Did Photos Lose News Feed Dominance On Facebook?

On September 20th, it was reported that Facebook made a significant change to EdgeRank. This change resulted in a loss of Organic Reach for a vast majority of Pages. The fallout of this change is still being analyzed and many pages are reporting changes in their optimal content types. EdgeRank Checker decided to look at the data to see if these changes made any impact on the dominance of photos on the news feed.

We found that in September, Videos actually edged out Photos for the most Reach. This was most likely due to exceptional content during that time period, as opposed to an inherit preference from Facebook. The September breakdown is as follows: Video > Photo > Status > Link.

However, in October this order drastically changed. As you can see, almost all of the content types experienced an extensive decrease in Reach. But one content type actually improved: Status Updates. So before jumping to conclusions, we opted to analyze Engagement levels as well to see if there was any relation.

What About Engagement?

Overall for both September and October engagement on Photos crushed the other content types. Interestingly though, during the month of October engagement on Photos did decrease slightly, while Status Update engagement marginally increased.

What Does This All Mean?
This illustrates two things. First, that Reach has most likely decreased for almost all brands (although Engagement has stayed relatively steady). Nonetheless, brands that have a high Status Update strategy may have not felt the change as strongly as brands that rely heavily on a Photo strategy.

Second, Photos are still the best overall strategy. You might ask, “How so? Reach for Status Updates exceeds Photos? Why would I stick with Photos?” But this is looking at two different periods of time. Engaging your audience is always the better practice than focusing exclusively on Reach percentages.

Why Still Focus on Engagement as opposed to Reach?
It’s never a good idea to focus “exclusively” on one approach. Both Engagement and Reach are incredibly valuable metrics to monitor. However, a one-off change like this should not completely alter your strategy. We believe this latest EdgeRank change is rooted in heavier penalizations for Negative Feedback. Our assumption was that most Negative Feedback reports are caused by “spammy” Photo strategies.

 

We decided to look at what “spammy” Pages tend to post. We found that these Pages posted Photos around 50% of the time, with Links around 35% of the time. This data indicated that brands are more likely to accidentally abuse their Photo strategy by posting irrelevant content, which is then being marked with Negative Feedback.

What Does My Brand Do About This?
We advise brand managers to continue to focus on creating engaging Photo content, but be careful with what users might tag as “Negative Feedback”. The EdgeRank Checker Real-Time Dashboard feature allows brand managers to see what users are marking as Negative Feedback in near real-time. If you see a post gathering Negative Feedback—be especially wary of photos—remove the Post from your Timeline.

As always, please feel free to comment below or reach out on Twitter or Facebook if you have any questions or concerns.

15 Comments on “Did Photos Lose News Feed Dominance On Facebook?

  1. Thank you for posting this. We have been watching the numbers as well and they are inline with your analysis. However, Spam content that we have seen is by Pages posting their page links to gain followers in areas not appropriate.

  2. This was an excellent post and provided valuable information to us and for our marketing training. We encourage the use of images and videos when posting on Facebook but always add good value content to those images. We totally see where this has been misused by some who use images to effectively SPAM their stuff. Thanks again. Have shared as a note on Facebook with a link back to your blog here. Chris & Susan

  3. I noticed this at least a month ago and have been reporting it on my Page and recommending that people switch to posting more text only updates. It’s also a simple fix for updates with links to simply remove the preview and then those updates will get the same high reach text posts are.

    Although I do agree that it’s a good idea to mix up the type of posts, I would still advise Pages to stop posting gratuitous photos just because the gurus told them they get more reach and engagement. Now that it’s apparent that is no longer the case, adding a photo for no good reason will just kill a post’s reach.

    I realize that all Pages are different and there’s no absolutes but my text only posts are out reaching posts with photos by at least 200% and engagement is higher as well.

  4. naomi

    Great Post! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Exactly what I’m seeing as well. While everyone is screaming about Reach, i’m seeing steady engagement. And while status updates may be reaching more people, I’m still getting as much or more engagement out of my photos.

    Engagement > Reach. It’s what pays the bills. And I’d say it’s dangerous to focus your strategy around type of content anyway. You create value any way you can. If that means using photos, great. If it means it only needs a status update, fine.

    Definitely doesn’t surprise me that pages that were abusing photos for the sake of using photos were getting flagged. Too many cats and whatnot. Just goes to show you that while some divergence is okay, people see through marketing techniques.

  6. I guess what it still boils down to is posting Quality content that your fans will engage with. Knowing your audience is key here so that you post content that your fans will want to engage with.

    Thanks,
    Ian.

    • Excellent point Ian! There is no “one size fits all” solution. The best way for businesses to use Facebook tools like Pages, is to study their customers and get to know what engages *them* the most, rather than the general population.

  7. Tammy

    Thanks for this interest information. I have noticed a huge decline in my fanpage numbers over the past and just recently started my website. It just amazes me though that FB allows pages that post inappropriate content to be allowed to continue to rank higher than “cleaner” pages. I just don’t understand this! I know many good pages are suffering these consequences and just wanted to know what can be done to help this situation if any. Thank you again.

  8. Great explanation of what has been happening on Facebook. I saw an alarming drop off but things seemed to have stabilized a bit since then.

  9. Michael

    Can anyone comment on what the effect on reach and/or engagement of having a link present in the text status for a video or photo update? Any movement either way?

    Where does a hybrid media, like video+link and photo+link, fall in this chain?

    video > photo > status >link

    • Michael

      It will also be interesting to see how photos piped in from instagram factor into all of this.

  10. You'll Love EdgeRank Until It Screws You Too

    Reach is WAY down overall, but status updates are now outreaching photo and link posts by a factor of TEN. So instead of posting , for example, a link post to useful content on our website (which would include a message plus the link and the OG content for the link), we are now posting a status update including the link as text. Same message, same link. Reach for the link post: in the hundreds. Reach for the status update with the same content: in the thousands. Focusing on providing great content is what we’ve tried to do. But if link posts for a page with 45K likes only ever get seen by 250 people, we won’t use them. Now we are posting in a completely counterintuitive way.

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