I’ve noticed an extremely disturbing affect of the new Facebook newsfeed timeline on scheduled posts, and one that page administrators have no choice but to take extremely seriously. Across the dozen or so Facebook pages on which I’m an administrator, Impressions (the number of times a post is displayed) on posts scheduled via Hootsuite are down by up to 98%. Furthermore, Impressions of non-scheduled posts containing a picture or link are down by up to 78%. And if page owners don’t wise up to this, it could spell disaster for brands and companies across Facebook.
The example below is typical of what I’m seeing since Facebook introduced the new timeline. This particular page has a community that has grown from 130 to 1800 fans in five weeks, driven by extremely high engagement levels that average 1.7% per post. The lower post is normal for this page: 2500 Impressions with 30 Interactions. The upper post is what happens when posts are scheduled using Hootsuite: only 75 Impressions. Recent non-scheduled posts containing pictures (normally considered a great way of encouraging engagement) have typically received only 500 to 700 Impressions.
The affect does seem to vary across pages. Whereas some, such as this example, are suffering immensely, others are seeing a far less pronounced impact. But I’m not the only one noticing a significant decline in brand/page activity on Facebook. Simply Zesty recently wrote about concerns that had been expressed to them from businesses very worried that Impressions are way down and that “business pages are barely showing up in user’s feeds any more”.
What’s going on?
I’m unsure at present whether the scheduling affect is limited to Hootsuite, although from my own recent experiences in the newsfeed, I don’t believe this to be the case. Just this week I noticed that the pages I normally see posts from were disappearing. In one instance, I read a status posted using Argyle Social and noticed that there was a ‘see 4 more posts from Argyle’ link – on clicking it, 4 more posts appeared from different pages using the same application that were hidden and that I would never have seen. So it would appear that Facebook grouping together posts is not limited to links or subject areas. And this could explain the dramatic nosedive in newsfeed Impressions for those using social tools.
Another factor may be Facebook’s new Top Story function, where an algorithm decides what it considers to be the most relevant stories in your newsfeed at any given time and displays these at the top of the feed. With Facebook increasingly focusing on connecting ‘people with people’ rather than ‘people with pages’, posts by brands and organisations don’t score highly. As I write this, I have to scroll through a huge 55 posts by friends before I see the first post by a page. And how often are you going to do that?
Facebook is obviously in a state of flux at present. The newsfeed has changed beyond recognition and the new timeline profiles are being rolled out. And I refuse to believe that Facebook doesn’t have something up its sleeve for brands, organisations and page administrators. But it needs to do something quickly to address these issues, as advertisers simply won’t continue to put their money into a platform where interaction is falling off a cliff.
Monitoring feedback on every post is starting to become essential, while post scheduling has become unviable as an option for page management until something changes dramatically. But when that will be, who knows. Still, there’s always the forthcoming Google+ business pages, right?
Update 6th October: I’ve been in dialogue with Hootsuite on Twitter to try and get some clarity on this issue, but unfortunately they won’t give me a straight answer. If and when they do I’ll let you know.
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