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Why you should never take a vacation from Facebook

5 min read

Digital Technology

Does Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm ever make you want to punch your monitor? It’s okay to say yes … I think it frustrates everyone from time to time. EdgeRank recently got me fired up, but instead of ruining a perfectly good monitor I decided to “go all scientific on it.”  My company has had a Facebook business Page for several years, and in the last year and a half our Facebook community has seen exceptional growth and success. However, some of our posts were reaching a mere two percent of our audience and often getting lackluster engagement. I became concerned that by posting three to four times a day, EdgeRank was actually limiting our reach to just a handful of our most engaged fans.

So I had an idea: Let’s go dark. My theory was, if we only posted once a day or even once a week, the posts would reach a larger percentage of our fanbase. If our posts were less frequent, EdgeRank wouldn’t penalize us by limiting our audience so much. At least that was the theory.

To test the theory, we made a plan to alter the frequency of posts and track the results. The first week we posted once a day. The second week we didn’t post a single thing. The following week we posted once or twice a day, and the week after that we decided to bump it up to three to five posts a day.

I still don’t know if my theory on EdgeRank was right or wrong, but I sure learned a lot with this little experiment. One of my favorite social media guys, Jon Loomer, wrote an interesting article about how some fans will simply never see your posts, and it has nothing to do with EdgeRank. The biggest takeaway from this test was that I was placing blame in the wrong place. I was pointing the finger at Facebook and EdgeRank when the problem was really with our own posts and content. As always, when we try something new and it fails miserably, I want to share the experience in hopes that you don’t have to make the same mistakes.

Here is a breakdown of our Facebook post frequency during the “dark” days:

Week 1: May 19-May 26 – posted once a day

Week 2: May 26-June 2 – no posts at all!

Week 3: June 2-9 – posted once or twice a day

Week 4: June 9-16 – posted once to twice a day

Week 5: June 16 – July 23 – posted 3-5 times a day

Week 6: June 23-June 30 – posted 3-5 times a day

Here is a look at our insights over the 6 week period

So what does the data tell us? Don’t take a vacation from Facebook!

From looking at our Insights data, you can see that we saw a major drop in Reach and our Talking About Us numbers during the time period where we reduced activity on Facebook. In fact, our Talking About Us number dropped from around 3,000 to 600. We are still working on building that number back up. What’s more, traffic to our blog took a major hit since we weren’t posting about new articles that we had been posting.

Running these tests forced us to take an in-depth look at our analytics and discover what our fans really wanted. Prior to this test we were posting a wide assortment of content on Facebook, and some stuff would get more interaction than others. After testing different types of status updates, we learned what our fans are interested in and what gets them to interact with us (Note: I’m not mentioning the specific content that we focus on since each audience is different. What works for us may have the opposite effect for you. The point is to test, test and test again). Once we buckled down and focused on posting quality content, engagement returned.

Today, we are back to posting three to five times a day. We’ve stopped posting things that our fans didn’t seem to care about and ramped-up posting the good stuff. We learned that for us, posting multiple times a day enhanced our overall marketing efforts. Our average Page Post reach has increased to an average of 8,400 per post and our Talking About Us number is back to several thousand.

If you’re frustrated with your current Facebook engagement we recommend spending some time looking at your insights and running some tests on Facebook. If you plan to experiment try and give yourself at least a week for each experiment. Who knows, maybe posting once a week will work great for your audience, but still, never take a vacation!

Have you ever taken a vacation from Facebook? Use the comments below to let us know what happened.

Jim Belosic is the CEO of ShortStack, a self-service custom app design tool, used to create apps for Facebook pages, websites and mobile Web browsing. For more tips and best practices for building your Facebook page, download ShortStack’s latest e-book, “How the Pros Use Facebook Advertising.” You can download it for free on ShortStack’s blog, Socially Stacked. You can follow ShortStack on Twitter@shortstacklab.