Recent updates to Facebook’s EdgeRank formula, and the way they calculate your People Talking About This score, could be putting your social efforts in jeopardy. Why is a behind-the-scenes math formula so important? It’s a simple answer with a lot of data behind it, so we’ll start with the easy facts first.
EdgeRank determines your success on Facebook.
That’s it. It’s that cut and dry. If your brand page has a high EdgeRank, your page will almost definitely be successful – depending, of course, on your definition of success. If success, to you, means user engagement, brand awareness, and viral growth, then we are on the same page.
How does EdgeRank work?
EdgeRank is an algorithm, essentially a complex mathematical formula that weighs several different factors to determine how relevant your content is to any given Facebook user. The formula looks like this:
Facebook has been notoriously silent on the exact numbers in this equation, but Jeff Widman, operator of EdgeRank.net, has broken down the basics of the system.
Facebook looks at all possible stories and says “Which story has the highest EdgeRank score? Let’s show it at the top of the user’s newsfeed…If EdgeRank predicts a particular user will find your status update boring, then your status update will never even be shown to that particular user…The numbers on this are frightening. In 2007, a Facebook engineer said in an interview that only about 0.2% of eligible stories make it into a user’s newsfeed…
The simplest possible explanation is that Facebook considers the amount of Likes, Comments, and Shares your posts receive, how many of your fans are friends with each other, the type of content you are posting, and what every single Facebook user thinks about those types of content. All of that gets added up into a total score, which is tallied on every single post your page makes.
How can I improve my page’s EdgeRank?
Short answer: you can’t. Long answer: you can’t, and you’re asking the wrong question. EdgeRank is a constantly-evolving formula, which takes in thousands of points of data to make by-the-second updates. Combine that complexity with the fact that Facebook also filters results through at least one other formula before they make it to a newsfeed, and you are facing a hopeless challenge.
The point that we keep making to clients is that it is much easier to improve your content than it is to try to game the system.
So, what’s new?
A recent update to Facebook’s algorithms has changed the way your page’s People Talking About This, or PTAT, score. This score is a combination of several forms of engagement, including shares, likes, and comments. Until now, that number related only to first-level engagement on a post. The tracking stopped, once you got beyond the original posting.
With this new update, the PTAT score includes engagement a post receives at the second level and beyond. Now, if a user shares George Takei’s latest cat pun, his PTAT score includes all of the likes, shares, and comments that post receives from its entire viral lifespan, even from users that never saw the original post.
This update has led to some drastic jumps in PTAT for many highly-engaging pages. Takei’s PTAT has jumped by nearly 110,000 since the change, with similar numbers coming from several of the top pages on the platform. As we discussed earlier, your PTAT score is the most important aspect of your content’s EdgeRank, so higher PTAT scores ensure that your content is being seen. This means that activity on a cat photo George Takei posted three weeks ago could be boosting the EdgeRank on a post he makes today.
In social media, content is king, and that has never been truer than it is now. It is time for companies to make sure that what they’re putting out is something that users actually want to see. As the EdgeRank formula continues to evolve, content that belongs in corporate board rooms will become quieter and quieter. Eventually, those pages will have to wake up and realize they’re speaking to an empty room.
Tim Howell is a content manager for Make Me Social. He studied fine art, psychology, and international pop culture at Bowling Green State University. In his spare time, he is a blogger and social activist with a passion for cooking. You can find him at gplus.to/TimHowell