Facebook has two goals:
- To make more money from companies and organizations who maintain Facebook Pages by selling advertising
- To drive more use of the platform by those who use it in order to do more of #1
What if testing concluded that you could accomplish both of these goals with one change?
That is exactly what Facebook announced it would do today when it said that it would boost text status updates for regular users while degrading the same type of updates from brand and user pages.
“Through testing, we have found that when people see more text status updates on Facebook they write more status updates themselves. In fact, in our initial test when we showed more status updates from friends it led to on average 9 million more status updates written each day. Because of this, we showed people more text status updates in their News Feed.
Over time, we noticed that this effect wasn't true for text status updates from Pages. As a result, the latest update to News Feed ranking treats text status updates from Pages as a different category to text status updates from friends. … Page admins can expect a decrease in the distribution of their text status updates, but they may see some increases in engagement and distribution for other story types.”
Emphasis is mine.
Latest Facebook Changes Impact Status Updates for Brand Pages
It is no secret that Facebook often changes its algorithm for what it shows users in their newsfeed, leaving marketers who prefer (or can only afford) to use an organic approach scrambling for how to keep up with the changes. Early last year, my colleague Julie Pippert started talking to me about the tactical approaches that Page Managers were taking to be seen on Facebook. And late last year, Facebook finally admitted that pages will more and more need to pay to be seen. A Facebook advertising presentation obtained by AdAge revealed that, “marketers should think about fan acquisition: as a tool for making paid advertising more effective.”
One of the approaches that has been working for many page administrators is to use text updates instead of link updates. Admins would drop in a link, then delete the auto generated photo by pressing the “X” in the top right corner (see photo above with the “X” circled in red). They would then type the status update with the link embedded. For a time, these updates, as well as uploaded photos that contained a link, performed better in terms of reach than the auto generated “link-tool” on Facebook.
In their latest announcement, Facebook said this would no longer work as a tactic. Instead they recommend that Page Mangers use the auto-generated, link-share status from now on. See the quote below:
“The best way to share a link after this update will be to use a link-share, so it looks like the one below. We've found that, as compared to sharing links by embedding in status updates, these posts get more engagement (more likes, comments, shares and clicks) and they provide a more visual and compelling experience for people seeing them in their feeds.”
Build Relationships, Test and Boost Posts
Ten minutes after posting these identically worded updates, the old way of doing things was still working. 121 people saw the link without the preview while only 33 people saw the text-only post. An hour after the post, this still held true. 303 people had seen the text-only post with the embedded link, while the photo generated update was only seen by 224 people. For now it seems this change has still not rolled out, but I have no doubt that it WILL over the next few days.
So what should you do as a page manager?
- On a weekly basis check which post type (Link, Status Update, Photo, Video, etc.) is driving the most action, such as clicks, likes, comments, and shares.
- Also, check which types of posts get the most reach.
- If you are using the Boost button to pay for extended reach, you can go a step further by comparing your organic performance against paid performance.
- Keep up with what Facebook says, but continue to do more of whatever seems to working for your page.
- Don't get stuck in a rut, things change.
In a conversation about this topic on my personal Facebook page, Robert Taylor, whom I met through social media and have interacted with on behalf of a brand, wrote the following:
“Personally, I rarely care for Pages updates even from pages I truly like. I use FB for friends, mainly. So; I'm in favor of this change. As to the link-share style vs embedded or attached link: I agree the link-share example in the post is more appealing. Note: I don't use FB for brand engagement on any level. I think I'm pretty much in the majority in that.”
He went on to say,
“I'm really good at ignoring ads, once I learn how they're positioned in a page. When it comes to brand engagement I actually prefer engaging with someone at a brand name company rather than an official (faceless) account. True even if said person mainly promotes brand-related material.”
I add this conversation in as a postscript to this post because as marketers and public relations professionals it is easy to get fed up with the endless changes (or roadblocks) that Facebook seems to throw up to make our engagement with fans harder and harder – unless we pay to boost our posts. However, those fans who we want to reach care less about messages/posts and more about learning what they need to know in a timely fashion. The biggest losers in this battle are the small, hyper-local business owners and nonprofits, all who are blocked the same way a megabrand might be, and all who have to compete with much deeper pockets to be seen.