Gini Dietrich

Facebook Rewards Longer Content: Here’s What We Found

By: Gini Dietrich | August 18, 2015 | 

Facebook TestBy Gini Dietrich

About a month ago, Corina Manea wrote here about the hubbub surrounding marketers leaving Facebook.

Her post, titled Are You Sure You Want to Leave Facebook?, was in response to a conversation we’d been having on Slack about how to achieve better reach and engagement organically.

And that conversation was in response to Mark Schaefer’s Facebook Content Strategy is a Time Bomb for Inbound Marketing.

Both articles talk about how Facebook now rewards you when people stay on your page longer. The reward is with increased engagement and reach.

And both articles talk about the importance of not only appeasing Facebook (and to get your reward), but to drive people to something you own, such as a website or blog.

Facebook Rewards Longer-Form Content

I’ve long been an advocate of using something you own to drive visitors from around the web to you versus letting them stay on a social network, where you don’t have access to data or real insights.

That’s why, when the conversation came up in our team Slack, I was a bit reticent.

The idea being, of course, that if you publish your blog posts to Facebook, it encourages people to say on your page, instead of leaving for your blog, so Facebook rewards you.

I still don’t love the idea of letting Facebook keep our community, but I was willing to compromise.

We started to post the first two-thirds of every blog post to our Facebook page with a “read more” and then a link to capture the community here.

The test ran for a month and we compared the engagement and reach to the previous month.

Here is what we found.

Data is Gold

From June 1-30, we show the following data:

  • Engagement was 18,750.
  • Reach was 2,391.
  • The likes we received during that timeframe were 50.

From July 1-30, we show the following data:

  • Engagement was 14,516.
  • Reach was 3,536.
  • The likes we received during that timeframe were 47.

Interesting, right? Engagement was significantly lower, but reach was 48 percent higher. As well, we managed three likes less for significantly more reach.

Grumble, grumble.

Robert Downey, Jr. Can Be Beat!

But the real reason I wanted to test this was to see if we could get better engagement and reach on the Spin Sucks blog posts.

We post on Facebook four times a day: Twice a day it’s the two blog posts that run here and the other two times are fun or interesting or PR industry-related topics.

We also may or may not have a Robert Downey, Jr. post at least once a week.

I can’t help it!

It was driving me absolutely insane that Robert Downey, Jr. (hot as is he) was getting far more engagement and reach than our smart blog posts.

So we looked at the data solely for the Spin Sucks posts.

In June, those posts had 6,183 engagement and 663 reach.

In July, they had 8,735 engagement and 1,441 reach.

So 41 percent higher engagement and 117 percent higher reach.

I like the sound of that!

Longer-Form Content Does Affect Organic Insights

Overall, the test was kind of a bust. But, I do like that our engagement and reach were up considerably for the Spin Sucks blog posts.

It’s also important to note we didn’t do any paid or sponsored posts during this time.

I think we’ll keep it going for another month to see what the data tells us by summer’s end (so sad). We’ll start doing sponsored posts with our September 17 webinar (with Michael Smart…stay tuned!) so the data will be skewed after that.

If you see us shift how we post on Facebook after Labor Day, you’ll know we have something else up our sleeves and I’ll report back here soon.

In the meantime, have you tried posting full blog posts to Facebook? What kinds of results have you seen?

image credit: charnsitr/Shutterstock

UPDATE: The Verge reports Facebook is going to open it’s Notes section so everyone can blog there and never, ever have to leave the social network and live happily ever after.

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • This would make sense with the new changes to Notes for FB. Have you tested long form using notes instead of a regular post?

  • JamieNRutter

    This is really interesting! Thanks for the numbers. I’m going to try it!

    Two other things I’d test are the call to action and post type. Link posts are supposed to get more reach than photo + caption with a link and promotional calls to action (“read more”) are supposed to get poor reach unless there’s money behind it. I haven’t checked the numbers in a couple months though, so who knows if any of that’s still true.

  • keithbloemendaal Nope. Because I just saw that you can do that this morning. So I’ll have to try that next.

