From HigherEd Live: “Inside Facebook’s EdgeRank Algorithm”

Seth Odell wasn’t lying when he said that EdgeRank “sounds like math,” and therefore sounds scary. It’s true. Nevertheless, EdgeRank is something that we can’t ignore. Today’s episode of HigherEd Live, “Inside Facebook’s EdgeRank Algorithm,” featured Chad Wittman, founder of EdgeRank Checker. I’ve talked a bit about EdgeRank before, but it was really interesting getting information and advice from the proverbial source.

Below are my notes from today’s episode of HigherEd Live. UPDATE: Video now included! Thanks to HigherEd Live for linking my blog post.

What is EdgeRank?

It determines what users see in their Facebook Newsfeeds.

EdgeRank Algorithm =  Affinity x Weight x Time Decay.

Affinity. Relationship with the object that’s created. What is the relationship between the user and your Page? Facebook tracks everything about an interaction: clicking links, visiting a Page, anything a user can do to create something tangible in the Facebook universe. Affinity applies to relationships between users, Groups, and Pages.

Weight. Measurement of the value placed on pieces of content like photos, links, videos, or posts.

Time Decay. As content gets older, Facebook views it as less important. So, newer content is more likely to be seen in a user’s Newsfeed.

Why is understanding EdgeRank so important?

  1. There is a threshold to pass in order to appear on a user’s Newsfeed.
  2. If you can capitalize on EdgeRank, you can get prominent placement on a Newsfeed.

How do we increase EdgeRank?

  • Create relationships with users and get them to connect with you more frequently. Engagement will increase EdgeRank and EdgeRank will increase exposure. Pages should engage users and include calls for action. Facebook wants you to create great content, and you will be rewarded if you do so.
  • Understand your audience and know what they want. For example, a higher number of mobile users might be more likely to engage with photo content than with video content.
  • What to do when mandated content is less than exciting? Get creative. A link that must be posted might get more clicks if you share a photo or video with it.
  • Consider the best time of day to post content. Do users typically engage with you in the morning? In the evening?
  • To best engage a huge audience, you might be best served by breaking Pages down for audience types. Should you create a separate Alumni page? Departmental pages? Student Life? EdgeRank may change the “one page to rule them all” perspective.
  • Tell your audience how you’d like them to respond. “If you like this, please share it.”

Additional Findings

  • EdgeRank Checker has concluded that comments carry more weight than likes. The more time it takes to engage with content, the more weight the interaction will have.
  • Polls: anyone who answers a poll is considered a “story-teller.” Unfortunately, poll data as related to EdgeRank is not readily available.
  • After recent reports that Facebook was penalizing content posted through third-party applications, Facebook acknowledged that this was a known “bug.” It’s been reported that the bug has been fixed. So far, early data shows that the bug may have, in fact, been fixed.
  • As more applications are integrated into the Newsfeed and Ticker, the space will become more competitive.
  • Wittman believes that EdgeRank may very well be the next SEO.
  • Facebook’s new initiatives are always pushed up higher to increase exposure. Now, stories from Storify and other applications are highly visible.
  • EdgeRank is determined per person and per object. Each interaction makes a difference.

I think my favorite piece of advice from the episode was this:

If you don’t have anything awesome to say, wait to post until tomorrow when you do have something awesome to say.

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4 thoughts on “From HigherEd Live: “Inside Facebook’s EdgeRank Algorithm”

  1. Great summary Alaina. Especially agree with your last point, about holding off to post non-remarkable content. Although Wittman may say EdgeRank could be the next SEO, the differences between the two are night and day.

    Yes Pagerank may be a good analogy for understanding Edgerank, but searching for keywords online and seeing results of status updates based on your social circles shouldn’t be mistaken. Perhaps he has a business interest for comparing the importance of SEO vs. Edgerank tho ;)

    1. You have a very good point there, Brandon. I’d be interested in hearing more about the comparison of EdgeRank and SEO.

      I do think that many people probably search for institutions/universities on Facebook before or along with searching on Google or Bing. But if we’re talking about how visible your Facebook content in subscribers’ newsfeeds, haven’t those people already “found” you? No doubt EdgeRank is really important, but I’m glad you made me think a little more about the analogy.

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