So, we finally have something to call it. Facebook's magic behind the news feed and our real life social graphs has been revealed.
A few of the secrets behind the algorithm that Facebook engineers' Ruchi Sanghvi and Ari Steinberg call "EdgeRank" we're unveiled earlier last week at the f8 developer conference. This article in TechCrunch is probably one of the best summaries of presentation:
At a high level, the EdgeRank formula is fairly straightforward. But first, some definitions: every item that shows up in your News Feed is considered an Object. If you have an Object in the News Feed (say, a status update), whenever another user interacts with that Object they’re creating what Facebook calls an Edge, which includes actions like tags and comments.
Each Edge has three components important to Facebook’s algorithm:
- First, there’s an affinity score between the viewing user and the item’s creator — if you send your friend a lot of Facebook messages and check their profile often, then you’ll have a higher affinity score for that user than you would, say, an old acquaintance you haven’t spoken to in years.
- Second, there’s a weight given to each type of Edge. A comment probably has more importance than a Like, for example.
- And finally there’s the most obvious factor — time. The older an Edge is, the less important it becomes.
The article goes on to summarize and solidify what has been apparent if you looked closely enough: "...an Object is more likely to show up in your News Feed if people you know have been interacting with it recently."
So, now we know. But, what do we do with this sacred IP now that you and I been entrusted with it?
Hmmm... Shall we play?
9 Ways to Use Facebook EdgeRank to Rule Your Facebook Experience
Trust me, the folks in the valley will never reveal all of their secrets to us. That would be bad for business. But this little peak into how the EdgeRank algorithm crawls across the web to analyze our social graphs, establish connections, and open pipelines for the flow information now gives us new experiments to test.
Here's a few you might try on your own to start working your own news feed:
- Join more groups or even build your own. Be choosey with these groups and keep them smaller in size. Bigger groups will eventually be trumped by your own Edges left.
- Build a few Facebook pages. Maybe you can build one for your business if you haven't already. Your Church could probably benefit from a Facebook page, but ask permission first. You can build a Facebook page around any organization, people. Use Facebook advertising to get Likes and good content objects to keep your fans engaged.
- Shop in the marketplace. While I can't say for sure, it would seem that participating as a buyer or seller in the Facebook marketplace might also lead towards establishing affinity with other users.
- Sharpen your Edges. Remember that Edges are simply means of interaction on Faceboook and their are five: status updates, comments, comment likes, tagging other users, and potentially Facebook Places check-ins. Also keep in mind that it's likely that a higher weight will be placed on interactions that take more human effort and time to complete. For example, leaving an unsolicited comment on a page or profile requires more of an investment than simply clicking the like button on a comment, thus a comment would hold more weight.
- Leverage more games. While Facebook's gaming aspects might be seen as a waste of time or annoying, actively playing FarmVille or CityVille could potentially increase your affinity and Edges with other users.
- Drop more objects. Upload photos and tag your friends so that conversations start in the comments. Record and drop video messages in your news feed or in the feeds of your friends. Make them personal so that again, conversations start.
- Ask ernest questions. Facebook took a cue from LinkedIn and implemented a questions feature late last July. In the same way that it works on LinkedIn, asking questions is a one-to-many strategy and gives you the ability to quickly connect with many different people in your network.
- Buy into Facebook deals. While this is the newest addition to the Facebook feature family, deals by nature are social, viral and establish affinity with businesses and other humans who share the desire for that businesses deal. When it's rolled out to your profile, take a peak around.
- Spend more time outside of your comfort zone. With this information, make it a point to step outside of your normal 20-30 friends. Visit the profiles of old classmates or those contacts you haven't seen in a while. Interested in a particular business? Spend some time on their page leaving comments or liking content. See what happens in a few hours.
Here's the long and short of it: To some extent you are behind the wheel of your own social experience on Facebook. We all are, and we have been for a while.
Be aware of the power you yield. Learn it. Use it. Experiment. Build networks and real relationships, and be conscious that your own will dictate the information delivered to your news feed.