The science behind Facebook’s top news feed
Have you ever wondered why you see Facebook updates from the same people? It’s not just coincidence that these people just happen to be some of the friends you interact with the most. Facebook have put a lot of time and effort into sifting through your Facebook spam to give you what it thinks you really want to see.
Regular Facebook devotees will know that there are two different news feeds; one for recent news, which details the posts in time order (most recent first) and the top news, which shows what Facebook thinks you will find most engaging. The default setting is ‘top news’ but every time you log in, you will see the news feed you chose the last time you logged in.
How does Facebook know what I will find the most engaging?
Facebook uses the Facebook Edgerank Algorithm to determine what a user will find interesting from their recent or past behavioural patterns. It looks at three different factors, gives them a score and adds them together to create a score. The top scoring items feature in a user’s top news feed.
Facebook Edgerank Algorithm
Facebook’s Edgerank Algorithm is as follows: affinity + weight + time = top news score
The higher a top news score, the more likely a post will appear in a user’s top news feed.
Affinity is a score calculated on how much you engage or interact with someone. The more you interact with a profile or a page, the higher the affinity score will be and the more they will appear in your newsfeed. An interaction can be anything from a comment on a photo to a like on a comment. This only works one way, for example the viewer interacts with the creator, so the creator will feature more in the viewers feed but the viewer will not feature more in the creator’s feed.
Weight is a score that Facebook gives each piece of content, or edge, depending on what type of content it is. There is no specific numerical order on what receives the highest amount but it is understood that video, photos and links score higher than comments, with likes trailing behind. The weight score is also influenced by the user and what type of content they tend to browse. A user who likes to look through photos is more likely to see other's photo albums in their top news than those who don't.
Time is simple. More recent posts will have a higher score than those from a few days ago.
Making your Facebook posts count
If you can improve the Edgerank score between your Facebook page and those that like your page you’ll find that you can increase the likelihood of getting into a viewer’s top news feed, therefore gaining greater impressions. This is particularly handy if you have a call to action that you want as many as people as possible to see. Here are our handy hints for increasing those all important scores:
The best way to improve the affinity between your page and your fans is to create engagement and interaction BEFORE the campaign goes live. This can be done by asking questions or by starting a healthy debate. By getting fans to comment or like a status, your affinity score will be increased for those fans who comment.
Socialbakers.com recently analysed the top Facebook updates from the Facebook pages that had over one millions likes. Below are the top four status updates by engagement rate. Engagement rate is the number of comments and likes divided by the number of fans attracted.
As you can see, it really is a case of ‘monkey see, monkey do’. All of the posts have asked their fans to like their update. Each of the Facebook pages has tailored their request for a like to something it knows that its fans want. The fans of Buffalo Wild Wings are generally going to like the comment about wanting a beer, more than say a Kohl’s fan. Skittles have clasped on to the fact that everyone wants what they can’t have. Think about what your fans want or what they would like and try it out for yourself.
Other examples of encouraging engagement are as follows.
‘It’s sunny in the office here at Brand HQ. What’s the weather like where you are?’
‘We’re discussing whether or not you should be allowed to eat lunch at your desk. What’s your view? Is eating sandwiches okay or a definite no-go?’
‘We’ve got a great book out for you to read. It’s called The Book. What book are you reading at the moment and what do you love the most about it at the moment?’
If possible, keep it relevant to your business but don’t be scared to humanise your brand. Everyone knows there is a human behind the brand.
You can also increase the weight of your post by creating variety in your updates. A Facebook page filled with only status updates or just videos is going to get dull very quickly. They say that variety is the spice of life, so make sure your Facebook page encompasses as many types of content as possible. By creating a variety of content, you’ll be able to reach those who browse photos and/or watch videos rather than those who just read status updates.
If you haven’t experimented with using photos, links or videos on your Facebook page yet, make sure you do. It not only has a higher weight score but this type of content is also more likely to be shared.
Again, time is simple. Find out when your fans will be logging in. There is no use publishing a campaign at midnight when the majority of your fans don't log in until 9am. Check your Facebook insights to see when the majority of your fans engage with your Facebook page.
It’s not an exact science
It’s important to remember that Facebook control the Edgerank Algorithm and it’s always subject to changes and tweaks. It’s best to play around with updates and content and then monitor the progress using Facebook insights to see what works best for your page and your fans.