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.