Monday, June 29, 2015

How can we use EdgeRank to get our Facebook posts seen?

EdgeRank is the algorithm that Facebook uses to decide whether or not posts from friends or business pages appear in our news feed. If you want to be seen by the average user it’s important to know how this works and what Facebook considers worthy content. This isn't as grey-hat as it sounds, it's just about producing good stuff.

EdgeRank takes several factors into consideration. They are:

Time
How recently was the content posted?
How long did the user spend on content published by this page previously?

Weight
What type of content is being posted. Different types of content have greater or lesser chances of being seen. Facebook looks at this akin to the amount of effort we put into a post. A standard simple comment has very little EdgeRank. A link has a bit more. An image or videos are far more likely to be seen.

Affinity
Has the user engaged with content from our brand before? Have they liked posts, shared articles, clicked through on links, and commented? Did the brand comment back or like their comment? All these factors add affinity.

With this in mind there are things we can do to boost our EdgeRank, however, they do require effort. Creativity is what’s going to differentiate your content. The effort that Facebook wants us to put in to guarantee our content is of good quality and relevance. Let’s take each of the above factors separately to show how, collectively, they can make a difference:

Timing is Important
Posting at prime times, when our audience is there to respond and see our content is critical. Think about when your audience is online. Will they be checking their mobile devices on the tube on the way to work? Will they be sitting back after dinner, around 6:15 and mulling over their feed? Will they take a look over their lunchtime coffee? Naturally every brand is different, but we commonly see an increase of 15 to 20 percent engagement at weekends. Insider knowledge of your brand and audience play a big part here – some testing may be necessary.

timing is important

People need to engage for longer so we have to post content that takes a while to digest. In short, well-written and engaging content is king. The inclusion of animated gifs or embedded video could be a bonus to add ‘stickiness’, but whatever it is it better be awesome. The longer people are engaged the greater it raises the chances of your posts being seen in the future. Strong opinion pieces. Well researched studies. Useful and helpful how-to’s. Whatever it is, it better be good.

Think Content Type
Post images. You’ll probably want to drive traffic via links, but posting good, amusing or entertaining, original images will give it a boost so that when you do post a link you’ve raised affinity (by people seeing them and liking them) and it will help to compensate. There’s plenty of good image banks out there if you can’t capture something new, give CompFight a look. It’s good to think of alternative ways to use images like using them to support quotes if it fits the brand. Behind-the-scenes imagery has the added benefit of allowing you to tag people which gives further exposure to peoples friends and peers. Get creative - try some of these.

If you have video available to you make sure, with Facebooks auto-play feature in mobile, that it’s going to grab people in the first six seconds. Can you repurpose slide presentations? Can you commission industry explainers? Can you showcase your HQ or cover charity events?

Build a Relationship
If you are posting links be sure to change the title, body text and image to offer a more enticing click-through opportunity.

building a 'special' relationship between interface and human

Small competitions and sweepstakes can gather great traction. When doing so it’s important to allow space for organic spread (so, run them over a week or more) to give people a chance to engage and to see posts their friends have engaged with. Pinning them the top of the Page for a week will also allow new visitors to engage more easily and will increase sign-up, as well as saying “Hey, we run competitions.”

Ask for opinions and invite commentary. Get your audience to share their own images and encourage engagement. Simple posts offering tips, then asking the audience if they have any further suggestions, can work well.

Boosting posts (by paying for them) to make sure the audience sees them, at least once or twice a month, can offer an added push.

Keeping an eye on our Pages Insights will show us the type of content our audience responds best too, and so what we can publish in the future that will get strong results.

There are a few other things to consider:

Pay for it
It’s also possible to pay-to-be-seen. Simple boosted posts are an excellent way to gather affinity by getting them under people’s noses. I’ve had single posts, boosted for only ten pounds, reach over 56,000 targeted people. This is a great one to combine with like and share competitions or simple give-aways. Consider the expenditure like a highly targeted branding exercise. Don’t forget, if people like a boosted post their friends and followers will be told they’ve done so by Facebook.

Use no Applications
Facebook doesn’t like content posted from applications, which includes the likes of external publishing tools like Hootsuite, Buffer, Sprout Social or whatever. This is to stop the Poker apps and Candy Crush clones of old from spamming our streams. Content must be scheduled via the Facebook platform, or posted immediately. Even auto-posting from other social channels, like Twitter, is a wasted effort. Yes, it’ll post, but experience has shown us that the chances of it being seen are drastically reduced.

In summing up. Good content posted at the right time with good imagery. Accept no substitute, because Facebook doesn’t and no ones going to see Jack or shit if you don't put some effort in - that's just how it is.

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