Study: Article Link Visibility Up 39% after Facebook Increases the Size of Preview Images

Interpretation of Facebook Like ButtonWhat can you do to increase your reach on Facebook? Post more pictures right? Not so fast according to our latest findings. Did you realize that articles have almost the same reach and visibility as photos now?

Let’s start with the basics: have you ever noticed that when you post a YouTube video to Facebook it automatically appears as a playable video within the News Feed? It’s not that you uploaded a video to Facebook yourself – it’s just that Facebook embedded the video for you. Or have you noticed that when you post a link from SoundCloud, the link converts into a playable song? YouTube videos and SoundCloud links become instantly playable because Facebook supports these specific media types through a number of developer tools called Open Graph Object Types. Through these tools, Facebook supports a range of media types including articles, videos, music, events, books, places, and more.

Recently Facebook made a change to the way it supports one such media type, articles, by incorporating enlarged image previews for articles posted to its network. Since we at DashBurst consider ourselves pioneers of the social Web, we like to track how changes like this one affect our audience reach on Facebook. Because of this, I’ve noticed that ever since Facebook enlarged image previews for article links, and perhaps even before, articles seem to be receiving much greater reach than before while video posts seem to have been left out in the cold.

Facebook Reach for Photos, Articles and Videos

On September 10 we first spotted the new larger image previews for article links and decided to study whether the larger previews corresponded to any change in audience reach. We analyzed 136 of the photo, article, and video posts in the 16 days leading up to the big change (August 26 – September 10), and another 122 photo, article, and video posts published after the change (September 10 – September 26):

facebook audience reach chart

Since Facebook enlarged image previews for articles on September 10, the audience reach for articles has increased 39%. On the other hand, audience reach has decreased 27% for photos and 12% for videos since the big change.

Interestingly, it appears that, since the change, both photos and article links more than double our fans reached compared to videos!

Why is this? Besides the extra real estate that photos and articles occupy within our News Feeds, another issue causing the decrease in videos’ reach on Facebook might be the fact that most of the videos posted to Facebook come from YouTube, Google’s video site. Considering that Google has a “complicated relationship” status with Facebook right now, it isn’t surprising that Facebook is limiting the audience reach of YouTube videos.

It’s also important for publishers to note that photos and article links (which now come with larger image previews) saw relatively the same reach in our latest findings. This is a welcome change, considering that before the larger image previews were in place for articles, photos received more than twice the audience reach that article posts received. This meant that we often posted article links as photos to our Facebook Page. With these recent changes, however, it appears that we and other blogs no longer need to post articles as photos to increase the reach of our articles! In fact, it appears that posting articles as photos might actually decrease their engagement now, since article links direct readers to articles while photos display article links much less prominently. The bottom line is this: if the audience reach between photos and articles is similar, blog managers would much rather take advantage of the click-through nature of the the image previews that come with article links posted to Facebook than to use the dead-end lightboxes that come with photo posts.

Videos appear to be the big loser on Facebook these days, while articles are back in style. Businesses and bloggers ought to take notice and adjust their social media marketing strategies accordingly!

If you’re a video or content producer, this is one story you need to hear that could level the playing field again for all the content types you post!

Daniel Zeevi

By Daniel Zeevi

Daniel is a social network architect, web developer, infographic designer, writer, speaker and founder of DashBurst. Full-time futurist and part-time content curator, always on the hunt for disruptive new technology, creative art and web humor.

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