Since Introduction Of Facebook Places, Page Growth and Impressions-Per-Post Are Down

Reports from Page administrators and data from our PageData service indicate that the launch of Places has decreased the prominence of official Page updates in the news feed. Significant decreases in impressions-per-post and new Likes per day for Pages coincide with the introduction of Places stories. This suggest an alteration has been made to Facebook’s algorithm that determines what users users see in their news feed. We suspect that the weight of Page updates has been decreased while Places stories have been temporarily given a relatively high weight.

The apparent reduction in the weight of Page posts in Facebook’s algorithm causes these posts to appear less frequently in the Top News and Most Recent feeds. This drop in impressions-per-post in turn leads to less likes and shares by users – the actions that drive traffic and new likes to Pages. The end result is that Pages will have to post more engaging updates and buy more ads to maintain previous growth rates.

We’ve received reports from a Page management company that impressions-per-post are down across all their clients and test accounts. One Page we have access to experienced at 40% drop in impressions-per-post since August 18th.

The result of the drop in impressions is a decrease in new Likes gained per day for most Pages, with the most popular Pages taking the biggest losses in growth. All of the top 10 biggest Pages on Facebook experienced an 50% to 65% drop in average new likes gained per day from their levels before August 18th, the day Places launched.

Michael Jackson’s Page, which was gaining an average of 75,000 likes per day from late July through mid August, has been gaining only 27,000 likes per day on average since August 18th. Facebook’s own official Page was gaining an average of 116,000 likes per day from late July through mid August, but that rate has similarly fallen to an average gain of 46,000 likes per day over the week since Places launched. The drop is not confined to large Pages, as smaller Pages with around 1.75 million likes such as Nutella Italy, BMW, and Incubus have also seen 25-50% drops in new likes per day.

In the past, Facebook has temporarily highlighted news feed stories generated by their newest product. When Questions launched in late July, many felt their news feed was being overrun with Questions stories, but soon saw them become much less prominent. Social game-generated stories dominated the news feed in the period following the launch of the Facebook Platform, but these types of stories were also dialed back over time. However, the prominence of a new story type has never come so clearly at the expense of another type as with the shift in visibility from Page posts to Places stories.

Interestingly, many Pages also saw a large dip in new likes gained per day on August 13th, followed by a spike on August 17th. Facebook may have been altering the algorithm on these days. One possible explanation for why Page updates were so affected is that Places pages have the potential to be merged with official Pages. This means Page posts and Places stories would both link back to the same merged Page/Places page in some cases.

Facebook may have increased the weight of all posts that could lead back to a Page before there were any Places stories, resulting in the pre-launch spike. Then the next day, the increased total weight and impressions may have been divided between Page posts and the new Places stories, resulting in the drop in impressions-per-day for unmerged Page posts.

Facebook has previously biased the news feed to temporarily highlight stories from new products. Anecdotal evidence suggests that Facebook Questions saw high visibility in the news feed in the days following the product’s launch, but then became much less prominent. Application stories have too been reduced since they dominated the news feed in the period following the launch of the Facebook Platform. If the decrease in weight for Page posts is also temporary, users can expect to see less Places stories and a reemergence of Page updates in their news feed in the near future. If the change is permanent, Page admins may need to seek alternative methods of gaining new likes. As when Facebook reduced the weight of application stories, this could mean spending more on Page marketing.

For more in-depth data on the Facebook ecosystem, check out Inside Facebook Gold – our exclusive membership service for marketers, developers, and analysts.

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8 Responses to “Since Introduction Of Facebook Places, Page Growth and Impressions-Per-Post Are Down”

  1. Kim Lindholm says:

    Interesting! I run a page w/ 90k fans, and indeed noticed a 30% drop in new page likes and post impressions after Aug 17th, however, fan activity has not dropped at all (same clickrates, same amount of likes and comments on status updates) and what’s contradictory to the algorithm change is that in my market Places hasn’t launched yet (atleast I assume so since I haven’t seen a single Places status in my friendfeed (500+ friends) and the whole feature is not even accessible by me), which leads me to believe that the decrease in new page likes could be just temporary (it has happened before), and the decrease in post impressions just a statistical error or algorithm change how facebook measures post impressions (it has also happened before at a couple occasions that a single post has received 1/10th of page impressions which would be pretty much impossible given the average amount of fan activity the same post has also received)

  2. Chris Turitzin says:

    Very interesting article.

    We at Momentus Media manage about 10 pages with around 5 million fans total. I’ve seen no downward trend in new likes since the 18th on any of the pages. Actually the opposite.

    As a developer for the last couple years on the Facebook platform, I’ve found that most changes Facebook makes to ‘weaken channels’ weed out the spam machine apps and make people think a bit more about what users actually want.

    Maybe this is just a fluke in the FB Newsfeed algorithm, maybe a repercussion of pushing Places strongly, but I hope it ups the ante for the engagingness of content page admins need to publish in the future.

  3. John Aloia says:

    I would think that there would or should have been an announcement if it were the case where something like this was going to be a permanent change in the algorithm. They make a pretty considerable amount in PPC marketing for pages. Why not let everyone with a page know that this is a permanent change?
    I’m not sure I agree with this. I’ve noticed a stall in Google crawl rate, complete with the same type of spike, on a few of the sites I work on from around the same period. It may be far fetched but maybe these two things are connected.

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