In our latest study we analyse the effect on publishers’ traffic from Facebook when they start using data-driven optimisation to manage their Facebook Pages. We find that, on average, publishers who begin using intelligent automation see an immediate 17% increase in traffic compared to posting to Facebook manually, even as overall traffic from Facebook to publishers’ websites continues to decline following last January’s algorithm change.

Facebook announced in January 2018 that it would show less news content. Facebook’s share in total traffic to news websites has been declining ever since. We have previously analysed this trend and argued that the long-lasting effect of January’s algorithm change is surprising because other changes in recent years rarely had a lasting effect on traffic (see our Social Media Index, which shows all major Newsfeed changes).

Chart 1: Change in Facebook traffic to news websites, Pages not using intelligent automation

As it appears that this algorithm change has a persistent effect on traffic, publishers are rightly adjusting to a new world of reduced traffic from Facebook. We propose that this makes intelligent automation ever more important to publishers. Intelligent automation can save publishers time, allowing social media teams of all sizes to devote more attention to engaging with their audience and to look after an ever-increasing number of social platforms and digital distribution channels.

Moreover, intelligent automation can have an immediate positive impact on traffic from Facebook as it allows publishers to align their strategy as closely as possible with the changing requirements of Facebook’s Newsfeed algorithm.

In our most recent study, our data science team investigated the impact of introducing intelligent automation on the Facebook Pages of a large number of publishers in different sectors and geographies. In order to do this, we analysed the social media traffic of 58 publications before they were using Echobox (i.e. when they were posting to Facebook manually) and while they were trialling Echobox (i.e. when they were using intelligent automation). All trials took place in early 2018 during a period of falling traffic from Facebook, so any positive change occurred at a time when most other publishers saw their social traffic fall over time.

We found that the average performance increase during a trial period was 17%. In some cases, traffic more than doubled, but for the purposes of this analysis we excluded outliers. This immediate positive effect has several contributing factors. Intelligent automation allows publishers to post more, to understand their audience better and to share content throughout the night and weekend, when audiences are looking for content but many social media teams operate with limited capacity.

Chart 2: Results by publication Page

Furthermore, we found that intelligent automation has a positive effect for publishers in all parts of the world. Although publishers in North America and Western Europe saw the strongest results on average, publishers in emerging markets also saw their traffic increase when switching from manual posting to intelligent automation. Intelligent automation works particularly well for entertainment and magazine publishers, as well as national and local news outlets. Other types of publishers, including sports and business publications, saw more mixed results, although the sample size for these categories was too small to draw definitive conclusions.

Charts 3 and 4: Results by region and publication type

These results demonstrate how our focus on machine learning, neural networks and big data analytics creates a clear advantage for our clients in a challenging social media environment. We are excited to be able to offer a product that can reliably outperform overall traffic even under adverse conditions and recommend that our clients make full use of our intelligent optimisation features.