Facebook EdgeRank: We Hardly Knew You
Back in June, I wrote about how Facebook’s algorithm, EdgeRank, changes often and keeps me on my toes as part of Intouch’s social media team. Today, I’m back because EdgeRank is dead. Well, the name EdgeRank is dead. On August 6th, Facebook held a press conference to announce that they were changing their algorithm yet again, and I jumped at the opportunity to write about one of my favorite topics.
During the press conference, Facebook made it clear that their content ranking system was no longer going to be called EdgeRank. Moving forward, they would refer to their system as the "algorithm for News Feed." And, even though the name EdgeRank is no longer in existence, Facebook offered me consolation that the foundation of their algorithm remains intact. The real intent of the press conference was to offer more transparency into how their algorithm for News Feed works and introduce two new features that will affect how items rank in the News Feed - Story Bumping and Last Actor.
So, What’s Changed?
The first new feature implemented by Facebook is called Story Bumping. The intent of Story Bumping is to ensure users see the most relevant content at the top of their News Feed when they log in to Facebook. And what does Facebook feel is the most relevant content? Well, when the average user logs into Facebook they see the most recent content. So, users have a tendency to scroll down to see older content. Often times with the sheer number of stories in their News Feeds, users can miss posts from brands or friends they interact with on a consistent basis. With Story Bumping, those older, but extremely relevant, posts will now be displayed near the top of users’ News Feeds instead of the chronological listing we see today. In essence, the Time Decay factor of the old EdgeRank algorithm is no longer as important. A user’s engagement history with friends or brands and the types of content those friends or brands post is now more important than the time the content was posted.
Image courtesy of Facebook
The second feature implemented by Facebook is called Last Actor. The Last Actor feature records users’ last 50 interactions on Facebook. Friends or brand pages will be placed higher in users’ News Feeds if they are interacted with more often. So, now when brands are making the decision to post and how often to post, they must take into account that their content is much more likely to be seen if they are one of the last 50 interactions a user has had on Facebook.
What’s Stayed the Same?
When the "algorithm for News Feed," was still known as EdgeRank, Facebook looked at three factors for ranking content: Affinity, Weight, and Time Decay. These components measured: your relationship with brands and friends, the amount of interaction you had with brands and friends, and the amount of time the post had been on Facebook. With the two new features, Story Bumping and Last Actor, Facebook has simply changed the importance of these factors, not done away with them completely.
Affinity and Weight have been given more importance in the new "algorithm for the News Feed." The amount of interaction and the history of interaction with friends and brands now determine which posts receive an organic bump in News Feed. The Time Decay component seems to have less impact on organic rankings within News Feed. Relevant, timely content is still the key for organic ranking in Facebook News Feed.
How Will These Changes Impact My Page?
Facebook’s changes to the algorithm for News Feed have implications for both your pages’ organic and paid strategies. Organically speaking, your brand page’s content must be relevant enough to build a relationship with your community. If you can engage your audience, the new Story Bumping piece of the Facebook algorithm will ensure that your users see your content regardless of when you posted it. In addition, if you publish truly valuable content on a daily basis, and your audience interacts with it, the Last Actor feature will provide added benefit to your page’s organic News Feed rankings.
The new features also present a paid media opportunity. Story Bumping and Last Actor provide a way for advertisers on Facebook to extend and retain the reach of posts with lower initial views. For instance, if your page receives less reach on your posts containing photos, paid media can be used to engage more users with those posts. Because of Last Actor, interactions are now recorded and used to bump up posts in News Feed. Thus, creating a situation where paid media can increase the reach for brand page posts and help retain that reach.
In my mind, Facebook has not made any drastic changes. But the addition of these new features to the algorithm will definitely challenge brands to make their content even more relevant. Engagement with posts now takes priority over when the status updates are posted. If your content strategy doesn’t align with your audience, your post’s life span will now be shortened based on the lack of relevance.
Facebook continues to be a hot topic for pharma marketers. Read more Intouch tips, advice, and insights into using Facebook for pharma.