FaceBook EdgeRank RIP?
The other day in a client meeting I was discussing Facebook and how you must advertise on Facebook in order to grow your fan likes and your reach.
Gone are the days of old (2-3 years ago maybe) when you were actually able to build a Facebook fan following organically.
In this conversation, I brought up the challenges of reach and how this was based on Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm. Needless to say the client was wowed at the fact that Facebook can actually restrict what any user sees in their News Feed. So they said:
“What is Facebook EdgeRank and do you mean all this work we’re doing and our the majority Fans aren’t even seeing our posts? … WTF is that?”
You sort of get used to getting that reaction in this business.
What is Facebook EdgeRank?
We should start this conversation by stating exactly what is Facebook EdgeRank. EdgeRank is so popular there is an actual website at WhatIsEdgeRank.com. So this should make you feel much more relaxed if you thought you were in the minority with regards to what the hell is EdgeRank. Clearly you’re not!
“EdgeRank is an algorithm developed by Facebook to govern what is displayed—and how high—on the News Feed.”
What is Facebook EdgeRank Algorithm?
Here is the EdgeRank algorithm equation:
Yea I don’t like math much either. Let’s look at it this way. The WhatIsEdgeRank.com website simplifies EdgeRank for us in three easy to understand sections.
The EdgeRank Algorithm
“This algorithm can be understood as: the sum of Edges, each Edge is made up of Affinity, Weight, and Time Decay.
This may sound complicated at first, but when you begin to understand the underlying concept, it’s actually a simple and effective algorithm.
What Is An Edge?
An Edge is basically everything that “happens” in Facebook. Examples of Edges would be status updates, comments, likes, and shares. There are many more Edges than the examples above—any action that happens within Facebook is an Edge.
What Does EdgeRank Do?
EdgeRank ranks Edges in the News Feed. EdgeRank looks at all of the Edges that are connected to the User, then ranks each Edge based on importance to the User. Objects with the highest EdgeRank will typically go to the top of the News Feed (there is a small component of randomization).”
EdgeRank Is Dead
Can you now answer the question “What is Facebook Edgerank?”. Now that we understand it a little better let’s take a look at whether or not EdgeRank is dead. Marketing Land reports that Facebook has not even used the word EdgeRank in the office for about two-in-a-half years. Apparently, as long ago as 2011, Facebook was using a very complex algorithm, (like there is anything but), based on machine learning. Marketing Land says that this would be the still unnamed News Feed algorithm and that EdgeRank is a thing of the past.
“During a phone call this week, Lars Backstrom, Engineering Manager for News Feed Ranking at Facebook, estimated that there are as many as “100,000 individual weights in the model that produces News Feed.” The three original EdgeRank elements — Affinity, Weight and Time Decay — are still factors in News Feed ranking, but “other things are equally important,” he says.
In other words, the News Feed algorithm of today is much more sophisticated than just a couple years ago.
“The easiest analogy is to search engines and how they rank web pages,” Backstrom says. “It’s like comparing the Google of today with Alta Vista. Both Google and Bing have a lot of new signals, like personalization, that they use. It’s more sophisticated than the early days of search, when the words on a page were the most important thing.”
So according to the above, Facebook’s changes to its algorithm is inline with Google’s recent algorithm changes (Hummingbird). There are many factors that go in to a search algorithm and personalization, local, semantic, and complex search patters buy users are becoming more and more relevant in ranking factors and in showing up in a Facebook News Feed, than ever before.
EdgeRank Is Not Dead. It’s Alive and Well.
Back on August 6, 2013, Facebook announced a “window into NewsFeed”. Essentially they announced a new News Feed algorithm, quietly. This is what started the people who fall into the category listed above, to start freaking out saying that Facebook EdgeRank is Dead!!
PostPlanner.com reported something I guess some people missed. Facebook didn’t actually say EdgeRank was dead, did they?
“What Facebook did do was introduce a new concept called “Story Bumping” which will affect the order of news feed stories:
Now organic stories that people did not scroll down far enough to see can reappear near the top of News Feed if the stories are still getting lots of likes and comments.”
“Early data shows this improves the experience of News Feed:
In a recent test with a small number of users, this change resulted in a 5% increase in the number of likes, comments and shares on the organic stories people saw from friends and an 8% increase in likes, comments and shares on the organic stories they saw from Pages.
Previously, people read 57% of the stories in their News Feeds, on average. They did not scroll far enough to see the other 43%. When the unread stories were resurfaced, the fraction of stories read increased to 70%.
The data suggests that this update does a better job of showing people the stories they want to see, even if they missed them the first time. For Page owners, this means their most popular organic Page posts have a higher chance of being shown to more people, even if they’re more than a few hours old.”
There is a New News Feed Algorithm
It doesn’t seem that EdgeRank is dead. Facebook has certainly made some changes to its NewsFeed algorithm though. It’s increasingly more and more difficult to grow your fans and your reach on Facebook organically. It’s pretty much impossible in my eyes. With one client of mine, I’ve grown a Facebook community of well over 25,000 organically and with some help from earned media. I had never advertised to grow reach, fans, or likes for this client.
However skip to mid 2013 and it was obvious that Facebook had changed who and how many see your posts in their News Feed. Posting quality content that is relevant to your community and engaging enough to share and comment, will help grow your overall social media reach, fans, shares, likes, and readers. But even with that, EdgeRank or the new News Feed algorithm is alive and well and striving on Facebook every day.
I’d love to know your thoughts on Facebook EdgeRank and if it’s actually dead or still active being the royal pain in the ass that it is. What is Facebook EdgeRank according to you? Please let me know in the comments.