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).

Magnum Pleasure Hunt – I love it!

This is really, really well made!

Magnum Pleausure Hunt

Very impressive execution! Very nice integration of other brands, which did it for free in exchange for the free attention.

Of course you can challenge a friend via Facebook or email, or share your results on Facebook or Twitter. Great concept and brilliant execution! According to Dagens Media, the site got 50 000 visitors last night, from all, over, the, world, and they spent on average 8 minutes on the site. The creative was made by Lowe Brindfors, production by B-Reel and sound & music by Plan 8.

Love it!

A lesson in da da – and a perfect imitation

Language can be a barrier to viral spread. But, in this case no one understands anything… … or?

That fact, that no one understands anything, and the way it seems these “da da-twins” understand, is definitely one of the viral triggers.

This clip really intrigues me. It starts my imagination. It makes me think, “what if”. It makes me reconsider what I previously had thought almost impossible.

My first line of thought is like this. It seems these baby twins are really having a conversation. What if they really understand what the other one is saying? I doubt it, but what if?

The second one is almost as improbable, but nonetheless the one I think is the correct one. These small kids are imitating a conversation between adults. And they do it almost to perfection. They are talking, waiting for their turn to talk, making gestures as they speak. They even laugh as if the other one was pulling a joke! And almost most amazing of all – they often use a rising intonation at the very end of a sentence, something that we usually do when asking a question. I know kids are curious, I know they imitate, but all in all, the perfect imitation makes me think there is a lot more going on in those small heads than I thought before. I never thought they would be capable of imitating with such accuracy how we speak when we have learnt the language.

Don’t miss out on this lesson in “da da” that has just exploded on the Internet the last couple of days.

Three viral clips and links

Here are three viral clips and links currently being passed around a lot:

The Best Handball penalty you’ll not ever and never seen! (yes, that title makes me have to read it at least twice too!) An amazing penalty, fooling the goalie entirely.

Back to the Future : Irina Werning – Photographer. Amazing before and after shots of people re-enacting previous photos from years ago, like when they were kids or teenagers.

And then of course the Baby trashes bar in Las Palmas . Funny to see how babies have the same movement patterns as drunk people! 😉

P.S. Dont forget to download “Viral Thinking – a “Viral Marketing Toolkit” – my ebook about how to maximize the potential for viral spread. D.S.

Tiny Darth Vader with bloopers and deleted scenes

There are always some SuperBowl-commercials that go viral. This year, my personal favourite is Volkswagens “The Force” featuring a tiny Darth Vader who all of a sudden realizes his powers in front of a new Volkswagen Passat. 😉

A lot of people, from several generations, have seen the Star Wars movies and some kind of memories from them. Everybody recognizes Darth Vader and the music. It is in our collective memories, which gives this clip a kind of a dry forest to start the fire in. The cuteness and the humorous twist is probably the spark that sets it all on fire.

As a smart add-on, they have now also released an equally funny “The making of: The Force” featuring bloopers and deleted scenes.

Volkswagen seems to be on a roll when it comes to creating viral content. Their The Fun Theory (originally Rolighetsteorin, in Swedish) went viral late 2009 and the other recently launched SuperBowl clip, Black Beetle, have also gone viral.

Via: Laughing Squid.

All 2011 SuperBowl Commercials
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P.S. Dont forget to download “Viral Thinking – a “Viral Marketing Toolkit” – my ebook about how to maximize the potential for viral spread. D.S.

Maybe the most widely spread video I have posted

This is not my usual kind of post, and the reason I wanted to post it first didn’t have anything to do with viral marketing, word of mouth or customer satisfaction. I wanted to post it because I love the video, I love the lyrics and I love the message.

But when I come to think about it, it does belong here. This is a viral video. It has gotten more than 108 million views! Maybe more than any other video I have posted here. And, I believe it has spread around the net just because it does carry an important message (in addition to being a catchy song with a great video). So, I will post both the video and the lyrics here. I like it, and I hope you like it too! Enjoy!

Katy Perry – Firework

Do you ever feel like a plastic bag
Drifting through the wind, wanting to start again?
Do you ever feel, feel so paper thin
Like a house of cards, one blow from caving in?

Do you ever feel already buried deep?
Six feet under screams but no one seems to hear a thing
Do you know that there’s still a chance for you
‘Cause there’s a spark in you?

