Facebook’s Edge-rank, the social graph and the implications for businesses

The more information that is out there on the Internet, the more we need filters to sift through it, to get what is most relevant to us. More and more sites like Google and Facebook try to solve this for us by using information from our social graph to feed us the information that is, supposedly, most relevant to us.

On Facebook, this means that the content that is clicked, liked or commented by friends and family or friends of friends – people in our social graph – is what is delivered to us most. All done on the assumption that what is relevant and interesting to them is interesting and relevant to us.

But it also means that a lot of content is filtered out. Other content, from people, businesses or organizations that are not part of our social graph will not be delivered to us to the same extent.

For a business or organization the first implication is that they need to become part of our social graph to give their content a chance to get through the filter. On Facebook, they need us to “like” them.

But, there is more. The algorithm has other implications too.

Facebook’s Edge-rank decides how important something is to us and it currently consists of three components.

From Techcrunch:

“First, there’s an affinity score between the viewing user and the item’s creator — if you send your friend a lot of Facebook messages and check their profile often, then you’ll have a higher affinity score for that user than you would, say, an old acquaintance you haven’t spoken to in years.
Second, there’s a weight given to each type of Edge. A comment probably has more importance than a Like, for example.
And finally there’s the most obvious factor — time. The older an Edge is, the less important it becomes.”

This means that the more a user interacts with content by a person or business, the higher the Edge-rank they get for that user.

The implication for a business or organization is that they have to try to create content that is highly relevant. They should probably also try to create incentives or suggest interaction, by for example asking questions that really begs a reply or at least makes you want to “like”. However, creating a lot of content doesn’t translate into a higher Edge-rank as the average number of interactions per piece of content probably goes down. It is a constant search for the right content and the right amount of content to maximize interactions and Edge-rank.

Another positive result of trying to achieve a higher Edge-rank is that the interactions between a fan and the business is more visible in the feed of that user.

The Daily Beast has tried to decode further how the Edge-rank is calculated and come up with some conclusions, even though this is in no way scientific facts:

  1. Facebook’s Bias Against Newcomers – newcomers rarely show up in the feeds of others.
  2. Facebook’s Catch-22 – to be more visibile in friend’s feeds, they need to interact with your posts, but without being visible, they won’t interact.
  3. The Velvet Rope: “Top News” – a lot of interaction is no guarantee to show up in Top News.
  4. “Most Recent” News Is Censored, Too – the Most Recent feed is also capped to a maximum number of friends shown in the feed. Can be changed though.
  5. “Stalking” Your Friends Won’t Get You Noticed – you can’t change your visibility to a friend by constantly visiting their page.
  6. Having Friends Who Stalk You WILL Help Your Popularity – you will become more visible if friends stalk you. Even with friends who doesn’t stalk you.
  7. Links Trump Status Updates – links are more visible than status updates.
  8. Photos and Videos Trump Links – photos and videos are more visible than links.
  9. The Power of Comments – when friends comment on your updates, photos and videos, your visibility will increase.
  10. Why Facebook Really is Like High School – visibility to people with large networks takes even more time.

For more about Facebook’s and Google’s filters, take a look at this interesting TED-talk by Eli Pariser below.

For more on Edge-rank you could take a look at The Next Web’s “Everything you need to know about Facebook’s EdgeRank” or EdgeRank, den hemliga ingrediensen i Facebook! (in Swedish).

Kristofer Mencák has a M.Sc. in Business Administration from Stockholm School of Economics. He is a consultant, author and lecturer on social media, viral marketing and word of mouth. He has also recently been travelling the world teaching the dance kizomba.

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