Facebook EdgeRank Algorithm: Updated at Expense of Fan Pages

By November 5, 2012 20 Comments

Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm has been a highly debated topic among social marketers as of late. EdgeRank is the algorithm Facebook uses to determine whether a Facebook object (a post or action) is relevant enough to appear in a user’s News Feed. Recently, Facebook has made updates to the algorithm and they appear to be at the expense of Facebook Fan Pages.

Marketers began to notice a decrease in the reach of their page posts toward the end of September. Around that same time reports of an update to the Facebook EdgeRank algorithm began to surface. Since then, many Facebook fan pages have noticed a drop, for some of up to 40% or more, in the overall reach of their page posts.

Facebook openly acknowledges that only approximately 15% – 20% of a fan page’s overall fan base will be exposed to the page’s posts in their news feed. And it’s no secret that Facebook recommends paying to promote posts on Facebook in order to reach the other 85%. Gokul Rajaram, head of advertising at Facebook, said the following in an earlier interview with the Ad Exchanger.

“You get anywhere from 15 percent to 20 percent of your fans, that you reach organically,” said Rajaram. “In order to reach the remaining 80 to 85 percent, sponsoring posts is important.”

It makes sense that Facebook is looking for ways to further monetize their platform. However, the recent algorithm update has many marketers up in arms over the fact that they cannot reach fans that have opted in to receive their updates, without paying the price to advertise to them. According to an article by Dangerous Minds in order to reach 100% of their 50,000 plus fans, now that Facebook has turned down the reach of fan pages, it could cost them $672,000 per year. Here is how they did the math.

At Dangerous Minds, we post anywhere from 10 to 16 items per day, fewer on the weekends. To reach 100% of of our 50k+ Facebook fans they’d charge us $200 per post. That would cost us between $2000 and $3200 per day—but let’s go with the lower, easier to multiply number. We post seven days a week, that would be about $14,000 per week, $56,000 per month… a grand total of $672,000 for what we got for free before Facebook started turning the traffic spigot down in Spring of this year—wouldn’t you know it—right around the time of their badly managed IPO.

So what is Facebook trying to accomplish with all of this (besides the obvious reason of making more money)? They are attempting to make the news feed more relevant to users.

The EdgeRank algorithm takes into account three things, Affinity, Weight and Time Decay. Affinity is defined by a users relationship with the person or page that created the specific Facebook object, essentially how much the user interacts with that person or page. Weight is determined by the object type, for instance whether it is a photo, video or link. The last factor EdgeRank takes into account is how recent the action occurred or Time Decay.

Facebook finds it very important to ensure that what shows up in a user’s news feed is something they actually care about and want to see. According to a Facebook spokesperson approached by NBC News, their goal is to provide only content that a user is most likely to engage with.

“We’re continuing to optimize (the) news feed to show the posts that people are most likely to engage with, ensuring they see the most interesting stories,” said the spokesperson. “This aligns with our vision that all content should be as engaging as the posts you see from friends and family.”

This all makes sense, however, just because I do not comment on posts or visit the pages I have liked on Facebook often, does not necessarily mean that I don’t want to see important information the page posts show up in my news feed. That is why I chose to like the page in the first place. Many users are under the impression that when they like a page on Facebook they will receive the page’s updates in their news feed, which clearly no longer the case.

To combat this, Facebook now allows user to request to “Get Notifications” from specific pages they have liked. You can do this by clicking on the “Liked” button on the Facebook page or the “Subscribed” button for pages you’ve subscribed to and then select “Get Notifications”. You can also add these pages to “Interest Lists” in order to keep your news feed organized.

Unfortunately many users probably don’t now about this option and will continue to believe that all of the posts from pages they have liked will show up in their news feed. For Facebook fan pages, and specifically businesses that rely on the traffic generated from their Facebook page, the Facebook algorithm update may mean they have no choice but to start advertising on Facebook.

As a Facebook user have you noticed changes to your news feed over the last several months? Page managers, have you noted significant changes to your page’s reach? Is the EdgeRank algorithm update a good thing or a bad thing? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Deanna Sandmann

Author Deanna Sandmann

More posts by Deanna Sandmann

Join the discussion 20 Comments

  • Emily says:

    Fantastic post, thank you for clarifying what’s going on. I knew something was up, but the actual percentage is crazy! Do you know if the same type of thing applies to updates from personal friends? I’ve noticed that not all posts necessarily show up, even though I’ve selected ‘show all posts’ in the options for that friend. Will ‘Get Notifications’ work for friends as well?

  • Deanna Sandmann says:

    Hi Emily,

    The short answer is that yes EdgeRank works similarly for your Facebook friends and yes you can select “Get Notifications” for personal friends.

    Here is the long answer if you have time 🙂

    The EdgeRank algorithm does work the same way for personal friends in regards to the three factors: Affinity, Weight and Time Decay. Basically Facebook takes into account how often you interact with that friend (this can be liking their posts, visiting their Facebook page etc.). They also take into account the type of object (whether it is a photo, video, link etc.). Finally Facebook factors in how recent the post or action was taken.

