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September 30, 2013

What is the Facebook Algorithm?

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The Facebook algorithm takes into consideration engagement interactions, relevance, timeliness, and thousands of other weighted factors in an effort to populate a user’s news feed with more of the stuff they want (as inferred by Facebook), and less of the noise.

Facebook sign on Willow RoadUnlike Twitter where every tweet you make automatically enters the Timeline of every person that follows you, on Facebook the content that shows up in an individual’s News Feed is dictated by an algorithm. If someone Likes your Page (or befriends you if you have a Profile rather than a Page), you’ve simply crossed the first barrier of earning a position in that user’s News Feed.

In a sentence, the Facebook algorithm weighs factors to determine on a post-by-post basis whether a post is qualified to pass into an individual’s News Feed.

What is EdgeRank?

Like Google uses a 1-10 PageRank grading system to infer the authority and significance of web pages based on the quality and quantity of their inbound links, Facebook uses a point-based system to infer the authority and importance of Facebook Pages based on several factors – the most prominent of which is social interactions.

The Facebook algorithm score is cumulative and represents the brand’s perceived clout, both big picture and at the post level.

This News Feed filtration system – once called “EdgeRank” but now simply referred to broadly as the Facebook algorithm – takes into consideration 100,000 individually weighted factors to deliver the most authoritative, relevant, and timely content to individuals.

Algorithm 2

Sheldon explains the friendship algorithm on The Big Bang Theory. His algorithm has more to do with real, in-person friendship and less to do with news feeds, but you get the idea.

Of those 100,000 considerations, the three original EdgeRank factors – Affinity, Weight, and Time – are still relevant and prominent ranking factors. In other words, EdgeRank hasn’t gone away, its principals have simply been folded into a much larger, more advanced contemporary Facebook algorithm.


4 Factors the Facebook Algorithm Takes Into Consideration

  • Type of Interaction (liking, commenting, or sharing; each of the three interactions has its own weight depending on the amount of effort it takes to perform the interaction)
  • Who made the interaction (how directly connected the user is to the poster based on manual friendship designations, closeness inferred by interaction, and other factors)
  • What time the post was made (time decay; News Feed deserves freshness)
  • Post popularity (if a post is losing the freshness edge because of time decay, but lots of people are still actively commenting on or sharing a post the engagement can trigger a hot topic bump [my name for it, not Facebook’s] that expands the post reach rather than letting it die)

Learn more about the Facebook algorithm, and how to apply EdgeRank principals to help improve content inclusion in the News Feed.

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6 responses to “What is the Facebook Algorithm?”

  1. Tom Phillips writes:

    I didn’t even realize that facebook had an algorithm for news fee, although I did wonder why somethings appeared and others didn’t. Thanks for explaining. Is there anything you can do to influence this?

  2. Chelsea Adams writes:


    As outlined in the post, it’s all about timeliness and engagement. So, to get your posts pushed out to more news feeds you need to have a Facebook strategy that focuses on content creation that encourages shares and comments (those are weighted most heavily). The easiest way for me to remember it is to just remind myself that Facebook is a SOCIAL network; it was created to help people connect, communicate, share, and socialize with one another — so your content should be created in a way that serves this purpose and helps people connect/communicate/be entertained/share/curate/question with you and with each other. Create winning content that is intended to connect you to your community and you’ll get in front of more people, which will result in more sales.

    Remember the 60/30/10 rule for social media marketing content strategy: 60% of your content should be engagement focused and NOT ABOUT YOU, YOUR BRAND, OR AN EXCHANGE OF $$ (This content could include third-party news, tech releases, photos, questions, etc.), 30% blog content that is of interest to your niche market (Emphasis on CONTENT — not sales pitches.), and 10% direct offers of products/subscriptions/content/other promotions that point directly to you.

    Make sense?

  3. Metz writes:

    “More of the stuff they want (as inferred by Facebook), and less of the noise.” I was glued to this sentence, and I think, this one gave me all the information that I need to comprehend what is Facebook’s algorithm.
    Relevant updates and stuffs that is popping in our news feed is what the users want, rather than seeing and reading unwanted ads, post and updates. The 4 Factors the Facebook Algorithm Takes Into Consideration is indeed helpful to give us as a user what we want.
    This is such an enlightenment. Thanks!

    I found this post shared on, the Internet marketing social news site, and I “kingged” it and left this comment.

  4. Chelsea Adams writes:


    I think you found the perfect one sentence takeaway from this post. I also keep that one sentence in my head when directing Facebook content strategies.

    Glad the post was helpful for you!

  5. Tom Phillips writes:

    Thanks Chelsea. I appreciate the explanation. The engagement aspect is certainly where we need to put more focus.

  6. Chelsea Adams writes:

    Engagement is tricky and often the pain point for many businesses. But the gain is well worth the effort! Thanks for checking out the post, Tom!

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