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Note: This is data taken after just ten hours; there may be a delay in updating this data so there will be a second post on this case study.
On September 21st 2012, a Facebook Edgerank update had everyone wondering what was going on! Suddenly, Facebook Business Page reach plummeted to as low as 1/3 its previous level. At first it was just attributed to yet another change but it was then revealed that it might be here for good!
Some speculate that the September 21st Edgerank Update might be about forcing business pages to spend on sponsored posts (no, would Facebook do that?) and some speculate it's to force increased uptake of the "lists" function (total pain to set up so nobody did) and others say it's all about delivering a better quality newsfeed (bahahhahahha - by others I think it was just Facebook saying that). Whatever the reason, it's been highly unpopular and very controversial.
" We’re continuing to optimize the news feed to show the posts that people are most likely to engage with, ensuring they see the most interesting stories. This aligns with our vision that all content should be as engaging as the posts you see from friends and family."
Larger pages are now seeing a massive decrease in the number of fans reached with each post. This is indicated on the wall post itself and in the Insights tab.
"The change resulted in many pages losing 40-50% (or more) of their organic reach."said Jeff Doak, Head of Social Measurement at WPP Ad Agency Team Detroit
Experimenting with Viral Posts - post September 2012
After watching a viral post float around Facebook for 10 hours, it would appear that it no longer matters how many times your post was actually viewed via shares. It would appear that Facebook no longer considers the actual content shared from your page as a viral view (at least in the first 10 hours – it monitors for 28 days but Talking About This is calculated on a rolling weekly total).
Visit the Talk About Creative Facebook Page to see our scratch paper!
So, I share your image, you get credit for my share but not for consequent Edge actions (Edge is the umbrella term applied to actions taken on Facebook, ranking it is called Edgerank). My friends share it, you get nothing but a warm fuzzy feeling and your brand name flashed about, I get the credit even though your brand name is carried and new shares (not likes) are recorded against your image.
A few interesting conclusions
Despite countless shares, the poster of this content received no significant change to the post stats after ten hours either on the wall itself or in Insights.
Talk About Creative was the fifth share in a line of both personal and business page shares. The viral score on the post was 73 – (coincidently, the exact sum of the number of comments and the number of likes on the post). There is absolutely no chance that only 73 people saw the post after all the shares it generated. With so many shares off the page, this is a very, very low number. This again concludes that the viral score no longer counts the number of people who saw the post via share, only the number that saw it via a friend's comment or like.
There was again, a direct correlation between the number of comments and the surge in organic views. This has been consistent since the Edgerank update. This would indicate that comments are the new preferred currency of Edgerank. There was no significant difference between short comments and lengthy ones.
There is no longer a benefit to downloading popular content and re-uploading it as your own (a violation of Facebook rules and IP law). This was the quick easy way to get likes, comments and shares but is seemingly no longer effective.
Generating more post views seems to now rely on comments, so encouraging conversation may serve a greater benefit. Talk About Creative posts with plenty of comments received, on average 3-4 times the organic post views of those simply liked or shared.
The number that appears on the foot of your post is no longer an accurate summary of the number of viral views your content received. This will, in many cases give a "false low" in display results. With shares, your posts are in fact being seen by more people that your stats indicate.
Again, this data has been gathered after just ten hours and Facebook is notoriously slow for updating its data. There will be follow up observations down the track.
Of all the Facebook Edgerank updates, the September 21st 2012 update has been the most unpopular amongst business owners (yep, I'm calling it more unpopular than timeline!) This is a new beginning for Facebook – now growing and evolving its Edgerank algorithm in the same way that Google does. One more thing to keep your eye on in the online marketing world….great!
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