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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.
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.