Recent Facebook Updates Cripple Pages

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.

20 Responses to Recent Facebook Updates Cripple Pages
  1. John Hoffman
    October 3, 2011 | 10:56 am

    Yes! We’ve seen the same pattern. A drop in Facebook Impressions. Haven’t tested to see whether there’s a further decline in Tweetdeck-posted content. I’m surprised others aren’t noticing this.

  2. [...] Content Marketing Institute Sustainable Journalism [...]

  3. Joseph Kent
    October 3, 2011 | 3:27 pm

    I have a Facebook page for my fashion blog, to which I publish NetworkedBlogs links to my posts. Before the new news feed, I got about 200 impressions per link, but now I’m getting roughly 30. There has to be a way to re-increase the impressions!

  4. Bruce Floyd
    October 3, 2011 | 3:39 pm
  5. noahechols
    October 3, 2011 | 8:09 pm

    If you get a chance, take a look at this article >> http://mediatel.co.uk/newsline/2011/09/26/what-the-f8-facebook-conference-means-for-brand-advertisers/

    The implications listed at the end are troubling.

  6. robinteractive
    October 5, 2011 | 2:25 pm

    Contrary to what you’re showing/experiencing, so far I’m not seeing consistent declines in the number of impressions for Facebook Page posts made via HootSuite. For me, impression numbers are in line with what they were in mid-September and earlier, and this is true across a range of Pages I admin/co-admin.

    I’ve even tried some limited testing of hand-posting content vs. HootSuite posting. Impressions are similar, though admittedly it can’t be a true A/B split test where half the viewers see the manual post and the other half see the HootSuite post.

    The screenshots you show above don’t tell me much. More time has passed for some posts you show than others, and that can impact impressions. The number of likes and comments, and who made them (i.e. if the likers and commenters also have a lot of Facebook friends who see their actions on Facebook) could greatly impact impressions, particularly when the high end of impressions is only 1,000 to begin with. There are too many variables to draw conclusions from the examples you’ve cited/illustrated.

    Bruce Floyd, in an above comment, cites edgerankchecker.com research. The scope of the research is impressive, but here’s what they say in that article: “We believe that Facebook strategically reduced the weight of objects created through the API.” They say that’s what they **believe**, not that it is something they can prove. They even point out that other variables are likely at play: APIs may be pushing out automated content, and that the content isn’t optimized for Facebook.

    Further, Pages using APIs for posting are more likely to be professionally managed/corporate sorts of Pages with larger numbers of less-engaged fans, or Pages simply fed by a Web sites RSS. (And I disagree that RSS to Facebook/Twitter/etc. is automatically bad. In some cases it is appropriate in terms of ROI.) The fact that those API-driven Pages have lower engagement than a cafe down the street where the owner posts the days specials and pearls of wisdom doesn’t surprise me.

    So far I’m not convinced that posting via a third-party API has negative consequences in terms of impressions. While there may be a correlation between API posting and low engagement, that doesn’t mean the relationship is causal.

  7. noahechols
    October 6, 2011 | 10:52 am

    @Robinteractive You make a good point about the number of likes being a determiner of the overall reach of a post. However, the above samples are representative of the general trend we are seeing. Obviously I can’t post every thing we’ve posted to this page to show you, but the impression numbers are in the same ballpark consistently, both before the Facebook updates and after.

    Further, while you may not be seeing a change, many many people are. See the other comments on this post or the many blog posts being written about it. There is an excellent post that came out of Mediatel about the future of marketing on Facebook that speaks to this same observation.

    My initial assumption is that the change in the Edgerank algorithm was to prioritize the social graph – if you and your connection both like a page, you are more likely to see its posts. For large brands this wont impact them. For smaller niche brands like the one above, it will take a big hit.

  8. robinteractive
    October 6, 2011 | 3:26 pm

    Overall the autoposting via API research might be more an indictment of how some Page admins are using these tools than the tools themselves.

    There is, at the moment, some reported issues with collapsing of posts made via at least some 3rd party APIs. And that collapsing varies from one Facebook user to the next.

    It is plausible (don’t know for sure) that I’m not seeing decreases in impressions because followers of the Pages I admin and co-admin don’t follow a lot of people or Pages that use HootSuite to post so they don’t end up with collapsed posts, while followers of your Pages may fall more into that camp. Or maybe your posting frequency is such that you are causing your own posts to be collapsed for your followers.

    But maybe I’m an anomaly all around. I’ve rarely seen a collapsed post outside of screenshots in articles. And that may be due in large part because I don’t have a single Facebook game app installed, which probably tends to have collapsed posts. And NetworkedBlogs? As much as I’ve seen it mentioned in articles about Facebook and marketing, I’ve never once seen something posted by this app in my full newsfeed. I don’t seem to follow Pages, or people, who use that tool.

