Views & Opinions

Facebook Should Stop Playing “Hide-and-Seek” With Posts Published Using Non-Whitelisted Third Party Apps

We’ve been emailing back and forth here at Ciceron HQ trying to make sense of a recent article on InsideFacebook.com: Study: Auto-Posting to Facebook Decreases Likes and Comments by 70%.

Initially, we thought the post was saying that application auto-posts sabotage your ability to get likes and comments. “Organic” Facebook posts were the way to go. Turns out, the real culprit is actually Facebook.

Here’s the problem described by InsideFacebook.com: (Emphasis mine)

Facebook Pages that automatically publish content to the news feed through third-party apps such as HootSuite, TweetDeck, and Networked Blogs receive an average of 70% fewer Likes and comments on their posts per fan, according to a new study by Applum, developer of Page tool EdgeRank Checker. The study says the difference is likely due to Facebook reducing the prominence of posts published by third-party APIs, and Facebook collapsing updates from the same API from across a user’s friends and Liked Pages.

Facebook will “collapse” or “hide” posts if there are too many being sent by the same third party application.  That’s right, not too many posts by one Facebook page, but by ANYONE using the same application.

Facebook is collapsing multiple posts by the “Flipboard” Application. If I don’t click on the circled link, I don’t see those posts.

We use an array of applications on behalf of our clients – SpreadFast, BuddyMedia, HootSuite, and others. But I’d describe what we do as “Scheduling” posts – it’s a convenient way to ensure you have your Facebook Page wall updates going live exactly when you want them to go live.

So you can understand why we’d be a little concerned about this research. We do good work and we expect to track if we are engaging or not with people on Facebook. Our expectations were that if we don’t get likes and comments we need to change our creative approach. We never thought that our posts would be automatically hidden from our client’s fans. But it gets weirder…

We soon discovered that Facebook Whitelists certain applications, including BuddyMedia! Facebook allows posts from a selection of applications to show up in your timeline without ever being collapsed.

On the same day as the “whitelist” post, Michael Lazerow (CEO of Buddy Media) created a post featured on adage.com, titled “Truth About Third Party Applications”. It’s long but really great post with a lot of data crunching – be sure you read it. But a couple of things strike me as odd:

1) Lazerow declares this

Facebook believes strongly in the power of people versus the power of just computers.

We couldn’t agree more. Our team “schedules” posts using applications so they get posted at the right time. However, we reply to comments, questions, complaints, insults, pats on the back, inquiries, and things like that using people power. In fact, I don’t know of any application that could “interact” with someone on Facebook well.

2) Lazerow’s quote above seems to contradict his earlier conclusion (in the same post)

If you use Buddy Media to publish to your Facebook Pages, either in the US or globally, you are safe. Your posts get through. You have nothing to worry about. They will not be collapsed or aggregated. If you are using one of the other platforms, I encourage you to be safe and confirm this with your vendor to make sure you’re not being lost in the feed.

Basically, Facebook is making exceptions for an exclusive number of third party apps and auto-collapsing posts from apps that aren’t on the Facebook Whitelist.

Here is MY conclusion and it includes an easy solution:

The decision to “hide” posts from a page should lie with the end user – this feature already exists on Facebook.  The solution to ensure your scheduled posts are not collapsed shouldn’t force Pages to use a “whitelisted” application. Instead, Facebook fixes this problem by doing something very simple: Stop Facebook computers from collapsing posts.

It’s an easy decision if, as Lazrow suggests, Facebook truly believes in the power of people versus the power of computers.

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