What Rules On Facebook: Text or Image Updates?

Up until quite recently, marketing best practices on Facebook said that if you want your posts to be seen, you need to be posting images.

First, a quick backstory, and I mean quick, because I’ve written about this extensively in the past. On Facebook, who gets to see your posts and who doesn’t is determined by an algorithm called Edgerank. Yes, that’s right. Not everyone sees your FB Status updates in their home feed. If they come to your page, they will see them all, but how often do you purposely visit a business’ page?

There are three factors that determine whether or not someone sees your post: they are affinity (if you have had some recent interactions with that person, the higher the chance they will see your post), weight (the more likes, shares and comments that post gets, the heavier its weight) and recency (kind of like half-life: a post will likely be most popular right after you publish it).

It was also thought that weight was given priority to video posts first, then image/photo posts, and lastly, text posts. So marketers were being encouraged to post images to their FB pages, not plain text status updates.

“Up until recently…”

Well, it turns out that a lot of marketers are now reporting that they are getting way more views on their text-only status updates on their pages. What’s that about? Did FB change their algorithm? Or is it just simply because so many people are posting image updates that they’ve become too popular, and text updates are standing out more?

Let’s go to the data, shall we?

Here are two posts, published on consecutive days. They are the same kinds of posts (I have learned that inspirational-type quotes do really well on my pages, so these are both that), but one is a text only status update, and the other is an image with a quote written on it.

Screen Shot 2013-09-23 at 12.41.53 PM

What you’ll notice is, that while both of them got a similar reach, the one with the photo got a much higher rate of engagement.

What conclusions can we draw? 

Mine the data. Here’s the thing: everyone’s trying to find a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all solution to Edgerank. But the answer is going to be different for everyone’s audience. What works for your audience may not work for mine. I will say this: inspirational quotes usually get a really high rate of views and engagement (ie: shares). Is there some way you can apply the use of inspirational quotes to your FB page? On the Wellness Show page, it’s easy enough… on my personal Biz page, I use quotes from and about writers. How do I know this? The data tells me. Mine your own insights and take note when a post has a higher-than-average reach. How can you recreate that effect?

Mix it up. You should be posting to your page once a day, a maximum of twice a day, posts spaced out, morning and evening. Any more than that, you’ll start to burn your readers out. So, one day, post a text-only status update, the next day, post an image, the next day, a link, the next day a fill-in-the-blank or caption-the-image type post. And then note what happens. Follow the data.

Know that not every day is going to be a red-letter day. You’re not going to have fireworks every day. And that’s okay. The purpose of your page is to maintain steady contact with your fans. Some days will create more engagement than others. The important thing to remember is that you’re there every day for those that are.

What’s been your experience with posting text-only or image-based posts to your Facebook page? Have you noticed one winning over the other? Let me know in the comments below.

References: 

http://mashable.com/2012/09/28/marketers-facebook-wrong/

http://blog.getpostrocket.com/2012/11/4-tips-to-increase-your-facebook-page-reach-without-paying/

http://www.rebeccacoleman.ca/2012/11/22/marketing-with-facebook/facebooks-edgerank-fearmongering/

http://www.rebeccacoleman.ca/2012/09/06/marketing-with-facebook/facebooks-edgerank-demistified-infographic/

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Rebecca Coleman

Social Media Marketing Strategist, Blogger, Author, Teacher, Trainer. Passionate foodie, mom to Michael, fueled by Americanos. I love my bike. Soon-to-be cookbook author. Localvore with a wanderlust.

Comments 7

  1. I’ve actually been trying to combine both. I’ll post a picture and then write something about the picture along with a link to my blog post. It seems to be working much better than just text and a link.

    1. Yeah, I’m doing some research right now on this. There are two schools of thought:

      1. Post an image that’s related to your blog post, write a blurb, and then paste in the link.
      2. Use the “link in first comment” approach.

      I’m mucking about with both… and will look into the data to see which one does better. Blog post to follow… 😉

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