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Facebook basically just told brands to stop posting text-only status updates

In a blog post yesterday, Facebook confirmed what every social media manager with an eye on their analytics could tell you: text status updates just don’t get the same kind of engagement as photos and rich links. So the social media giant is tweaking the carefully crafted algorithm that controls what you see in your Newsfeed yet again, this time to give less prominence to text-only updates from brand pages.

Lauren Granger
While studying towards her Bachelor of Journalism degree at Rhodes University, Lauren gave into her fascination with everything digital. As she was more interested in creeping... More

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Newsfeed ranking product manager Chris Turitzin explained that the team had been running tests to see what type of posts gained the highest levels of reciprocal posting, so that they could surface more of that kind of content in the Newfeed (and keep Facebook’s billions engaged and interested). In one test, they showed Facebook users more text-based updates from their friends in the Newfeed, then measured the response.

“Through testing, we have found that when people see more text status updates on Facebook they write more status updates themselves,” writes Turitzin. “In fact, in our initial test when we showed more status updates from friends it led to on average 9-million more status updates written each day. Because of this, we showed people more text status updates in their Newsfeed.”

However, when it came to brands, that correlation didn’t hold up — users didn’t post more of their own updates. So Facebook will be filtering out the number of text-only status updates from brands in future. “Page admins can expect a decrease in the distribution of their text status updates,” explains Turitzin, “but they may see some increases in engagement and distribution for other story types.”

As Hootsuite’s Evan LePage notes, it was always a good idea to post more of those “other story types” (like photos, videos and rich links) anyway, but now “it’s basically essential”. He also suggests brands focus more on Instagram photos, which are likely to benefit from the Newsfeed algorithm due to the fact that the photo sharing app is now owned by Facebook.

For example, Facebook recommends ditching updates like this:

Instead, it suggests brands focus on posting links with a strong feature image (or uploading their own) or stand alone photos. Turitzin explains that these kind of shared links generally get more likes, comments, shares and clicks than the text-only updates anyway, thanks to the visual component.

  • Guy

    But what if you are dealing with an African audience who are using feature phones? Will text still reign supreme?

  • Mvelase Peppetta

    Good question. But if Facebook’s filtering out text-only updates they’re not really leaving you with any other option but to do as they’re “ordering”.

  • Alan Hammond

    They are ‘tweaking the algorithm’ so the title is misleading. Its a slight change it makes no sense to completely stop text updates. So you do have other options. We have found that text only updates perform much better than shared links.

  • Lauren Granger

    Good point… the success of an update obviously varies depending on other factors like what you’re posting, the timing of the post, etc, so a text-only update may get more response than a photo or link on any given day. What Facebook is suggesting though is that, while you can post text updates, it’s going to show less of them in the Newsfeed of your followers — so overall, if you want to increase the chance of what you post being seen, it makes sense to go for another story type.

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  • Carol Lloyd Neill

    Facebook has “tweaked” unpromoted brand page posts out of the newsfeed almost entirely. I am not even being shown posts from the pages I manage, nor pages I have liked/followed/marked to show posts/added to interest lists. I cannot figure out how to get posts from the brands I want to see in my feed.

    We have started adding completely unnecessary stock-type images to posts like maintenance notices. Our consumers complain because they miss important posts. The only advice I can give is follow us on Twitter.

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