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Building an audience on Facebook is crucial to ensuring that a business spreads content virally. And using edgerank can help to increase your exposure on Facebook. However, until fairly recently, most people using Facebook for business assumed that building a great number of Friends or Page fans would ensure success and widespread exposure for a brand. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.

In early 2010 Facebook began trialing a new filter for the News Feed on the homepage, instead of automatically showing all the most recent content from Friends or Pages, the automatic setting displays ‘Top news’.

While keen Facebookers may delve further and click the ‘Most recent’ tab to see all posts, the vast majority of Facebook users will only ever see content selected for the ‘Top news’ section. To decide which content is selected for the ‘Top news’ tab, Facebook developed an algorithm called EdgeRank to gauge what content will appeal to individual Facebook users. As priorities on Facebook shift from a focus on large Like numbers to increasing engagement, Facebook experts are turning to ‘News Feed Optimisation’ as the best route to increasing exposure and popularity on Facebook.

What is EdgeRank?
EdgeRank is an algorithm designed by Facebook to create a subset of the ‘Top news’ content shared within a users’ network. The algorithm creates an automatic filter that becomes the ‘Top news’ tab displayed on Facebook’s homepage. Since the introduction of EdgeRank, admins of Facebook Pages have seen a significant drop in the number of impressions and clickthroughs their content receives. To increase a Page’s exposure on Facebook, admins must start tailoring the content and frequency of their updates to help increase their Page’s EdgeRank.

Below are 5 things that Facebook has revealed go some distance in effecting a Page’s EdgeRank:

1. Relationship
Before the launch of the ‘Top news’ tab, Facebook introduced a “Friends and Pages I interact with the most” tab, which demonstrates the significance that Facebook places on the relationship between users in determining what content is popular. If a user frequently interacts with a Friend or Page, the updates of that connection will appear more frequently in their News Feed. Facebook makes a direct connection between relationships and relevance when deciding which content to display to which users.

2. Timing
Unsurprisingly, for a social network geared towards current events, Facebook places great emphasis on the timeliness of content which appears in users News Feeds. While EdgeRank will often display stories at the top of the News Feed that are several hours old if many users have commented on the update, very few updates will ever appear in the News Feed after 24 hours.

3. Popularity
Popular content will be more visible than unpopular content. Updates that receive lots of Likes, Comments or link clicks will jump to the top of most News Feeds. EdgeRank favours content which has already been given the seal of approval by one or many users. Controlling the popularity of individual status updates is the easiest way to boost a Page’s EdgeRank in the short term, but it requires a network a regularly engaged fans who are willing to Like, Comment and Share content.

4. Likes versus Comments
EdgeRank also uses the quality of user engagement to rate the popularity or newsworthiness of specific content. There is a  lot of evidence to suggest that different actions contribute to a higher EdgeRank. For example, most Facebook experts accept that Comments are rated higher than Likes simply because it takes more effort and thought to comment on a status then clicking the Like button. Comments are also more likely to propel the conversation forward, increasing the timeliness or relevance of the status update to apply to a greater number of Facebook users.

5. Type of content
Most observers believe that EdgeRank also favours status updates that contain rich media and not just plain text. Careful observation of Pages suggests that status updates that includes weblinks, pictures or video are more successful than those which use words alone. However, it’s worth noting that rich media content is often more successful than plain text because videos and pictures usually encourage debate and comment more than words alone.

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