EdgeRank: How Facebook Determines What Appears in the News Feed

Your online shop’s Facebook Page is a marketing tool. When folks “Like” your Facebook Page, they are not just expressing their interest in your shop, but you have an opportunity to get in front of their eyeballs on a more frequent basis than waiting for them to come to your site.

But are your shares getting through the barrage of other posts competing for your Fan’s attention? Will Facebook deliver your message to your members’ News Feeds – or will they be lost in Dagobah?

Enter the EdgeRank Algorithm

Facebook understands you’re a busy guy/gal who has befriended way too many friends, celebrities, brands and TV shows to keep up with. EdgeRank is that secret-sauce algorithm that FB uses to determine who and what you give a hoot about that should show up in your News Feed.

It’s been reported that only 0.2% (2 in 1000) of Facebook updates you could be exposed to will actually be promoted to your News Feed. That means you may never see that photo of your ex-coworker’s new baby, catch when that girl you sat next to on the bus in 1997 “Liked” Taco Bell, or when your chiropractor enjoyed a reuben sandwich.

This also means that when you, as a marketer, post that brilliant status update you’ve been working on since Tuesday, not all your network will see it. Even if it does end up in a one’s News Feed it can quickly get buried by newer items while your Fans sleep, work or watch Lost.

The EdgeRank Algorithm Explained – Sort Of

Let’s unpack the formula above. An “edge” refers to any piece of content you share on Facebook – a status update, posting a photo, Liking something, commenting on something, gettin’ tagged, etc.

A status update / share’s NewsFeedworthiness is determined on a case by case basis, factoring in the u, the w and the d.

Affinity score is gauged by one’s interaction with another Facebook entity. For example, if Jimmy visit’s Sally’s page several times a day, comments on and likes her updates, checks out her photos and sends her messages every day? Facebook can safely say Jimmy has an affinity for Sally and feed Jimmy nearly everything Sally does.

Affinity is not two-directional. Sally will be assigned her own affinity score for Jimmy based on her clicks, shares, likes, comments, and so on.

Weight varies for different types of content that is shared. Facebook may believe that your friends’ comments on their friends’ content outside your network is not very interesting to you. Or, that photo content is more interesting than Likes. Perhaps certain pieces of content that usually are low weight have become “viral” and thus, are interesting.

Time decay is what you think it is. Some posts are soooo half-an-hour ago, everyone wants fresh, fresh, fresh social content! And edge’s hotness will die down as the minutes tick on (which is why getting edges off to a strong start can extend their life somewhat).

Well, that’s all Facebook will divulge about the inner workings of the News Feed. The rest is up to us to speculate. Which brings us to the new e-marketing acronym on the block – NFO (News Feed Optimization). Come on, you knew this was coming! ☺

Join us again on Friday, I’ll share with you my ideas for how commercial brands can increase their signal and get more of their edges found in their Page fans’ News Feeds on Facebook.

Looking for help with ecommerce? Contact the Elastic Path consulting team at consulting@elasticpath.com to learn how our ecommerce strategy and conversion optimization services can improve your business results.

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9 Responses to “EdgeRank: How Facebook Determines What Appears in the News Feed”

  1. Marco says:

    Hi there,
    Could you please let us understand how you are aware that FB uses that formula? Source?
    Or is it based on your research work?


  2. Really good post. I get your email everyday and this was one of my favourite posts ever. Hadnt seen this info before, thanks for bringing it to my attention.

    Thanks for your work.


  3. Linda,

    Believe it or not, I would LOVE to know when this girl starts liking “Taco Bell”! ;-)

    I also wrote an article on Facebook’s secret sauce that goes into a little more detail on our blog: http://blogs.webtrends.com/blog/2011/05/06/edgerank-the-truth-about-facebooks-secret-sauce/


    PS: In case anyone missed my latest Facebook status, I really had a great breakfast!

    • Thanks for sharing the link, Michael. Can Webtrends track the engagement of your breakfast posts? Perhaps test posts during breakfast vs. after just having finished breakfast :-)

  4. Using Facebook for business is all about visibility and reach. Understanding a bit more about how FB goes about its business of ranking updates and posts is a valuable insight to help improve both.

    Posted in August about why it is important (http://blog.web-media.co.uk/social-media/why-facebook-edgerank-is-important/).

    Included was a link to a new service EdgeRank Checker (http://edgerankchecker.com/) which give additional insights into how your FB page is performing and analysis on the performance of posts, status updates, best time and days for engagement etc, all of which can help focus FB activity for the best roi.

  5. ant says:

    damn, affinity is not two-direction. always thought this girl I like appeared on my page besides she was looking at my stuff too :(

  6. Danielle says:

    What are your thoughts on Fb ads w the new edge rank?

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