On January 21st, Facebook has confirmed an update to its News Feed algorithm that will decrease the potential distribution of text posts on Facebook Pages. While text posts have been known to generate lower interaction rates (likes, comments, etc.), they have largely been perceived as best practice for driving traffic (clicks) from Facebook to your website. In the past, this technique has been used successfully by newspapers & other media, who regard Facebook as a good traffic generator.
In an attempt to increase interactions on Facebook, this is about to change (from the official announcement), starting today:
“Page admins can expect a decrease in the distribution of their text status updates, but they may see some increases in engagement and distribution for other story types. [..] The best way to share a link after this update will be to use a link-share [..]”
Linkn posts – as pictured above – offer much more screen real estate, on both the old and the revamped News Feed, and feature a large, clickable preview image for the linked webpage.
Recommendations for Publishers
It remains to be seen if the increase in distribution for link posts signalled in Facebook’s announcement will make up for the incurred loss with text posts. As always, there will probably be no clear overall trend, as Facebook pages differ vastly in demographics, posting habits, content, etc. If driving traffic from Facebook to your website is a main objective and using text posts has been working great for you in the past, my advice is to test both text and link posts in the coming weeks and keep a close look on the achieved reach, clicks & interactions. Of course, publishing tools like our own Swat.io can help with this task, as they display all key metrics in one place:
If you are not using 3rd party tools, make sure to use link shorteners like bit.ly or UTM tags to track the traffic sent to your website in Google Analytics!
Fix your Open Graph images – Now!
However, to make the most out of your link posts, it is crucial to provide Facebook with the Open Graph tag og:image and a sufficiently large preview image. If Facebook cannot find the og:image tag, its crawler will pick a more or less random image from your page for the preview – this might result in pixelated previews or a fallback to the square, much smaller display size for link posts. Considering high-res displays like Apple Retina, the currently recommended size for Open Graph images is 1200 x 630 pixel. Don’t worry too much if you cannot provide images that large for each article on your website, but try to stay above the minimum 600 x 315 pixels! When using square images, keep in mind that Facebook will crop on the center!
Not sure if your website is prepared to use link posts in an ideal way? Use the Facebook Debugger to test your web pages! Just copy/paste the URL you want to test, hit “Debug” and scroll down to “Object Property” -> og:image. Check if the correct image is displayed and click on the image to see its original dimensions (on Chrome or Firefox, right-click & “Inspect…”). Is the image large enough? Fine, then you are ready to link-post your content to Facebook! :)
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