  • samemac

    I check Spin Sucks daily, but it’s usually early, early before the day starts, or late in the afternoon if we are winding down. The posts that showed up in my feed? I read those right there, in that moment. For example: lkpetrolino’s post yesterday popped up in my feed and I found myself nodding and nodding and nodding… then clicking because I was incredibly engaged. 

    I would have been just as excited about that specific post when I was finally able to read through the day’s posts on Spin Sucks, but this way – the message came to me. Yeah… I’m that millennial. 🙂

  • ginidietrichI look forward to seeing the results!

  • keithbloemendaal I don’t think I’ve ever seen a business Facebook page use the Notes app. That would be interesting to see how it turned out, though. 

    I know I used to use Notes in the early stages of Facebook for chain mail type posts: who’s your crush, what’s your favourite colour, that sorta thing.

  • Often I will read the Spin Sucks post in my own feed, as opposed to on your page. Because I’m just scrolling down my feed, see it and read. I assume that does not count toward your numbers?
    One thing I’ve observed as a user is, I might read the first paragraph or two of the blog post you’re highlighting and I’m totally ready to follow a link to the Spin Sucks website. But I can’t. I have to click Read More first, scroll to the bottom and hit the link. I suppose that is done for engagement purposes?

  • It depends on the type of engagement (I’m ignoring “reach” as an empty metric). Were the comments on-page or on another wall? Was the share to an audience that’s relevant, or simply to more peers?
    Facebook’s metrics are notoriously fluffy (you only need to compare their thinking on what constitutes a video view, versus the more robust YouTube one) to see that.
    So, yes, great that reach increased, but at what value?

  • decillis

    True story: RDJ posts do better, because somehow I seem to get tagged on them.

  • MichalPetras2

    Barry_at_IMPACT SpinSucks Very useful article

  • mikekmcclure

    Very interesting. I’ve been wrestling with the whole is FB even worth it for marketers issue myself. Might have to try this experiment and see what it does for us.

  • TaraFriedlundGeissinger

    I was really wondering what the outcome would be of this. I’m actually kind of surprised that engagement fell. For me personally, I really enjoy your longer posts (and Mark’s) in my feed. I find that while I may check the blog or read my emails in the morning, I will scroll FB at lunchtime or while waiting for a conference call to start and when I happen upon your posts I will totally get sucked in.

  • Kelsey Vere keithbloemendaal Hmmmmm….it doesn’t look like you can do it on your fan pages yet. Either of you able to do it?

  • ginidietrich Kelsey Vere I haven’t yet, but I found them on my Business Page, clicked on the “More” tab, then “Manage Tabs” and was able to add it there.

  • keithbloemendaal Ah ha! I had to add the app. Thank you!

  • keithbloemendaal ginidietrich Kelsey Vere I´ve just tried it. Here is how it looks like:
    Pretty nice.

  • I find this whole thing really interesting and it brings me back to several years ago when I was working with an organization who had a exceptionally active and engaged Facebook community. The comments on each and every post numbered in the 100s and community members basically used Facebook as a forum for discussion, collaboration, etc (much like the comment section here). But anytime we tried to bottle that up and move it off of Facebook to something we owned, it all fell away. 
    Much like TaraFriedlundGeissinger said below, it works because it’s where people already are, you eliminate a step. 

    I wonder if engagement would increase for communities that don’t have as active of a commenting section on blog as we do? While I’m surprised it decreased, I’m not surprised it didn’t increase, the ROI of clicking over for our commenting community is worth the extra effort.

  • I am with you Gini that we have to drive visitors to something we own. However given the LinkedIn first and then Facebook work to keep people more and more on their respective platforms, we just have to adapt. Of course, we still have to publish on our blogs/websites. After all we don´t know how long Facebook or any other platform will be around (even if now it seems like forever). 
    What I see is the fact that we will have to split our attention and communications/marketing efforts on several platforms and engage audiences we have there. They may or may not be the same as on the blog. 
    Some will go directly to the blog to read the article, other will stay on Facebook. Either way it´s a win.

