Facebook Posting via Apps Cuts Likes & Comments by 88%

Does posting to Facebook via third-party apps make any difference on the number of ‘Likes” and/or comments your posts receive? What about Facebook’s algorithm? Does the algorithm discriminate or suppress content management applications?

The Facebook Posting Test

The creators of Edgerank Checker, Applum, decided to try and find out by reviewing more than a million Facebook updates across 50,000+ Pages. The goal? To test the theory that posting to Facebook via third-party apps will not generate as much engagement compared to posting directly on Facebook.

The Results

Applum’s test results showed that posting via one of the top ten third-party APIs resulted in an average decrease of 88% fewer comments and likes when compared to posting to Facebook directly.

Why the Decrease?

Applum speculates that Facebook penalizes third-party apps within its complex algorithm. As you may have also noticed, some third-party Facebook updates are condensed into a single News Feed story.

This condensing action alone eliminates opportunities for the impressions and engagement you would normally get on separate posts.

Something else to consider is the simple fact Facebook users can decide to block all updates from any third-party app – which I know I have certainly done in the past.

Is the Content to Blame?

What about the content itself? Many posts generated via third-party apps tend to be scheduled or automated. This can certainly lead to weaker engagement as the content tends to be off-topic or poorly timed. Even worse, content from third-party apps is often not optimized for Facebook. For example, Twitter posts (which is arguably the most popular of third-party apps) do not normally include links with descriptions and thumbnails.

So is Facebook deliberately downgrading third-party apps? A Facebook spokesman told Mashable,

“We’re focused on ensuring that users see the highest quality stories in News Feed. As part of this, related stories are typically aggregated so users can see a consolidated view of stories from one app. In some cases, we work closely with trusted partners, such as Preferred Developer Consultants, to test new ways of surfacing stories, and gather feedback to improve the Platform experience.”

What have your experiences been? Do you work hard to post to Facebook yourself or do you use third-party apps? Will you be changing your strategy based on any of this data?

Facebook Fan Page Measurement: Insights and Google Analytics

Facebook insights is a fairly good feature for fan page owners, if you are not using it; you are greatly missing out on all sorts of reports and statistics which are vital to steering your page into the right direction. There is one problem though, for those who are familiar with Google Analytics, Facebook insights simply does not provide enough information. As marketers, we want to know every detail about what happens on our website, or in this case our Fan pages.

Adding Google Analytics to Pages

I have looked in all the nooks and crannies of the web and I did finally find a method of setting up Google Analytics on our pages, even on our wall. Further research was done and I actually attempted to add the corresponding tracking code, however it requires inserting your tracking code within FBML tags. This action is currently not possible, as Facebook will be decommissioning their FMBL support. Basically, Facebook has since updated their pages in order to put more emphasis on their insights tools.

All that said, it is still possible to add Google Analytics to some parts of your page. You can add the tracking code within your custom tabs. If you don’t have any custom tabs currently, and your using Facebook to help your business, it essential you begin using them. The benefits fall back on the ability to add any HTML code, including JavaScript and CSS, practically everything you would on a regular web page within custom tabs – including your tracking codes.

There is a huge flaw in this though, although it is doable, there is an extremely limited amount of information you will receive because it won’t track information from the whole page when a user is on your tab. It will just track the goings on within the custom tab. For ecommerce fan pages or those tracking a conversion/lead of some sort this is a big opportunity to better measure your ROI.

Conclusion

We would all love our Google Analytics to be on Facebook, but we cannot fully edit the source code of Facebook, thus we cannot use Analytics to the fullest of its potential. For now, we will just have to stay put and be “thankful” for what we have, which is Facebook insights. All we can do is keep our fingers crossed for an update in which we can see more information and more detail in our fans activities on our pages.

Guest Author Byline:

This post was written by Lewis Austin and he works for SEO Positive as the Social Media Manager. If you would like to find out more about SEO Positive, follow their Twitter profile or Blog.

Facebook Insights – Major Update Released

Many of you may have already seen this update a few days ago, but Facebook just rolled out the beta version of the new Facebook Insights for Pages. For those interested, below is a quick recap.

Aside from the aesthetic changes, there are several important new data points now available (including an explanation for the ominous “Are Talking About This”). Unfortunately, the new data can only be accessed back to July 19 of this year and in 35 day segments.

There are also several new Insights APIs available that we’ll be investigating over the next few days. Basically, there will be even more data available than is provided in the dashboard. Keep in mind, we are still in the early stages of understanding how Facebook is determining these numbers.

