NOTE: This article was published on May 2013. Facebook has made several changes to its algorithm since then and thus the figures provided in this article might be different now. However the main principle of which action weights more remains the same.
When thinking of ways to increase their Facebook Reach, companies often wonder what is the best balance between a Likes, Comments and Shares. Which one is more powerful?
Without getting – again – into the debate of whether companies should be focusing on their Reach or their Engagement.
I guess by now most people are aware Facebook uses a formula called EdgeRank to decide what to show to whom. In just a few words, the more someone interacts with a Page, the more content Facebook will show from that Page to that user.
This is where the concept of quality followers on Facebook plays a paramount role.
But it’s not just a matter of quantity (amount of actions) but also quality (types of actions). There are many ways to interact with a Page: liking it, opening a picture, playing a video, confirming an event, claiming an offer, clicking on a link within a post… and of course, the famous Like, Comment and Share. Each of these actions receives a different weight from Facebook.
This weight is used to calculate the EdgeRank score and show more or less content to that user.
Focusing just on Likes, Comments and Shares – simply because they are the most popular types of actions – doing one or another gives higher or lower score and thus it is used by Facebook to decide what content should be shown.
And of course, the more content shown the higher the Reach.
The answer to the original question is:
- A Comment weights approximately as much as 7 Likes
- A Share weights approximately as much as 2 Comments
- Therefore, a Share weights as much as 14 Likes
The reason for these ratios is based on human behaviour.
COMMENTS vs. LIKES
Liking something on Facebook does not require a lot of commitment. It is something very quick and in fact, you can unlike it very easily if you change your mind. It’s the “lazy” option. The smiling and nodding at a party.
On the contrary, Comments require more involvement. Users need to choose their words and spend some time writing them. And most times those words bring also an opinion that will be made public to many people.
Facebook understands, if users are taking that extra effort it’s because the content is worth it. And thus assigns much more weight than what it does to a simple Like.
Comments is like talking to people at that party and try to make an impression.
SHARES vs. COMMENTS
Users Sharing make that content part of their own. Not only they Like it, but they want their friends to see it too. It’s like saying: “hey world, check this out. It’s not mine but I think it’s still worth it, so please have a look”.
Besides, when Sharing they can also include an additional comment – and statistics show that most times they do it.
Shares are like getting ideas from that party to use at your own event, acknowledging with all your guests those ideas are from a previous event!
THE REALITY BEHIND THIS RATIOS
The truth is: Facebook has not ever confirmed how EdgeRank works in detail, and these ratios are based on statistics across hundreds of pages. Thus, there are some considerations to remember:
- They are just an average, and it could happen that in your Page the ratios are slightly different to these. If this is the case, it probably has a lot to do with your content, frequency of posts and unique audience.
- They are decided by Facebook, and Facebook could change the weight of them at any time without prior notice. Although if this happens, it is fair to assume Shares will still be heavier than Comments, and these heavier than Likes.
To sum it up: the more interesting your content is, the more keen your followers will be to Share it or make Comments. And thus, the higher your Reach will be.