Over the past year I’ve “cracked” the Facebook code a bit and have been sending oodles of referral traffic to sites I manage. The code I cracked was pretty simple, but not so simple that everyone was doing it. Essentially, use BIG AWESOME pictures for all of your posts and the clicks will follow.
Something Is Amiss
The past few months though, I noticed something funny was happening. It started with FB changing the way they handle link posts. That is, FB auto-formats posts for you if you enter a URL. In the old days (before 3 months ago) FB would make a smaller cropped version of a post that, quite honestly, was pretty awful and I’m not sure why anyone would click it. Recently, they’ve changed this so link posts are formatted with a BIG AWESOME picture. Well, not quite as big and awesome as the ones I was using, but bigger than what they were doing before and certainly better for eliciting clicks. The fact it only took them 5+ years to do this is only mildly disconcerting.
Now, this is all well and good and who really cares how FB handles this stuff as long as those juicy referrals are still coming in, right? But that’s not the end of the story. Over the past 2 weeks I’ve noticed referral traffic dipping significantly for some of the larger sites I manage with no change in strategy. Sure enough, when I did an A/B test of link posts vs image posts the link posts were the clear winners with a ratio of almost 2:1 in terms of referral traffic using the exact same text and CTA’s.
Facebook is notorious for changing around their UX and UI and are getting even more brazen in attempts to get users to fork over money to “promote” posts. And let’s be clear, that’s exactly what this is. Facebook is essentially saying, “If you want your posts to be seen by everyone who likes your page, pay us money. Otherwise we’re gonna just keep changing stuff and make it more and more difficult for you to actually use the platform effectively.” Yet another shining example of why you shouldn’t invest in just one platform.