Often I am asked that if by using a 3rd party publishing tool to schedule and publish posts to Facebook will it decrease the overall reach of the published post? Some users are saying that they have data that suggests that they get better reach and engagement by publishing directly from the Facebook platform and that the edgerank (Facebooks newsfeed algorithm for displaying content) is harmed if using an outside tool. In other words, is Facebook punishing me for using something other than Facebook for publishing my posts?
Lets dive into what the magical Facebook “edgerank” means to you.
When we speak of edgerank we are really referring to the newsfeed algorithm that Facebook uses in determining what content appears in their users news feeds. Your news feed is prime real estate for brands wishing to share their message with you and the newsfeed algorithm is what determines what content makes it to your feed. The key takeaway here is that this algorithm helps determine what you are most likely to find useful and relevant specifically to you. If this algorithm didn’t exist then your news feed would consist of nothing but marketing noise from all those pages you haphazardly liked.
There are three factors that play into how edgerank is determined but first lets identify what is considered an “edge”.
Every status update, like, share, comment, tagging of a post, uploading an image and basically any type of content or interaction is considered an “edge”. Facebook looks at all of these edges in a users news feed and uses the algorithm to determine which edges are the most important to you.
This newsfeed algorithm uses a combination of three magical items in determining what content is of utmost importance to you.
- Affinity – The score between the viewing user and edge creator, in other words the relationship between you and the creator of a piece of content.
- Edge Weight – The types of edges have varying weights to them or importance. For instance all photos, videos and links seem to garner the most engagement and therefore carry a greater weight in determining an edgerank score. Simply put these published items are more likely to be interacted when compared to a basic status update. Edge weight also seems to have a snowball effect, meaning that as a post grows in comments, likes and shares it becomes more weighted and more likely to appear higher in the news feed.
- Time Decay – Time decay factor is based on how long ago the edge was created. Basically, something newer is more likely to appear in a newsfeed then something older.
Something to remember is that while we do our best to analyze and identify the governing factors regarding this newsfeed algorithm the simple fact is that this is proprietary to Facebook and they really keep all of this behind the curtain. Facebook can choose to push something higher in a users newsfeeds for no other reason then them wanting to do so. I warned you that this stuff was magical.
Smoke and Mirrors
So on to the question at hand, are the posts you make via a 3rd party publishing tool being punished by Facebook? The answer is, well, magical as well.
These publishing tools are designed to help streamline publishing efforts within your organization across a multitude of social networks. Many of these tools allow you to creating engaging fan content such as custom tab design and contests, allow for better scheduling and publishing of updates, uploading content in bulk, repurposing older content and even measuring your social analytics beyond what the network offers you natively.
Looking at the following scenario you are using a publishing tool to schedule and publish status updates to your Facebook page(s) about a special event that you are having in roughly a months time. Thankfully you have purchased a tool that allows you to easily create a post and schedule it to go out on every Friday at 2pm leading up to your big event.
Week 1 – You find that your post is successful you have great fan engagement and your post reach is very high.
Week 2 – You have some engagement but not nearly as much reach as the previous week.
Week 3 – The results are pathetic you have no engagement or reach from your post. This causes you to take to Facebook and create another post about your event and like magic, your reach is better then what you received from weeks two and three combined. You immediately call your vendor and exclaim that the tool sucks and Facebook penalizes posts from it.
Week 4 – You forget you have this one scheduled and it goes out further diminishing how the newsfeed algorithm sees posts from this particular 3rd party tool.
So What Gives?
The edgerank algorithm over time saw your posts becoming less engaging to fans so it learned that when it sees a post that has been published via (insert any 3rd party publisher) to your Facebook page it figures that the content isn’t going to be very engaging to fans so it shows it to a lesser audience. Reach is diminished.
This is just one of many scenarios that could be effecting how Facebook is seeing your posts. We are quick to blame the technology when something goes awry but often it is the short cuts that technology affords us that causes us to be careless and lazy with our content.
Features such as scheduling content in bulk, publishing to many pages and networks at once and repurposing old posts are all features that can be helpful when utilized properly but harmful if your not taking the time to craft your messages appropriately.
The moral of the story, technology tools allow you to move quickly and be more efficient with your social marketing efforts but you might just shoot yourself in the foot if your not careful. Create original, genuine and helpful content for your fans to engage with each and every time. Learn how to use these tools effectively and do not just look for the shortcuts that some may provide within their feature set. It may take you a bit longer to plan your content but the benefits will far outweigh the negatives in the long run.
By – Adam Lazzara