Below is the Official Facebook Page Insights Guide:


Here are a few new Facebook Insights highlights:

  • Friends of Fans – The potential reach of a page when users create a story about the page (i.e. amplification). There may also be an opportunity here to determine the average number of friends per user.
  • Like Sources – Expanded detail on where people are Liking a page. No more “Unknown” category.
  • Reach – We can now see the demographics of people that see brand posts in their News Feed. THIS IS HUGE.
    • Organic, Paid, Viral, and Total are each included as categories of reach. In short, this is a much easier way to determine how effective ads are performing against organic efforts. The Viral category may also be a good indicator on how compelling brand content is among users.
    • Frequency – Shows how many users viewed a post more than once, which is a drilled down version of the previous raw impressions number.
  • Talking About This – The # of unique people who have created a story about your Page. This includes people that Liked the Page, posted to the wall, Liked or commented on a post, answered a question, RSVP’d to an event, etc. This is basically a redefined version of Weekly Active Users.
    • Also includes demographic data and the “viral” reach, which shows the number of unique users that saw a story published by a friend about your Page.
  • EXPORTING – Above all, this is the most important update. Brand posts are now available in exporting and can be broken down by post type (photo, link, video, and platform post). This means that we can see how third party publishers are performing against posts made directly on the page.
    • There are a plethora of data columns that have been added, including post Shares, etc.

For any pages that you currently admin, the new dashboard can be viewed by following the link below and inserting the corresponding page name: http://facebook.com/PAGENAME?sk=page_insights

Facebook Insights Upgrade

What do you think of the new Insights features?

Facebook Product Updates: News Feed, Ticker, Timeline and More!

If you’ve logged into your Facebook account lately, it’s likely you’ve taken notice of a number of new features. With that in mind, I wanted to share some updates about Facebook’s most recent product launches and provide you with details to share with your colleagues and clients.

Facebook believes that businesses will be better in a connected world. With that in mind, it makes sense that they are pushing features and product enhancements that will connect their 800M members to their friends and the things they care about in all new ways. This initiative starts with the News Feed making it faster and easier to find and engage with the things people care about.

Facebook News Feed and Ticker

It will now be easier to keep up with the people in your life no matter how frequently or infrequently you’re on Facebook. All your news will be in a single stream with the most interesting stories featured at the top. If you haven’t visited Facebook for a while, the first things you’ll see are the top stories posted while you’ve been away. If you check Facebook more frequently, you’ll see the most recent stories at the top of News Feed. Photos will also be bigger and easier to enjoy. Finally, you’ll start to see a real-time ticker on the right side of your home page that makes it easier to see what your friends are up to and join in the conversation.

Because these changes will help show people the most relevant content at the right time, we fully expect that the engagement on Page posts will stay constant or increase with this update. However, you might see some variations in the distribution the Page posts are getting in Page Insights.

Ads and Sponsored Stories will now be located right below ticker on narrow screens. On wide screens, they will remain where they currently are, while ticker will appear on top of the chat in the sidebar. Facebook has been working hard to improve the Facebook experience for users and advertisers and it is likely there will be new iteratations on the placement and behavior of these ads on the Home Page in the coming weeks.

Facebook Timeline

Timeline, a new kind of profile, allows people to tell the story of their life and share the things they do on their favorite websites and apps. This enables businesses who have Facebook apps to communicate with people and their friends in even more relevant ways. Facebook launched new features that make apps a bigger part of the Facebook experience. When people add your app to their Timeline, they create a permanent connection, which lets them include the activities they do on your site or app in their Timeline – pretty cool!

And because it’s always better when people talk about you than when you talk about you, you can make sure more friends see what people share from your apps using Sponsored Stories. So if someone reviews one of your products or watches a movie on your site, you can make sure that his friends will see it on the right-hand side of Facebook.

Product Update Summary

News Feed

All your news will be in a single stream with the most interesting stories featured at the top. If you haven’t visited Facebook for a while, the first things you’ll see are the top stories posted while you’ve been away. If you check Facebook more frequently, you’ll see the most recent stories at the top of News Feed. Photos will also be bigger and easier to enjoy.

Ticker

Ticker will make it easier to see what your friends are up to in real time and join the conversation by simply clicking on one of the stories. Please note that ticker will only appear to people with enough friend activity (~75 friends).

Timeline

Timeline represents a new kind of profile for people to express themselves and will be rolling out in the coming weeks.

Open Graph Targeting

Facebook will enable businesses to reach out to people with ads that are more relevant for them based on the activities they take in apps, that have been added to their Timeline. For example if you are an entertainment company premiering a new movie, you can target all the people who have added a movie app to their Timeline and who are “watching” romantic comedies.

Sponsored Stories

Facebook will allow businesses to promote stories coming from their apps.

What is your take on the new Facebook features and layout?

Facebook Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes: Timeline Recap from F8

As you probably already know, Facebook made some major announcements during their f8 developers summit in late September. The important question resulting from these announcements is, what does this mean for advertisers? I will personally wait until some of the dust settles to make any hasty judgements, however, one thing is for certain: Brands will have to work harder at creating better content and experiences to get impressions and value out of Facebook.

