Crafting and sharing posts that link to blog posts, videos, web pages and podcasts on social media platforms has been a standard promotional method since the early days of Facebook. To get the word out there, we assume that posting them to our networks will be enough. With 1.5 billion specific users on Facebook at any given time, it just makes sense.
However, social media marketers have long suspected that the Facebook algorithm, designed to keep people scrolling down their news feeds, penalizes outside links posted on their pages. A popular workaround has been to post the link in the first comment or a pinned comment. Does that really work?
A survey of over 51 million Facebook posts done in collaboration with Socialinsider, gives us more insights into how the different types of posts perform.
Where to Place Links for Greater Engagement in Facebook Posts
To answer the question about link placement in Facebook posts, Socialinsider analyzed 172,338 Facebook business pages with a total of 51,054,216 Facebook posts.
What do we mean by a Facebook post with a link vs a Facebook post without a link? There are many different kinds of Facebook posts. You can write text or upload photos or videos directly to the post without using a link. However, you can also link the post to a photo, video, or webpage, and the post will show a preview that serves as the visual hook.
Because we assume that Facebook penalizes posts with links, many small businesses (but not as many as we might think) put the links in the first or in pinned comments for greater reach. As we will see, this might not be the best way to go.
- To discover the influence of link placement on Facebook engagement;
- To find out how many brands actually place their link in the comments; and
- To determine the most engaging type of Facebook post.
Facebook posts without links receive more than double the engagement
An engagement rate on Facebook tells us how many people interacted with your post through a comment, like, or share. You may have reached many with your post, but if your engagement rate is not high, it means not many people stopped to interact with it.
When Socialinsider broke down the engagement rate of posts with or without links, they found a wide difference between the engagement of posts.
- A photo without a link got 68% more engagement than a linked photo.
- A simple text status, without a link, gets 125% more engagement on average than a text status with a link.
The algorithm, supported by user preferences, clearly favors posts without links. This is a challenge for small and large businesses who want to drive traffic to their websites, especially for ecommerce companies trying to drive sales. However, these results suggest that businesses might want to find a more creative way to lead users to their site.
The type of Facebook post that receives most engagement across the board is an album
A Facebook album post without a link receives 52% more engagement than an album post with a link. It also receives more engagement across the board, doing 4% better than a text status post and 7% better than both photo or video posts.
This is good news for small businesses who need to keep people informed or updated through their social media. Long-form content can easily be adapted into a photo album. QR codes and small URLs are now easy for those on one or more devices to make use of.
The important thing to remember is that if you want high Facebook engagement rates, simply linking to your content is not the most effective way to gain traction. Dedication to creative approaches on the platform itself will pay off in the long run.
Brands don’t actually place links in their comments
Placing a link in a comment is a talked-about solution to the algorithm problem, but it is not actually being used by brands. Fully 99.76% of brands surveyed do not use this approach. There are a few reasons for this.
One is that placing a link in a comment seems like a hard sell, something brands are careful to avoid. Another is that it may look like the brand did not take the time and effort to create content for the platform, something a brand never wants to be accused of. Also, on mobile devices, posts are often shown without comments for ease of scrolling. A link wouldn’t catch attention.
Socialinsider analyzed 51,054,216 Facebook posts from a total of 172,338 Facebook business pages. The posts were published between January 2020 and September 2021. Followers were not counted, because average engagement rate is calculated by total engagement rate divided by the total number of followers.
Socialinsider studied engagement rates, types of posts on Facebook, and the presence of link placement.
The types of Facebook posts covered in this study are:
- Album – multiple photos uploaded to one Facebook post
- Photo – a single photo uploaded or linked to one Facebook post
- Status – a Facebook post that contains only text content (text content may include links)
- Video – a single video uploaded or linked to one Facebook post
While social media algorithms are not always shared, and there are changes every now and then, these insights help keep businesses fully engaged with their social media space.
Social media, by definition, is designed to be a community space. While users are certainly demanding more personality and empathy from their brands, they see social media platforms as a way to interact and engage. A well-written or well-composed Facebook post brings more reactions and shares, more people tagging friends in the comments, more people sharing your relevant links as replies to questions. This is what you want happening on your posts.
Take advantage of these insights to bring creativity into your social media marketing. If Facebook album posts are doing the best for now, consider which kinds of posts would get the most engagement. Encourage engagement with the post itself through reactions or shares. Encourage engagement with your profile page, which is where most users go to find your website.
The algorithm insights are just those—insights. Your creativity is what will transform them.