In an effort to serve the most interesting content to users, on January 21st of this year, Facebook made yet another change to its news feed algorithm.
In doing so, Facebook created separate categories and news feed rankings for status updates, differentiating between those from people and pages.
The change ranks status updates from friends higher and status updates from brand Pages lower.
What was Facebook’s note to brands? Check it out…
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.
“May” frankly feels ambiguous – especially when your job depends on building Facebook strategies to drive real business outcomes. As a result, we decided to don our research caps and dive deep in to our data and find out for ourselves what the change meant – in real terms – for brand page update posts.
To learn more about the impact of Facebook’s algorithm change, we analyzed more than 425M post impressions across post types from fifteen top-tier brands that spanned a variety of industries.
Specifically, we compared posts for a fourteen day period before the algorithm change to posts for a fourteen day period following the algorithm change. During both time periods we looked at four post types: link posts, video posts, photo posts and status updates.
When paid media is applied to an organic post, it can significantly increase Facebook metrics – from impressions (obviously), to conversions – so we removed all posts with paid impressions from the analysis. For both time periods, we took the total reach for each post type and divided it by the total post count for that post type to get the average reach per post type for the given time frame.
Total Reach From Photo Posts
——————————————- = Average Reach per Photo Post
Total Photo Posts Published
As expected, the average reach per post on status updates decreased after the algorithm change. Significantly.
Video and Photo Posts
Photo and video posts had no discernible change in reach after the algorithm change as we would expect.
This is good news for marketers who already regularly integrate rich media into their post strategies as it is well documented that images and video generate greater fan engagement – and from this research, it looks clear that they will continue to do so.
While Facebook indicated other post types “may” increase in engagement and distribution, our research is evidence that this is clearly the case as our data pool showed a 30% increase in reach per post for link posts.
With Facebook’s changes to link posts last September, it is not surprising that Facebook’s newest algorithm changes continue to reward content that Facebook deems most engaging.
The lesson here: marketers should be forewarned to learn and adapt to Facebook changes quickly as it is critical to reach and engage with key consumer audiences before the competition.
Status Update Posts
Last, but not least, our data showed that following Facebook’s algorithm change, status update posts saw a 65% decrease in engagement. Not only do status updates have little to no real impact on your business, but now they have less reach, too.
Given all this data, what do these changes mean, practically speaking? In the end, consumers are craving richer experiences, Facebook is altering its algorithm to satiate them, and you dear marketer should follow suit. That being said, I have three key recommendations for achieving success within the parameters of the most recent Facebook changes.
1. Decrease output of status updates
Replace these post types with a link, photo or video post. All three see greater engagement, virality and click-through rates than static status updates and with recent changes to link posts, in particular, images are richer and more visible in the news feed than ever before.
2. Analyze your results
Review results by segmenting outreach per post on unpaid posts and see if you can move the bar. Every brand is different and the one tried and true way to ensure you are driving the best results possible is through testing and learning.
3. Explore promoted posts as an option
In separate research we conducted late last year, The Social Rich Media Benchmark Report, we learned that putting an investment behind posts significantly changed their organic and viral reach – most particularly offers.
That research unveiled that video posts collected the largest amount of average viral impressions as a share of average total impressions with a 36% boost. Paid media also affected engagement quite meaningfully. While its impact varied across post types, Photo and Offer post types increased most in engagement when paid media was applied, making them ideal units.
Photos also had a high CTR average compared to other post types when paid media was applied, further reinforcing the Photo post type as a good choice for paid, rich media campaigns.
Facebook marketing is not for the faint of heart as things move quickly and are not likely to slow down anytime soon.
The good news is that Facebook is deeply attuned to both the desires of its users and the content that best serves those desires. Algorithm changes are not likely to be a thing of the past, but staying on top of the changes and what they mean in real terms to your work will certainly pay dividends.