If You Facebook in the Forest Does it Make a Sound?

Posted on July 14, 2011

Managing Editor of Independent Lens Brooke Shelby Biggs offers advice on how to trigger and track engagement on Facebook.


A common misconception about Facebook is that however many friends or fans you have, they will all see each of your posts. This is simply not the case. In fact, only about one of every four of your posts will be seen by a given fan. And it isn’t because Facebook has some dark ploy to censor you, despite the viral rumors to that effect that surface every few months.

Say you have 200 friends and are a fan of 40 pages. Even if each only updated or posted once a day, would you really be able to handle that many real-time updates? Your newsfeed would be moving to quickly to keep up with. To address that problem, Facebook came up with a somewhat mysterious algorithm called EdgeRank (similar to Google’s PageRank) that weighs the quality and variety of your posts and your past record of posting relevant content to deliver your post to a manageable number of your fans. 

Maximizing your EdgeRank is an important part of a strategy to stay visible among your fans. A good post will attract interaction in the form of likes, comments, and shares (shares are weighted highest, followed by comments, and then likes). The more of those you get, the better the odds that that post and future posts will make it into a greater number of your fans’ newsfeeds. 

To that end, here are some quick tricks for boosting your EdgeRank: 

Ask Questions. Facebook is a two-way conversation. Ask your fans what their thoughts are. Be specific, and avoid open-ended questions like “What do you think?” Instead, ask something like, “If they made a documentary about your life, it would be called _____.” Questions appeal to people’s desire to be involved and heard, and it builds both goodwill and a sense of personal investment in your page and brand. Better yet, once a fan interacts with your page, they are more likely to see a greater percentage of your future posts. 

Mix it Up. Don’t just post links, and don’t just post status updates. Try posting photo albums, videos, polls, and questions. Photos in particular have high interaction potential. They don’t need to be high art. Behind-the-scenes on the set, candids of people who work at your station, funny signs or situations … all of these encourage interaction and also make you appear accessible and human. 

Interact. Like and comment on your fans’ posts. Be a part of the community and an audience for their content, too. This establishes what EdgeRank refers to as “affinity.” If you interact with a fan, Facebook presumes you have an active relationship with that person and that they are interested in your content and you in theirs. 

Keep it Fresh. Mostly, the key is to be consistent. If you neglect your page, then when you do get around to posting, very few of your fans will see your content in their newsfeed (remember, almost no one goes to your Facebook page directly after they’ve become your fan. 95 percent of Facebook activity is on a given user’s own newsfeed). Post reasonably often, because a post’s rank will degrade over time. 

Watch your stats and adjust accordingly. To see what is working and what isn’t, just experiment, and regularly check Facebook Insights (or a similar tool) to see how various posts fared. The higher the number of interactions, the better, but the really valuable number is “impressions” under the interactions heading. On the average page, that number is likely to be about 30 percent of your total number of fans. Consider yourself a rock star if you boost it and maintain an average over 50 percent. 

Read Brooke’s previous entry on how to create and maintain an effective Facebook page. 

See Brooke’s tips in action and LIKE the Independent Lens Facebook page.


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