Are EdgeRank Changes Affecting Reach & Engagement With Facebook Fans?

In our previous post on Facebook Offers we pointed out just how Edgerank can limit the number of fans who will see your post. For first timers, EdgeRank is an algorithm used by Facebook which enables its content evaluation engine to decide what content should be displayed to Facebook members and how high it should appear in their newsfeed. It essentially also limits your reach allowing not more than 16 % of your total fan base to see a post.

What’s New From EdgeRank?
It appears now that cracking Edgerank’s algorithm may have just got a lot tougher. In other words just like Search Engine Optimization techniques have had to keep evolving and work harder to keep your website up on the search engines page one and top five listing keeping pace with the algorithms of your search engine, so too does your content strategy and fan engagement program on Facebook have to keep up with the latest from EdgeRank.

This blog post from Edgerankchecker.com analysed data on reach and engagement in between September and October 2012 to see how Edgerank’s algorithm may have affected reach and engagement.

It becomes clear that there is no single pattern to what kind of posts were suddenly working or not, what became fairly evident was that reach was getting stifled. The study further analyses and points out that brands that opt for status updates over photo updates would have not seen much of an impact or a decrease in engagement, whereas those that used more of a photo update strategy might have seen their engagement levels decreasing. Why so?

What Kind Of Updates Work For Fans?
Photo updates have unfailingly demonstrated that the engagement levels are far higher than (text) status updates (no wonder Facebook decided to buy Instagram). So there may be no reason to give this up. However the study dwells further to demonstrate that brands that used `spammy’ photo posts or posts not very relevant to the brand universe — used photos for the sake of photos — as an engagement strategy were getting affected.

If your brands photo status updates is getting negative feedback for instance, it is likely that EdgeRank algorithm is pushing you down the ladder.

Monitor The Quality Of Engagement
Fortunately there is a Real Time Facebook Analytics Monitor that can help you track the sentiments of your fans in real time to make sure you are taking timely corrective action to keep the engagement going. You can check the Dummy’s Guide to EdgeRank just to be sure you are on the right track as far as your engagement strategy is concerned.

What Facebook Has To Say
Will Carth product manager at Facebook spoke to Techcrunch and said: “We made a relatively large ranking change in September that was designed to reduce spam complaints from users. We used [spam] reports at an aggregate level to find Pages or apps generating a lot of reports [and decrease their reach]. We’ve also added personalized attempts to reduce presence of posts you’re likely to complain about.”

Basically if you never click, Like, comment, or share posts by a Page, Facebook made that Page less likely to show up in your feed. Cathcart says “That’s a relatively large change.” It resulted in a large decrease in spam reports, meaning it succesfully made the Facebook news feed better.

Our Analysis
We have a final take home that should be acknowledged even as you attempt to follow best practices in Facebook engagement.

The Facebook fan is socializing and is making more friends every day and also following/liking more brand/community/corporate pages everyday. There are only so many updates that the Facebook user can see in a day on their wall. There is more competition out there everyday. Not just from brands but friends and family and new people out there that your fans are interacting with. It is but evident that organic share of voice will have to fight against a larger crowd everyday, and your reach is going to get affected.

The Recommendation
Keep focusing on engagement, keep it fresh and interesting, experiment, see what works, acknowledge there will be one-offs and progressively add inorganic or paid reach to boost your organic reach on Facebook.

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