You just gotta ignite the light and let it shine
Just own the night like the 4th of July

‘Cause baby, you’re a firework
Come on, show ’em what you’re worth
Make ’em go, oh
As you shoot across the sky

Baby, you’re a firework
Come on, let your colors burst
Make ’em go, oh
You’re gonna leave ’em falling down

You don’t have to feel like a waste of space
You’re original, cannot be replaced
If you only knew what the future holds
After a hurricane comes a rainbow

Maybe you’re reason why all the doors are closed
So you could open one that leads you to the perfect road
Like a lightning bolt, your heart will blow
And when it’s time, you’ll know

You just gotta ignite the light and let it shine
Just own the night like the 4th of July

‘Cause baby you’re a firework
Come on, show ’em what you’re worth
Make ’em go, oh
As you shoot across the sky

Baby, you’re a firework
Come on, let your colors burst
Make ’em go, oh
You’re gonna leave ’em falling down

Boom, boom, boom
Even brighter than the moon, moon, moon
It’s always been inside of you, you, you
And now it’s time to let it through

‘Cause baby you’re a firework
Come on, show ’em what you’re worth
Make ’em go, oh
As you shoot across the sky

Baby, you’re a firework
Come on, let your colors burst
Make ’em go, oh
You’re gonna leave ’em falling down

Boom, boom, boom
Even brighter than the moon, moon, moon
Boom, boom, boom
Even brighter than the moon, moon, moon

P.S. Dont forget to download “Viral Thinking – a “Viral Marketing Toolkit” – my ebook about how to maximize the potential for viral spread. D.S.

Viral thinking – an ebook on how to maximize viral spread

It is finally ready! Download by clicking the image or link below.

Viral Thinking

Viral Thinking – a “Viral Marketing Toolkit” is my ebook about how to maximize the potential for viral spread. Creating something that is viral is sometimes the goal, but it is not easy. In this ebook I have tried to cover the areas you can work with to improve the odds.

You could call it a “viral marketing toolkit”. However, just increasing the spread improves the ROI, even if it doesn’t go viral. So, my hope and belief is that it is helpful for anyone who works within marketing, PR or communications, whether online or offline.

I would like to thank the people who have generously helped me with feedback on this text and made it a lot better.

In alphabetical order: Valerio Franco (doublebblog.it), Anton Johansson (antonjohansson.com), Henrik Johansson (theviralcompany.com), Daniel Mencák (danielmencak.se), Patrick Möller (flavors.me/patrickmoeller), Cédric Rainotte (bwat.be), Niclas Strandh (digitalpr.se) Pere Tufet (tonterias.com) and Emmanuel Vivier (emmanuelvivier.com).

And of course, if you have feedback to give, do not hesitate to send me an email on kristofermencak[at]gmail[dot]com.

I hope you enjoy it!

And feel free to pass it on! 😉

Don’t make your customer feel like a kid

I recently visited Cuba and Dominican Republic. Just like when I visited Trinidad & Tobago in February last year, and Brazil in June/July, I become inspired, I get business ideas and I get some good and bad experiences of customer service. I’d like to share two incidents from this last trip – one from Cuba and one from Dominican Republic.

In La Habana, I went to one of these restaurants that offer reasonable food for a pretty good. I sat down, ordered some food and some water to drink with that. So far so good. Food arrived. I figured my water would be brought in pretty fast, but no. I finished eating and got contact with another waiter, since my waiter had mysteriously disappeared since I ordered. I asked for the water again and he went to the “bar” to get it. Nothing happened. I waited for some 5 minutes more, and then the waiter looked at me again and remembered my order. A good sign. I could see and hear that he got the bartender’s attention and reminded him of my order. Nothing happened. I gave up.

I went to the cashier and asked to pay, but not to pay for my water since it never arrived. No real apologies from them, I just got to pay and leave. Part of the story is that practically everyone there was 18-23 years old, pay was probably horrible and very few really wanted to work there. So, service levels and ambition was low. Not surprising. But, on the other hand, here comes a “gringo” who might be able to pay a quite nice tip for someone who doesn’t earn much, but still no effort?! Strange to me.

The lesson: The importance to hire the right people, someone who wants to work there, someone who wants to do a good job.

In Santo Domingo I once again visited a normal restaurant in the more touristy area around the street El Conde. I had a lasagna. What was  a bit different though was that I got it with plastic cutlery. There are two general problems with plastic cutlery. They are weak and they are flexible. In addition to this, these ones were pretty small. It was a struggle to get food to stay on all the way up to the mouth. It makes you feel like a kid again, who is learning how to eat with knife and fork. Not a good feeling. The flexibility also makes you fear that the fork might get stuck on something and then shoot it away when it gets loose.