  • travispeterson

    Data Data Data NOM NOM NOM… 

    Great post. Love that you basically mess with Facebook to figure out their secret sauce.  I still say that great content will be successful across platforms.

  • KateNolan

    ginidietrich and her math… 😉 I’ve actually really liked that there is a larger portion of the posts on facebook, since not everything SS posts fits into my current responsibilities, it allows me some time to determine if I need to head over to SS Official to read the full post. That being said, I’m not sure you need to put 2/3rds of the post on FB. I’m curious how you decided on that number?
    Also, I think the numbers pretty clearly indicate that you just need to put your PR related factoid on an RDJ picture. Then you could post RDJ daily and get even more engagement!

  • ginidietrich

    MichalPetras2 Thank you! And hi, Barry_at_IMPACT! SpinSucks

  • decillis You like that?? 🙂

  • JamieNRutter I used “go finish reading this” as the call-to-action today. Let’s see what it does!

  • samemac So you’re saying you DO like it in your feed?

  • Danny Brown Yeah, I only went on the Insights Facebook provides. I didn’t dig deeper than that because, well, I didn’t set up on the front end to do that.

  • mikekmcclure I’d be really curious to hear!

  • TaraFriedlundGeissinger Really? That’s very good anecdotal information to have. Thank you!

  • travispeterson It was driving me CRAZY that our content wasn’t getting any reach or engagement, but the other stuff was. When I started posting portions of the blog post there, it switched. Almost overnight. I WILL OWN YOU, FACEBOOK!

  • I appreciate this post – it’s a lot to get my head around, but important to try!

  • biggreenpen If you want some help, let me know. It’s fairly easy to implement.

  • KateNolan The two-thirds just felt like the right number. Sometimes it’s more. Sometimes less. Like today, I added “go read more” before Aly provided her four tips. I don’t know if it was half or 3/4 or, I DON’T KNOW! Leave me alone!

  • Corina Manea I’m going to be curious to see if our blog referral traffic and visitors decline. That will make me sad.

  • LauraPetrolino I suppose we will have an answer for that with some of the client content.

  • KateNolan

    ginidietrich Ok, ok! I figured with you being all statistical and analytical that you’d have some sort of master plan, BUT I GUESS NOT! 
    And FINE! I’ll take my RDJ and go home!

  • samemac

    ginidietrich Yep. 🙂

  • Interesting A/B test, Gini. I’m definitely going to experiment with this. Thanks for doing the legwork. 😉

  • Marketwired

    ginidietrich SpinSucks good to know!

  • I wrote for years, and built up a respectable blog following.  I could never really connect that to increased engagements for me.  (In this case, I’m talking about people actually writing checks with my name on them.)
    Can you in any way tie this increase to actual billables?  Proposals written?  Invitations to speak, workshop, or whatever your goal is?

    This is all starting to look like a huge echo chamber to me.

  • RobBiesenbach I deleted you. Just kidding! I don’t know where it went!

  • WordsDoneWrite My pleasure!

  • DickCarlson Um, yes. To the tune of $350K this year.

  • RobBiesenbach Weird. I saw the comment and now it says it’s been deleted. WHAT IS GOING ON?!?

  • ginidietrich

    Marketwired We are going to try the Notes next. Stay tuned. SpinSucks

  • Marketwired

    ginidietrich SpinSucks will do! Sounds interesting. Esp. since we never want to leave the social network and live happily every after …

  • ginidietrich

    Marketwired I agree!

  • shelholtz

    So is the next step to start using the enhanced Google Notes to give your longer-form content more of a blog appearance?

  • Will certainly look at this as well, thanks G.

  • My blog post Monday was on the topic of using networks to drive website traffic instead of establishing your whole presence there. I’m totally with you on that. If FB is bringing notes back, then I can imagine we’ll start seeing some marketers ditching their websites again. I remember it being a thing back when they increased the character limit to 60K (I hope no one has ever used all of them). One “expert” I followed did shut down their website. I don’t follow them anymore. I can see re-publishing content on FB or LinkedIn, but not abandoning or making a digital property I own a secondary priority.