Facebook – What You See Is Not What You Get

Alan BelniakMarketing, Social Media3 Comments

Or, What You Post Isn’t Always Seen


Maintaining a brand page for Facebook is challenging work.  You need to keep in mind the look  and aesthetic, type of content you post, how often, and so on.  Fortunately, many people are ‘liking’ brand pages as a way to stay current on what that brand or company is doing (or, to send a message to their friends that they ‘like’ content).  I call this the lazy man’s RSS.  And that’s not a pejorative – if people are spending so much time in Facebook, then why not, right?  With RSS and blogs and such, all of the content is pushed to the subscribers.  The subscriber then has the option to read or dismiss (skip, mark as read, you get the idea) the post without reading it.  That is, the power and decision is in the reader’s hands.


This is not the case with Facebook.

If you’ve read this blog at all here, followed me on Twitter, or done other reading, you are aware of what Facebook calls its Edgerank algorithm.  If you at all manage a Facebook page and are not familiar with this, then keep reading.  This is important.


I had this conversation on Facebook (yes, the irony) a little while back, and took a screen capture of that so you can see it.  Go check it out, and I’ll summarize it here.

Facebook Edgerank algorithm explained (as seen on http://www.SubjectivelySpeaking.net)

  • Facebook permits brands and companies to push out updates (kind of like a blog)


  • People can subscribe to these updates by following a page


  • Following a page give the brand implicit information to put their content into a user’s stream, and therefore in front of their eyeballs (this is opting in)


  • The average person has a little more than 150 Facebook friends, and likes more than about two dozen pages.  And, most people who like a page rarely go back to the page itself – they consume the content from the page by seeing it in their feed.


  • Here’s the key: if Facebook were to show you all content from all your friends and all the pages you liked, you’d be inundated.  So inundated, in fact, that they fear you’d leave.  And that means fewer eyeballs on ads.  So, how do the remedy this?  They throttle what you see.

  • To see what I mean, go look at your feed.  Find a brand page that you like/follow.  Now, go and actually visit that page on Facebook.  Look at their past 10 or 15 posts.  And then recall the ones that actually made it to your feed.  Likely, it isn’t all of them.  See?


So, What Does This Mean?

  • On a personal level, it means that you’re not seeing all of the content or posts from your friends (though you can manually control that, albeit in a pain-staking manner – sound off in the comments if you’d like to know how).


  • On a personal level, it means that you’re not seeing all the content from a page. So, if you’re following that retailer to get coupons and such on sales, simply by following on Facebook, you might actually be missing out.


  • On a brand level (i.e., you’re the one managing the page), only about one-fifth of your content (on average, in general) is making it into the streams of others.  Note that all of it gets posted to your feed, but only 18% or so makes it into the feeds of others, and only a subset of that content is even read.


Oh Crap.

Yes and no.

  • On a personal level, if you want to see more of the content from brands you’ve liked, then you need to do some trimming.  Go in and unlike some pages – trim the ones that you really don’t need to see.  Again, it’s all about competing for oxygen.  Fewer competitors equals more air for the rest of the lot.  And do me a solid favor and save a like spot for my new kids book, Diego Manchego.


  • On a brand level (pay attention here, readers), you need to create more content that is inherently good, and inherently likeable – and by that, I mean content that garners likes, comments, and shares.  Because content that is liked, commented, and shared sends a signal to Facebook that this content is liked by humans.  It uses human social proof as a way to determine what content is good and what content isn’t as good.  This means that your future content will be judged/throttled/not throttled by your past content’s performance.



  • On a personal level, clean house a little bit.  Nix ‘friends’ you barely know and can the pages you followed once on a whim.  Operate more leanly and see more (relevant) stuff.


  • On a brand level, create better content that gets shared. And, use some free tools (sound off in the comments for suggestions, if you need them) to determine when your fans are online the most, and try to post then to increases the chances of visibility and potential share-ability.  And use data to determine the best days and times that your content gets shared.


What about you?  Do you have any specific Facebook brand page experiences or Edgerank insights you can share?  Let us know in the comments.


Update: since I wrote this post, I recently learned about this cool inforgraphic that describes the Facebook Edgerank algorithm pretty well.  If you get a moment, go check it out: 

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