There are many reasons why people, especially social media managers, use third party apps to automate posting on Facebook Pages for brands and businesses. Probably the biggest reason is efficiency. With apps like TweetDeck, HootSuite and Networked Blogs a lot of copy and paste tedium can be eliminated. That time savings may be have an unexpected cost in lower post visibility and fan engagement. Here are some of the possible reasons:
NOTE: These first two items are theories and the situation seems to be pretty fluid.
Facebook Penalizes EdgeRank on 3rd Party Posts
EdgeRank, in brief, is the “weight” Facebook assigns to a post. Not all people are seeing everything on Facebook. There is some filtering going on by Facebook to show people the most relevant posts based on many factors. This is similar to how Google uses PageRank. The more Facebook users are engaged the more the time they spend on the site, which ultimately leads to more ad revenue.
Facebook Collapses Updates by the Same App
As you can see in the image above, all recent automated posts by different Facebook Pages using Networked Blogs have been collapsed into a single link. Who is going to click that? Nobody. In recent days this seems to have changed, at least for me. I can no longer see examples of this in action. Facebook is known to quietly roll out features to a subset of users first. That may be why I’m not seeing it any longer even though the topic is still in the news.
Also, according InsideFacebook.com Facebook uses a “secret whitelist” to protect the top name third party tools from having this problem. From Facebook:
“We’re focused on ensuring that users see the highest quality stories in News Feed. As part of this, related stories are typically aggregated so users can see a consolidated view of stories from one app. In some cases, we work closely with trusted partners, such as Preferred Developer Consultants, to test new ways of surfacing stories, and gather feedback to improve the Platform experience.”
The reason Facebook began collapsing posts from third party apps was to unclutter user news feeds by reducing the updates from the many popular, and hated, games such as Farmville. It may be that the other apps for scheduling posts and automating blog updates were initially just collateral damage.
Automated Posts not Optimized for Facebook
A blog post headline, or tweet are not ideal Facebook posts. Twitter only allows 140 characters and hash tags won’t make much sense in the Facebook interface. Facebook allows richer posts with attached images and even embedded videos. If you mention a blog post on Facebook in addition to the headline copy, which is automatically imported when you attach a link, you can ask for opinions, or otherwise prompt your fans directly to engage with your content.
What to do?
As I mentioned earlier the first item is just a theory (though a popular one) and the second item is fluid. The third point, regarding optimizing content for the Facebook feed is worth some consideration. Some experts recommend importing your blog posts with a third party app or even Facebook Notes for SEO reasons, but not having the updates automatically post to your wall. Look at the settings for Networked Blogs to do this. If you must pre-schedule your posts with tools like HootSuite or Postling, do so. Scheduled updates are better than no updates at all. Try to mix in some direct posts on Facebook when practical.
- Ad Age: Posting to Facebook: The Truth About Third- Party Applications
- InsideFacebook: Secret Whitelist Protects Top Facebook Page Management Tools From Having Posts Hidden in News Feeds