Facebook is a great website, there is no doubt. And its communities are invaluable to news organizations, or at least they used to be.
Last week Facebook began to roll out a whole host of updates to the site, changing not just how it looks but also how it functions. Despite the protests that always follow a major update on the social networking site, the changes appeared to me, as an individual user, to be greatly beneficial. Having early access to the Timeline update, the user interface is beautiful. The addition of friend grouping, which allows me to post specific messages to specific people rather than making everything public, is a great addition. Also, adding a subscription option so that I can follow individuals without having to “friend” them and separating out the small interactions that friends make from my news feed seemed to declutter things.
As an administrator of several pages on Facebook, however, I’ve noticed that these new changes have crippled our visibility among our fans. Let me preface this by saying that the page shown below just finished a six-week contest in which we awarded cash prizes to fans. Our numbers according to Facebook Insights coming into this update were the best they’ve ever been. We had more active users than fans, our engagement rate was higher than ever, etc. So, as far as optimizing our EdgeRank among our fans, we should have been plenty visible.
Below, you’ll see an ordinary post from the page just before the updates rolled out to everyone. As you can see, it got 975 impressions which was normal for that page at that time. It had about 970 fans.
Now jump to a week later after the newsfeed updates have rolled out completely, and look at the impressions we are getting:
Again, this isn’t an exception. This is the average number of impressions we are seeing on a given post this week. But that isn’t the end of the story.
It has been written before that Facebook devalues post updates from third party API’s, yet Facebook has claimed that Hootsuite isn’t penalized. But look at what happened to our posts made with Hootsuite after the updates rolled out:
This was a post made from Hootsuite prior to the updates. It doesn’t seem to vary too much from posts made within Facebook. But look what happens when the updates roll out:
The number of impressions a given post gets that was posted from Hootsuite after the Facebook NewsFeed updates is significantly less – about 80 percent less.
This is a big deal. Facebook is one of the top five referrers to our website (currently generating just under 30,000 uniques per month.) If we lose 80 percent of our visibility, I can only assume that it will result in close to the same percent drop in referred traffic. And is that what Facebook wants? I wouldn’t imagine so.
If you manage a Facebook page, I’m really interested in hearing if you’re seeing the same thing.