Facebook remains the key distribution platform for most publishers. Amidst the expanding landscape of social media platforms, Facebook continues to drive the lion’s share of social referral traffic for publishers: it generates nearly 14% of overall publisher traffic, followed by Twitter as a distant second at around 1%, according to the Social Media Index

At Echobox, we’ve spent years studying Facebook’s algorithms and features in order to build unique innovations that exist nowhere else, such as a breaking news detection engine, algorithms that reverse-engineer Facebook’s Newsfeed algorithm, Audience Graphs (a novel way to mathematically represent a publisher’s audience), and many more.

Thanks to this extensive and ongoing R&D, we’ve gained exclusive insights into how Facebook functions and behaves for publishers – and consequently, how publishers can maximize their performance on Facebook.

In this article, we highlight a series of our most eye-opening Facebook research pieces that are sure to be valuable to any publisher. Keep reading and we guarantee you’ll learn something new!

When is the best time to post on Facebook?

A simple search online shows just how many varying answers there are to the seemingly straightforward question of when a publisher should share on Facebook to achieve maximum traffic. Coschedule, Fast Company, Hubspot, ShortStack, Forbes, Hootsuite, QuickSprout and many others claim to have the answer. And many publishers are using these supposed “best time” insights to determine how and when they post content to social media. 

Hypothesizing that this conventional wisdom is flawed, our data scientists conducted a comprehensive analysis of the optimal time to post to Facebook. This piece of Facebook research is based on extensive data from sector-leading publishers around the world and accurately answers the question of when the best time to post on Facebook really is for publishers.

Download this original research about the best time to post on Facebook: 

How often should publishers post on Facebook?

Another question many publishers face is how often to post to Facebook in order to maximize referral traffic. How often should a publisher share content in order to appear regularly in Facebook’s News Feed? While you may suspect that posting too frequently can have negative effects, did you know that Facebook also penalizes publishers for not posting frequently enough? So how often is “too often” for Facebook? What is the ideal timing and spacing for your Facebook posts in order to achieve optimal visibility and reach?

Our data scientists studied this question and discovered that many publishers, unbeknownst to them, are suffering from traffic declines on each post due to Facebook penalization. Over the course of a single day, these “hidden” penalties result in significant traffic opportunities essentially being wasted. 

This research examines how Facebook’s penalties impact publishers in different verticals and quantifies their effects in terms of lost traffic. Although this research was covered by various outlets (such as What’s New in Publishing and New Digital Age), we recommend reading the complete research to understand how posting frequency can significantly impact your Facebook traffic levels, and how to optimize the spacing of your posts.

Download this original research about Facebook post frequency and resulting penalization:

Should publishers reshare content on Facebook?

Should we reshare content on Facebook? How much should we reshare? How does resharing impact our Facebook performance? If you’ve ever asked any of these questions, you’ll find scientifically proven answers in this comprehensive research and 4-step guide.

We studied 1.85 million Facebook shares to understand how resharing articles impacts Facebook performance. Our findings indicate that publishers who reshare their content on Facebook achieve 67% additional clicks, yet they only reshare a mere 8% of their total content on average. There’s an immense potential for publishers to capture more Facebook traffic, at no additional cost, by simply resharing content. This step-by-step guide shows you how, along with examples from leading publishers and recommendations for designing a Facebook resharing strategy that drives results.

Download the guide to learn all about resharing on Facebook for publishers:

Does posting photos on Facebook affect clicks and traffic?

How do Facebook post formats impact performance for publishers? Anyone looking for a clear answer will find that the available guidance is limited and mixed. While some in the industry have advised publishers to use a combination of Facebook post formats, we weren’t aware of any existing publisher studies proving the impact of this strategy. We therefore decided to conduct the largest ever scientific study on this topic, with a focus on photo posts.

Our data scientists carried out a rigorous experiment to determine whether the introduction of photo posts had a positive impact on publishers’ Facebook performance. Partnering with 11 leading publishers from around the world, we measured how the use of both link posts and photo posts to varying degrees affected performance across 4 key metrics:

  • Absolute pageviews from Facebook
  • Percentage of pageviews from Facebook
  • Facebook impressions
  • Click-through rate (CTR)

Discover the fascinating results, and learn what these findings mean for your Facebook strategy as a publisher.

Download this original research about the impact of posting photos on Facebook:

How does Facebook’s Breaking News Label impact post performance?

News publishers will likely be familiar with Facebook’s Breaking News Label feature – a visual indicator they can apply to stories that are considered breaking news. Facebook introduced this feature to give publishers a tool to clearly differentiate their breaking news posts from less time-sensitive editorial content. In addition to serving as a visual indicator, the Breaking News Label also lets publishers associate the latest updates to an ongoing news story. 

As many major publications have adopted the Breaking News Label feature since its 2018 launch, we wanted to assess the true value of this feature and understand the impact it has on post performance and referral traffic. Does the Breaking News Label increase clicks and engagement for publishers? How does it impact overall referral traffic from Facebook?

For this Facebook research, our data scientists used advanced statistical methods to compare posts tagged with the Breaking News Label to unlabelled posts, and studied the differences in traffic. Read the full study to learn the surprising results.

Download this original research about Facebook’s Breaking News Label:

Does interest tagging on Facebook increase CTRs?

With Facebook’s Audience Optimization feature, publishers can use interest tags to help prioritize their posts for a “Preferred Audience” or readers with specific interests. According to Facebook, interest tags do not “limit the audience that sees a post in News Feed” and are designed to improve reach and engagement by helping “Facebook connect people with the topics and subtopics that are most likely to engage them.”

As no definitive independent study ever managed to establish whether adding interest tags to organic posts had a positive impact on traffic or engagement, we decided to study the issue. For this Facebook research, we collaborated with a number of Echobox customers to scientifically  determine the true impact of interest tagging on Facebook referral traffic and click-through rates. Read the study to learn the most effective method for reaching niche audiences on Facebook.

Download this original research about the impact of Facebook’s Interest Tagging:

How can Facebook and Instagram be used in tandem for greater results?

While Facebook remains king of social referral traffic, the social landscape for publishers has diversified in recent years. Instagram and messaging apps have seen growing popularity, with 36% of people using Instagram today, compared to only 8% in 2014. Therefore, to reach audiences where they’re spending more of their time, many publishers have started to develop a significant presence on Instagram. Used in tandem with Facebook, Instagram enables publishers to engage different audience segments and tell stories with greater visual creativity.

This white paper examines how Facebook and Instagram compare and contrast in terms of user popularity, audience demographics and traffic patterns. It also explores how 3 top publishers are successfully combining a strong presence on both Facebook and Instagram to build engagement and reach an even greater audience. 

Read this white paper to learn all about Facebook vs Instagram for publishers, and the role each can play in a publisher’s social media strategy: 

Be the first to discover our latest Facebook research

To help you stay informed and make the most of Facebook and other social media platforms, our data scientists regularly conduct original research, including studies on Facebook algorithms and features. With more than 800 publisher clients around the world – including 25% of the world’s newspapers of record – we have access to a large and unique dataset, granting us exclusive insights into how publishers are using and succeeding on social media. To receive these insights right in your inbox, sign up to our newsletter on the right-hand side of this page.

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