Survival of the Fittest Content: Why Pretty Posts Attract More Attention on Facebook

Survival of the Fittest Content: Why Pretty Posts Attract More Attention on Facebook

nat·u·ral se·lec·tion
The process whereby organisms better adapted to their environment tend to survive and produce more offspring.

When it comes to the science of natural selection, people have always placed a high value on attractiveness.  Take the mid-week gig scene. Punters gifted with brawn, charisma and good hair are better adapted (and invariably enjoy far greater pulling power) than those sweaty, stage-diving miscreants with their mouths full of mismatched teeth.

Equally challenging as the local gig scene – and, perhaps, just as unforgiving – is the fierce digital competition for the attention of a Facebook audience.  Over 5.3 billion pieces of content are shared on Facebook each week. If this behemoth of information were displayed on a user’s News Feed in real time not only would your monitor mewl for mercy, but your retinas would still be ringing.

To balance information overload with overall usability, Facebook has spawned an algorithm from the primordial soup of its raw data, founded it on Darwinian principles of natural content selection, and christened it Edgerank.

Selective Breeding

Bred by Facebook to select which content is shown on your News Feed, Edgerank organises and displays the most well-adapted information by evaluating key elements of your social interactions and ranking that material accordingly.

For most Facebook users, this battle for best content (involving a constant process of filtering, ranking and moderating) occurs imperceptibly.  In a real world context, this exercise would be comparable to a dark stranger picking your Friday night dinner date, deciding what you’ll order and even what you’ll talk about.

Understanding Content Selection: How Edgerank Impacts Musicians

Edgerank operates by assessing:

The chemistry between a musician and fan (Affinity Score)

Edgerank assesses the strength of a relationship between fan and musician by measuring the time spent on a musician’s page and the number of messages or comments.  The higher your audience’s interaction with you, the better adapted your content and the higher Edgerank’s overall affinity score.

The adaptive fitness of content (Weight Score)

Edgerank assigns a given value to different types of content. Photos and videos attract the highest weight score, followed by links and text updates. Comments are typically assigned a higher value than likes as they require more engagement from a fan.

The maturity of content (Age Score)

Edgerank automatically selects against certain content. Older posts are relegated to the bottom of your fan’s News Feed in favour of more recent, or highly-evolved, posts.

Survival of the Fittest Content

Ensuring posts reach fans within Facebook’s tightly-controlled environment can feel like a brutal battle for your brand’s survival. Because Edgerank selects for only 16 percent of posts to be seen by fans, without the ability for musicians to access their ranking in Facebook’s whirlpool of competitive content, it is difficult to gauge how high your content is appearing in the News Feed of a target audience, if at all.

The good news is that the right strategy can not only provide you with a huge competitive advantage but also serve to effectively boost engagement with your audience.

Defeating the Natural Law: How to Beat Edgerank

On a practical level, Edgerank was conceived to encourage active user participation: content considered different or desirable generates higher interactions and, as a result, is systematically favoured for reproduction and sharing.  The higher the rate of interaction – number of likes, comments or shares – a post receives, the more likely it is to appear in your target audience’s News Feed.  In this sense, the old adage – the more you put into Facebook, the more you get out of it – couldn’t be more true.

Before posting it’s helpful to critically evaluate the piece of content against a basic mental checklist, such as a punter’s most powerful pulling qualities (mentioned in our example above). Does the post boast:

1)   Brawn – sustains a healthy weight? (choose powerful, high quality videos);

2)   Charisma – sends an entertaining, educational or inspirational message? (consider regular updates, links and calls-to-action);

3)   Good hair – clean, well-structured and nice to look at? (think high resolution images).

If your answer is YES >> proceed to post!

If your answer is NO >> do more creative thinking!

Posting quality, regular, targeted and engaging content that encourages likes, comments and shares is a strategy that is crucial in avoiding Edgerank selecting against your content and driving it out of circulation.

6 Key Strategies to Ensure the Survival of Your Content
  1. Daily posting– this pushes content to the top of your audience’s News Feed, evading Edgerank’s ability to predate on posts with its content-maturity feature (mentioned in our ‘age score’ dot point above).
  2. Quality vs quantity – keep posts between 100 and 250 characters. This produces 60% more likes, comments and shares than longer posts.
  3. Keep the conversation going – opinion-based questions and ‘fill-in-the ____’ updates generate 90% more engagement by requesting responses from your fans.
  4. Get attractive – high quality, visually appealing photos and videos receive 120% more engagement than less visual content.
  5. Communicate indirectly – posting about topics appropriate to (but not directly affiliated with) your brand cultivates a relationship of mutual trust between you and your fans.
  6. Be unpredictable – posting at different times gauges the best time to reach your target audience.

To recap, the higher the quality content posted, the more your target audience will ENGAGE and the more Edgerank will work with you to push that content to the top of your audience’s News Feed.

Evolving digital environment

Just like the local gig scene, Edgerank does present some significant obstacles to reaching fans – however, understanding, adapting and learning to work within its constraints is critical to your content’s survival and ongoing success in this ever-evolving digital landscape.



About the author: Sarah Lynch is a writer and all round creative spark at Jaden Social. Subscribe to the JS blog below and follow Sarah on Twitter to hear more social media, music and marketing musings from Sarah.

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  1. Absolutely love these types of articles; the ones that make sense of the Wizard behind the curtain of the Wizard of Oz! Keep them coming!

    • Sarah Lynch says:

      Hi Shay! Thanks so much for the feedback! Let us know if there are any other topics you’d like covered and we’ll do our best to raise the curtain :)

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