We’ve written on auto-posting before and there still seems to be a debate as to whether or not it actually affects performance to post via bot. Anecdotally, I’ve found that manual posting shows significant increases in performance.
When I first started at ReadWriteWeb, the updates to Facebook were automatically posted via a Facebook application. It was an easy way to make sure our fans got to see our posts, but it didn’t foster community discussions so after I got my bearings around here, I stopped the app (or at least I thought I did).
I began to publish each of our posts to Facebook manually. I’d make sure an image was used when applicable and add a summary statement to the wall summary. When all was said and done, I ended up posting 27 posts before a kind, but overwhelmed, fan let us know he was getting duplicates. The app was still publishing on top of my posts.
I’m a glass-is-half-full kind of gal, so rather than stress about the accident, I decided to look at this as an opportunity to compare apples-to-apples and determine which was better, auto-posted or manually posted items on Facebook.
As you’d probably guess, I found that automated posts saw significantly less views on Facebook. An auto-posted story that received x views on Facebook would receive, on average, 2.5x views on Facebook when published manually. Because more people saw the manually posted stories, their engagement was roughly doubled (likes and comments).
This does compare apples-to-apples because these were the exact same stories. The auto-posted content was posted first, within minutes of posting to our blog. To make sure that the data was representative, I went back a month and looked at average views, likes and comments and the auto-posted content’s stats during this period is almost exactly in line with previous months’ performance.
My assumptive explanation for this behavior is EdgeRank. EdgeRank is the algorithm that Facebook uses to determine where a post shows up in a user’s stream. It seems to push content that gets reactions higher up the stream. I’m not sure if my manually posted entries got a better reaction because I worked hard to craft a pithy call-to-action on them (thereby moving them up in EdgeRank) or if some other secret sauce caused them to move up in EdgeRank, which in turn gave them more reactions.
Whatever the cause, the manually posted entries saw more than double the views and a little more than double the engagement. We did eventually get the app completely turned off and I posted the remainder of the month’s stories to Facebook manually. This again showed a definite increase in traffic back to our site from Facebook (nearly double).
Manual posting is a chore. What takes the app seconds to post may take me 10 minutes. And, because I am not continually at the computer, some of our content isn’t posted immediately after posting. There are definitely cons to manual posting, but the increase in engagement and page views back to our site is worth the additional labor.
Have you tested your Facebook posting methods? I’d be interested in learning if this obvious increase in performance was the same across other sectors.