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

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

Continue reading

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

Continue reading

#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

Continue reading