Friday, August 2, 2013

Facebook's at it Again - Why Your Newsfeed Sucks

If you’ve noticed a change in your Facebook newsfeed, you’re not alone.  Some people hate it, some people don’t seem to mind it, but the facts are that your Facebook newsfeed has changed. Facebook’s new algorithm, known externally as “EdgeRank,” personalizes users’ newsfeeds to display content that they will most likely engage with based upon three ingredients: affinity score, edge weight and time decay.   

In order to get the same exposure and visibility that many people took for granted, you now have to fight (or even pay) for it.  For those of you looking to increase a your visibility on Facebook, the game has gotten significantly more difficult.  Facebook’s algorithm sees every post as an interaction, an opportunity, an “edge,” and then ranks them accordingly, hence the name EdgeRank.  To improve your content’s “edge,” you must focus on your content’s affinity, weight and time.

The affinity score of your content depends on your relationship and interaction with Facebook.  By liking, sharing and commenting on other people’s posts, you will most likely increase your content’s Edge Rank.

The edge weight of your content depends on the level of importance Facebook places on your post.  The higher its edge weight, the higher your post appears in a newsfeed.  Media like photos and videos receive more attention from Facebook than status updates. Similarly, the more engagement you get with a post, such as likes and shares, the higher the chance it will appear closer to the top of a newsfeed. 

Timing is the third factor.  As your post gets older, it falls in the rankings.  EdgeRank adjusts based on time-decay, and you therefore need to make sure you post frequently, but not so much as to draw negative attention to your post – people can block your content, you know.

What does all of this mean? Simply put, to improve your EdgeRank score, make your content engaging, short, visual, direct, relevant (but not pushy), and timely.  Hope that people will like, share and comment on your post, giving it a heavier “edge” weight so it appears in more newsfeeds.

For those of you that think EdgeRank is a more of a hassle than an aid, think about this:  EdgeRank takes into consideration your relationship with your friends and pages.  Have you ever found yourself spending countless minutes scrolling through the hundreds of posts on your twitter feed, only stopping on that rare occasion when you see your friend’s name or something that catches your eye? That is what happens when content is weighed the same.  Facebook has tried to eliminate the need for pointless scanning, scrolling and screening, and focus on bringing the most important content to your newsfeed.  Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook Co-Founder and CEO, compares his new design to a newspaper.  The front page is the most important, the stories and content that you will find most interesting; if you want to dig deeper (to the funnies, a county court trial or a small story on the health benefits of eating leafy greens), you can flip through the pages of the newspaper.  Similarly, your newsfeed is for the most important content, and if you want to find out what your old neighbor from high school was doing with his dog at the vet last Saturday, you can go to his respective timeline. 

So whether or not you decide you like EdgeRank, it’s here to stay.  Whether you are a marketer, page admin, or just your average Facebook user, it’s helpful to understand why these changes have occurred and how you can adjust your usage, wording and timing to personalize your newsfeed in the future. 

Sources/Further Reading:
Al-Green, Bob. “What is Facebook EdgeRank and Why Does It Matter?” Mashable.
     infographic/.  07 May 2013.  Accessed 24 Jul. 2013.
Lafferty, Justin. “Why Life Without Facebook’s News Feed Algorithm Would Suck.” AllFacebook.
     facebooks-news-feed-algorithm-would-suck_b118053. 22 May 2013. Accessed 24 Jul. 2013.
Widman, Jeff. “Presenting EdgeRank.” CA. Accessed 24 Jul. 2013. 

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