Everyone knows that Facebook is an enormous network boasting 700 million users, rapidly moving to eclipse one billion. Over 30 billion pieces of content are shared every month by those users.
For businesses it is an excellent media to stay in touch with your clients and reach out to new potential customers. Creating a Business ‘Fan’ Page and developing a large following of fans is great, however, with the vast size of the network how do you get your message seen by your target audience?
Facebook tells us that 95% of people who ‘Like’ a business page (becoming a ‘Fan’ of the page) NEVER return to that page again. That means that all the time you have spent developing your business profile with all your company information, uploading pictures into photo albums, adding video and other content to your page, it is only seen once - the day they became a fan.
Facebook’s News Feed
The main communication tool in Facebook is called the News Feed. When you post a ‘status update’ on your business page or upload a picture, video or other content to your page a message is sent to all your fans in their News Feed.
The News Feed is on your home page. When you’re logged in to Facebook it’s that middle column where you see the stories - Facebook calls them stories. These stories are the posts from fan pages that you liked and from individuals that you’ve become friends with.
News Feed vs. Page Wall
When you create a status update it is posted on your page wall. It is also sent out through your fans’ News Feed. When a fan ‘Likes’ the post or comments on it, the comment is posted on your Wall and the Likes are tallied. It looks as if your fan visited your page and commented on your Wall, but in reality they commented on their News Feed and Facebook posted their comment on your Page Wall.
Most people believe that:
1. All Status Updates and messages about new content are automatically added to every Fan’s News Feed.
2. All ‘Stories’ in your News Feed remain there the same amount of time and is pushed down by the next story.
However, neither of these assumptions are correct!
There is so much content shared on Facebook that users would grow weary of reading through all the garbage to find content of importance. So Facebook filters through all the content from all your friends and the business pages you have liked, and only shows you what they believe is most relevant to you.
If you take a close look at your News Feed you will see the content is not in chronological order. Some older stories are still near the top while newer stories move down quicker.
Most Recent vs. Top News
If you look at the top right of your News Feed you will see links to ‘Top News’ and ‘Most Recent’. The default is always set to Top News. This is Facebook’s filtered results with the more important lingering around longer than less important and many posts never making the list at all.
Most Recent will be in absolute chronological order of everything that comes through fan pages and friends. This list is unfiltered and everything is posted here.
Switching back and forth between the two a couple of times will reveal the dramatic difference between the two lists and the difference the Facebook Filter makes. Most people do not know about this and always view their home page in the default Top News setting.
As you can see, it is vitally important for a business to learn how to get their messages to appear in the Top Stories and stay there as long as possible.
The Top News is filtered by an algorithm that Facebook calls ‘EdgeRank’. Every piece of content on Facebook, whether a personal profile created it or a fan page created it, is passed through the filter. What you see in the Top News is what Facebook has decided is most important to you.
There are three primary components to the EdgeRank algorithm:
- Affinity Score - The affinity score is the relationship that your fans have with not just your fan page but that specific piece of content.
- Weight - There are various types of content including a photo, video, link, or plain text. Each type is given a different weight.
- Time Decay or Recency - Basically, it’s how recent the content is, how long ago the piece of content was created.
Strategies for Effective Facebook Marketing
Understanding each of the components of the EdgeRank algorithm and how to apply them to your content will help it reach your fans’ News Feed and stay there longer. This will certainly give a definite Edge to your marketing.
What’s really important to understand is that your fans have a different EdgeRank score with every piece of your content. Plus, each piece of content has a different EdgeRank score with each of your Fans.
Facebook looks at a number of items when compiling the Affinity Score and it is all centered on your fans engagement (likes and comments they have made in the past). The more they engage with your page the higher their EdgeRank score will be with content you publish. The more they engage with similar content with what you published the higher their score will be on that particular piece of content.
So, if a fan of your page has commented on and or liked a lot of pictures in the past, when you post a new picture their score will be higher than some one who has never commented on or liked a photo before. If a fan has engaged with videos in the past but not many photos, then their EdgeRank score will be higher for videos than photos.
If a fan of your page has engaged with your page in the past whether it was commenting on or liking a story in their News Feed, writing directly on your Page Wall, writing a recommendation, or linking to your page in a personal status update, their EdgeRank will be higher on all your content than a fan who has not engaged with you.
Facebook gives EdgeRank scores weighted by the types of content in the story. The weight given is as follows:
- Links to websites
- Text updates
A status update including a video is given more weight (and thus a higher EdgeRank score) than an update containing links, but not as much as an update containing a picture. All three of these receive more weight than an update containing plain text.
Time Decay or Recency
Facebook gives the most recent stories the highest EdgeRank. As time passes the score is lowered. Regardless of how high an EdgeRank score a story receives based on the two criteria above, as time passes the score is lowered until it eventually drops from the News Feed.
In order to maximize the effectiveness of your status update you should post during times when the majority of your target audience is logged onto Facebook reading their News Feed, not just when it is a convenient time for you to post.
Sixty percent of all Facebook users only access Facebook in the evenings and weekends, and many of the remaining forty percent access Facebook during those times as well. If you only post during business hours you are missing out on some of the best times for your updates to be seen.
In addition, posts made outside of business hours have a 20% higher engagement rate. This is most likely due to the fact that during business hours people feel they have less time to spend responding to what they read. Regardless of the reason, getting more engagement helps your Affinity Score and as explained above, this helps the most in raising your EdgeRank score.
Updates made on Fridays receive 18% more engagement than stories posted on other days of the week. The less people want to be at work, it is reasoned, the more they’re on Facebook.
Facebook tracks an interesting statistic that they call the Gross National Happiness factor. You can check this out at www.apps.facebook.com/gnh_index
To determine the ‘Happiness Index’ Facebook tracks all comments made and ranks them as either negative or positive. They conclude that when people make more positive comments they are happier. This index spikes by more than 10% on Fridays, and Holidays receive the highest rankings. Holidays and weekends are great times to post your content. Reach out to people when they’re in good moods.
Another interesting static from Facebook is that for retail businesses engagement skyrockets on Sundays. This may be due to a carry over from newspapers that traditionally run most of their ads for retail stores in their Sunday editions. However retail business posts account for only 5% of all posts on Sundays. Not only is it a great time for retailers to engage their target audience, there is also less competition.
While these prime times should be taken advantage of, you don’t want to ignore the rest of the week. People access Facebook at different times of the day and on different days of the week. The best approach is to create different types of content on a consistent basis, posting each day of the week with a slight increase during the prime times.
Don’t post 20 new pictures of your jewelry all at once. By doing so you will only reach those people who are active on Facebook at that time. Instead, space your updates at least two to three hours apart over several days. In this manor you will have the broadest impact reaching the most people.