    As in all things Facebook, YMMV and the rules of the road can change at any time.

  9. Rachael
    October 6, 2011 | 4:16 pm

    Thank you for the post! I was unaware that Facebook devalues posts from third party APIs. I checked our numbers and they support what this article states. Before, impressions averaged around 200. Now, the average is around 55. :(

  10. Dan Thompson
    October 7, 2011 | 4:46 pm

    I’ve noticed the number of impressions for posts made to our page via Twitterfeed have fallen significantly, as in 80-90% reduction…with one interesting twist. I user Twitterfeed to publish blog updates from our website to Facebook and Twitter. I also use Twitterfeed to post a link to our photo galleries when new photos are posted. The photo gallery links are still getting the normal number of impressions, the blog post updates are getting a small fraction of what they used to get.

    I’m still studying this, and it was my initial search for answers that brought me to this post. I look forward to following these comments and seeing how this mystery unfolds.

  11. [...] Apparently, other news organizations (and I assume anyone with a fan page) are having the same problems. [...]

  12. kieran
    October 10, 2011 | 4:28 pm

    I’ve noticed the same thing – if i post a link via Hootsuite i get about 150 impressions (on a 3700 fan page), if i post a link directly through facebook, i’m getting impressions in the 2500s, which is where the hootsuite posts were a few weeks ago. It’s very troubling, as we are a fan page for a website – so naturally all we want to do is post links and drive traffic back to our site. Now if i just post a comment or question to the fans w/o links on Hootsuite, my impression #s are fine in the 2500s. It’s only links that i have issues with. I schedule posts the day of, because like so many, we where so many hats and since some of my posts are time sensitive i don’t want to miss an opportunity to post, because i was in a meeting. This is very frustrating!

    Can anyone recommend another api? be interested to see if it’s just Hootsuite or all of them.

  13. Theresa Murtha
    October 15, 2011 | 12:07 pm

    Same issue — impressions down on all the pages I manage. Researching how to improve this.

  14. Dan Forootan
    October 18, 2011 | 2:47 pm

    For those that are reporting that impressions are not lower…. question: when you post, are you posting with a Link or a Picture? If not, then you won’t see lower impressions from what I’m finding. I’d appreciate it if you can please confirm?

    Here is a bug on Facebook for this same issue btw, it seems to be isolated to posts made from apps w/ links and pictures.

    https://developers.facebook.com/bugs/151722701585098?browse=search_4e9dc93e2ad7b0572185212

  15. robinteractive
    October 19, 2011 | 3:01 pm

    @Dan Forootan, in my specific situation the posts via HootSuite almost always include links, rarely include pictures.

  16. noahechols
    October 20, 2011 | 11:04 am

    Here is another update:

    http://www.socialmediaexplorer.com/social-media-marketing/facebook-penalizes-third-party-apps/

    Facebook has now said that it is a “bug” but many are questioning why a bug like this takes so long to address. It’s been 6 weeks.

    What do you think – is FB intentionally punishing brands?

  17. Rebecca
    October 30, 2011 | 5:46 pm

    I have three Facebook Pages for my content websites. The two biggies (which get 3000-8000 impressions per post) showed no major difference in impressions but my third and newest page has seen a big difference. Depressing, even.

    As a young page it only has 100 fans and was getting 400 impressions per post in mid Sept. Then the FB update happened and from around Sept 30th, the impression rate declined steadily, to now 16 impressions today. 16!

    Now, all posts are made via WordPress so I might try posting manually like my other pages to see if this makes a difference.

    The only other difference between this page and my other pages is it has fewer fans and therefore fewer interactions. I think this may be a big factor. Facebook’s new update makes it harder to get started as a young page (say <2000 fans), while allowing established pages to snowball.

    I haven't read the links in your comments but will do this now and begin my research so I can react to FB's latest change.

  18. David
    November 2, 2011 | 11:25 am

    Hi Everyone,

    So we are all having the same problem AND ITS REAL! so time to get solution right?

    I’m using HootSuite and as many of you already know it does has a problem, now thanks to you guys I know that Twittfeed has the same problem too, so what I’m going to try is using different ones to see if it will be all 3d party or just some of them..

    will let you know soon how did it work..

    Please list the ones that you see that are having the same problem

    Thanks

  19. shahrukh
    November 18, 2011 | 5:26 am

    Hi Everyone

    In the last 2-3 days I have seen a decline of almost 80% on impressions. One of my page has 319,000 fans and yesterday an update got 425 impressions, where as till about 3 days ago the average was 90,000. Whatever facebook is doing its making my page useless.

  20. kieran
    January 24, 2012 | 3:29 pm

    @david – how did it go? the insights have changed, but i sense i may still be having a problem.

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