Facebook Edgerank and a social media experiment — Puzzle Box Communications
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Facebook Edgerank and a social media experiment

A little while ago, a friend sent me a link to this story about how Facebook is keeping our friends from seeing our status updates and asked for my thoughts. To be honest, while I’d heard about changes to Facebook’s Edgerank algorithm affecting the visibility of our posts, I wasn’t quite sure the extent to which it really was affecting our visibility.

I decided to conduct an experiment. I posted this status update on my personal profile:

Facebook: I want my friends back, Edgerank, Facebook

Twenty-four. That’s the number of likes I got. That’s 24 out of 145 friends over a period of 2 days. Of course, you have to factor in that people log in to Facebook with varying levels of frequency, but 24 seems like an awfully low number.  Interestingly, one of the comments to this post came from someone who said she didn’t see my post in her newsfeed. The only reason she saw it was because she made the effort to check my wall to see what was new.

I was annoyed to learn that Facebook’s Edgerank algorithm was affecting my interactions with my friends. Of course I vented on Facebook. Then I consulted a few good folks to explain this to me and help  me get my friends back.

Social media strategist Luis Borba explained that when it comes to your personal Facebook page, the more interactions a person has had with your posts, the more posts they’ll see. Then, in response to my Facebook rant, my dear friend Michel Resendes commented: “I have been slowly adjusting what I see from friends by clicking on their profile and selecting from the menu under ‘friends.’”

Of course! When you hover over the “Friend” button on someone’s profile, you’ll reveal the settings menu.

Facebook friends settings

Select “settings” and you’ll get another menu that lets you choose whether you want to see all of your friend’s updates, most of her updates or only her “important” updates.

Facebook friends settings, updates

It was an important reminder: check your Facebook settings often. Facebook is always changing things up, often without notice.

So what does this mean for your Facebook business page? As Leslie Hughes of Punch Media put it, “less than 16% of Facebook posts are actually being seen by their audience.” She offered these tips for increasing interaction on Facebook:

  1. Post pictures. Visuals get more attention than straight text. Even if you can convert your text to a visual, you will receive more attention.
  2. Ask people to do something. Tell them to click “LIKE” or comment. More engagement = more visibility.
  3. Post often. Since you’re only reaching 16% of your audience, post content two to five times per day. Mix up the content so people don’t see the same information over and over again, but people will be online at various times of the day.
  4. Encourage your followers to add your Facebook page to their interest lists by hovering over the like button just below the cover image.
  5. Don’t put all your eggs in one social media basket. Make most of your calls-to-action and strategy encourage your followers to visit your website and/or subscribe to your email newsletter.
add a Facebook page to your interest lists

Have your followers add you to their interest lists. (Thanks to Luis Borba for the screen shot.)

So, there isn’t much we can do to change the way Facebook operates, but there are a few things we can do: encourage engagement with your posts to increase your visibility; check your friends and pages settings to make sure you’re getting all the news you want, and encourage your friends and followers to do the same; and build a social media strategy that doesn’t depend on Facebook alone.

Try out some of these tips, then come back and let me know if you’ve noticed any changes to your Facebook visibility and what you’re seeing in your newsfeed.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Hi, I’m Tamara. I design and build WordPress websites for solo entrepreneurs. I love nothing more than connecting people who are passionate about what they do with exactly the people who need to know them. I believe that technology can work with us so we can find fulfillment in our work.
{ 12 comments… add one }
  • alimartell December 10, 2012, 10:24 am

    You are so awesome for doing this experiment!
    The weird thing is that I interact with you tons AND I have it set to show you in my new feed. So, Facebook is just keeping us apart. Ha!

    • Tamara December 10, 2012, 11:28 am

      That is so weird. I just don’t get it.

  • carrie December 10, 2012, 12:17 pm

    Great points about using more than one social media engine. Having small contests to get likes has so many more long-term benefits than the immediate impact.

    • Tamara December 10, 2012, 12:38 pm

      Yes. Just be sure you’re following the rules for running promotions on Facebook. You wouldn’t want your page to get shut down after putting in all that work to cultivate a following.

