A few months ago, I wrote a blog post on Facebook’s EdgeRank and the confusion behind the secret algorithm that decides whether your post will make it to your fans’ news feed.
A recent study by PageLever confirms the importance of News Feed Optimization (NFO) aka the science of making your posts appear on your fans’ page. The study, which examined hundreds of Facebook Pages, suggests that most impressions for your posts happen in the news feeds and not on the page itself. Although the difference in impressions is not as big for Facebook Pages with less than 10,000 fans (50% more impressions per fan on the news feeds), it is quite large for pages with more than 1,000,000 fans. Such pages experience almost 20 times more impressions per fan on the news feeds than on the page itself, according to the study.
This simply means that News Feed Optimization should be at the core of your fan engagement strategy. Obviously, your Facebook Page remains very important when it comes to fan acquisition, and Facebook Apps should not be discounted, especially when the goal is engaging and nurturing a fan base. However, Facebook App developers should focus on the sharing and viral aspect of those apps via the news feed.
The confusion I exposed with EdgeRank was really due to the fact that it was a proprietary number, and that this score was personal and ephemeral by definition. In fact, an EdgeRank is calculated for each post and each fan to determine if the post will appear on the person’s news feed at a particular time. Although it is important to grasp the mechanisms behind EdgeRank to comprehend how your posts make it to your fans’ news feed, it has been very difficult, if not impossible, for Facebook marketers to quantify the quality of posts in order to refine the message for optimal fan exposure.
As illustrated in the diagram below, the first post on the Webtrends Facebook Fan Page (on the left) will only make it to the news feed of the first three people as the EdgeRank for that post for each of those fans is high enough (greater than 10 in the example). The problem is that EdgeRank is a proprietary score used by Facebook and not available to marketers (numbers in the diagram are arbitrary).
To address this ubiquitous challenge, Webtrends developed a sophisticated algorithm that makes use of publicly available information in order to quantify and compare the quality of posts. The new Webtrends Post Strength Indicator or PSI is a score on a 1-100 scale that allows Facebook marketers to understand what messages resonate with their audience and may lead to greater engagement. In the example above, the first post would show a PSI score of 56 and the second post a score of 55.
Until now, News Feed Optimization had to be based on empirical analysis and mostly a trial and error approach. By examining the PSI of your posts, you can now optimize the quality, frequency and timing of your posts to help with your News Feed Optimization efforts. The PSI is available in recently released Webtrends Hoverstats, currently available as a free Chrome extension.
I dreamed about the PSI in my last article. You can easily imagine that the next step could be the computation of a score to quantify the overall quality of a Facebook Page so that marketers could monitor the relevance of their Facebook presence over time, and, if the information is made public, compare it with other organizations in their industry. This “Page Score” could be based on all the PSIs of your Facebook Page weighted by post recency, but I may be dreaming again…