Improving EdgeRank on Facebook Pages: Chasing the Mythical 16%

July 23rd, 2013 by Search Influence University

EdgeRank FormulaFacebook has been rather straightforward about the fact that Pages only reach about 16% of their fans on average organically. The social media giant recommends posting engaging content, such as videos and photos, or asking questions of your fans in order to reach a wider audience. Of course, they also heavily recommend promoting your content so that more of your fans have an opportunity to see it and interact with your page. But, what if you simply don’t have the budget to spend on social influence?

We typically don’t sponsor posts on Search Influence’s Facebook account, so it seemed like the perfect candidate for a case study on organic reach. I started the project in March with no real goal other than figuring out if our reach could grow just by changing the type of content we were sharing on our page. I was already posting on a daily basis, but we saw very little interaction with our fan-base, and practically no interaction from fans who were not directly connected to our office (employees, spouses, my mom…).

The Experiment (and a little trial and error):

Viral Poll on Facebook

I began posting much more image-heavy content and focused a lot more on interacting with our biggest brand advocates– our employees. Sharing photos increased post reach from the get go, but reach grew exponentially larger when we tagged our employees in photos of them. That simple act could take a photo from a reach of 350 to 500 or more. We also took some of our internal contests to the Facebook page, asking our fans to weigh in on the “Best April Fool’s Day Meme” and “Best Group Costume”. These questions were seen by thousands of users, because a News Feed “story” is created for each person who answers a question. We also posted photo albums of company events, which were quite successful in terms of reach.

Screen Shot 2013-07-22 at 5.23.44 PM

After only two weeks of focusing on sharing pictures, albums and videos on our page in addition to our daily blogs, the results were glaringly obvious. The reach difference between a link post and an image post ranged anywhere from 15-40%, which is a sizable amount when you’re looking at our total fan count. On average, the image posts were reaching 34% of our fans, with some reaching upwards of 54%. The link posts featuring our blogs? Not so much. They reached only 14% of our fans on average and often much less than that. I will happily admit to being a big data nerd, and these numbers certainly don’t lie.

But… what does this have to do with EdgeRank?

EdgeRank Blog

To calculate EdgeRank, Facebook looks at three main factors for each post (or “edge”): Affinity, Weight, and Time Decay. The “Weight” factor is where post type plays in, and clearly has a huge impact on how frequently your “Edge” gets seen by your fans. By utilizing post types with a heavier Weight, you are more likely to show up on users’ News Feed, and therefore much more likely to get interaction (which increases your “Affinity” score for that fan). When you really think about the algorithm, these two elements are so intertwined that one distinctly begets another.

By increasing the Weight of our posts, we reached a wider variety of our fans. As those fans began seeing more of our content, they interacted with it, which further increased our Page’s reach amongst our audience. After a few weeks of posting more heavily weighted content, we were seeing a larger Reach for ALL of our posts, not just those with images. We also took the knowledge we gained about post types and applied it to our blog posts– posting a blog with a photo instead of just a link improved its organic reach significantly. By slightly modifying our posting, we greatly improved our interaction level and reach. Have any other good ideas to improve Facebook Page EdgeRank or Reach? Let us know in the comments!