Promoted Posts were launched to Facebook business pages just over two weeks ago and their arrival has upset some small business page owners. Has their introduction effected the reach of regular page posts? Users seem to think so but is there any truth to it?
You may have seen the following meme being posted:
Facebook have changed how they show pages’ status updates. When we post something, only about 10% of people that like our page actually see the status updates.
To fix this, simply click on our page, click/hover
over the “Liked” button at the top right of our page, and make sure you have the “show in news feed” option clicked on.
Unfortunately the information in this meme is untrue. The fix as suggested doesn’t work. If people are seeing a post from you it means that they have already chosen to see your updates in their news feeds, this happens automatically when they click ‘Like’. To stop seeing updates Likers can choose hide posts from your page. There is a complex algorithm ‘Edgerank’ that determines which and how many of your posts appear in each of your Likes feeds, we’ll look at this later.
There has been no change to the news feed as suggested. It has been the case for some time that posts from both pages and personal profiles are only reaching on average 16% of Likes or friends. What has changed is the way that Facebook shows you the data about who is seeing your posts. Underneath each post you can now see not only the Reach of your post (how many Facebook users have seen it) but also the percentage of your Likers that have seen it. If that figure is over 16% you’re above average!
Why don’t all your Likes see all your posts?
People are making more and more connections on Facebook, people have hundreds of friends and like lots of pages. Interaction is also growing, we’re posting more content than ever. If Facebook were to show us every post from everyone our news feeds would move too fast. If you look at the sidebar Ticker you can see how swiftly content moves in real time. A fast moving stream whilst wonderful on Twitter doesn’t work on Facebook.
Anecdotally I’ve discovered that most regular Facebook users have their news feeds set to ‘Top Stories’ which orders posts not by time but by relevance, a relevance decided by Facebook. If this is the case universally there are a large proportion of light Facebook users that are even harder to reach. However, even people who select ‘most recent’ as their news feed view don’t see every post from everyone.
How does Facebook choose who sees your posts?
The likelihood of a post appearing on the news feed of an individual is determined by an algorithm called Edgerank. Each object (or post) that you create on Facebook has Edgerank. This is determined by three key things
Affinity refers to an individuals relationship with your content. So if they are a super-fan of your page and comment and like your posts regularly, your updates are more likely to appear in their feeds.
Weight refers to the type of content you are sharing. For example it is generally thought that Images have more weight than status updates.
3. Time Decay
This refers to the time elapsed since you posted. The fresher the content the more likely it is to be seen in a feed.
A mixture of these three factors determines the Edgerank of a post. The higher the Edgerank the more likely it is to be seen. Following this formula it would seem that an image or photo post, shared at a time when most of your page Likes are online is most likely to appear in the feeds of those who interact with your page the most.
How does the newsfeed work?
Because Facebook doesn’t want to display a fast moving feed (that’s what the Ticker is for) each user only has a certain number of slots on their feed that can be filled in a specific time.
Because of the huge amount of connections each user is making these slots can be quite competative, this is where edgerank comes in. If the object has good Edgerank it is more likely to fill a slot. The best thing you can do to ensure your post arrives into one of these slots is to maximise the Edgerank of it .
Do promoted posts make a difference to newsfeeds?
Facebook have told us that there has been no change to the newsfeed due to the new promoted posts. Creating great content that provokes interaction is still the best thing you can do to make sure your posts reach more people. However, promoted posts give page owners the option to pay for a further reach. It seems logical then that these posts are more likely to occupy the slots available on your Likes feeds.
We’re not just competing with promoted posts, friends posts and posts from other pages for slots. Facebook have added apps such as popular articles and videos, we’re also sharing more on Facebook both from inside the app and from linked applications such as Instagram and Socialcam. With this huge amount of content it’s no surprise we’re only reaching a portion of our subscribers with each post.
Should you leave Facebook?
Since the promoted posts were launched I’ve seen a number of small business owners decalre that they will be shutting down their pages and keeping Facebook just for personal stuff. I tend to think this is a mistake. If your customers are on Facebook you should be there too. They are not going to move to Google+, LinkedIn or Twitter just because you feel these networks offer better business solutions. Yes we are going to have to work harder at Facebook marketing if we are to succeed but those who stick it out will be the ones who are reaching your customers.
The real fix
There is a way that you can ensure that you don’t miss updates from the people and pages you like the most. Facebook lists and Facebook interest lists allow you to keep an eye on your favourite people or pages. When you log in you can choose which list you would like to view, this helps ensure that you don’t miss updates but it also gives you a way to filter out the noise. Here’s how to set up a list.
I recently tested promoted posts. Click here to see what happened.