About two weeks ago, I stumbled across a post from Taco Bell in my newsfeed. The post was an important one for the fast-food giant– announcing free Doritos Locos tacos at all locations the following Tuesday. I was pretty surprised to see that the post looked like this– without an accompanying photo!
If this was any other brand, I wouldn’t have thought twice before labeling this as a terrible mistake. But this is Taco Bell– one of the most socially-savvy brands in the world. If they posted this without any rich media– they must have done it for a damn good reason.
A Look at the Data
I decided to pull some Facebook Insights data– about 3,000 posts from 30 PostRocket users’ pages, ranging from about 10,000 fans to 10,000,000 fans*– to see how text-only posts compared to photo posts when it comes to organic reach. Organic reach gives a much more accurate assessment than total reach, as viral reach and paid reach would certainly skew the numbers. I’ve also disregarded any targeted posts, as they would skew the data as well. While evaluating the data, it became clear that the changes in EdgeRank on 9/20 resulted in a significant change in organic reach for most pages. As a result, the analysis is broken down to compare the organic reach of photo and text posts before and after 9/20.
Photo Posts vs. Text-Only Posts Before 9/20
Over the past several months leading up to the recent controversial change in Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm, photos have been all the rage– and rightfully so. They were performing extremely well on Facebook. For more on that, I wrote a post explaining why photos perform so well. The graph below validates the hype photos had on Facebook, as the median organic reach of photo posts (from pages in the data set) was about 20% of total fans, compared to 13% for text-only posts– a difference of over 50%.
Photo Posts vs. Text-Only Posts After 9/20
- Organic reach of photos was clearly higher for most pages before the EdgeRank changes on 9/20.
- Organic reach of photos dropped significantly for most pages after the changes. This is because Facebook implemented new measures into EdgeRank that punished pages who received negative feedback.
- Organic reach of text-only posts increased very slightly after the changes, but surpassed that of photos due to their sharp drop.
- These statistics tell the general story for pages as a whole (and on average)– but there are some pages that will be exceptions. Check your Insights data to see what post types are performing best for you before and after 9/20 and adjust your Facebook posting plan according.
- Test out text-only posts and see how they compare to your most recent posts in organic reach– they should be higher! Keep in mind that Facebook changes their algorithm often– so take advantage of this before they make more changes!
- Pay attention to what Taco Bell does on Facebook– they’re a great example of a big brand who ‘get’s it’.
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*Notes regarding the data set: There are many factors that influence the Insights data referred to in this post, including (but not limited to): content quality, post timing, time separation between posts, different affinity levels between fans and pages, and inclusion on popular Facebook lists. In addition, the number of photo posts outnumbered the number of text-only posts significantly due to the fact that most pages post mostly photos. As a result, a few ‘great’ (or ‘terrible’) text-only posts can skew the data significantly.