Monday, June 22, 2015

Social Media Basics for Writers, Part IV—Facebook Basics for Writers

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

Today I want to jump into one of the two most important social media tools in your arsenal, Facebook. But first, in case you've missed the previous posts, here are a list of them, with links.

Facebook Basics for Writers
Personally, I have a love/hate relationship with FB.
I personally have a love/hate relationship with FB. It allows me to connect with a lot of my audience, but the creators of FB are also keeping me from connecting with a lot of my audience because of something called the EdgeRank Algorithm. 

Here's a short explanation of what that is: 

Many of you may have heard the term EdgeRank in regard to Facebook’s new policy for pages. It’s a new term, but the purpose behind it should sound familiar. EdgeRank compiles information Facebook believes will be valuable for each individual user. This is done through complicated equations, not unlike those search engine algorithms use to rank sites when a topic is searched.

Whether we like this new way FB has of sharing our updates doesn’t matter. If we’re still using FB, we must learn to work within this new paradigm of Facebook.

Before we start though, we need to have reasonable expectations. So let’s look at what we know. At almost any time during a given twenty-four hour period, only between 6-16% of your fans will see a specific post. This is due to a lot of different variables.

And, because FB is now set on a course that charges for advertising, it is limiting the organic reach of posts sent out from a professional page.

There are some ways to get around the new FB paradigm.
There are some ways to get around this new paradigm.
  1. Pay to boost posts. This will usually do well for that one post, BUT it will not affect subsequent posts. 
  2. Engage your fans on your page with shareable information. This can be quotes, memes (pictures with words) and conversation starters.
  3. Use your personal profile as a professional page.

Here’s a link to a blog post I wrote about How to use Your Personal Profile as a Professional Page, and why I chose that option. I would post the entire article here, but it has screenshots of how to make the changes on your own page and I think you’ll need to see those.

Back to Facebook Edgerank
I want to share how FB decides if a post is valuable or not. This is across the board, not just on page, but also on profiles.

FB looks at the posts you engage with.
FB looks at the updates that you engage with.  This means the ones that you LIKE, COMMENT on, and SHARE. If you tend to engage with certain types of posts, say baby announcements, then FB will make sure you see more of those in your news feed.

Also, if you consistently engage with a person and/or a page, FB will make sure you see more updates from them.

FB also looks at how popular a post is. For example, when I signed my book contract with Worthy for this books of  prayers for the military, it initially went out to people who engage with me regularly. As more people commented, liked it, and shared it, FB sent it out to a wider audience. This is why you’ll sometimes see something that’s several days or weeks old.

FB judges the popularity of a post by how 3 criteria.
  • The first level is LIKE. This is good, but is the least that someone can do, so it cares the lowest weight.
  • The next level is COMMENTING. This is much better. It elicited a response and a conversation, something FB considers important.
  • The highest level though, is sharing. If someone sees something as valuable enough to share, then it gets the highest mark from FB. 

All of these things go into the algorithm that FB uses to decide who sees what.

Because of this, we need to make sure that what we post on FB has two components.
  • It must be something that people can/will engage with. For example, don’t just post a Bible verse, post a Bible verse and then ask those who read it to share one of their own. This leads to the next point.
  • Successful updates have a clear call to action. They either ask a question or for input. Or they say something like: Please SHARE or LIKE if you agree. People read a ton of stuff on FB and sometimes they just don’t think to engage. It’s up to us to remind them.

I try to post 4 types of updates (no matter which text-driven social media site)
  • An inspiring quote, thought or Scripture.
  • A question.
  • Something humorous. Because laughter is good medicine.
  • A link to something my specific audience would find valuable.
Now it's your turn. What frustrations do you have about Facebook, what successes have you seen? Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Don't forget to join the conversation!



  1. Thank you. This is such valuable information Edie. I posted this to my Facebook page so others will know. I was wondering why I did not get certain important Facebook messages. Now I know. I will be following your advice.

    1. Cherrilyn, FB is sneaky like that. They implement things and don't broadcast the information widely. It's there, if we know how to find it, but we usually have to dig. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! Blessings, E

  2. I'm with you on FB; love/hate...more hate than love. :-) Thanks for the info. I will start adding the share request...just never think to do that.

    1. Pat, I'm with you, more hate than love. But it still has a place in our tool box! Thanks for stopping by, Blessings, E

  3. This was very helpful Edie. I guessed the algorithm worked as you describe, but how to move readers to action was helpful.