As part of our Social Media series, I have written extensively on how organizations can optimize nonprofit fundraising and engagement opportunities through Facebook via set-up tips, considerations for Facebook fundraising and outreach, utilizing Facebook’s changes and understanding its analytics. As the platform has evolved several changes on how the content shared reaches your fans have occurred over the past few months, including the prioritization of paid posts. However in the midst of all the changes, there is a clear formula on how content is presented in newsfeeds and by understanding how it works behind the scenes, nonprofits can strategize how to position their content to effectively reach their community.
Securing ‘Likes’ on Facebook is challenging on its own and engaging fans with content adds another layer of complexity. An estimated 96% of fans never visit a brand’s page after initially liking it and on average only 16% will ever see your postings in their timelines. Similarly to how Google uses their PageRank algorithm to determine the placing of web pages in their search engine, Facebook uses an algorithm to rank content that is posted and displayed in user’s newsfeeds. Though Facebook doesn’t officially have a name for this system it’s commonly known as EdgeRank and there are three main variables that determine if your content will appear on your community’s newsfeeds.
Affinity – An affinity score is assigned to user’s interactions with a connection whether a friend or a brand page. The more a user interacts with a page – whether through ‘Likes’, comments, posting or sharing the page’s content – the higher the affinity score. The best way to increase your fans affinity score in relation to your page is by posting valuable content that they are interested in and will engage with thereby increasing the score even more.
Weight – Each story or post shared on your brand’s page is given a weight value. Each type of post is weighted differently, with photos and videos ranking the highest, followed by links and text only updates ranking the lowest. The higher the weight value of a story increases the likelihood that it will be viewed in your fans newsfeed. Nonprofits should tailor their content to ensure that higher weighted content is shared with their communities in order to optimize their engagement efforts. Also worth noting is that new Facebook features are usually weighted heavier to encourage usage of the feature.
Time – Newsfeeds are displayed to users in reverse chronological order. Therefore the age of the post ( i.e. the amount of time since the content was posted) also affects how it is ranked and listed on a fans newsfeed. The more time that has passed since the content was first posted, the deeper it is buried in a fan’s newsfeed. There is no real strategy to circumvent this obstacle other than to post (or in some cases repost) content frequently.
It’s critical to regularly post valuable content that carries higher weight to ensure maximum exposure as you are often competing for space on your supporter’s newsfeeds with their other connections. Knowledge is definitely power in this case and understanding Facebook’s newsfeed algorithms will help with preparing stronger engagement strategies. A future post will explore ways of improving your page’s ranking and engaging your supporters with your content.