Fact-Checking Facebook’s New Algorithm
February 11, 2014
February 11, 2014
In a shocking turn of events, Facebook recently changed its News Feed algorithm. Again. The social network announced that while personal pages will enjoy continued emphasis on plain text status updates, brand pages will not.
Facebook claims the reasoning behind this update is to “show people the most interesting stories at the top of their [news] feed, and display them in the best way possible.” Facebook found that when users see more text status updates, they write more status updates themselves. However, this effect did not ring true for text status updates from brand pages. As a result, the latest update to the algorithm treats text status updates from pages differently from friends. Allegedly.
We wanted to put this information to the test on our Solomon McCown fan page by conducting a controlled study. For this experiment we tracked three different pieces of content posted at three different times, in three different formats. Each time we ran the test, we posted the update to our page simultaneously as a text status, a link update, and a photo post with a link in the status.
Our finding? Facebook still prefers text-only updates from brand pages.
On Day 1 at 3:00 p.m. EST we posted the first test. After two hours, at 5:00 p.m. we found that the plain text status had an organic reach of 35 people, the photo post had 30, and the link had 28. Not a huge difference, but clearly the plain text update was reaching the most people.
The next day at 9:00 a.m. EST we tried again to see if the time of day would change things. What we found was the same pattern. The plain text update had an organic reach of 42 people, the photo post had 37, and the link had 22.
We weren’t sure when the algorithm changes would take effect, so we tested this again one week later. 4 days later at 4 p.m. we posted again. This time we waited 24 hours to measure the reach. We found that the plain text status had more than DOUBLE the organic reach of the photo post with 84 people seeing it. It seems that over a longer period of time in the News Feed, the text status remained high in the newsfeed and got more views.
We ran one final test 2 weeks later at 12pm. After two hours—you guessed it—the text-only post was still making the biggest impression.
What does this mean for you? It just goes to show that you can read all the best practices articles you can find, but you’ve got to be dedicated to reviewing your analytics to see what works best for your organization and its audience.
What has your recent experience been with different post types on Facebook? Tell us in the comments below.