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

What Did Facebook Announce, and How Does It Impact My Strategy?

Facebook announced a few specifics regarding changes coming to the news feed algorithm (EdgeRank). Overall the algorithm still works mostly the same, with the exception of a few new improvements. We’ll explain each change, and what you can do about it to stay on top of your strategy.

What Happened?

Facebook held a small gathering to explain their latest changes to the news feed.  A few key take aways:

  • There is still an algorithm determining the news feed
  • New Story Bumping Signal
  • New Last Actor Signal
  • Future New Chronological by Actor Signal
  • There will not be a purely chronological change

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Posting From Mobile Increases Engagement, But Not Reach

// We originally posted this on Social Fresh, as an exclusive //

Mobile is quickly dominating just about everything, including posting to Facebook. When looking at EdgeRank, we know that Facebook has been giving additional value to newer features or post types. How does Facebook treat posting from a mobile device?

We dug deep into our data set to break out the differences between posting via mobile or a non-mobile method. We found that only 5% of Facebook Page posts are via a mobile device. Brands aren’t heavily leveraging mobile posting. However, the brands that are leveraging mobile are seeing a 39% increase in engagement per post!

Difference in engagement when posting to Facebook via mobile

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#Hashtags and #EdgeRank

Facebook has officially announced and deployed hashtags into the news feed. Many Page Admins are interested to see how hashtags will impact their brand’s news feed strategies. Facebook announced Insights for hashtags, although none were shown or released. It’s unclear how thorough these Insights will be. However, it should be noted that we’ve heard rumors of a whole new set of Insights coming soon. We’re interested to see if hashtag metrics are included in this new rollout.

Typically we’re a bit skeptical of any new feature that Facebook rolls out for the general public and its bottom line impact for businesses. However, hashtags were already well used within Twitter and used but unlinked in Facebook. We expect the addition of hashtags will have better traction than other previous changes for users.

How Are Posts Ranked When Clicking A Hashtag?

EdgeRank is already at play when determining which hashtagged posts are being displayed when clicking a hashtag. The posts are not in chronological order, which provides evidence towards the ranking algorithm EdgeRank. Using EdgeRank makes sense here due to the fact that we’re dealing with posts that have varying levels of Affinity, Weight, and Time Decay for each user encountering one.

Facebook Hashtags EdgeRank

Reach Impact

Brands can quickly leverage hashtags by hashtagging any applicable topics, categories, or things that are related to the post. By using a hashtag, a post should automatically gain a higher probability of increased Reach. The post is now linked with a wide variety of other posts that may be viewed. For brands like Nike, tagging a post with #basketball could provide additional Reach due to overlap with users naturally talking and hashtagging #basketball. Continue reading

The Average Facebook Page Experiences 0.35 Viral Uplift

There are many ways to define viral aspects of a Facebook strategy. Facebook has a few terms that address this issue: Viral Reach, Viral Impressions, Viral Impressions Frequency Distribution, and Virality. These metrics only paint part of the picture, so we decided to dig deeper.

We decided to study Viral Uplift to look at the relationship between Viral and Organic Reach. We define Viral Uplift as Viral Reach / Organic Reach, which essentially measures whether Viral Reach exceeds Organic Reach, therefore suggesting significant virality (not necessarily Facebook’s definition). Examining this relationship for a larger set of Facebook Pages may provide insight into the relationship between Viral and Organic.

ERC_ViralUplift_03

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EdgeRank and Emoticons

Facebook recently unveiled a variety of new verbs that can be associated with a user’s status. Clicking into any of the particular verbs will display another set of sub-options. Currently, the suggested verbs are:

  • Feeling
  • Watching
  • Reading
  • Listening To
  • Drinking
  • Eating

Facebook Emotions

Why Add Verbs?

Facebook is gathering new input signals to help them understand users better. When Facebook understands their users better, they are better able to advertise and display relevant content to them. Facebook will now have access to incredible sentiment analysis.

Language is a complex and ever adapting set of definitions that makes it difficult to fully analyze accurate sentiment. Most success surrounding sentiment analysis involves having users actually input their sentiment—think of the happy face charts from your early school years.

Facebook can now more directly pinpoint both sentiment analysis, along with user behavior activity (reading, drinking, etc). With both user behavior activity and sentiment analysis, Facebook has a wealth of new information that they can now consume. Some of this new information could be leveraged in EdgeRank.

