Thursday, February 7, 2013

Why Other People's Posts Are on the Top of Facebook News Feed While Yours Are Not

Fb edgerank


After last time I posted on the Facebook’s graph search, I have been wondering how Facebook is ranking one’s News Feed in the homepage. So I did some small research on how this works.

Apparently the News Feed is not populating in chronological order, since some news can be on the top of the new feed for several hours and even a few days. In fact, Facebook is applying an algorithm called ‘EdgeRank’ in determining the order in one’s News Feed. So why Facebook is doing this instead of in chronological order which appears more reasonable?

The reasons could be two:

On one hand, it increases the time users spend on Facebook. Since most of us only care about a small group of people over the rest and are only interested in some things over the others, by putting more relevant news in front, users are more likely to stay on Facebook for longer time to read the news and updates. 

On the other hand, and more importantly, it helps Facebook to apply its advertising program. It works pretty much like Google’s sponsored search results. By paying a small amount of fee, vendors and business can move up the rank of their updates in the newsfeed so that they receive more attention or create a better impression. 

So what is the secret recipe for getting on higher place in the News Feed without paying the advertising fee?

Facebook doesn't reveal its formula of calculating the EdgeRank score for obvious reasons, However, it does state that 4 factors could be determining the reach of each post can get. Reach is basically the number of users who will see the post in their News Feed (Yes, your post may not be showing in some others' News Feed, even you are 'friends'). 

1. Previous interaction between the user and the post author: if you liked, commented or shared a user's posts before, you would be more likely to see their new updates in the News Feed.

2. Other people's interaction with the post (or popularity?): the more likes, comments and shares a post receives, the better reach it will get. I guess that's why I am seeing Lady Gaga's status update every single time. :)

3. Type of posts a user has interacted with: if a user likes many photos before, he would see more photos coming up in the News Feed, because he/she is perceived to be more interested in photos. 

4. Complaints: if a post receives many complaints, or the author/page receives that, the post will be less visible to the audience. 

Actually there is another factor, time decay. But that is something out of anyone's control. It is plausible that news from ages ago, no matter how popular it was, won't be showing up in the recent news. So time still places some importance in the EdgeRank.

Facebook's EdgeRank isn't static, though, just like Google's search rank. It is hard to get one single magic formula for individuals to manipulate the exact EdgeRank score. So if you want to promote your update on Facebook, for example, I am promoting my blog on Facebook by sharing the link, try to get the initial momentum, i.e. receive more likes and comments from others. To make it more visible, start interacting with your friends on Facebook so that they will see your news more frequently. One thing to remember is that, always have good content in the post, then people will start noticing it and it gets spinning around. 

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  1. There's apparently another important factor, which has just been added into its algorithm recently, money! Facebook has been rolling out a "pay-to-promote" feature (currently only available in US, UK, Australia and NZ, apologies if i missed out some other markets) which essentially turns users into advertisers. You pay £5.11, VAT included, in the UK or $1-$12 in the US to promote your own post. And the paid post would definitely prioritise over other posts, including Lady Gaga's, in the News Feed. Two reasons for this shift in its willingness to charge for its core service: additional revenue and data. When paying to promote post, credit card info and billing address inevitably tell a lot about a user.

    1. Yep, you are right. That's why I mentioned in my post that now you can pay to promote. The 4 factors are more for promoting without paying.