  • Bonnie @NetworkToGrow December 12, 2012, 12:07 am

    Great test to benefit all of us. Thanks Tamara. I will have to started thinking images, interactions, and building my different social media baskets!

    • Tamara December 12, 2012, 9:48 am

      My pleasure, Bonnie. I’ll be following you, but do let the rest of us know how that develops.

  • Tanya Hostler December 12, 2012, 12:01 pm

    Thanks Tamara!
    This very issue has been irritating me for some time now and I am glad to see someone blogging about it!

    Personally, I find that my phone shows a totally different selection of Facebook posts than my laptop and it bothers me because I don’t know what I am missing unless I check my phone and then have to visit the pages of people on the laptop if I want to see the hidden posts. I have adjusted corporate settings to “get newsfeed” when I have noticed missing posts and its on my todo list to play around with the settings on friends.

    Actually it’s part of a bigger todo list to follow up on friend posts about whether the settings allow likes / comments to be public (only if they are made on a public site – eg. CBC, tv shows, corporate pages or political public pages – was my understanding) and the whole copyright grab (does facebook really own my photos unless I post the intellectual property disclaimer?!? time to switch to flickr! but who wants to transfer all their friends to flickr just to post vacation pics?!?)

    Actually, all this inconsistency is making it less appealing to login to facebook – instead of every day, I may only login once a week since I know I am missing more than half the posts I want to see anyway! Hopefully they pick up on user frustration and fix this glitch! The last thing I have time for is to compare my phone newsfeed with my laptop just to make sure I didn’t miss an important post that friends have shared with me even if I did modify the settings to receive notifications!

    Tanya

    • Tamara December 12, 2012, 12:13 pm

      Sounds like you have a lot on your to-do list. 🙂 I find the same problem with the phone app vs accessing Facebook online. It helps to log in once in a while. I recently updated my friends settings online and found it very easy to do on the computer. (I’m not even sure if you can do that on the app.) It only took a couple of minutes.

      As for your images, well when you agree to the terms of service for Facebook, you agree to this:
      “For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos (IP content), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP License). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it.”

      My understanding is that posting a copyright notice won’t help, as is explained here.

  • Delia December 14, 2012, 8:51 pm

    What an interesting experiment, Tamara 🙂
    I’ve been using all the 5 tips (thanks for them!) for my Facebook page, with varying success. The truth is that Facebook changes quite often and that we do not know exactly how the EdgeRank algorithm works.
    People switched to image-only posts, until FB decided to change and give more priority to text posts.
    People asked their fans to like and share until all posts (I exaggerate, of course) were asking us to like and share, and so on.
    From my experience, fans and friends of fans see between 30-75% of my posts, which is pretty good as reach, but not necessarily as engagement. Some post have high reach but not too many likes or comments. However, the ones that have lots of comments and likes have a better reach.
    I think it also boils down to what are you trying to achieve with your FB page. More fans, more email subscribers, more sales? Oh, and completely agree not to base off your marketing on FB exclusively. Or an other social media platform, for that matter 😉

    • Tamara December 15, 2012, 8:44 am

      Thanks for your feedback, Delia. You’re right, we really don’t know how EdgeRank works. And knowing your goals is super important.

  • Phoebe December 17, 2012, 6:36 am

    I too am always trying ot experiment with my Facebook page to see what captures my fans’ imaginations and what works for them and me but honestly, I haven’t come to any real conclusions. Except perhaps that I’m more confused than I hought I was! The whole EdgeRank algorythm is a nightmare! I’d heard that pictures get seen by more fans than plain text but recently my most popular posts have been words only, and that’s by a long way. But I think what you say is important, and I fully agree that we should post often and not rely solely on FB. Thanks for your tips, I’ll be back for more!

    • Tamara December 17, 2012, 9:18 am

      Thanks for sharing your experience, Phoebe. It’s interesting that your most popular posts have been text only. Clearly you had some very engaging content to share and you spoke exactly to your audience.

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