Beating EdgeRank: Why Facebook Promoted Posts Are Worth the Money

[The following is a guest post from Ryan Hanley.]

Facebook EdgeRank can be infuriating. You work your ass off to accumulate fans and “Likes” using every trick, tip, tactic and strategy outlined right here by Facebook Master Guru Jon Loomer only to realize a tiny fraction of those fans actually see your messages.

EdgeRank done gotcha and you weren’t the first.

beating edgerank
image credit:

The good news is there are ways of beating EdgeRank. Every Facebook marketer is going to have their own unique tactics for getting more reach and engagement with each Facebook post.  As a Facebook marketer of main-street insurance agency and my own content marketing consultancy I, too, have a method.

You just might need to spend a little money.

The Promoted Post Misdirection

We all know that people on Facebook love to Like, comment on and share cute pictures of children and pets. As a marketer we have two choices when it comes to this kind of content: completely disregard as a nuisance to the news feed or embrace the craziness and utilize it effectively.

A few months ago I was brainstorming ways of beating EdgeRank for my insurance agency. Just like everyone else, we had been getting killed by the algorithmic torment of EdgeRank that swallowed entire posts into the Facebook ethos.

After reading this article on Paying for Reach my muse reached down from the marketing heavens and tapped my shoulder…

“You shall post pictures of cute kids and pets to trick Facebook into thinking your fans have a higher affinity for your content than they do…” (imagine a Rodney Dangerfield voice saying this; for some reason that’s how my muse talks…)

Seriously though, the idea was simple. As a local business, selling home and auto insurance, a large segment of our customer base is families. The exact demographic that loves cute kids and pets.

So we came up with a content campaign called Cutie Patootie Tuesday (my sister-in-law named it, don’t think less of me) in which every Tuesday we asked customers to submit their “Cute” photos. We post the photos on our page with a little description of who the person is and what’s going on in the photo.

beating facebook edgerank Then I use promoted posts (which has recently been renamed “Boost post” for some) to make sure that all our fans see the image.

Look at the image to the right. Who wouldn’t click the Like button if they saw that image come through their News Feed?

Some people might not I guess, but let’s agree that more people are going to click the Like button for this image highlighting one of our client’s kids than a post about auto insurance.

That’s the point.

I’m playing to the strengths of the Facebook community. I’m giving the people what they want — cute kids and pets — and in return I get a higher Affinity rating in Edgerank for all the people who clicked Like.

Use the Algorithm to Beat EdgeRank

You can’t do much about Decay. You post something, it gets older every minute and loses strength within EdgeRank.

Additionally, you can play around with Weighting by adding images and video, but to a certain extent there is only so much you can do.

But we can rig Affinity. We can make sure that our fans have a high Affinity for our page so that even when we’re not posting pictures of cute kids and pets our posts are being seen.

facebook promoted posts
Actual results from promoting the post above…

I get people to Like the cute kids and pets so that they see my articles on auto and homeowners insurance. No one “Likes” articles about auto and homeowners insurance on Facebook. But for five bucks I can get 87 people to click through to my Facebook page.

Plus, people think it’s cool that we highlight customers’ kids and pets.  Everyone likes their name in lights.

By spending just a little bit of money ($5 a week) and using Facebook’s own tools, you can consistently beat EdgeRank and get the messages that matter to your business in front of the fans you worked so hard to get.

Thank you and Good luck,

I am Ryan Hanley

Ryan Hanley

About Ryan Hanley
Ryan Hanley is the Director of Marketing for the Murray Group Insurance Services, Inc, located in Albany, NY. You can connect with Ryan on , visit his blog Content Warfare or learn to win the battle for attention online by listening to the Content Warfare Podcast.

  • Vincent Vizachero

    This is an interesting approach! Thanks for sharing.

    However, I wonder if even this strategy is leaving money on the table. For instance, you refer to posts about kids and posts about insurance as if they are mutually exclusive.

    It may sound corny, and it is but it is also true: insurance agents may sell insurance, but people don’t buy insurance. They buy piece of mind for themselves and their loved ones.

    Using Facebook to remind people that insurance is not about the policy but about the good it does for their families, after an accident or even a death, is smart. And using pictures of kids probably works for you in a way that pictures of kittens probably wouldn’t.

    I’d be interested to hear if you tried tying it together in this way (e.g. cute kid pictures with copy along the lines of “show us who your insurance protecting”)?

    • reallifesarah

      Great suggestion. Vincent! It’s always better when you make the connection to your industry, product, service, or the problem your product solves. I’ve found that pages that post irrelevant content – while it may be cute and garner lots of likes – hurt themselves in the long run. You may have 10,000 people talking about your page, but WHAT are they talking about? Cute kids or your company? And I’ve also seen in my own data that affinity score doesn’t transfer from post to post like it used to. I’d rather have fewer people focused on relevant content, but that’s just me.

    • Ryan Hanley

      Hi Vincent…

      That actually is exactly what we do… When I say “our insurance posts” I just mean posts that have an insurance related slant. But our entire philosophy in how we marketing is about value and coverage over just pushing sales copy.

      This is just a face value tactic we use part of a larger message.


