Anthony J. Pennings, PhD


Mysteries of Facebook Optimization: EdgeRank

Posted on | May 1, 2011 | No Comments

Probably the most important part of the Facebook experience is the News Feed, the list of items (called objects) from your friends, fans and groups on the main page. But what you may not realize is that not all the news that is fit to print shows up directly in the ‘Top News’ because of an algorithm called EdgeRank that determines what makes the cut and what doesn’t.

EdgeRank operates a bit like time, it keeps everything from happening at once and overwhelming you with content. Still, Facebook wants you to get the objects it thinks you are most interested in and wants to reduce the clutter from objects it deems less important. A simple rule is that you can increase the likelihood of a friend’s objects showing up by interacting with them. This is what is called an edge. Likewise, you can “optimize” the chances of your own objects showing up in the Top News feed portion of others by following the rules of “engagement”.

Whether you are an individual or represent an organization of some kind, the visibility of your posts are important. The EdgeRank algorithm is based on three factors: affinity, weight and time decay. Affinity is a lot like it sounds like – commenting on or liking an object, visiting a friend’s profile, viewing pictures, sending messages, etc. Weight is a score given to each type of edge with some actions more important than others. This is determined exclusively by Facebook so it’s a good idea to follow some of the discussions about EdgeRank on the web. Time decay is largely a factor of staying current by logging in and regularly interacting with the friends and likes you, well, like. All these factors are calculated to give an object an EdgeRank score that will determine whether the object shows up in someone’s Top News.

If you are a marketing or social media manager for a brand, it gets complex as you are looking to more aggressively push your objects. Until recently your major concern has probably been the acquisition of new fans with the “Like” button. Now, “brand managers” are using a variety of techniques to engage their fans. These include call to action (CTA) techniques that urge a response, such has asking questions or sending invitations.

Buddy Media has recently developed a White Paper on EdgeRank that presents ideas on how to push your content to the top of the News Feed’s ‘Top News’. Download it for more details on the following:

  1. Ask questions
  2. Post games and trivia
  3. Interact with fan engagement
  4. Incorporate wall sapplets (polls, coupons, etc.)
  5. Incorporate relevant photos
  6. Relate to current events
  7. Incorporate videos
  8. Post content for time-sensitive campaigns
  9. Include links within posts
  10. Be explicit in your posts

Unfortunately, you will also see more movement on Facebook’s part to get brands to advertise in order to reach their fans as they look to increase their revenues.

Here is a tool to help you calculate your EdgeRank:


Anthony J. Pennings, PhD has been on the NYU faculty since 2001 teaching digital media, information systems management, and global communications. © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


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    Professor at State University of New York (SUNY) Korea since 2016. Moved to Austin, Texas in August 2012 to join the Digital Media Management program at St. Edwards University. Spent the previous decade on the faculty at New York University teaching and researching information systems, digital economics, and strategic communications.

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