Here are a few bits of info cobbled together from the f8 conference for your reading enjoyment:

Facebook Timeline

At a high-level view, Timeline seems like an interesting new way for Facebook users to explore their own content. The most common comparison is that it is “an interactive scrap-book of your life.”

What does Facebook Timline look like?

“Wow, that’s a great way to make my Facebook more relevant to me” You might be saying. You’d be right. There are some really interesting opportunities for making ALL content (both from the friends and brands that you follow) more contextual, where only the most relevant updates are given the most coveted Facebook real estate. Everything else is relegated to the ‘Ticker.’ A continually updating iFrame that pulls in lesser updates, likes, and other small actions your friends are publishing in ‘real-time’.

Whose Timeline is it Anyway?

For those who regularly work on trying to get brands more visibility on Facebook, this changes the game slightly. Context and relevance will be determined by engagement and sharing. One positive change is that from now on, Facebook users will not only ‘Like’ your content, but they can also ‘Watch’ it, or ‘Read’ it, or [noun] ANY [verb]. This is called “GESTURES”. That means that the simple act of participating in what we produce is now inherently a social thing.

Take for example, Washington Post’s Social Reader, launched yesterday in conjunction with the new FB rollouts. Social Reader allows users to share recommendations simply by reading. Be careful what you read, though, because it WILL share everything.

What else does it do? It displays content based on past articles you’ve read, and compares your listed interests (as well as your friends’ interests) to display contextual stories and articles it deems relevant to you.

What are your thoughts on Timeline? Do you think it will provide an advantage for brands advertising on Facebook?

Facebook for Business Launches Education Center Online

There has been a lot of press and conversation around the launch of Google+. One thing that has been glaringly missing from the new social network, however, is a ‘place’ for businesses to promote their brands – such as Facebook Pages. To make that issue even more obvious, Facebook has just released Facebook for Business – an online resource to help companies grow their business with Facebook’s powerful marketing tools.

Facbook for BusinessA Facebook spokesman says:

Facebook allows small businesses to create rich social experiences, build lasting relationships and amplify the most powerful type of marketing—word of mouth. We created Facebook.com/Business to make it even easier for people to reach these objectives and grow.

With Facebook’s amazing targeting features and improving reporting capabilities it makes sense for them to continue to push their marketing capabilities and continue to build the divide between themselves and Google Plus. Facebook for Business will provide details on all of the marketing options available including:

What are your thoughts – will you leverage this new Facebook business marketing resource?

Facebook Static FBML App Decommission Roadmap

I recently wrote about a Facebook security update for apps that kicked in on October 1st. It looks like Facebook will be making some changes to FBML as well in the near future. While you haven’t been able to create FBML apps since March, they still work.

That’s not going to be the case in the future. If you currently have old FBML apps which are currently grandfathered in, they will need to be rewritten or replaced by next June. Our recommendation is to make the updates even sooner.

From Facebook:

  1. January 1, 2012: FBML will no longer be supported. We will not fix FBML bugs after this date with the exception of security and privacy issues
  2. June 1, 2012: FBML apps will no longer work on Facebook. All FBML endpoints will be removed.

What this Means to You:

  1. Broken FBML apps will likely stay broken. You should no longer promote or depend on any FBML apps.
  2. FBML apps go away completely. At this point, any FBML apps should have been completely decommissioned or rewritten as HTML5 iFrame apps.

Resources to Migrate to an iFrame Solution:

  1. The Preferred Developer Consultant Finder on Facebook is a great tool to find Facebook Preferred Developers to help guide you through the upgrade process.
  2. Facebook and WildFire have created a step by step tutorial to guide your migration.
  3. Lastly, visit the Facebook Developer Blog to learn more – https://developers.facebook.com/blog/post/568/

Do you use FBML apps? What are your migration plans?

Creating a Facebook Page – Step 5: Create a Username

Now that you’ve selected the most appropriate category for your Facebook page, filled out your info section and began adding content to your Facebook page and updated your settings to prevent comment spam hopefully all of that has translated into an increase in ‘likes’.

The last step in finalizing your Facebook Page is creating a username. This is key for a number of reasons:

  • Prevent someone from squatting on your brand name
  • Improve search engine optimization by including your ‘keywords’ in your URL
  • A specific, short URL is much easier for your users to remember
  • Helps establish an ‘identify’ for your brand
  • Eases promotional efforts when publishing your Facebook Page URL

In short, you should definitely take advantage of the ability to assign a unique username for your Facebook page.

