The Simple Reason Facebook Pages Are Losing Reach: Negative Feedback

by Chad Wittman on Nov 20, 2012
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Over the past month or so, everyone has been complaining about getting less reach on Facebook. That the algorithm has changed. And that Facebook is now a pay to play system.

Changes have definitely taken place. And as the dust settles we learn more and more about what has really happened, both from Facebook and from the data.

One of the more impactful changes all page admins need to be aware of is that the latest major change in edgerank is now valuing Facebook post negative feedback at a much heavier weight.

This means, as a Facebook page, negative feedback on your content can effectively destroy your post’s reach.

Facebook has said that they are doing this to try and combat spammy pages. But as more and more businesses get on Facebook and post more often, this effectively raises the Facebook content quality bar for all pages.

So you might be thinking, what is negative feedback and how can it be avoided?

Facebook defines negative feedback as any time a Fan performs one of these actions:

  • Hide (Hide this story)
  • Hide All (Hide all stories from a Page)
  • Report Spam
  • Unlike Page

How Are Facebook Fans Reporting Negative Feedback?

The most common thing a Facebook fan will do when they do not want to see your page’s post in their news feed is simply hide it.

Here is the full breakdown of negative feedback actions and how often Facebook users take each action:

  • Hide Post: 76%
  • Hide All Posts From Page: 16%
  • Report as Spam: 8%
  • Unlike Page: <1%

We are actually pretty lucky that the typical Facebook Fan simply “hides” a post that they do not want to see. While 16% take it to the next level by “hiding all” posts from the page. 8% report the content as spam, which could potentially hurt the Page’s “quality”.

Facebook recently stated “If a specific post has received complaints by other users who have seen it, or the page who posted it has received lots of complaints in the past, you’ll be less likely to see that post. This factor became a lot more prevalent with the edgerank update in September 2012.”

How Do I Monitor My Negative Feedback?

There are two main options:

1. Head to Facebook insights and export your data to take a look at each post’s negative feedback.

2. Go to EdgeRank Checker’s Real-Time Monitor (or a similar analytics vendor) to monitor negative feedback as it happens to your posts. If you’re post is receiving substantial negative feedback right away, take down the post to prevent any further damage.

3 Keys to Avoiding Negative Feedback:

We took a look at 25+ very large and successful page’s posts to see what types of posts were reported as negative feedback the most often. Here’s what we found:

1. Images are negative feedback magnets

Images drive the most engagement, but they also drive the most Negative Feedback

One of the most frequently suggested EdgeRank optimization tips is to post images regularly. While this is often true, it can be abused. Use images when applicable and don’t post too many of those viral cat photos just to pick up some cheap engagement. Use your judgement and creativity to bring true value to your images posts.

Images simply catch the attention of Facebook users more than any other content. Good or bad. So if your images are not good, they will attract negative feedback quickly.

2. Keep content in line with your fans’ expectations

If you’re a startup, and you’ve placed a like button on your newsletter suggesting people to become fans to stay up to date with your latest research: Be warned.

Your fans expect that type of content in the news feed and will not hesitate to hide your content when it strays off topic.

Certainly, your fans won’t revolt every time you do this, but over the long term it is most likely not worth it.

3. Expect a correlation between engagement and negative feedback

The more people that are seeing and interacting with your content, the greater reach it ultimately will have.

However, this might start to impact your negative feedback. As a post starts to gain popularity, it will also start to get into people’s news feeds that are not use to seeing your page content. And some of these fans simply will not be interested in your content.

We found that some of the most engaging posts, also had some of the most negative feedback. Be sure to benchmark your content to insure that you’re looking at negative feedback per person reached to help provide context to an increase in negative feedback.

Making sure your fan acquisition efforts are sound may help avoid some of this as well. If you target your page’s fans well, focusing on finding existing customer for instance, fans will be less likely to hide your page’s content.

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Facebook says this new focus on Negative Feedback should increase engagement and keep reach relatively steady. As they are rewarding posts with low negative feedback just as they punish those with negative feedback.

Either way, as a brand manager you’ll need to keep this new strong variable in mind when creating content. Just remember, everything in moderation and understand your fans’ expectations.

Post Author

Co-Founder & VP of Product at Dolly, an iPhone and Android app that is like Uber meets U-Haul or Lyft for Moving. Former Founder of EdgeRank Checker (acquired by Socialbakers)...