Audience Development

How Facebook’s penalization algorithm is impacting publishers


Recent research by Echobox has revealed Facebook’s penalization algorithm reduces traffic based on post frequency.

The takeaways:
  • The research carried out by Echobox, an AI-powered social publishing platform, analyzed more than 250,000 unique Facebook posts from some of the world’s leading publishers.
  •  They found that Facebook penalizes posts when they are published at certain frequencies. These posts will not appear as often in the News Feed. As a result, publishers loose reach and traffic for each post, which over time adds up to significant penalties.
  • The report warned content from leading news, fashion, lifestyle, and sports brands may never make the News Feed as a result of the algorithm.
This isn’t new:

Facebook often changes the “ranking signals” it uses to prioritize certain News Feed content over others.

  • In 2018, Facebook reduced the quantity of news content shown in the News Feed. Additionally, June 2020’s algorithm update saw “original reporting” favored in News Feed rankings.

Each publisher is impacted differently: For example, the report found that lifestyle publishers are penalized more than news publishers. At the same time, no two news publishers are penalized the same. However, publishers of all kinds are at risk of losing traffic.

How can publishers remain visible?

Since posting “too frequently” or “too infrequently” varies by publisher, making one-size-fits-all fixes is impossible. For news publishers, the numbers showed that:

  • Posts spaced between 10 to 40 minutes apart received an increase in Facebook traffic.
  • After the 40-minute mark, however, referral traffic falls again.
  • The report suggests that news publishers should post at least 10 minutes apart. However, the optimum timing will not be the same for all news publishers.

Many publishers are unaware of the impact of this and are yet to take measures against them.

Difficulty measuring: it is almost impossible for any single publisher to determine optimal post frequency on their own.

  • Echobox claims to have developed a technology that reduced the impact of Facebook’s algorithms. This could help publishers post at the optimum frequency.

The roll-up: It is not clear if these effects are intended or not. But companies that publish regularly on Facebook could be losing valuable reach and traffic. This highlights the importance of having diverse sources of traffic. Only that will leave publishers less susceptible to algorithms and unexpected changes.


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