According to a recent study, only 17 percent of Facebook Page updates are seen by fans of your Page. Other research has shown that over 90 percent of visitors to a Facebook Page never return to it again. In other words, as engaging as Facebook can be, you have to be extremely diligent if you want to make sure your message is getting through to your target audience.

Remember, social media is not broadcast advertising; it’s not about how loud or how many times you can shout about your product in order to get your message heard. Instead, it’s about understanding the tools and crafting messages that are more relevant than they are noisy.

Here are four tips to help make your updates stand out on Facebook so that you can increase engagement with your fans.

1. Understand Facebook EdgeRank

Understand EdgeRank

According to Facebook, if you received every single update from every person and Facebook Page you followed, you’d quickly become overwhelmed with information — after all there are over 800 million people on Facebook! To alleviate this potential problem and show only the most relevant content to its members, Facebook uses an algorithm called EdgeRank to decide what it displays in people’s’ News Feeds and Tickers.

Facebook EdgeRank is based on the following criteria:

Affinity: This refers to the relationship between the content creator (that’s you) and the viewers of that content (your fans). The longer the history you have with a Facebook member and the more interactions you’ve had with that person in the past, the higher your content will be ranked in the EdgeRank algorithm, and the more likely it is that your content will appear in that member’s News Feed or Ticker.

Weight: This is a combination of the type of content you’re publishing and how a member interacts with it. For example, videos require a higher time commitment than someone simply clicking the “Like” button underneath a status update. So, video content that you post to your Page, considered on its “weight” alone, is much more likely to appear in your fans’ News Feeds.

Time Decay: This refers to how recently your content has been posted. Quite simply, news “decays” fast on Facebook, so old posts will drop off quickly from your fans’ News Feeds. Post fresh content, often, in order to increase the chances of that content being seen by your fans.

2. Be Interesting

Be Interesting

Now that you know how EdgeRank works, it’s time to focus on the more qualitative side of your content. As obvious as the following tip may seem, for many brands it’s also the most challenging: “Be Interesting.”

Your fans are more likely to comment, Like, share and interact with your content if you publish things that they’re interested in. For example, a cosmetics brand might get much more interaction from its fans by posting a funny video about “embarrassing makeup moments” than it would if it simply posted a status update about a specific feature of one of its products.

When it comes to fan interaction with your updates, content such as video, photos, polls, and questions tend to do much better than “static” informational posts. Use a variety of different content and see what resonates with your audience. Brands need to think more like their fans, and less like a marketing department.

3. Post Updates When Your Fans Are Online

Post When Your Fans Are Online

Depending on your products and services and your target audience, the time of day, day of the week and even the time zone you’re posting from can all affect whether or not your fans are seeing your updates. For example, if your business is located in New York and you market Hello Kitty dolls to a Japanese audience, posts that you make in the morning may only be seen by a fraction of your Japanese audience (in the middle of the night in Tokyo).

Conversely, if your audience is largely North American, people in the Eastern and Central time zones make up almost 80 percent of the entire U.S. population. Some research has also suggested that most Facebook sharing from your fans is done on Saturdays, so it might be worthwhile to have staff in place to post updates on the weekend.

4. Ask for Interaction

Ask Your Fans to Share

This tip is so simple and effective yet very few brands appear to be doing it. Simply by adding a line to your post, such as “If you liked this post, please share it” or more directly “If you liked this post, then please click the Like button below” you will likely increase fans’ interaction with your content and thereby increase its ranking in Facebook’s EdgeRank. As we’ve demonstrated above, the higher the number of interactions your fans have with your brand, the more likely those actions are to show up in their News Feeds and their friends’ News Feeds.

In order to get to that level of affinity with your fans though, it may require that you first build a history of interactions with them. Most brands are doing a very poor job with this. For example, in a recent article, we reported that only 5 percent of Wall posts on Facebook Pages receive replies from brands. Spend more time genuinely interacting with your fans and you’ll not only stand out among your competitors, you’ll also earn the right to ask your fans to take action on your posts.

Facebook marketing is part art and part science; a mixture of both quantitative and qualitative tactics are required to achieve success. Considerations like history, affinity with your audience, time, and of course, the content itself will largely determine whether or not your updates are seen and stand out on Facebook.

Do you have any other tips to make your updates on Facebook stand out? Share them in the comments below (and our readers will thank you for it).

[Sources: Social Media Examiner, The Chris Voss Show, Image Credits: Vinoth Chandar, Hicham Souilmi, vincetographer, BitProcessor, Demi Brooke]