Can marketing get any more complex? In short answer, yes. With the advent of all of the social tools available and the web’s amazing ability to track usage, clicks and interactions–it is only going to get worse. The answer lies in news feed optimization.
Just think, a few years ago marketing was somewhat simple (in comparison). You had your budget for print, radio/TV, direct, promotional and so on. Pretty standard, time proven techniques to measure, research and adapt. And we had been doing it that way for years. A lot of decisions were based on gut feeling–unless you had a brand with a lot of resources and were able to measure and then adapt and measure again.
For the little guy, the new social landscape has leveled the playing field in terms of reaching customers. It has flipped the advantage from the huge brand to those brands in touch with their customers–which is often easier in smaller companies.
The problem is, as smaller companies introduce themselves through the social channels, they play copycat to what the big brands are doing. Plus, smaller companies don’t have the staff/resources to manage each channel appropriately as well as stay up to date with all of the changing technology and terminology.
So I’m on Facebook, now what?
When Facebook took off as a force a number of years ago, everybody, including brands, said “I need to have a page on there.” Then they resorted to what they’ve been trained to do in traditional marketing channels: “Let’s get a lot of people to LIKE our page.” What happened? Well, the audience started getting overwhelmed with everything from status updates from high school friends and long-lost relatives to invitations to become part of their Farm garden or Mafia Wars.
Facebook had a problem. It needed to allow people to filter out some of this noise, so its platform would be a good place to receive your personal news feed. Facebook has always had the ability for users to control what they wanted to see, but most users aren’t technically savvy enough to look for or even have the patience to find those settings.
So instead of having users control their own news feeds, Facebook is now trying to ‘help’ people by controlling what people see in their news feed. Facebook is now using a secret formula for determining importance of what you should see in your feed called Edgerank.
How to make sense of Edgerank
Developers and marketers were given a peek under the hood for Facebook’s news feed optimization (NFO) algorithm at the F8 developers conference last fall. Facebook won’t reveal all of the details of its formula but it did give some guidance to best practices:
• Affinity. It is based on the closeness of the person posting content and the person reading or interacting with that content. So every time you comment, like or interact with a post of one of your friends or ‘liked’ pages, Facebook tracks that interaction and assigns an affinity level to you based on your behavior. Key takeaway: Improve engagement with your fans and friends.
• Weight. This has to do with the type of content uploaded. Is it a link? a photo? or just a status update. Facebook gives different importance to users commenting on a photos vs. commenting on status updates or even posted links. It will weight comments much more than ‘likes’ and in turn think that the content has relevance to others, based on overall interaction levels. Key takeaway: Post different kinds of interesting content that incites action (engagement) from your fans or friends. Encourage comments.
• Time Decay. This one is pretty obvious. The older posts are rated different that recent ones. But if you have a comment from a previous day with a lot of engagement, the formula will find that the information might still be relevant to people and keep it higher in their news feed. Key takeaway: Gotta post good stuff–and often if you want people to see it.
The most important takeaway is to not just post passive content that isn’t relevant or engaging. Post photos, ask for comments and respond. The snowball effect of engaging and interactions with your friends and customers will add to your affinity and increase your reach.