Facebook Text-Only Posts Beating Photo And Link Posts On EdgeRank

By Guest Writer 

Facebook’s changes to EdgeRank have had a chilling effect on visibility and engagement for page owners. And this visibility cold front has suspiciously developed at the same time the social network is deploying enhanced methods for promoting posts for both pages and profiles. Coincidence? Maybe. But what if I told you that the kind of posts we like to share most — links and pictures — have taken a larger hit than text-only posts?

I know what you’re thinking: “Text-only posts won’t generate the engagement or shares that links and images do.” For the most part, I would agree, although we have seen more engagement on our best text posts than we have received on mediocre image posts. In other words, quality and creativity still rules the day.

Let’s look at some examples. Note that we are primarily concerned with the “organic” portion of the “people who saw this post” metric for the purpose of highlighting the EdgeRank preference toward text-only posts.

As we can see in example A, the post is text-only, engaging, and has a call to action. The post performed well for likes and comments, but it was not shared. This is not surprising, as low shares are expected and common for text-only posts. However, it was organically seen by 2,111 people. This post represents the top organic reach from the past 12 posts on the Fort Wayne Komets page.

Lest we think a hugely popular post — one that goes viral and gets shares — will be served more organically, I present example B. While this post clearly won more likes and shares, it only had three more comments and still yielded 224 fewer organic views. Note, too, that the time of posting was more favorable for reaching this page’s audience. Any type of post that followed games in the late evening had higher views except against example A shown above. This proves that knowing the best days, times, and situations to post for your audience still matters and will certainly impact results.

While these findings have not been commented on by Facebook, there is more than enough evidence to warrant suggesting that you make occasional text-only posts and measure the results. Similar results of text-only posts outperforming all others for total organic reach — dating back to early October, when we started testing — were seen across many other pages. In fact, I have found that other online marketers are seeing similar results. Chad Richards of Firebelly Marketing also noticed this oddity and indicated 132 percent increased reach on text-only posts across three pages it administered during a given test. As I was finishing up this post, I noticed that Hugh Briss had just posted similar findings and mentioned that Mari Smith and George Takei have also taken note of it.

What can you do about it?

  • Try some text-only posts and see how they perform for your page. Remember to post at the same time of day you normally would to get an accurate comparison. Be creative and remember to add a call to action.
  • Remove the preview image by clicking the “X” to the right of it. My testing has revealed that this appears to, for now, trick Facebook into thinking the post is just text.
  • Post multiple photos into a gallery, when applicable, instead of just one picture.
  • You could add links in the comments after you post. But since it looks kludgy and removing the preview image appears to work almost as well, I don’t suggest this method.

These techniques may become a somewhat moot point as Facebook rolls out the option for people to select “get notifications” from pages or if they implement the “pages feed” option they are currently testing. One option that I don’t think should be used as a crutch is the popularly shared “please add us to an interest list,” as that still won’t have your page showing up 100 percent of the time. And really, any option that requires user effort is less likely to provide full restoration of visibility.

Of course, the question is whether or not it is better to have a text-only message seen, or to accept fewer eyeballs on images and links with hopes that they will make up for it via shares and likes as our example above shows. My suggestion — outside of the obvious necessity to produce a page worth paying attention to — is to switch it up and measure what provides the most value for you. Keep in mind that occasionally reaching those extra organic users via text-only posts may prove very valuable. If you wouldn’t like your page, why would you expect others to?

Readers: Let us know if you have noticed, or now see, this occurring on your pages.

Kevin Mullett is a social media and search-engine-optimization expert and the director of product development for Cirrus ABS. Follow him on Twitter, @kmullett.

Main image courtesy of Shutterstock.