To get started, follow the steps below:

  1. Login to Facebook and go to your Facebook page.
  2. Click “Edit Info” and then select “Basic Information”.
  3. Click on the link: “Create a username for this page?”
  4. In some cases, it may require you to verify your account. Additionally, it requires you to have at least 25 fans on your Facebook page.

Tips on Selecting a Username

You’ll need to assign a username that should be the same as your official business name, domain name, or brand. With over 750 million users on Facebook, its quite possible the username you are hoping for will be taken. In such as a case use “dots” or “dashes” to isolate each word. For example, if you are the owner of Blue Widgets, then you can assign the username as “blue-widgets” or “blue.widgets”.

After configuring this, your official Facebook page URL should now be one of the following options:

  1. http://www.facebook.com/bluewidgets
  2. http://www.facebook.com/blue-widgets
  3. http://www.facebook.com/blue.widgets

Its looks professional, clean, and search engine friendly. Now you have officially completed all 5 steps required to set up your Facebook Page! Feel free to leave a link to your Facebook Page in the comments section!

Creating a Facebook Page – Step 4: Prevent Comment Abuse


Now that you are populating your Facebook Page with content, you’ll likely encounter spam comments as well as the occasional use of profanity. Obviously this is not great for any brand page. With that in mind, its time to configure your landing page settings to prevent as much comment abuse as possible.

Preventing Facebook Page Comment Abuse

  1. Click “Edit Info” on your dashboard
  2. Click “Manage permissions’
  3. Next, configure the following important aspects
  4. Default landing tab – you can set this to either wall or info. This is the first thing the user will see when they land on your Facebook page
    • Elect whether or not you can decide if users can add photos or videos
    • To control the use of profane words in comments, under “moderation blocklist” copy and paste this list of words
    • Lastly, make sure “profanity blocklist” is set to “strong”

Now, after these settings are updated, you should be well on your way to preventing a lot of common Facebook comment abuse. Note, you should still manually check your followers comments to ensure nothing slipped through the cracks!

Next up, the final step 5 – creating a username.

Major Facebook Security Changes Oct 1 Audit your Applications Now!

On October 1, 2011, Facebook will make a mandatory change to all applications, as per the Facebook Developer Roadmap. Any affected application not updated before the change will become inoperable.

It is imperative that you audit any/all client Facebook apps/experiences in order to ascertain if they will be affected by these changes. Again, these changes must be made to existing Facebook applications (or inserted into current build plans for applications) – if not, these client applications will be rendered inoperable as of OCT 1.

We are sending this out now as the supported toolkits from Facebook were just updated and released and are now ready to be implemented against.

Recommended Audit steps:

  1. Identify and list all programs with Facebook integrations.
  2. Identify programs that will continue to be live after September 30, 2011.
  3. Work with your program’s associated tech resources to identify if program will be affected.

Facebook Security Update FAQ

Why is this happening?

Facebook has recently been the subject of many concerns about the level of security around the exchange of personal information with applications. This is an effort by Facebook to shore up their interfaces to prevent any exploitation.

Is this optional?

Unfortunately, Facebook has made this non-optional. Historically, Facebook has basically had the approach that changes like these have been part of the ‘cost of doing business on Facebook.’ They move fast, and expect you to also.

What will be affected?

Any application on:

  • Facebook Pages
  • Facebook Canvases
  • Non-Facebook site (minisite, client’s .com) using Facebook Connect

and using:

  • IFrames
  • OpenGraph
  • Facebook SDKs
    • Official
      • PHP
      • Javascript
    • Unofficial
      • Java
      • .NET
      • Ruby
      • Etc.

What will not be affected?

  1. Much older FBML applications – predating IFrame switchover.
  2. Site integrations limited to Facebook Social Plugins (Like buttons, Send buttons, etc.) that don’t do deeper Connect/OpenGraph integration.

What changes need to be made?

All applications must have valid SSL certificates and be configured to use HTTPS. This requires acquiring certificates and working with associated IT resources to install on the servers where the program is hosted. These certificates cannot be “self-signed” and must work with any modern browser without it complaining.

Integration code must upgrade to OAuth 2.0 and associated new Facebook authentication:

  • Apps using PHP SDK update to latest official Facebook PHP SDK and make minor code changes.
  • Apps using Javascript SDK update to latest official Facebook Javascript SDK and make minor code changes.
  • Apps using other SDKs must update in whatever manner appropriate.

In the Facebook developer console, under “Settings -> Advanced”, enable “OAuth Migration”.

What do we do if our app is hosted by a social app vendor (Involver, Buddy Media, Wildfire, Vitrue, etc.)?

Reach out to the vendor and ask them if they have a plan in place for the “Facebook OAuth 2.0 and SSL changes”.

It might be an annoying change to have to make but it’s nice to see Facebook putting some thought into privacy protection. What are your thoughts on the upgrade?