The lesson: We need to think about how our customers feel. How do we make them feel about themselves when using the product or service we sell them? Will they feel smart and competent? Or will they feel like a kid?

Just like one of my previous (previous just because she isn’t blogging anymore) bloggers Kathy Sierra wrote in Users shouldn’t think about YOU:

“Care ONLY about what your users think of themselves as a result of interacting with your creation.”

P.S. Making someone feel like a kid could be a good thing too, if it means that they feel creative, without worries or similar. But, when it’s not the intention to make them feel like a kid, it’s a bad thing. D.S.

Why “viral thinking” is important

Not all companies can build their business on viral successes like the ones BlendTec has experienced with Will It Blend. Believing you can create something viral is pretty optimistic. However, I do believe there are tools you can use to make it more possible. I do think you can optimize for it, and that’s why I write posts like 12 viral content triggers, Some help with the viral loop and Network effects, game mechanics and stickiness.

But, something that might be even more important is how to use this thinking in the shift that is taking place today, where marketers have to fight for attention in a fragmented media landscape, on the user’s terms. Optimizing for spread becomes more and more important. I agree to what Niclas Strand writes in All marknadskommunikation är viral (in Swedish). Today, whether the goal is to create something viral or not, marketers need to understand a new way to work – and that is to participate and create content that is worthy of conversations. Content needs to involve and engage the consumers. And it must be easy to pass it on.

I believe “viral thinking” is important for any marketing efforts, in an online world as well as offline, through word of mouth. Creating and participating in conversations is fundamental for brands and businesses today. And that is why we need to optimize campaigns and use the same tools we use when trying to create something viral.

To illustrate why, let’s look at some numbers:

Say you manage to reach 100 000 people with a campaign that no one passes on.

What happens if the content actually makes people pass it on? Say someone who receives it passes it on to, on average 0.25 new people – that is, a basic reproductive number of 0.25. If this spread goes on, we multiply the previous number of people in the loop by the basic reproductive number, like so:

100 000 (first paid 100 000 people reached)
100 000 * 0.25 = 25 000
25 000 * 0.25 = 6 500
6 500 * 0.25 = 1 563
1563 * 0.25 = 391
391 * 0.25 = 98
98 * 0.25 = 24
24 * 0.25 = 6
6 * 0.25 = 1.5

As you can see, with every loop, the returns are decreasing. Adding it all up, we end up at 133 333 – a nice increase in effect by 33.3 %!

Performing the same calculation with a basic reproductive number of 0.5, with our example we would reach 200 000 – an extra 100 000. We get an increase in effect by 100 % – doubling the value of our money spent!

And, with a basic reproductive number of 0.75, we reach out to 400 000 people – an increase in effect by 300 %!

Yes, these numbers are hypothetical in the sense that there will be some saturation as the loop goes on.

And as Seth Godin writes:

The more people you reach the more likely it is that you’re reaching the wrong people.

So, there will be some saturation, you will reach some people who might not be interested (although I could argue that the ones who receive it from a friend might be even better targets), and it is not viral. But, looking at these numbers, the money is still much better spent!.That is why it is important to think about what can be done to incentivize people to pass the content on and make it really easy to do so, even if the result is not truly viral.

Everything communicates

We already know it – everything communicates. But, it is great to see that businesses probably soon will start realizing this for real. One step towards this might be the “death of the brand manager“, leaving room for a “conversation manager”. Just like Tim writes, I don’t think job titles mean much either. But, I think the focus is shifting now, and changing titles might be one of the signs of this. Businesses start to realize that they have to know what conversations are going on, follow them and take part.

And I believe a next step in this would be looking after what conversations the company is actually creating. It is not only the press officer or CEO who “communicates”. Businesses need to think about what their “welcome letters” to new customers communicate? What does the returns policy communicate? What do their contact page on the site communicate?

Everything communicates, and there are so many different touch points to work with. Touch points that can be made into conversations, customer satisfaction and positive word of mouth. And one of the most important touch points is every person that is in contact with customers. So, there is a very good reason to make sure they all have authority and can take own actions which communicate what you want the company to communicate. In addition, it gives the company a conscience.

If you want to learn more about Word of Mouth Marketing I can highly recommend this book.

Kristofer Mencák is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.