A new study from the social marketing education firm Social Fresh sheds light on a recent change to Facebook’s news feed algorithm that actually makes life on the social network easier for brands.
In recent months, much has been made of the destructive effect Facebook’s big December news feed change has had on the brands and social media marketers who use the platform to reach consumers.
The tweak prioritised news stories from major media publishers (Buzzfeed, The New York Times, et al.) over posts from brands and smaller publishers, leading to a sharp decline (more than 40%, according to social media agency Ignite) in the number of people who saw what brands were trying to put in their news feeds.
Ever the optimists, Social Fresh decided to take a look at what happened to brands after Facebook made another change to its algorithm Jan. 21. That’s when Facebook announced the news feed would create a distinction between status updates from brands, which users had not been responding to, and status updates from humans, which tend to be more popular. In doing so, Facebook said brands would likely see a decrease in the distribution of their text status updates, but that they “may see some increases in engagement and distribution for other story types.”
Social Fresh looked at posts made by 15 major brands in the two weeks before and after this later tweak, and found that while reach for text status updates dropped a staggering 65%, reach for photos and videos posted stayed about the same, and reach for link posts actually jumped 30%.
Here’s Social Fresh’s bar graph showing the average number of people who saw a given link post from the brands it studied, before and after the January change:
Intuitively, this change makes a lot of sense. The average user is likely to be much more interested in reading the thoughts of his or her friends than hearing what Coca-Cola has to say about the latest sporting event. But if Coca-Cola has a cool photo to share or a link to an interesting new contest it’s running, users just might want to hear Coke out.
As Scott Button, CEO of the online video tracking company Unruly, once told me, being on social media as a brand is a little like showing up at a social gathering uninvited: “If you want to go crash a party, it’s fine. Just make sure you bring champagne.”
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