Yvette Pistorio

Spam Sucks: The Fallout from Recent Facebook Changes

By: Yvette Pistorio | December 12, 2012 | 

Today’s guest post is by Yvette Pistorio.

There’s been a lot of talk about Facebook recently.

Mostly regarding brand reach and costs.

We’ve even talked about it here on Spin Sucks.

In September, Facebook made some changes to crack down on spammy content.

Will Cathcart, the product manager for news feed at Facebook, spoke to TechCrunch about the EdgeRank algorithm change, “We made a relatively large ranking change in September that was designed to reduce spam complaints from users. We used [spam] reports at an aggregate level to find Pages or apps generating a lot of reports [and decrease their reach]. We’ve also added personalized attempts to reduce presence of posts you’re likely to complain about.”

To sum it up, if you never click, like, comment, or share posts by a Page, Facebook made those updates less likely to show up in your feed.

Cathcart says, “That’s a relatively large change. It resulted in a large decrease in spam reports,” meaning it successfully made the Facebook news feed better. Well, according to Facebook anyway.

Where Did Everybody Go?

I’ve seen a significant decrease on the Arment Dietrich page in our Total Weekly Reach, or the number of unique people who have seen content associated with our page. We’ve never posted spammy content or bought likes. We post content we think our community would benefit from, Spin Sucks blog posts, and also fun, humorous posts.

I compared August, September, and October and here is what I found: From August to September our reach decreased 34 percent; from September to October, it decreased another 38 percent.

Side note: The Arment Dietrich page had a huge spike in traffic on the week of September 20 which, when I looked at the history, was out of the ordinary. Therefore, I didn’t take the spike into consideration when I calculated the decrease. If I did, it would be a 51 percent decrease from September to October.

Coincidentally Facebook announced their new feature, Promoted Posts, for business pages right around the same time reach was decreasing for us and many other pages.

How to Get Them Back

Instead of simply blaming Facebook, this page admin is going back to the drawing board to figure out what our fans prefer to share, comment on, and like, then sponsor those ones if need be (with the boss’ approval, of course!). We can adapt by taking certain measures to promote content that drives interactions and increases our chances of showing up on the news feed.

A couple of other things we can do according to Mashable:

  • Post photos
  • Create photo albums
  • Write more text
  • Use post targeting

To be fair, Facebook continually tinkers with its algorithms as they develop the site. However they do have an economic incentive to make sure brands’ fans see all their posts.

Whatever their intent is, the changes at Facebook mean brands need to shift to creating social content that is as engaging as the posts we see from our friends and family.

What have you been doing to get back into your fans’ feeds?

About Yvette Pistorio

Yvette Pistorio is the shared media manager for Arment Dietrich. She is a lover of pop culture, cupcakes, and HGTV, and enjoys a good laugh. There are a gazillion ways you can find her online.

  • I’ve actually had MORE engagement on the page I manage, which is probably why I’m not pitchforking yet. Coincidentally, I’d started posting fewer links and more photos around the same time. Maybe I’d have gotten much more grown pre-changes, but I hit a share record last week.

    • @jelenawoehr That’s interesting that you’ve had more. Facebook sent you a super secret email to tell you what they were up to didn’t they?!?!

  • I’m working on a blog post discussing the same thing. I’m comparing my Page analytics as well, plus a few other data points. My reach also went down in certain areas and increased in others, it’s really interesting.

    • @jennimacdonald It is really interesting. And it’s not as if we changed anything but I’m really paying attention to what our fans like the most and trying to give them more of it. Looking forward to reading your post!

      • @yvettepistorio I couldn’t agree more, I’m actually kind of frustrated. It’s interesting, I compared many different metrics. Really excited to share it with you and get your thoughts!

        • patmrhoads

          @jennimacdonald  @yvettepistorio Jenni, I can’t wait to see this post you’re talking about… I’d love to hear about what the analytics tell you about how and why posts performed the way they did, good or bad.

        • @patmrhoads  @yvettepistorio it’s publishing tomorrow morning. I’ll post a link here!

        • patmrhoads

          @jennimacdonald  @yvettepistorio That’s great. Thanks!

        • @patmrhoads  @yvettepistorio Here you go, not sure you’re gonna like my results–> Did Facebook’s change in EdgeRank really affect Reach? http://bit.ly/WbqsUc

  • Hi Yvette!
    Great post, and I’m so glad you’re discussing this! Aside from paying Facebook and promoting a post, I fear there is not too much that can be done organically. Great content gives a brand the chance of a post going ‘viral,’ causing more people to like and share, and thus showing in others’ feeds, but what about those ‘likes’ you already have but can’t reach?
    Facebook itself is pretty transparent about the reach of brand pages (on the Dev site, they say on average, your post will reach 16% of your audience http://developers.facebook.com/docs/reference/ads-api/intro-sponsored-stories/) and took the time to put together all kinds of guides on reaching one’s audience, increasing engagement, etc., but at the end of the day, I think Promoted Posts & Stories is the quickest way to reach all your fans. What do you think?
    I get it; they want a piece of the pie, and they created this tool for all of us to use. I do think that more and more consumers are aware of the changes and know that if they want to see a brand’s post, they have to engage with them or change their settings to see their updates, especially those in the communications industries, but that doesn’t solve our issues 100%.
    I have seen some pages tell their fans outright to adjust their settings if they want to see posts. At this point, only 16% of our fans will see that message, though!
    I think the fastest solution might be creating a budget to put out 3-4 promoted posts/stories each year to give all of your fans a chance to interact with you. Did I give up too easily?! Would love to hear your thoughts.
    Hope you’re well!Best,

