--- Join us on 3/14 for a live webinar To Prepare Your Page for Facebook Timeline ---
With 1 billion members projected by August, 20 Million Page Likes each day and 5 billion bits of content shared each week it's no wonder marketers have embraced the giant. But building a Facebook Marketing strategy focused solely on Likes is sooo 2011 - especially because ~88% of fans will never return to your page. 2012 is the year of engagement and engagement on Facebook - at least 95% of it - happens in the News Feed.
So how do you get your content in the News Feeds of the highest possible number of fans? It all comes down to understanding the EdgeRank Algorithm...and you thought marketing wasn't going to require math!
A recording of our webinar on this topic, as well as the slides, are available at the end of this post.
The EdgeRank Algorithm is made up of 3 parts - Affinity, Weight & Time. Every piece of content shared on Facebook (status update, a Like, a Share, a picture, an app, etc) is an Edge and each Edge has a rank or score based on the additive values of these 3 elements:
Affinity = How Popular you (the person or the brand) are with a user.
Weight = A score based on how likely the content being shared is to drive action/engagement. Much like Google's Search Engine rewards relevant content with a higher rank, so does Facebook. Photos, Apps, Videos, etc are among the highest weights.
TimeDecay = The simplest of the 3, time decay is simple a degradation based on how old the edge is. Hint, your edge does not age like a fine wine...
So what does this have to do with the News Feed? Simple. The higher your EdgeRank, the higher your post goes on the list of News Feed items. At a certain point, your score will be too low to matter, and it won't show up. This is why it's crucial to make sure your edges are heavy, relevant and timely.
Here are 5 things you can do NOW to boost your EdgeRank Scores:
1) Post Daily (at a minimum) there are lots of studies and opinions on the frequency of posting to Facebook but the majority lean towards a minimum of a daily interaction. Even with all this good advice, a Sysmos study posted on TechCrunch found that on average, Facebook Fan pages were updated only once every 16 days! With time decay weighing against you, you're essentially counting yourself out of the game if you aren't posting at least once a day. Some brands with highly engaged fans and great content will post from 3-5 times per day. You'll need to test what frequency is acceptable for your audience. For more advanced page managers, consider this post from @danzarrella on the KissMetrics site which shows that Saturday's at Noon may be the best time to post for getting new Likes. Use tools like Facebook Insights & EdgeRankChecker.com to deduce what frequency and content is best for your fans.
2) Gain Some Weight - I know the summer is just around the corner, but trust me, you want to get hefty here. Although there is no pre-set hierarchy of weight value, the edges which tend to get high weight scores are posts w/links, videos, pictures and apps.? The reason behind their weight is simple. More people will want to click them & Facebook wants users to click. So, make sure your status updates include media whenever possible and ALWAYS include an explanation with your post. A study done by EdgeRankChecker.com found that - completely contrary to Twitter - Facebook users actually prefer status updates LONGER than 140 characters. DON'T use shortened links in your posts. This advice given by Socially Engaged Marketing, says that shortened URLs decrease trust and are less likely to be clicked. They also take away a chance to drive brand recognition - think www.snapapp.com VS. http://bit.ly/eo66BO
3) Expose Yourself & Get People Talking - Facebook introduced the "People Talking About This" Rating last September as an on-page measure of fan engagement. A good goal is to aim for 10% of your fans to be talking about you on any given day/week/month. (So, if you have 2,000 fans you would want to see 200 People Talking About This). A great way to encourage response to posts are to ask questions. Figment, a community for teen writers, does a great job of incorporating Apps & Questions into their Facebook posting mix using SnapApp's In News Feed Question and Answer Feature - a double win for weight factor (app) and engagement (responses). When a fan engages with a fun interactive personality quiz (for example) and then shares their results with friends, their post includes a question from the Facebook quiz?which their friends will then be enticed to click & respond to. This method will help increase their on-page People Talking About This Rating as well as increase the weight of their edges, expand their reach with sharing, and bring new visitor back to their page where the interactive personality quiz app lives.
4) "Ad" Repeat Page Viewings - Facebook ads, like any marketing channel, have some pros & cons. On the down-side, they're not particularly effective at customer acquisition with 70% of marketers saying they failed to convert new customers. This may be in part due to Facebook members apparent disdain with traveling off of the Facebook site for info. A test done by SEOmoz found that when they referred traffic from Facebook to their main site, bounce rates increased by 41% and average time on site decreased by 56%. Enough of the bad news. The good news with Facebook ads is that, compared to other cost-per-click ad options, they're relatively low cost. And, the flexibility with targeting on the platform makes it easy to hit precise audiences. Since you pay only for the click, you can also count the other impressions as inexpensive branding. Another option to consider is getting creative about driving conversion ON your Facebook page. Think of ads that drive entries for a Facebook sweepstakes?or content download back to a SnapApp living on your Facebook page. Including a lead gen form and email opt-in (for example) within your app is an effective way to drive acquisition on page & leads can be posted to your CRM or email system in real-time.
5) Engage with Fans on the go - With 44% of Facebook's current 800M members accessing through mobile phones or tablets, you'd do yourself a huge disservice to discount the experience for mobile visitors. But many page managers are unaware of how their special social media promotions/apps will work for mobile viewers. Take a look at the example below where someone was using a contest app to get votes to win a "Dream Job":
The experience here for the mobile user was an error code. They were unable to access the content, and unable to vote. This experience - especially if it is the first time engaging with a brand - is likely not the one you'd be aiming for. Make sure when planning your Facebook promotion - such as Facebook mobile quizzes or sweepstakes - that you ask your vendor about the mobile experience so you don't risk losing conversions, leads or customers.
Video from our Webinar: