Using Third Party Apps Could Have Negative Impact on Facebook Success

Facebook engagement ratio per platform

Engagement ratio sees huge drop when using 3rd party apps instead of Facebook to post. (Image: InsideFacebook.com)

The tool you’re using could be hurting your company’s success on Facebook.

A recent study by EdgeRank Checker (a tool that helps measures the all important EdgeRank value) showed a precipitous drop-off when posting to your Facebook page using third party apps such as HootSuite and TweetDeck. Studying over 1 million updates from over 50,000 pages, they found that using third party tools decreases your likelihood of engagement per fan by about 80%.

EdgeRank Checker came up with four theories on the cause of the huge drop in engagement:

  • Facebook penalizes third party API’s EdgeRank
  • Facebook collapses multiple third party API updates into one post (see example)
  • Third party updates have a high chance of being scheduled and/or automated
  • Content is not optimized specifically for Facebook.

So which of these creates the negative results?

The answer probably lies in a mixture of all four theories and the fact that a different type of user is more likely to (over)use third party apps than the page owner who manually updates their own page. Only Facebook can comment on whether they punish third party updates, but the other three have an obvious negative impact on fans’ ability and willingness to engage with content. Posting content that doesn’t factor in the differences between Facebook and Twitter and your fans and followers on each are going to be less successful. On Twitter it makes perfect sense to just post a link to a cool image, but on Facebook you should be uploading the image along with the post. Yet many of these tools don’t do that and treat all platforms as if they’re the same.

And all this compounds to make the problem even worse, as Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm places a lot of value in an individual fan’s affinity to your previous posts. The less they interact with your updates the less likely they’ll continue to show up in their news feed.

So, should you stop using third party tools?

That’s a good question. If it does turn out that Facebook has a bias to updates posted using official means that should be kept in mind when formulating and executing your social media strategy. There is definite value in many of the tools such as posting blog updates automatically and the occasional scheduled post.

Regardless of whether Facebook is or isn’t dinging third party apps, don’t let an overreliance on them have a negative impact on the quality of the conversation between your brand and it’s fans. Use Facebook.com and it’s offical apps to post when possible and leverage of features of the individual platform such as image embedding and polls.

The key to success is the same as it has always been: Post engaging content and create a conversation with your fans and they’ll be more likely to return the favor.

Brian Behrend

About Brian Behrend

Brian's title at MarketNet is Director of Interactive Strategy but he has his hands (and his brain) in every part of the process of creating solutions for clients. From the discovery phase to website launch, he uses his background in business, marketing, and web programming to make sure projects succeed. View all posts by Brian Behrend
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