Which type of Facebook post will reach the most people?

Which type of Facebook post will reach the most people?

It wasn’t long ago that sharing a photo was by far the best way of ensuring your Facebook post would be seen by as many fans as possible. But that situation has reversed dramatically over the last year, according to new figures from social media analytics company SocialBakers.

By a long margin the Facebook algorithm’s top performer is now video, followed by link posts and text-only status updates, with photos a distant fourth. The SocialBakers data – which was released to Business Insider – covered 4,445 brand pages on Facebook and includes more than 670,000 posts between October 2014 and February 2015.

This first chart shows the organic reach – i.e. the percentage of a page’s fans that see a post without money being spent on advertising – for each type of post on brand pages with up to 100,000 fans.

facebook reach socialbakers 1

 Source: Socialbakers, via Business Insider

Across the three months videos received an average 8.7% organic reach, text-only status updates 5.8%, link posts 5.3% with photos at just 3.7%.

The figures are significantly lower for brand pages with more than 100,000 fans – as seen in this second chart – although video is still the best performer and photos the worst.

facebook reach socialbakers 2

 Source: Socialbakers, via Business Insider

The growth of Facebook video

The key takeaway from these latest figures is, of course, the importance Facebook is placing on video. It is clearly using its algorithm to encourage brands to publish video as a means of reaching as large an audience as possible.

One reading of this is that Facebook wants to take on YouTube – and pocket some of the nearly $6bn in advertising revenue the Google-owned company earns as the world’s dominant video platform. There have been reports that Facebook is trying to poach some of YouTube’s top talent.

Whatever Facebook’s motives, the message for marketers is clear: you need to include video in your content strategy.

Native links are the key

The second point to be reinforced is the importance of sharing links correctly. Until the middle of last year it was common for brands to simply include links in the caption accompanying a photo, because they looked more attractive in the news feed as well as having improved reach.

But Facebook announced a major change in August 2014, declaring that its algorithm would begin punishing photo posts that contained links in the caption. Instead, brands should share links using the native format – which shows the headline and introduction of the item being shared (which, it said, makes it easier for people to decide whether they actually want to click through.)

These latest figures show the algorithm is performing exactly as promised: native links perform far better than photos. Just make sure you have a good image in any blogs or pages you’re linking to, as this will also be displayed in the news feed.

Organic reach plateaus

Organic reach is of course a controversial and much-discussed topic among marketers. Back in 2012 it stood at an average of 16%, but it had fallen to around 6% by February 2014. Back then a Social@Ogilvy report suggested brands should prepare for a zero organic reach – i.e. posts wouldn’t be seen by any fans unless money was spent on advertising.

These latest figures clearly show this nightmare scenario hasn’t come true – organic reach has plateaued, and in fact has even risen slightly when the video boost is taken into account.

Marketers shouldn’t abandon Facebook just yet.

Paul is Executive Producer, Content at Formative, a UK-based content marketing agency helping brands tell their corporate stories. Formative creates compelling, intelligent content for our clients – everything from long-form insight & thought leadership, to infographics, memes, videos and webinars.

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