EdgeRank + Verbs

If these new input signals are included into EdgeRank components, it would most likely be tied into Affinity. It should be noted though that we rarely observe new signals implemented heavily into EdgeRank on a full scale basis. Time will tell if enough Facebook users will actually use this new feature, therefore giving enough value to actually implement the data into the EdgeRank algorithm.

What Are The Possibilities?

Facebook could use these signals to connect certain posts with certain verbs. For example, users that are “Reading The Great Gatsby” may have an increase in Affinity with The Great Gatsby Page or perhaps Pages that are currently posting about The Great Gatsby. This creates more connectedness within Open Graph, which is ultimately Facebook’s goal.

Facebook could use verbs as another input signal into Affinity for personal users. This would help connect people who may not know each other, but may enable the opportunity to connect. Imagine if Person A reads The Great Gatsby, Innovator’s Dilemma, Getting Real, and The Signal and the Noise while Person B (who each has never met) reads all the same books plus one more: The Four Steps to the Epiphany. Person A may have never heard of The Four Steps to the Epiphany, yet could be interested to learn about the book and perhaps socially connect with Person B. There is a high likelihood that Person A and Person B would share other common interests and relate well with one another.

book_example
Facebook has the opportunity to connect these two people. The evolution of the internet is about discovery of knowledge. This new functionality is a step in that direction; however, as we’ve seen before, users tend to rarely use subtle new features.

Most Probable Outcome

The new verbs will most likely start as input signals for advertisers. Marketers will be able to target ad campaigns at users Listening, Watching, and Reading their media as well as their competitor’s media. Jay-Z could advertise upcoming concerts in users’ local area that have Listened To Jay-Z. Curb Your Enthusiasm could advertise their show to users who have Watched Seinfeld.

This could also be taken one step further. Users that are Feeling Sad, could be advertised anti-depressants. Users that have listed Feeling Lonely, could be advertised dating websites. The opportunities go on and on.

Conclusion

Time will tell if enough people actually use these new verbs. If enough users do, and Facebook keeps the feature around, we can definitely expect Facebook to allow marketers to advertise based on this new data stream. In the distant future, the EdgeRank algorithm may actually include a boost in Affinity for users who’ve consumed the same content.

Posting About: The Good & Bad of the new News Feed Object

The news feed recently started displaying posts to people who are not a fan of a Page, although they are a fan of the Page tagged within the post. In the example below, we see the “Make Your NBA Jersey” Page’s post with a funny photo from the NBA. This post did not come from the NBA, however “Make Your NBA Jersey” tagged the NBA in the post and the post received high levels of engagement. In this case, it was enough to make an appearance on my news feed.

The Good

Two interesting things jump out regarding this particular post. First, this illustrates the danger for spam within the news feed. This post is technically relevant to most fans of the NBA due to the picture being taken at an NBA game with NBA players. However, the content is their own Page tagged, followed by three successive links to their website which is not affiliated with the NBA. Listed many lines beneath the original text is a tag to the NBA.

NBA EdgeRank Tactic

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Viral Reach Skyrockets Due to Facebook’s Major Insights Fix

[Updated: 03/01/13] // An example of a massive increase new Viral Reach added //

Facebook announced an “Important Update to Page Insights Reporting” last week. Facebook blamed bugs as the cause of Reach and Impressions being under-reported. In the post they suggested the following possible outcomes for Pages:

Overall, we expect most Pages to see:

  • Total reach to  stay the same or increase for most Pages
  • An increase in paid reach if you ran News Feed ads
  • An increase or decrease in organic reach, depending on many factors such as the composition of your fan base, when and how often you post and your spending patterns
  • A change in metrics computed from reach and impressions, such as engagement rate and virality
  • We know that accurate data is fundamental to building and improving your Facebook presence. We are taking this very seriously.  We have already put a number of additional quality and verification measures in place to prevent future bugs and resolve them quickly if they arise.

In the post, they specifically mention monitoring the overall impact “starting on Monday, February 25.” We decided to dive deeper into the numbers to see how Page owners are being affected.

What Did We Study?

We took a look at Monday, February 18th vs Monday, February 25th. We looked at Pages that posted on both days. Our sample size was roughly 1,000 Pages. Facebook specifically mentioned the following metrics to be impacted: Total Reach, Paid Reach, and Organic Reach. We opted to include engagement (Likes, Comments, and Shares) along with Viral Reach into the study. We averaged each day by post for each Page, then looked at the median when comparing Pages.

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