Think of Facebook’s news feed as one big popularity contest, not all that different from high school. This time around, though, you get to control just how popular you (and your business) are, and you won’t need braces or a nose job to do it.

During the f8 conference in April, Ari Steinberg, a Facebook engineer, introduced the public to EdgeRank, an algorithm Facebook uses to decide whose status updates and posts will get the highest placement on an individual’s “top news feed.” This default setting is different from the “most recent news feed” option, because the top news feed automatically selects the posts it believes one will be most interested in based on their Facebook behavior.

EdgeRank quantifies that behavior. The formula is based on three factors:

  1. how often two people interact on Facebook
  2. how many comments and likes a particular post has and
  3. how old the post is.

In Facebook lingo, these three qualifications are termed affinity, edge, and decay, respectively.

Affinity scores increase the more you and an individual exchange messages, wall posts, comments, and links. A particular post’s edge value increases the more comments and likes it accrues. Decay is the one factor users can’t necessarily control, as a posts’ age will automatically weaken its EdgeRank.