Stop Knocking the New Facebook and Start Taking Notes

Facebook’s new look has completely changed in just a few weeks, and everyone is asking the same question: What’s up with all the changes? Now, more of your old friends appear in your timeline, you can track constant updates in real time through a news ticker, and automated groups show up on the left panel. Less transparent is the number of changes occurring behind the scenes to make sure the content you see isn’t a bunch of Farmville updates and spam from brands. These changes keep Facebook from suffering the same fate as its long-ago rival, MySpace.

In a recent presentation to the Atlanta chapter of the American Marketing Association (co-sponsored by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution), Justin Van Bogart, Co-founder of MediaFeedia, explained how the rules have changed when it comes to sharing content on Facebook. He explained the secrets to the content on your homepage - why some friends rank at the top of your feed, and why you never read about others.

As everyone knows, content is king. However, that content has to be relevant to your audience and not become static or annoying –which is one of the major problems that plagued MySpace. Facebook is trying to avoid these mistakes by instituting its own algorithm, similar to Google’s PageRank, that measures the quality and quantity of content. Their new system is called EdgeRank. It is their weapon of choice in the war on bad content.

Here is what Facebook and EdgeRank are looking at when they are silently judging you and your content:

Affinity: This measures how much you interact with your consumers. Time spent, frequency, etc. Basically, brands should try their darndest to interact with consumers as much as possible, and provide content that makes them want to spend more time on your page. If a consumer posts on your wall, you should make an effort to not only chat with them, but maybe follow up with a question. One example is a hotel service. If a customer asks for a towel, tell them where or how they can get it, and then ask about their stay. Every post, like, visit, comment, image, video, etc., adds to your presence on Facebook.

Weight: Facebook encourages you to spend as much time on its platform as possible. It wants you to post Facebook images and Facebook videos. Outbound links, however, will not help your case. Unlike Google, Facebook doesn’t want to be a portal for people to go elsewhere. It wants you to stay on Facebook. So if you’re posting links to your own site from Facebook, you’re reducing the value it places on your content. You’ll need to think of alternative strategies for thought leadership and brand enhancing, such as creating notes for blog entries.

Time Decay: In the rapid pace of Facebook, content doesn’t usually last long. To get the most mileage out of your content, marketers need to understand the best time to fully engage users. If you’re a brand like Captain Morgan, then 8:00 a.m. probably won’t be the best time you want to engage with your users. If you’re Folgers Coffee on the other hand, then early morning posts are appropriate. Target your key audience at hours throughout the day when they are most likely to see and interact with your content. Facebook will give you brownie points for having figured it out.

It is imperative that marketers, social media strategists and anyone who wants to connect with their consumers in the social space rethink their current strategies, now and in the months ahead. Van Bogart summed it up best by stating if we all remember these five things, we’ll be okay: 1. EdgeRank matters, 2. Being interactive means more than ever before, 3. Adding value through content is key, 4. Remember Facebook’s incentives, and 5. Use the right tools and strategies. You want to be the life of the party, the coolest kid in the room, and you’re not going to get there if you don’t know the rules and parameters for what’s acceptable with the “in” crowd.

Above everything, he urged companies to always change their strategy with Facebook’s goals in mind if they want to maintain exposure.

Written by Ken Hammond on October 12, 2011

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I thought this was going to be defense of the new user interface (which I'm still not sold on), but I was pleasantly surprised to hear about Facebook's war on viral 'farmville' spam through the introduction of their EdgeRank algorithm.

Although I imagine that it won't be long before agencies start touting facebook optimization services, and gaming the algorithm through a series of paid facebook fans that react and respond to postings in order to increase engagement.

I thought this was going to be defense of the new user interface (which I'm still not sold on), but I was pleasantly surprised to hear about Facebook's war on viral 'farmville' spam through the introduction of their EdgeRank algorithm.

Although I imagine that it won't be long before agencies start touting facebook optimization services, and gaming the algorithm through a series of paid facebook fans that react and respond to postings in order to increase engagement.

Written by
Ken Hammond