Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Ever Evolving World of Facebook

Back in 2009, in a quote on, Mark Zuckerberg said he “envisions a more personalised, humanised web where our networks of friends, colleagues, peers and family is our primary source of information, just as it is offline”. Yet it seems that Facebook is playing an increasing role in prioritising status updates by dictating what makes it as a Top Story or a Recent Story for each and every Facebook user. I guess those “rigorous and efficient equations that parse practically every byte of on-line activity to build a dispassionate atlas” have some use after all?

So what does this mean for brands? Quite simply, it’s not the size, it’s what you do with it that matters.

At first brands were obsessed with how many friends they had on Facebook. Then they turned their focus to increasing their engagement rates. And now they’re realising that engagement rates doesn’t tell the whole story either.

Recent disclosure from Facebook on their Edgerank and Graphrank algorithms has sent many brands (and those that manage brand pages) into a tailspin. And so it should. If your objective with each and every post ISN’T to elecit some kind of response from your community, then you may need to rethink your objectives.

Edgerank is made up of three variables (is this starting to sound familiar?):

• Affinity – people/brands you engage with most often, or share interests with, will be given priority
• Weight – the types of content you like to engage with most will be given priority
• Time Decay – how recently the content was posted

(Graphrank, the algorithm for apps, does the same thing, but twice over - once for the app itself, and once for whether the user likes to interact with apps).

Using the question function on a page is a great way to get your average engagement rate up for the month end report, but it’s really missing the point. You have to treat each ‘type’ of status update as equally important, regardless of what engagement rate it delivers.

By posting a question you are increasing your Edgerank score but only for those people in your community who like to answer polls. Asking people to tag themselves in a photo might get what you consider to be a poor engagement rate, but it has just increased your Edgerank score for those who like to look at photos, and those who like to tag photos.

Brands need to continue investing in page growth – that’s a given. But to be truly successful they also need to invest time and resource into planning for participation and developing a range of bespoke content designed to deliver engagement from their existing community.

And it doesn’t seem like there will be too much help from Facebook on this score. For the first time they have a real competitor in Google Plus which has seen their focus shift from making it easier for brands to connect, to ensuring their users don’t jump ship.

Watch this space – it’s going to get interesting!

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