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How to improve your company's Facebook EdgeRank by going local

Facebook is constantly tweaking EdgeRank, the behind-the-scenes algorithm that automatically chooses which stories appear in each user’s news feed. As the biggest social network in the world—it recently surpassed the one billion member milestone—Facebook aims to only share the most pertinent and engaging content with its users.
The latest major change to EdgeRank specifically affects corporate brand pages. Facebook has opted to reduce the frequency at which corporate page posts appear on fans’ news feeds in an effort to declutter the amount of brand-sponsored posts served up on mobile and tablet devices. This change requires companies to rethink their Facebook Page strategy in order to maximize the amount of visibility, reach, and engagement of their pages.

Increase Your Facebook EdgeRank by Going Local

In a way, this news shouldn’t be too surprising for savvy social marketers. Earlier this year, independent researcher Mainstay Salire released a report analyzing social media posts from corporate pages versus local brand pages. The researcher found that a typical local Facebook Page fan (someone who has liked the page) is worth 40 times a typical corporate Page fan.
Having tracked 14 million consumer interactions across Facebook, the report revealed that local fans pack a much bigger punch than corporate Fans from a sales and marketing perspective. While, at first glance, corporate Facebook Pages have the clear advantage in their massive fan bases and engagement, Mainstay discovered that local Facebook Pages actually generate 5x greater reach per fan and 8x more engagement per fan reached. Ultimately, one local fan is equal to 40 corporate fans.
With Facebook tweaking its EdgeRank algorithm to even further limit the reach of corporate page posts, it is clearer than ever that major businesses must go local with their social media efforts.
If you want to maximize reach and engagement with your customers on a national or even global scale, doing so from one corporate page is not the best way to do it. Instead, you need to equip your local salespeople and stores with the knowledge and software (like Hearsay Social) to help them best represent your brand on social media.
To learn more about how local pages outperform corporate pages on social media, download Mainstay Salire’s report, The Power of Going Local: Comparing the Impact of Corporate vs. Local Facebook Pages.

Anatomy of a Facebook Business Page

Many marketers still measure the value of their social media pages by a count: either a count of fans or a count of engagements (likes, comments, etc.). Unfortunately, the insights provided by these measurements are nominal. If you want to know the true value of your fans or how your social media communities are contributing to real ROI and sales results, then these basic counts should be a start, not an end.
We have already learned that not all fans should be valued equally and that local fans can be worth as much as 40x that of corporate fans. There are additional ways to analyze a page – one of which is by viewing the composition of its fan graph as a network.
Below is an image representing Hearsay Social’s Facebook business page. The data used to create this visualization is all of the public posts, likes, and comments over a one-year period. Each point on the graph represents a fan and the edges (curved lines) between them represent shared interests as determined by common stories they interacted with.

It’s not just a pretty graph. After analyzing the image, here are a few important takeaways our data team has come up with:

  1. Your entire fan base is actually made up of many smaller groupings.
    At the time of this writing, our Facebook page has nearly 5,000 fans. You can see from the image above that those fans make up a number of smaller clusters – about 20 by my count. Each of these sub-groupings has a distinct personality, set of interests, and motivation for interacting with your page. Understanding more about your own Facebook page’s sub-groups will let you better segment and target your messaging to increase its effectiveness. This is a very common practice in email marketing but it has not yet seen widespread application in social media outside of some very basic geographical targeting.When thinking about your business, you can probably think of a few sub-groups of customers. Are each of those present on social media? Are some more prevalent than others?
  2. You have power fans and influencers — each with their own personality.
    Below is the same graph above, filtered by the most active fans of Hearsay Social. You can see that while there are a dozen or so power fans, they do not all share exactly the same interest. Much like the sub-groupings, each power fan has their own reason for interacting with your content. Many of these power fans are in fact strong representatives of a sub-group. Identifying these people can help you better understand how to effectively communicate with the sub-groups they share the most in common with.
    Have you identified your power fans? Do you know which sub-groups they represent? 
  3. Clusters of fans that have interacted with the same content can help us infer social graph connections and use Facebook’s EdgeRank to our advantage.
    Below is a magnified image of a single sub-group. Digging deeper, I traced down the common interest that these fans share: a blog post about Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz visiting the Hearsay Social office.  Most of them aren’t common ‘likers’ of content which makes us suspect that their having seen the content – and thus liking – was in part caused by Facebook’s EdgeRank. (Facebook doesn’t show every post a page makes to all of its fans but tends to show it more to people who’s friends have interacted with that content.)


    I’m not certain that anyone in this sub-group are Facebook friends with each other, but I suspect a few might be. In this case, we only have a few data points for this particular sub-group; the more data we have, the more accurate our predictions will be. (By the way, if anyone listed below happens to be reading this, leave a comment below to let us know if my hypothesis is correct!)

In conclusion, thinking about your social media connections as merely a number greatly limits your ability to understand them. The more complex your analysis model, the better your understanding will be. Social media is all about connections and networks, so one of the best ways to analyze and learn about your fans is by viewing them as an interconnected network graph.
Do you notice anything else interesting in the images? I’d love to hear your observations.