By: Chris­tine Beury, Sr. Mar­ket­ing Direc­tor, Effi­cient Frontier/Context Optional

How to Thrive in Today’s Face­book News Feed

Kevin Baren­blat, CEO of Con­text Optional, pre­sented at DMA recently on how to opti­mize posts for the News Feed.  There were some help­ful and timely tips that came out of this presentation.

The recent changes to the Face­book News Feed seem to be ben­e­fi­cial to brands. The uni­fi­ca­tion of Top News and Recent News com­bined with the new Ticker pro­vides more oppor­tu­ni­ties for a brand’s post to make it into a user’s News Feed.

That said, a small num­ber, esti­mated between 1–10 per­cent of posts, actu­ally make it to the News Feed.

It’s clear that in many cases brands aren’t tak­ing the time to under­stand how EdgeR­ank, the algo­rithm that is used to pop­u­late the News Feed, affects their Face­book posts. While Face­book has not released details on the algo­rithm, we’ve gleaned from them that it’s based on a com­bi­na­tion of affin­ity, inter­ac­tion and timeliness.

-       Affin­ity: This is based on the prox­im­ity or how “friendly” a per­son is with another.  The more a per­son inter­acts with another, the more you’ll find them appear­ing in your News Feed. Affin­ity is one-way.  For exam­ple, if you visit an old fling’s pro­file it doesn’t increase the like­li­hood of you appear­ing in their News Feed.

-       Inter­ac­tion: Dif­fer­ent con­tent types are weighted dif­fer­ently.  More engag­ing posts such as videos, pho­tos and links, seem to be val­ued more.

-       Time­li­ness: A post that is newer is more likely to appear than one that is older.

Now let’s look at some best prac­tices to opti­mize for each of these:

Affin­ity:
Request inter­ac­tion.
There is no eas­ier way to get inter­ac­tion than to ask for it. Asks ques­tions of your fans to increase ‘Likes’, com­ments and new inter­ac­tion types that will be added with the new gen­er­a­tion of Open Graph.

Share con­tent from other sources. If you don’t have con­tent, then find inter­est­ing con­tent from oth­ers related to yours and share it in the form of links. It gives you the oppor­tu­nity to lever­age trend­ing, rel­e­vant topics.

Inter­ac­tion:
Use con­tent types that are more heav­ily weighted.
Assum­ing video, pho­tos and links are more highly val­ued, it makes sense to include a range of con­tent in your posts.  As the new Open Graph rolls out, we expect that posts related to the ‘action verb’ apps to be weighted more heavily.

Use con­tent that gen­er­ates more engage­ment. Post con­tent that encour­ages inter­ac­tion, in the form of ‘calls to share’, ques­tions and polls.

Time­li­ness:
Time your posts to gar­ner the great­est Fan response.
Just because you may be online dur­ing the work­day does not mean that is the best time to post con­tent to Face­book. Exper­i­ment with dif­fer­ent time slots and mon­i­tor what hap­pens. You may find that con­tent you post dur­ing the day would do much bet­ter in the early evening. Use a pub­lish­ing solu­tion to imple­ment. Ticker makes it even more impor­tant to be post­ing when you fans are view­ing their News Feed.

Insights:
Of course, what works for one brand may not nec­es­sar­ily work for another brand.  Each Fan base is unique. Exper­i­ment with dif­fer­ent types of posts and con­tent until you find the right mix. Use insights from an ana­lyt­ics tool, such as what Con­text Optional offers, to get data your need about Fans and inter­ac­tions to help in the decision-making process.

Even with these gen­eral guide­lines, there is no hard and fast rule.   But, start­ing with an under­stand­ing of EdgeR­ank, exper­i­ment­ing and mon­i­tor­ing your post results will best equip you to opti­mize for the News Feed.