Hmmm...that title sounds like it was written by an engineer. Perhaps a better title would be: "Phooey on You EdgeRank. I Know How to Reach My Fans Despite You." Or, perhaps an even better title might be, "How to Beat EdgeRank at Its Own Game."
Now, I already know what you're asking. What the heck is EdgeRank and why should I care?
Other than being a techie sounding term from some Silicon Valley insider, EdgeRank is Facebook's way of determining who sees your posts and who doesn't. And unless you know how to master its intricacies, chances are only 15 percent (according to Facebook) will ever view them.
Now, I also know what you're saying: What? 15 percent? Are you kidding me? All that work and only 1 out of 7 ever sees it. That's crazy. Hardly worth the time. (I was right, wasn't I? Thought so.)
The little devil sitting on one shoulder says, "Facebook is doing this just to get companies to pay to reach their fans." (Using something called Promoted Posts and something else called Sponsored Stories. Both are forms of Facebook advertising.)
The little angel sitting on my other shoulder says, "No, it's because Facebook wants to reduce the amount of spam appearing in users' newsfeed." (That's Facebook's pitch.)
Actually, I think both the little devil and angel are correct. Facebook is driven by advertising, and ever since going public the social network has been forced to justify its valuation, which, if you recall, was somewhere in the neighborhood of $104 billion. But, in its defense, Facebook does want to reduce spam and make newsfeed items more relevant. And that's where EdgeRank plays a major role.
In this post, I am going to teach you how to game (um...master) the stealthy algorithm and use it to your advantage. However, doing so requires that you and ER (Sorry, I'm tired of typing all those extra characters) have to learn to get along. Sound good? Let's get started.
10 WAYS TO MASTER FACEBOOK EDGERANK
1. Ask fans to change their newsfeed preferences
Facebook Page fans can choose to add a company's fan page to what it refers to as an "Interest List." If you look on any fan page that you have liked, just to the right of the button that say "Message" you will see a little gear symbol and downward-pointing arrow. Click that and you will see the term "Add to Interest Lists." You can choose an existing list if one is available or create a new list, perhaps one called "fan pages."
The problem with that is no one knows about that feature. In order to get fans to do it - and only a minority will - you will have to encourage them to do so and explain how.
2. Post using video and images
If there is one thing (make that two things) Facebook users cannot get enough of it's videos and images. Use them and you can expect your engagement ratio to go up by as much as 39 percent. And the likelihood that people will share those videos and images with friends increases as well.
3. Write shorter posts
Posts of 80 characters or less will get you as much as 23 percent higher interaction rates.
4. Use emoticons
Emoticons, those little "smiley face" characters could garner a 33 percent higher share rate, a 33 percent higher comment rate, and 57 percent more likes. Who knew? (And don't ask me why.)
5. Post at the best times
Although there are some suggested times when reach and engagement could be higher, no one is going to what's best for your fan page than you, and the way to find that out is by spending some time with your Facebook fan page analytics component called Insights.
Not only will it tell you the posts fans most engage with, but which ones have the farthest reach, too. Pay attention to when the most popular posts were posted and you'll have an idea as to when is the best time to post.
6. Run photo contests
Actually, run any kind of contest. So long as there is a pot of gold at the end of the contest rainbow (otherwise known as "what's in it for me") people will interact.
Photo contests work well because, as was mentioned in point #2, people like images, especially when it involves them.
7. Get fans involved
Ask questions using the Questions option in the status update interface, ask fans to submit tips, or use fill-in-the-blank posts. Anything you can think of to actively engage fans will help you best EdgeRank.
8. Collect fan quotes
Another simple idea is to request that fans post their favorite quotes in a comment. Choose the best ones and use them in status updates. Be sure and give credit to the fan.
9. Use Facebook advertising
I'm not opposed to using Facebook advertising, if you do it selectively. Mentioned earlier, Promoted Posts afford you with the opportunity to feature a particular post by paying a modest sum, which, in effect, turns it into an ad. Not all posts need to be promoted, however, so choose the best ones.
10. Write better content
One of the best ways to beat EdgeRank at its own game is to make sure the content you post is the best it can be. Relevance is key. Does it speak to the needs of fans? If so, they will most likely engage with it.
A good formula for how to balance content is this:
- 70 percent should be content that relates to your fans' interests.
- 20 percent should be OPC - Other People's content; that means allowing fan's to post to your page.
- 10 percent should be promotional. The problem with a lot of companies is that all their posts are promotional in nature. That's just going to turn a lot of people off.
Using these 10 tips should help you reach the most fans possible so that you won't be dependent on advertising to carry the load. (Who has a budget for this anyway.)
That also means that EdgeRank becomes less an foe and more a friend. And just like our mama's taught us, we should always play nice.
Got any other tips you'd like to share? Please leave them in a comment.
To wrap up, here's a spiffy infographic that present much of what I just talked about.