engagement.
It’s imperative for brands to fully comprehend the Facebook newsfeed in order to reach as many fans as possible. Facebook’s algorithm, EdgeRank, takes into account three factors: affinity, weight, and time, which together control newsfeed visibility. It’s not about the number of fans a brand has, but the number of fans who are exposed to the brand’s actions within their newsfeeds. These actions, referred to as “edges,” generate the stories in each user’s newsfeed. Edges with the highest scores appear first in the newsfeed; however, randomization is sometimes added to the mix. Edges include the following actions: status updates, comments, photo tags, fan-page joins, and event RSVPs.
“Affinity” measures how relevant or connected an edge is to a user. The more a user or fan interacts with a page (by liking, commenting, sharing, etc.) the more often that person will see the page’s updates in his or her newsfeed. This affinity score is one-way. User X may have a high affinity for User Y, but this doesn’t mean that User Y also has a high affinity for User X.
The “weight” of an edge varies by category. Photos have more than twice as much engagement as a post without a photo. A photo click will increase affinity, as the algorithm considers a photo click a form of engagement, which leads to an increased presence in the newsfeed. Comments weigh more than “likes.”
Content decays over time. Old news will lose relevance and not be displayed in the newsfeed. Posting once or twice a day is optimal, with approximately four hours between posts. A brand’s life cycle is also an important factor to consider; as a brand grows it may want to post more frequently, especially in an effort to combat negativity.
Encouraging interaction in posts is a good way to increase EdgeRank. This includes asking fans to click “like,” rate something on a scale from 1 to 10, or fill in blanks.
Open Graph brings new stories to new audiences, allowing what in the past may have not gotten much visibility to expand its reach. It lets a brand employ the power of consumer advocates to acknowledge it, expose it to others in the users’ “social graphs,” and drive brand advocacy.
Open Graph allows Web and mobile applications to be integrated into social graphs by mapping individuals and their relationships. Users can share their Web experiences and activities within Facebook, and also interact with their social graphs outside the boundaries of Facebook. Facebook allows applications to share information about users to adapt content, features, and offers to the users’ interests, resulting in a contextually relevant experience.
A user’s activities consist of that user’s actions and objects. “Actions” are the behaviors that a user performs in an app. They can be custom-made for a particular app or include built-in directives such as “follow,” “like,” “listen,” “read,” or “watch.” “Objects” are the places where these actions lead—most commonly websites, but also movies, blogs, TV, and the like. Objects can also be custom-built.
Open Graph is a significant way to reinforce a message, and an effective vehicle for peer-to-peer or consumer-to-consumer marketing. When a user’s friend sees a story from the user about a particular app he or she has used, the friend then has the opportunity to engage with the app as well. Reach soars overwhelmingly.
The power of word-of-mouth is crucial to Open Graph. Existing fans are initially empowered and engaged, and then the interest shifts to potential fans, or “friends of friends.” A user is more likely to be inclined to listen to a particular music station or read a certain article if that user sees that his or her friends have done so.
So, How Should Your Brand Use EdgeRank and Open Graph?
Heavily analyze the metrics available through the Facebook platform. A thorough analysis of existing posts can help you develop a posting strategy, including optimal dayparting. Assign posts to different categories to test how well particular content performs.
Qualify your fans. Getting to know them better will help you tailor content to make it contextually relevant to them and ensure that the content is being delivered into their newsfeeds.
It is imperative as a marketer to remain informed of the constant changes to Facebook, including their algorithm, in order to achieve the greatest benefits on your page. The best way to stay ahead of the game is by attending conferences and reading articles. A great resource is Facebook’s own developer section.