How To Be More Popular On Facebook

2nd Nov, 2010

Facebook make regular tweaks and changes to its platform and over the last six months these changes have been about making the user experience on Facebook better. Of late the Inisghts page for admins got an overhaul making it much easier to navigate around, you can change the page’s name if you have less than 100 fans, while fans were also treated to a ‘show friendship‘ button that neatly summarises the interactions between two friends. But there’s another change, and some recent research that brings up the subject of popularity on Facebook.

Now Unlikeing is Even Easier

For some the greatest indicator (or easiest) of a pages success is how many fans it is. Yet there are realy good pages out there with few fans and good content and terrible pages with lots of fans and zero content. Up until now un-likeing a page wasn’t very straightforward. You had to visit the brand page and go to the last few links in the left column under the wall logo. From today fans will now be able to ‘unlike’ your page from newsfeed stories, by just clicking on the ‘x’ in each story brings up a menu. This makes it easier for fans to unsubscribe from pages that they no longer like. Now when a page has sent one post too many the user can easily remove it from their stream – for good. This was an inevitable move as fans begin to clog up their newsfeed with information they thought they once needed but don’t any more. Page admins should keep an eye on how often and when should you post in order to avoid offending fans. It also brings up another point – if a fan deletes your page, how likely are they to return at some stage in the future? Will you have to re-reach out to them? Maybe Facebook will bring in an advertising option to taget former fans of your page at some point in the future.

How do you make Top News?

A month long experiment by Thomas E. Weber of The Daily Beast uncovered how the Facebook algorithm works to decide what stories from friends get higher placed than others. This study was only conducted amongst a controlled group of individuals acting as friends, so all of the points may not be applicable to business pages, but it still makes for an interesting read. The main points from the study included;

– There is a bias against newcomers from showing up in their friends newsfeeds unless friends begin to interact with their status updates. This includes in the most recent and top news settings.

– Stalking a friend won’t get you noticed but does help the friend get noticed in both the stalkers newsfeed in the newsfeed of the friend’s connections. This could be attributed to the amount of clicks on the page made by stalkers looking at content.

– Facebook likes to give people content that keeps them on the platform and in the test links appeared more frequently than status updates. But photo’s and videos appeared more frequently than just links.

– Getting comments from fans will increase a post’s visibility in newsfeeds of friends. Although the study doesn’t mention if getting ‘likes’ has any effect. I would imagine comments to out perform ‘likes’ as comments are content and might be more likely viewed by others, thus more likely to increase engagement.

– One final point in the study was that people with a high amount of friends (600+ is mentioned) are less likely to see posts from someone with a small amount of friends. This might be only relevant to new profiles that have less connections.

A Popularity Index?

While the methodology of the study isn’t perfect, and relates to personal profiles rather than business pages, it’s hard not to consider some of the points raised. I can almost certainly agree with the point regarding status updates, links, photo’s and video as I have noticed the more rich the comment the more likely it is to see it featured near the ‘top News. But the latter point would indicate a popularity hierarchy weighted in favour of the more popular. Perhaps its a complex system made up of amount of fans, type of content, amount of liked content overall, amount of comments made by fans overall and data from insights page.

Are Your Insights Relevant?

One point that resonated in the original piece was engagement levels. Facebook want users to spend more time on the platform, hence the constant tweaking. It’s content in one form or another that keeps fans on Facebook, so are pages who provide content that is regularly, liked, commented on or shared, being rewarded in the popularity index. By reward I mean those brands creating great content regularly trump brands in newsfeeds who are less likely to produce such content? Basically better content creators are given an edge over poorer content creators. Facebook has the access to all your Insights data so why can’t this information be used by them in this way? It certainly provides food for thought and we’re unlikely to ever get an answer from Facebook on this.

From a marketing perspective all this throws the spotlight back onto content. Knowing what it is you are saying, why you are saying it, when and how (by text, links, images, etc.) become ever more important. The aim is to ensure a minimum amount of fan churn, and maximum exposure for brand communications. While I’m sure most pages are highly aware of the type of content they post, maybe a few more tweaks can help increase its visibility to fans.