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Facebook Likes in the Context of Edgerank

A while back the social media set started to realize that just because someone liked your brand or artist’s Facebook page, they wouldn’t necessarily see everything you posted to Facebook in their feed. At f8 last year Facebook discussed their Edgerank algorithm (see a good overview from Techcrunch here) – the formula Facebook uses to determine what would show up in an individual user’s feed. Simply put, Edgerank looks at the relevance of a particular news item to a particular user who has liked the creator of that news item, and decides whether to display it in that user’s feed. Facebook does not currently publish Edgerank scores for its pages, but there is a site attempting to estimate them here.

In my former life as a management consultant someone told me that to be meaningful, every numerator needs a denominator. This is a simple concept that many people often miss – does an additional Facebook fan really matter if he or she isn’t going to see your news item anyway? A brand or artist’s number of Facebook fans is actually a denominator. The numerator is the number of those fans who will actually see a brand or artist’s news item in their newsfeed.

The numerator is determined solely by Edgerank, an algorithm the inner workings of which no one outside of Facebook really understands or has visibility into. This is incredibly critical for marketers to understand, and I have been astonished as of late that more are not focused on the analytics of relevance (Edgerank score) as well as the analytics of reach (number of likes). As much as is possible within Facebook’s opaque system, marketers need to get underneath their relevance to their Facebook fans to truly assess the value and ROI of various marketing campaigns. There are not many people thinking aggressively about these analytics.

AllFacebook publishes a leaderboard of the top Facebook pages by number of fans, but it would be really interesting to see this list weighted according to Edgerank. Quality is almost certainly just as important as quantity in this case.