Published on Sep 23rd, 2019
I’m increasingly being asked by our clients here at Shareablee about their Facebook accounts, and changes they’ve been seeing on their feeds over the past few months.
For some time now, Facebook has been introducing changes to its newsfeed to increase quality engagement, and reward quality content. The flip side is that users who have seen a change in the success of their content want to learn more about the newsfeed, and how it might impact their performance.
While there are some definitive trends in engagement following some of these changes, we cannot be certain in every case that the newsfeed updates are directly responsible for these patterns.
To put it into context, Facebook began updates to its newsfeed in 2014 to improve the quality of link based posts.These updates aimed to reduce the number of click-baiting, spammy posts that users see in their feed as well as increase the percentage of well formatted link posts. El-Arini, K. (2014, August 25). Click-Baiting. https://newsroom.fb.com/news/2014/08/news-feed-fyi-click-baiting/
Put simply, click-bait is a link post that uses misleading, sensationalized, or overtly provocative headlines for the sole purpose of generating clicks. The newsfeed seeks to slow or stop the distribution of this content.
The first approach to combating click-bait is to track the amount of time spent spent away from Facebook after the post link is clicked. Pages that produce high bounce-back rates, or ones where users spent little time on, are likely to have content that was not quality or different from the headline suggested. These posts are ranked lower, and become less likely to be seen in users’ newsfeeds. Lin, J.-R. & Guo, S. (2017, May 10). Reducing Links to Low-Quality Web Page Experiences. https://newsroom.fb.com/news/2017/05/reducing-links-to-low-quality-web-page-experiences/
Most recently, at an event in April 2019, Facebook announced it had begun new updates to its Remove, Reduce, Inform strategy, a push to improve the overall quality of newsfeed content. This included collaborative efforts with journalism experts, expanding the AP’s scope as a fact-checker, and the addition of a “Click-Gap” signal. Rosen, G. (2019, April 10). Remove, Reduce, Inform: New Steps to Manage Problematic Content. https://newsroom.fb.com/news/2019/04/remove-reduce-inform-new-steps/
In May 2019, Facebook also began the implementation of surveys to gain direct user-feedback on what types of content they preferred to see in their newsfeed. The newsfeed is then tweaked based on “patterns that emerge”. Sethuraman, R., Vallmitjana, J., & Levin, J. (2019, May 16). Using Surveys to Make News Feed More Personal. https://newsroom.fb.com/news/2019/05/more-personalized-experiences/
It started with surveys focused on relationships with friends, but by June had extended to groups and pages. This reinforced their efforts to crack-down on unoriginal, clickbait, or otherwise low-quality content.
Brands and publishers began to see a difference around this time. All of social on average saw a decline in Actions per Post from April through June. Media & Entertainment and Publishing were the most affected.
Conversely, lower engagement industries, Telecommunications and Retail, saw steady growth over the same time period. July saw the declining industries bounce back, but overall on track for a weaker August.
Publishing, typically the category at the top of impressions generated, saw a sharp slide in impressions starting in April that continued through to June. There was an uptick in July, but it is not on pace to reach the highs of late 2018/early 2019.
Media & Entertainment has followed a near identical trend. Meanwhile Retail and Telecommunications seem relatively stagnant since April.
The percentage of shares as actions has been in a decline across all of Facebook. Publishing again has experienced the strongest decline, but with the trend being downward for over a year, it may not be immediately attributable to recent newsfeed changes.
Across Facebook, the pattern indicates that Shares are getting harder and harder to earn.
There’s been a largely mild effect on video views for most industries, especially from April to May. June saw stronger declines, but industries had been trending downward since August of last year already.
Publishing on the other hand has had a very sharp decline in video views since April. Pages in this category earned about 2 million less views per month compared to this time last year.
Which brings us to what we can do to shore up the longevity of our content on Facebook. Ultimately, we all accept social is an industry that's constantly iterating. As the Ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus once observed “There is nothing permanent except change". Entire platforms have come and gone in the past 5 years while new platforms have emerged and Facebook, Twitter and Instagram remain enduring entities due to their ability to adapt to changing user preferences and needs.
In this case, there are 3 measures to consider on Facebook:
1. Link-based Posts: Links can be shared through a normal link post that includes a link preview (an image, website, headline, etc.) or through a status or photo post that includes the URL within the caption. The newsfeed more heavily favors the former.
Without the preview, users are more susceptible to click-bait or misleading links. They are also less mobile friendly. These posts are demoted in comparison to true link posts, so make sure link sharing is primarily done with the previews.
2. User-Experience: Bounce-back rates have an affect on link post distribution. Ensure that the user-experience on the other side of links is of quality. Landing pages that are not user-friendly, aesthetically pleasing, or relevant to the what the post described will cause users to quickly exit and in-turn the post will be demoted.
3. Authentic Engagement: While requests to share the post are still effective, goading engagement or baiting inauthentic interactions will cause pages/posts to be demoted. Offer content with substance, and encourage discussion for long term sustained engagement.
Shareablee would love to hear from you if you have some feedback on these suggestions. Contact us here via the message button. Or if you have a question about another social platform, drop us a line. We live and breath social and we love to talk it through.