It's been almost a year since Facebook announced EdgeRank, its algorithm for determining what stories make it into the news feeds of its users. Each time a user posts an item to the wall, the algorithm kicks in to route the item to a select group of the user's friends based on a number of criteria. EdgeRank was created to keep the exchange of information and content between friends as relevant as possible. Not every friend of the user posting the item will see the item. In fact, very few will ever see it.
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The EdgeRank formula works for the "Top News" news feed setting. The "Most Recent" setting delivers posts in chronological order from a completely customizable list of friends and pages. Since the large majority of users' default wall setting is "Top News," EdgeRank is there to do the customizing for you, based on how each item scores in the algorithm. The three main criteria for an item's algorithm score are:
- Affinity: How often you and your friends interact on the platform
- Weight: Each type of content is weighted differently, based on the past interactions of that type of content
- Time: How old the published item is
While the math and the rules behind the algorithm are a bit fuzzy, the premise is simple. Facebook doesn't want any user bombarded with useless, irrelevant content. EdgeRank doesn't just apply to user profiles. It's also used for pages. The algorithm determines which users will see the content from the pages they "like." Unofficial studies have put the percentage of messages that actually make it through at anywhere between 0.50 percent and 5 percent. If, in fact, the actual percentage of posts making it to fans is less than 10 percent, there are some real challenges ahead for brands that leverage Facebook to expand awareness and increase reach.
As I've pointed out in my previous articles, one of the primary benefits of Facebook is the ability to expand the reach of your brand by interacting with your fans. Many different types of fan interaction create a news feed story that is then published to fans' friends. The average Facebook user has 130 friends. This viral distribution engine can be very powerful when leveraged correctly. While the algorithm makes it difficult, you can increase the likelihood of your content getting through by following simple best practices.