Update to Algorithm: Decrease of Auto-Posting

Facebook made an announcement that “people will see fewer implicit stories from third party apps in the future.” Before you assume that this is a death blow to 3rd party publishers, this is supposed to be targeted towards “frictionless sharing.” This change should mostly impact Facebook users and app developers on Facebook, as opposed to the average Page (unless the Page has implemented a unique integration).

Example of Implicit Sharing (Source: CNET)

Important Terms Defined

Implicitly Shared

Facebook used to call this “frictionless sharing.” The idea was that the average person’s privacy concerns were trumped when partaking in a social activity, such as listening to music. If you listened to a song on Spotify, Facebook would allow Spotify to implicitly share your activity in the news feed.

Explicitly Shared

This is how you classically think of sharing something on Facebook. Using the Spotify example, this is when you specifically click to share your favorite song onto Facebook. This is a major difference, as you’ve taken steps to “explicitly share” the object with your friends. Continue reading

How Facebook Uses Artificial Intelligence in the News Feed

Artificial IntelligenceThe latest significant changes in the news feed require a stronger understanding of how Facebook may identify posts on a technical level through things like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Deep Learning. For the average marketer, the difference between these techniques/technologies is negligible. To keep things simple, we will focus and refer to the technology as Artificial Intelligence (AI for short) for this blog post.

Facebook uses AI to better understand, identify, and manage the news feed. Many marketers find this concept confusing or unclear. AI has a strong connotation within our culture, however it’s best to think of this type of AI as elaborate mathematics that attempt to better understand how people perceive the news feed. It’s about finding “signals” that increase the probability of a post being what they’re looking for. Continue reading

Update to Algorithm: Reducing Spam

Facebook has announced another tweak to the news feed. This latest change focuses on cleaning up spam. Facebook is addressing three main issues:

  • Like-baiting
  • Frequently Circulated Content
  • Spammy Links

This latest change is interesting because it provides clues into the mind of the algorithm. We’ll dive into each minor change to help provide perspective on how this may impact your content strategy below.

Like-baiting

The banishment of like-baiting has been a long time coming. Facebook has been quietly mentioning this issue repeatedly, and it looks as though they’re finally bringing down the gauntlet. Continue reading

Providing Stats & Metrics to the Eat24 Facebook Discussion

There are many competing opinions about Facebook’s news feed and business tactics. We wanted to provide an updated look into some metrics to help guide these discussions with data.

For the typical Page on Facebook in March 2014:

  • Organic Reach per Fan = 6.51%
  • Fan Reach per Fan = 6.46%
  • Viral Reach per Fan = 0.99%

Where were we before this?

Organic Reach per Fan (Median):

  • Feb 2012 = 16%
  • Sep 2013 = 12.60%
  • Nov 2013 = 10.15%
  • Dec 2013 = 7.83%
  • Mar 2014 = 6.51%

Organic-Reach-Fan-Feb12-Mar14

Brands with “Social DNA” are now outperforming peers

Many different types of businesses are still doing very well on Facebook, even in terms of Reach. We’re starting to see that brands who naturally do well in social media are performing stronger than brands that traditionally struggle.

For example, artists/musicians/entertainers/movies are experiencing average Organic Reach well above their news feed competitors like retail/clothing/bank/appliances.

Part of the recent discussion around Facebook has been focused on local businesses against the larger “viral content creators.”

Organic-Reach-Fan-Viral-Content-Local-Business

We pulled data from different sized Pages, and broke them out by a few key categories. As you can see in the breakdown, media/news/publishing is still performing quite strong compared to their peers. The typical large 1M+ Pages are experiencing Organic Reach around 4%.

An interesting observation: Fan Reach/Fan and Organic Reach/Fan are nearly identical.

In the past we tended to study Organic Reach/Fan. This was because we felt this was the most helpful metric due to Facebook presenting this number as often as possible in Insights. When Facebook discussed negative changes to brands they would rely on the (almost always) better looking metric of Fan Reach/Fan. However, these two numbers in our latest study are now nearly identical (~98% accuracy).

Conclusion

Organic Reach has decreased over the past few years. What we’re beginning to see is brands with “Social DNA” are now pulling away from the rest of the pack. Brands that struggle to engage their audience, when measured against brands like the NBA, are being urged by Facebook to use ads to “make up the difference.” There are still brands that are leveraging Facebook quite effectively, especially by leveraging things like Shares, and encouraging people to Organically discuss/promote their content (think Old Spice).

Interestingly, Viral Reach per Fan is up to 1.10% (0.60% in Feb 2013). Facebook is giving additional exposure to content that it deems “Viral.” If this number had significantly decreased, or approached 0—we would be concerned that Facebook was even further squeezing brands. However, this does not seem to be the case.

How did we study the data?

