Algorithms are procedures used for calculations. Most people are aware that algorithms are used by search engines to rank web sites against set criteria. It is less well known that Facebook has an algorithm that determines the order in which 'Stories' appear on the Facebook 'Home' page when in the default 'Top Stories' mode.
The Edgerank Algorithm
Long long ago, in a galaxy far far away, Facebook Status Updates appeared in chronological order. Now, although users can still view the chronological sequence by clicking on 'Sort > Most Recent', the default setting is 'Top Stories'. Facebook users intent on bringing information and announcements to their networks immediately via the default setting need to understand the Edgerank Algorithm, which rates 'Stories' by 'RECENCY', 'EDGE WEIGHT' and 'AFFINITY'.
'Recency' is easy enough to understand. Recent 'Stories' have the advantage over older posts so long as other factors are in place. Frequent postings will gain 'Recency' points: try to post two or three times per day.
Functions and actions related to a post are called 'edges'. The more there are, the better the 'Edge Weight' and the higher the ranking. Every 'edge' is awarded a value and all the 'edges' are added together to give an overall score for the post. 'Edges' include:
Photos & videos
From the above it can be seen that posts that include photos or videos, along with a clickable link, are high value; and that varied content of this type will encourage comments, 'likes' and 'shares' and increase the 'Edge Weight' value even further.
'Affinity' is the degree of closeness that Facebook users have with members of their network. High interactivity between Facebook members increases the 'affinity' value of posts and prioritises 'Stories' with Facebook connections. It follows that by encouraging your Friends to interact with your posts you will raise your 'affinity' rating. For example, ask them to 'click' or 'share'.
Putting It All Together
The Edgerank score is calculated by multiplying together the values given to 'Recency', 'Edge Weight' and 'Affinity'. If this score is higher than other current Facebook posts it will appear in poll position in the Home page Top Stories. Awareness of Edgerank will help Facebook users ensure high visibility with their Friends and stimulate further actions, whether to drive web site traffic, increase sales or raise the profile of an individual or brand.
One Further Practical Tip
Always check which of your Facebook Friends are online before posting, to make sure that you're reaching as many of your intended targets as possible.