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Optimizing Facebook’s News Feed to Get More “Likes”

By Mar 07, 2011

As brands come to use and understand Facebook more, they learn the best promotional strategies and tactics for them to best engage their audience (like these brand promotions). A hurdle that most run into, however, is ensuring that their audience is actually seeing their content and promotions.

In addition to a recent study that revealed that posting early in the day is more engaging, one of the most important techniques a brand must learn is how to optimize posts to make them more “likeable,” or worthy of clicking “like.” There are many ways to do this, but the method that is by far the most mysterious to brands is the often misunderstood News Feed.

How the News Feed Works
On Facebook, when you log in as a user, you are brought to a home page that has your Top News Feed. The Top News Feed is a stream of information from your social connections (Facebook friends, groups you’ve joined, and pages that you’ve “liked”) that Facebook thinks is most important to you. It’s not every piece of information being posted, but you have access to that too, of course, through the “Recent News” feed—but the default for users who log into Facebook is the “Top News.”

The first thing marketers will want to know is how to get into your target users Top News Feed. And yet, if you’re not a techie, you might find most descriptions of the process quite difficult to digest. For example, look at the graphic below from the presentation given by Facebook engineers Ruchi Sanghvi and Ari Steinberg at the 2010 f8 developer conference.

I don’t know about you, but when I start seeing anything that looks like my 10th grade math homework, I cringe. What does this mean in plain English? Let’s approach it this way:

The “Three Edges” of Facebook Engagement
Anything that is posted on Facebook, be it a status update, a link, a video, or some other form of update is considered an object. The more interaction with that object, the more likely your update is to show up in a user’s Top News Feed—where they’ll see and interact with you. Let’s look at the three criteria necessary to make that happen.

1. Does the user interact with you often?
If a user “liked” your page through a Facebook ad, but never visited that page, and didn’t have friends who interacted with that Facebook page, the user would be much less likely to see your update. If the user visits your page from time to time, has liked the occasional post, or has viewed photos from your company, your chances of showing up in the News Feed increase dramatically. (And here’s where you see why getting likes initially on your content is so very important—once you’ve got someone engaged, it allows you to continue the dialogue.)

2. Types of Interaction
One way to think of this is the amount of time a user is engaged with your page. Posted written comments on the status probably weigh more than multiple likes, for instance. But when Facebook launches a new product or service, it immediately ranks higher than comments, likes, or any other interaction on Facebook. You may have noticed that when Facebook launched Places, for instance, you immediately saw a post from anyone you had on your friend list who was using the new service. That’s because Facebook weighted Place checkins higher than any other action. And so, another trick to News Feed Optimization would be to capitalize on Facebook’s new launches quickly, even if they’re not a part of your long-term approach to Facebook.

3. Recent and Relevant Content
If your content is recent and has a lot of activity on it, you can count on it showing up in the News Feed. Great examples of this include posts on the day of a new product launch, a promotion or posts when a baby is born. This is also one of Facebook’s ways to outsmart marketers. If you have to push forever to get likes or comments on your posts, it must not be that interesting; content must be current and relevant to your audience. Haste makes waste in the world of Facebook.

Dave Kerpen is CEO of Likeable Media. He can be reached at Dave@likeable.com.

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