      Ryan H.

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  • Guest

    I definitely think this approach is a win-win for the insurance agent. People want to connect personally with those they do business with so the more you post images, videos, etc that resonate with them on a personal level, the more likely they are to do business with you. I recently posted this pic of me and my daughter and received 63 likes in less than 24 hours. Just another great example of how images of kids and pets are what people love to see! Great article Ryan!

    • Ryan Hanley

      That’s really the whole point… We’re using Facebook’s tool to connect with our audience on a deeper level while simultaneously slanting EdgeRank in our favor…


      Ryan H.

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  • Carey

    I’ve actually used this same methodology, Ryan. Need to get back at it.

  • Jordan J. Caron

    Really good stuff Ryan.

    I have been doing some work for a client who owns a transmission and auto care shop. The Facebook page has been all but dead in terms of engagement.

    But I’ve been thinking about ways we can get more engagement. Most of the ideas are not related to what our product and service is. After all, transmission and auto care content isn’t sexy and is hardly going to get anyone fired up on Facebook to comment, like or share the update. That’s because they’re emotions haven’t been tapped into.

    I wrote about three unique ways and your idea of posting the kids photos kind of fits with #3.

    Like you have said you have create an emotional connection to make in impact these days on Facebook.


  • Antonio Calero

    I am not sure…. I think this approach is very effective and will certainly boost your EdgeRank affinity, however wouldn’t it distract the audience attention from your main Company goal. What about branding recognition? E.g.: all those people seeing your posts day after day may perceive your brand as something different from Insurance. Imagine a friend asks them to recommend an insurance company, would your brand be in their “Top of the Mind Awareness” set ?

    I am not saying this approach will not work. I also recommend my clients to post content that is different from the typical industry post, but keeping always their industry/brand/company present. For example, if you post the attached image of the toddlers dropping some paint, you would achieve both targets: cuteness plus a reminder of how important home insurance is (plus fun, another EdgeRank booster)

    There are many other techniques to beat EdgeRank, like sex (post a pic of a hot girl/boy, and most followers of the other gender will click through), emotions and charity (show an image of a sick person and tell a heartbreaking story), controversy (make a comment about how unfair was that judge decision…), etc…but if not used carefully they could become a boomerang that in a certain time comes back and hits us hard.

    In any case, I have enjoyed reading your post. Thank you for writing it

    • Geekisnewchic

      Brands have their corporate ‘store front’ on their web url. Facebook is social, which means two way conversations within the parameters that you set for your community managers should be welcomed.
      Facebook users will switch off from your page if every post is brand / product related.
      People share emotive content and you can create that without being completely random – if you work at it.
      One of the client pages I run has over 149k Likes, we never pay to promote updates, post great content at least twice a day and manage to clock up post reach of over 300k numerous times a week.
      It’s hard work though and you have to be dedicated to content creation all the way down the line.

      • Antonio Calero

        I’m not saying post only about your brand, but only keep your brand and/or industry in mind when posting that diverse content. As in the pic I uploaded with my comment. In that way, you manage to get the emotional attachment associated to Social Media, plus you don’t create distractions form your main message.

  • Geekisnewchic

    And an even better way to boost PTAT is to get users to upload ther pics to your wall. You then ic the ones you like, create a nifty collage or two in Picmonkey and spend you $5 there!

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  • Avin

    From our experience, Facebook posts does generates sales for internet retailers especially fashion retailers.

  • Anne

    I am sorry, but i disagree. I have had mostly negative experiences with promoting posts on facebook so far.

    -FIrstly, facebook gives a possible range of the possible reach and many times, when i have promoted my posts, this reach has not been attained.

    For example; for 4$ the estimated reach could be between 1200 -2100. Almost every time i promote, the actual reach is either below the lowest reach or just above it, which as it appears, promoting with facebook will give you the lowest reach possible.

    -The secnd thing is that facebook takes money according to the results obtained, for example a certain amount from the total is taken when people click on the post or share the post or like the page. On several occasions, i have observed that the post that i promoted did not have a single share, but facebook statistics have stated that my post has gotten some shares.

    Clearly, there is something wrong here. Either facebook has algorithms that do not work, or there is manipulation of the statistics to make admins think that promotion really works.

  • Anne

    I am so sorry, i was trying to send feedback and tried to upload a photo, but each time, i got the message that the upload had failed, so i made several attempts but did not know that the upload had taken place. Please note that this is NOT spam, but there must be some technical problems, because each time i pressed the upload button, a messge with a red button came up stating that the upload had failed and that i needed to try again and so i did try again and again using different pictures.

    I am not not sure how to delete all those extra pictures or the post and would like to ask you to delete them for me.

  • mouselink

    You’ve got this down pat. Thanks for sharing your approach. I’ll be sharing this with lots of people.

  • Alan Devereux

    I have all but given up on Facebook. I have been advising clients on exactly what this article discusses, letting them know that just pumping out pictures of burgers and buildings isn’t going to work. They don’t listen to the technical side of things, as hard as I try, they just want things to look on-message.

    I am now moving pages over to G+

    Thanks for posting this, I have already re-shared