The Definitive Guide to EdgeRank
Published: March 5, 2014
Author: David George
This is a post/study on what EdgeRank means and how to analyze Facebook Insights for growth on Facebook. This is the blog-format of the original whitepaper. You can download the original whitepaper/PDF here.
Part I: What in the world is EdgeRank?
You have probably heard the term “EdgeRank” before in relation to the Facebook News Feed. EdgeRank is basically what determines when and what things are shown in our News Feeds.
Facebook would like us to be all mysterious and refer to it as “the algorithm”, but let’s break down why traffic is less like a math problem and more like an art form…
So there’s the “algorithm”. Looks kinda scary, but it’s really not. To put it plainly, EdgeRank is the sum of 3 factors:
Affinity: how often does a person interact with you on Facebook? The more often someone interacts with you, the more likely they are to see your posts.
Weight: interactions on Facebook carry their own weight: Likes < Comments < Shares. The “heavier” the interactions are on your posts, the more likely they will appear at the top of your fans’ News Feeds.
Decay: how long ago did you make the post? The longer your post is online, the less likely that it will show in News Feeds. *This is the only piece of EdgeRank outside of your control.
All of that is important to know, but you shouldn’t focus all of your energy on it. Bottom Line: Don’t focus too hard on a mathematical equation. If you are interesting, relevant, and genuine, your content will have successful engagement on Facebook.
Part II: How to Use/Analyze Facebook Insights
Facebook has done an increasingly good job at providing data and analytics from interactions on your page. In fact, you don’t even need any third-party tracking like Google Analytics. Here’s a breakdown of what you can learn through Facebook Insights…
The Insights Overview gives you a breakdown, post-by-post, of your effective engagement. Use this dashboard to gauge how effective you have been in engaging your audience. See what you’ve done right and replicate it. See what you’ve done wrong and reiterate, improving every time.
In the Likes section of your Insights, you will see 3 useful graphs: 1) Total Likes, 2) Net Likes, and 3) Where Your Page Likes Came From. Use this section to gain perspective on who is engaging with your content…
1) Total Likes:
The Total Likes graph is pretty self-explanatory – it shows you your total amount of Likes over time. This is a good way to calculate your overall influence on Facebook as your brand grows.
2) Net Likes:
The Net Likes graph breaks down your Likes by Organic and Paid. Use this graph to determine if specific efforts, like advertising, have increased your overall fan base on Facebook. This graph will also show you your Unlikes and gives you a nice trending line to show you your net Like growth over time.
3) Where Your Page Likes Came From:
Where Your Page Likes Came From is a useful graph for showing you where your page Likes happen – on your page, posts by other people, ads, and an “others” category that represents Likes that happen off of the main Facebook site. Use this graph to help you understand where your Likes are actually occurring inside and outside of Facebook.
The Reach section of your Insights focuses on the fluctuation of how many people saw your posts and then engaged with you, either positively or negatively.
1) Post Reach:
Use the Post Reach graph to determine the difference between how well your Paid posts and Organic posts perform. If you see a large spike on the graph, first of all – great job! Second, click on that spike, and a popup window will display, showing you what was posted during that timeframe. Consider repeating that style of post at the same time of day.
2) Likes, Comments, and Shares:
Use the Likes, Comments, and Shares graph to see how effective you were at creating engagement across Facebook. Again, if you see a spike in your graph, click on it and see what post did well. Conversely, also take note of what posts decreased your engagement and try to stay away from posting a) similar things, or b) at similar times.
3) Hide, Report as Spam, and Unlikes:
The Hide, Report as Spam, and Unlikes graph is the scariest of them all. This graph does a good job at showing you when you don’t do a good job. These are all of the negative interactions that can take place on Facebook. If you see some spike on this graph, don’t freak out – it’s okay. Just click on the spike, take note of what took place, and stay away from doing that kind of thing again.
4) Total Reach:
The last graph – Total Reach – is similar to the Post Reach graph, but with a much larger scope. This graph shows your overall, full-blown reach on Facebook. It displays how many people saw ANY form of activity from your page, including posts, posts by others, ads, mentions, and check-ins. Use this graph to judge your complete presence on Facebook over time.
The Visits section of your Insights highlights the pageviews that happen across your fan page. This is very useful information when you are evaluating how effective you have been at drawing traffic to your page.
1) Page and Tab Visits:
The Page and Tab Visits graph breaks down your total pageviews by where they are occurring – either your Timeline or your tabs. Use this graph to determine which tabs are doing well, which need improving, and how many views your Timeline gets.
2) Other Page Activity:
The Other Page Activity graph shows you the number of actions that involve your page, but happened outside of your page. Use this graph to gain insight into how often you are mentioned by others, how often people post on your page, as well as how many Check-ins occurred and how many Offers were purchased.
3) External Referrers:
The External Referrers graph gives you an idea of where the traffic to your page is coming from, outside of Facebook. Whether it’s from Google searches, your blog, an email campaign, etc., this chart is your best friend when it comes to gauging how effective you have been at attracting people to your page from outside of Facebook.
The Posts section is all about that – your posts! Using these Insights can give you multitudes of information when it comes to how effective your posts are on Facebook.
Use the Times graph to see optimal times for posting, based on when your fans are online (very useful!). If you switch to the Post Types tab, Facebook Insights will give you a report on how effective your different types of posts were – Statuses, Links, and Photos.
2) All Posts Published:
Use the All Posts Published breakdown below the graphs to see which posts performed the best, along with their respective metrics. You can easily filter the breakdown by reach and engagement to give you the most meaningful data.
The People section is all about the demographics of your fans and the people who saw and engaged with your brand on Facebook. Use the tabs across the top of this section to navigate between the different groups of people and view their demographics.
1) Your Fans:
The Your Fans tab will break down the demographics of the people who Like your brand. People Reached includes non-fans and shows results over the past 28 days. People Engaged will show you details on the people who have Liked, Commented, or Shared your posts in the past 28 days. If you have the option enabled, and at least 30 people have Check-in to your location via Facebook, this is also where you will see your Check-in data.
Part III: Top 3 Ways to Use FB Insights to Increase your Likes
Reading and understanding Facebook insights can be very revealing. But, the biggest question still remains – What do I do with this information?
Here are 3 easy ways you can use Facebook Insights to drive increased growth and engagement…
1) Analyze Your Current Likes
Look at your Facebook Insights and see where your current Likes are coming from. To do this, go to the “Likes” section in Facebook Insights, scroll to the bottom of the page, and check out “Where your Likes Came From” and “Like Sources”. You might be surprised to see where your fans ended up Liking your page – it’s not always on Facebook! Do more of the same to keep attracting those Likes.
2) Analyze Your Posts
Scan your posts in the Overview section, and see what went viral or performed the best. Did your pageviews and Like count go up when those types of posts were posted? If so, take note of what kind of posts you made – image video, link, etc. – and the time and date associated with it. Use this information to be more effective with your posts, by posting similar types of posts at the same time and same day as your previous successful posts.
3) Improve Your Facebook Ad Performance
Maybe you are thinking of running a Facebook ad campaign. You can work to improve your results by paying close attention to the demographics of your current fan base. This will most likely determine whom you should be targeting in your campaign. To be the most effective, also take a look through your most successful image posts. You may want to consider using some of these images for your ads.
Well, there you have it! Use this guide to help you navigate through all that Facebook Insight has to offer – it’s a lot. Do you currently use data from Facebook Insights to drive your content and advertising decisions? Share with us in the comments below! And as always, if you have any questions, you can find me on Twitter: @davidageorge