I happen to sit in on a social media webinar this week where the moderator claimed that people should not use third party posting apps like Buffer or CoSchedule because they affect the Facebook algorithm. I wasn’t surprised but I was discouraged. How can these same old myths keep going round and round like a hamster on a wheel?
A Little History
In 2011, Facebook made changes to the present algorithm that was restricting the reach of third party posts because they had developed a more sophisticated way to monitor content that came in from outside Facebook. At that time, the concern was about content, not about the apps themselves. After Facebook instituted a “safety net” of sorts to catch crappy content that came in from the outside, they no longer punished third party posted content, just crappy content.
To make sure Facebook was telling the truth, Buffer, Agropulse and other third party companies instituted a rigorous regime of research to test the crap out of their posts to make sure they could make the claim that Facebook was not limiting their customers’ reach. All the studies concluded the same: Facebook was no longer punishing third party posting applications, just content that didn’t meet their guidelines.
Fast Forward to Today
When our content starts to lag and doesn’t seem to reach as many people as it did before, we love to jump to conclusions we are already familiar with. But that could be a fatal mistake. There are so many factors that go into your content being seen: how people have engaged with it in the past, if it uses links to drag people away from Facebook, how quickly people engage with it after it is posted, how or if it is shared or receives meaningful comments that spur conversations, its relevance, and more. If you want a detailed explanation of the algorithm, read this post from Sprout Social. It will help, in addition to clarifying some history.
Why Use Third Party Apps to Post?
I manually post 90% of my Facebook posts. But, on days when I release a podcast or a blog post and want to post up to four or five times in a 24-hour period, I use Buffer. It’s free and it has everything I need on one dashboard where I can keep track of engagement. It is convenient on a day when I have other things to do besides jumping on Facebook every four hours to post. So why not just use Facebook’s scheduler? I do once in a while, but I think it’s clunky. If I know I have to post something on Tuesday in a Facebook group I moderate, I use Facebook’s scheduler. I just like having other tools that help my productivity. I’m not promoting third party apps, I’m just saying that they are there if you decide to use them. And you can use them guilt-free unless you are posting content that is against Facebook’s terms of service.
Get to know the elements of the recent algorithm and use them to your advantage. Don’t just go on posting like nothing has changed. Get to know how to use video. Work on posting content that starts conversations, and stay away from from just spamming people all the time with your sales messages. And don’t be afraid to use third party applications if you want to. Just remember: it’s all about the content–not about how you get it up there.