    If you have your news feed set to “Top Posts” you are only going to see those posts that are considered the most relevant to you. Again this is based on the engagement on the post and your relationship to the person or page posting, the EdgeRank algorithm defines which posts will show up here. If you set your news feed to “Most Recent Posts” you should see posts come in in real time.

    For friends that you’ve selected to show “All Updates” from, you should see their updates show up in both news feed filters. However, if you have a large number of Facebook friends and pages that you are following my guess is your friends updates are getting pushed down the stream very quickly, so you may never see them. Also, it’s important to note that this does not necessarily apply to other actions taken by this friend. For instance if they comment on one of their posts or listen to a song on Spotify, these show up in the Ticker. The Ticker is the box on the right hand side of your news feed. Selecting show “All Updates” appears to only apply to updates they make on their page.

    Finally, you are able to also select “Get Notifications” for personal friends. However, if you select to “Get Notifications” you will actually receive a Facebook notification every time that friend posts something. So this is a good solution for those friends that you truly want to see every update from, otherwise I could see it becoming a bit overwhelming.

    Hope this helps!


  • Cristina says:

    Very interesting! I noticed a change but I thought that the difference was about the posts. Really useful this article.

  • Kimby says:

    I thought what the user wanted to see was based on their “likes.” Hmmm….

  • ChrisL says:

    Deanna, Definitely some good information here. I was wondering if there was any data on the % of friends posts that get seen by their friends on average? Something similar to the 15-20% of post by fan page that is seen by fans.


  • John Haydon says:

    15% – 20%” is an average of thousands of Pages (most who suck at Facebook), and has always been the case.

  • hard to believe that dangerous minds article is still getting quoted. they would have you believe that prior to facebook’s nefarious change, every post on your page was appearing for every person who liked your page. not so – edgerank has been working the same way all along. facebook _does_ reduce the reach of page posts from pages that users tell it are spam or that they want to see less of. here’s the follow up article from a more credible source on techcrunch http://techcrunch.com/2012/11/07/killing-rumors-with-facts-no-facebook-didnt-decrease-page-news-feed-reach-to-sell-more-promoted-posts/

    there are many blogs and organizations with consistently good content who use their facebook pages to publicize that content in a measured way and who continue to gain likes, get a comment here and there, and have absolutely nothing to worry about. there are others who use their facebook pages to blast out crap all day long to try and boost traffic and ad views. they should be worried, because facebook is taking a page from the recent google algo changes to penalize pages that are not producing value…

  • Arthur says:

    The bottom line is Facebook took over half of the traffic away from small local businesses who have made Facebook what it is today. Some businesses have taken years to build this by doing it the right way and without “black hatting” and with a push of a button it was nearly destroyed. My FB traffic has fallen over 60% and has affected my page rank on my site to fall from a 4 to a 2. Do you really think us small businesses can afford or even will pay $4,200 a month to regain that traffic? I have nearly 1600 friends (not much I know) but they are ALL industry related (artists) and genuine. Not counting my customers and family. Most are highly P.O’ed because of what FB has done and like me are planning and moving to other venues. FB has become too complicated and greedy in my opinion and are focusing more on bigger corporations and gains than they are on the very backbone (small business) that put them where they are today in the first place. Be careful what you wish for FB and stop trying to B.S. us small businesses, keep this up and I believe FB is in for a rude awakening. Do the words ENRON remind you of anything? Stop nawing on the hand that’s already feeding you and make this right. They really should look at what their competition is offering these days and who is shitting right in their own back yard, lol

  • Yes, I found this explanatory article about facebook’s Edgerank algorithm very helpful!

  • Deanna Sandmann says:


    Yes it is that low for personal posts as well. Again it all goes back to if they are actively interacting with your posts or timeline. Friends who visit your timeline or click on your posts are much more likely to see your updates than those who do not.

    John Hayden & Todd Randolph

    You are right, Facebook did not show 100% of a page’s posts in the news feed before the update. I apologize if I made it seem that way, that was not my intention. I was simply trying to bring to light a change to the algorithm that has caused a drastic drop in reach for many Facebook pages.

  • I have just started to pay attention to the days/times when my audience responds. I will be posting at certain times of the day that I know my readers are online.
    thanks for nice post.

  • Thanks Deanna ,

    I can to know this update some days before and searching for it . But my question is if a person have liked your page by interest , and he/she is not seo geek or i means from this industry who are updated that what google and facbook doing how they came to know that they have to press those damm buttons.. How a soimple facebook user do it who really don’t know what is rdgetanke or pagerank.. But still he wants update from the page he likes?

  • Ram says:

    I noticed the change but dont know how exactly it works ..Really imformative article thatnks for sharing it.

  • Sonarika says:

    Facebook is evolving rapidly. Newsfeed Algorithm has changed a lot these days. Content rules though

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