    • Hey Lisa!
      Gini Dietrich  also wrote a post about this topic (http://spinsucks.com/social-media/facebook-promoted-posts-remove-the-level-playing-field/), and I tend to agree with her. There are other business models they could have followed (um, Google) but they chose this one. Yes, it’s “easy” to set aside a budget however, not all small businesses are able to do that. Anything is “easy” if you have the money to spend. 
      Hope you are well too! Tell everyone I said hello over there 🙂

      • @yvettepistorio  Gini Dietrich I sure will! And thank you for sharing Gini’s post from November. I wonder if brands will spend less time using over time Facebook because it doesn’t allow them to connect with their entire audience? It will be interesting to see where it evolves over time and if brands keep a spot on the platform but don’t spend as much time engaging, because the return is no longer there.
        We definitely see more engagement with photos and short posts, and tend to stick to that strategy as it’s what our fans seem to enjoy the most.
        Aside from creating budget (which, as you mentioned is not possible for most businesses – especially when it’s $25-30K as Gini mentioned, geesh!), I think it will be a mixture of content, measure, analyze, repeat – which we’re used to, but it’s exhausting just thinking about it!
        Look forward to seeing any spin offs of this post, and that secret sauce @jelenawoehr has 🙂
        Talk soon!

  • First off, that is a super cute photo!  Secondly, it’s great to read a post about Facebook changes that doesn’t start with a call to burn Facebook down.  
    My only complaint about the current algorithm is that it yends to create a cycle of disuse.  Once a page is deemed irrelevant to me by edgerank, then it doesn’t show up and it’s unlikely that I’ll interact with it.  I have had to go and purposely interact with pages I like in order to keep them on my news feed.  
    We’ve increased the number of posts that ask for an action in order to increase engagement rates.  The content we create for clients has always been varied if for no other reason than to make content creation less boring.  🙂  I’m against paying for posts unless there is a very strong strategy and a strong likelihood for revenue generation.

    • @HeatherTweedy Thanks Heather 🙂 
      And yeah, my intention wasn’t to a call to burn Facebook. I’ve read PLENTY of those lately though! I just wanted to back it up with some real data. I agree, about paying for promoted posts if there’s a likelihood for revenue. On AD’s page, we’ve only tried promoted posts twice and they were both for webinars.

  • Here’s my question: If FB’s goal was to eliminate spam, what in the heck are Sponsored Posts doing all over my feed.  I don’t trust what they say anymore.  I have zero evidence, but I am very suspicious that likes are being bought too.

  • patmrhoads

    Yvette, I found this a very helpful explanation of what changes there actually were, instead of the rampant rumors. Thanks so much for the useful info. 
    Like Heather Tweedy’s comment below, I too worry that once a user ignores fails to “Like” or comment on a couple of posts, they’ll stop seeing them. I see posts all the time that I read and am glad I saw, but I don’t always think to click Like or to comment. I see Facebook’s point on reducing spam complaints, but I’m concerned that they’re throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

    • @patmrhoads My pleasure 🙂
      Funny you and @HeatherTweedy  bring this up. We recently had a fan of our page unlike us because they were cleaning up their feed. They then liked us again and posted a comment on our page about their experience. They said they forgot how awesome we are so that made me feel pretty darn good! Perfect example of how you need to interact with a page to see their posts. I’m terrible at this personally, but I also go to a FB page if I’m interested enough in the company/brand.

  • HowieG

    Here is the real deal. Facebook is heading towards where I thought they should of gone back in 2009. Get rid of all brand pages except major brands who have the $ to pay them to be there and advertise. Facebook doesn’t need brand pages. The average person on facebook takes an action less than twice a year on brand pages (Like, Share, Comment on content on a page) . and while @ginidietrich and I discussed this since many people read stuff in their feed I wonder if maybe having a facebook style bulletin board on your website might be just as good.
    Either way I see a future where facebook becomes a communications platform for people with only big brands kind of the way it is with all major media. And I think that is good for facebook users but not good for small businesses.

    • @HowieG  @ginidietrich It’s really terrible for Small Biz, and if FB allows those major brands to Spam, broadcast or whatever you want to call it – we’re right back to the one way marketing people ran from. AND, it gives opportunity to other networks.    I’ve found lots of cool smaller brands on FB, and I find them on Pinterest all of the time.
      FB only for big Brands = Big Fail in my book.  IMHO.

      • @HowieG  @ginidietrich One more thing Howie – what about Non profits? Do you know how much GOOD will FB builds because we can communicate messages freely for the NP worlds?
        Here’s my thought: since we, the lowly customers, have figured out that Social is a great channel of communication, and small brands have figured that out too…. they’ll just switch channels and use another network.  I think this is a very tricky line to walk, and FB could be the old MySpace, and MySpace may have a REAL opportunity here.

        • @HowieG  @ginidietrich You obviously really have me thinking… here’s what they SHOULD have done – charged a nominal fee for monthly useage… I think users would pay.  But they blew it.