We looked at data for the month of March. We examined both Organic Reach as well as Fan Reach, although these two metrics were nearly the same over this time period. We examined just under 1,000 Pages that posted nearly 50,000 times. Most metrics reported are the Median of each Page’s average over this time period, unless stated otherwise.

Status Update’s Organic Reach Drops ~40%

Facebook made an announcement on Jan 21st explaining that Status Updates from Pages are less engaging than Status Updates from friends, therefore they would be decreasing the distribution of Status Updates. We wanted to examine the impact this change had on the average Page.

We found that the typical Page, when using Status Updates, experienced a 40% decrease in Reach, from roughly 18% down to 11% (Median Organic Reach / Fan). Before this update, Status Updates were widely considered the last content type still “untouched.” It now appears that all of the content types are treated roughly the same*.

Status-Update-Reach-Change-Jan2014 Continue reading

Facebook’s Latest Feature: Mentioned In

Facebook has officially announced a new element of the news feed that they’ve been experimenting with for awhile: “Showing Stories About Topics You Like.” Facebook now places a strong emphasis on displaying content that has been tagged with Pages that you already like.

Facebook used the following example:

Fans of Dwight Howard, but not necessarily of the Bleacher Report, would see this object. Again, Facebook has been experimenting with this type of news feed distribution for awhile. However, typically when Facebook takes the time to make announcements such as this we see drastic changes in the data. Continue reading

Facebook’s Latest Feature: Trending

Facebook has announced that they’re rolling out a new feature called Trending. This offers an opportunity for brands to get more exposure for their content if they’re featured in the top stories of a trending topic.

Facebook Trending

Instead of simply stating the topics that are trending, Facebook has included a bit of context as to why a topic is trending. In their example, the television show 24 is trending because “Fox Sets May 5 Premiere for ’24 Live Another Day’.” This feature will roll out slowly for users in select countries. Continue reading

Free Users: Animated Heat Map of Audience Online

When Facebook made an API available that enabled us to analyze when Facebook Fans were online we quickly implemented a new feature called Audience Online. We decided to provide an animated heat map of this data for our Free users.

Free Facebook Audience Online

The Audience Online heat map provides a quick, visual way to see when your fans are logging into Facebook. This information can be used to publish posts or identify behavioral trends over time. Continue reading

28 Day Study of Reach After December 2nd, 2013

Around December 2, 2013 many Page admins reported a significant change in their Organic Reach. We analyzed the data and found a decrease for the typical Page. When we studied the data, we had a small sample size—a few days on either side of December 2nd. At that time we found that Organic Reach did drop for the typical Page from ~9.5% to about ~7.7%.

Enough time has passed to enable us to study a more substantial time frame. We’ve assembled a study examining the 28 days before and after December 2nd. We found that for the 28 days prior to December 2nd, Organic Reach was ~10.2%. The 28 days after December 2nd dropped to 7.8%. These numbers are very similar to the data we found just days after the change.

Organic-Reach-Change-Before-After-Dec2

How Was Each Content Type Impacted?

We looked at each individual content type as well. All of the content types decreased over this same time period. Each dropped off to roughly the same relative amount. Status Updates remain the clear favorite for pure Organic Reach, although we caution to only use content type for Reach. It’s most important to focus on the content types that drive the most engagement. Continue reading

The Unofficial Official Study of Reach Since December 2nd

September’s Reach was approximately 12.6%. In the week before the change, we were seeing Reach of about 9.5%. After the change, we’re seeing Reach of about 7.7% (a -19% change). So in the short term, we’re seeing a -19% change but from September to December, we saw a loss of -39%. The graph below shows that Reach fell from ~9.5% to about ~7.7%. Surprisingly, we did not see a drastic day in which a change was implemented—although many Admins reported seeing changes around 12/3.

Overall-Organic-Reach

What Happened?

Facebook made an announcement (12/2) addressing a few changes to the news feed:

  • More Links will be displayed within the news feed.
  • Links that are commented on by friends will receive a bump in the news feed.
  • Memes will receive a decrease in the news feed.

In an interview with All Things Digital (12/6), Facebook news feed manager Lars Backstrom said the changes “might have a 10 or 20 percent impact”. We heard from Admins and witnessed ourselves decreases that were much more severe than that.

After examining some preliminary data, we found that Status Updates had remained roughly equal in Reach—however, we saw significant decreases in Reach for Links and Photos (roughly 50%). We wanted to dive deeper in the data to find any trends.

What Did We Find?

Examining the week before December 2nd and the week after, Organic Reach decreased by roughly -21% from 9.4% to 7.5%. This loss was a continuation from September, when Reach was 12.6%. All in all, Reach has decreased quickly over the past few months. About a year and a half ago, Reach was approximately 16%. As of today, Reach is now half of that. Continue reading