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How to Gain an Edge in Facebook

Some Facebook friends seem to be more prolific than others on Facebook, constantly updating their status and starting conversations around the social network. While it could be true that theyre just social butterflies, it is more likely that it just seems so from where you personally sit.

Thats because Facebook uses an algorithm to customize your news feed to your interests. If youre using Facebook to market your public library, its essential to know how Facebook EdgeRank works. Marketing is both an art and a science, and EdgeRank is proof of that. Ultimately, it is the science that underlies successful fan engagement, but it also provides clues to the art you need to create to make posts compelling.

The EdgeRank algorithm consists of three components: Affinity, Edge Weight, and Time Decay.

Affinity is based on how much you interact with another person or a page. The more often you visit a page or profile, or whenever you comment on or like a status, the more frequently updates from that person or page will appear in your newsfeed. Its important to note that affinity is only one-way. For your updates to appear in your fans newsfeed, your fan must initiate an interaction with your page. It doesnt matter how often you visit their profile, this will not increase the chances of your posts showing up in their news feed.

Edge Weight assigns a weighting to different types of content. Its known that photos, videos and links have a heavier weighting, which means they are more likely to show up in someones newsfeed. However, this component is a bit more nuanced. It also takes into consideration your personal preferences. For example, if you always look at your friends photos, theyll show up in your news feed more often. However, if you only comment on text updates and never look at photos, youll see photos less frequently.

Time decay means that newer items are more likely to appear in your news feed than older items.

For Facebook users who have hundreds of fans, subscriptions and pages to follow, EdgeRank is helpful because it delivers only the items that are most relevant to them. For marketers, this can present a problem. If the only interaction a fan has had with your page is to like it, then its very possible that only a few of your updates are making it to their newsfeed.

This is why understanding EdgeRank is so important.

One of the first things to know about using EdgeRank for marketing is that engagement is critical. You must find ways to get fans to comment on or share your content, which will increase their affinity for you.

You can do this by posting more photos, videos, links, polls and questions on your page at the times people are most likely to be using Facebook.

For example, lets say youd like to promote an after-school event for teenagers. Post a link to the event description, update your status with a photo related to the event, and then ask a question beginning with Where, When, Would, or Should to increase the likelihood of getting responses. Time these updates with the hours that teenagers are likely to be on Facebook perhaps from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. As always, knowing your target audience is extremely important.

In addition to posting more photos, links, and questions, you should also:

  1. Post updates frequently (this helps with time decay)
  2. Include a call to action (ask people to comment or like)
  3. Respond to as many comments as possible (this keeps your post active in the news feeds of everyone who has commented).

For a good example, see the Facebook page of Justin Cronin, author of The Passage. He has kept the conversation on Facebook going about his upcoming book, The Twelve, by following many of the above guidelines. And, yes, he does respond to comments!