Stop Using Facebook Text Updates and Photos to Share Links

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It’s important to take a break every now and then to challenge conventional wisdom.

Conventional wisdom says that to optimize the effectiveness of links, you should either include them within text connected to a Photo or within a text post (Status Update).

Conventional wisdom says that the reasons for this are lower Reach and Engagement rates from the standard Link share (update with title, description and thumbnail).

facebook status update attached link reach Stop Using Facebook Text Updates and Photos to Share Links

We already know that Reach numbers need to be questioned. But what about Engagement?

The purpose of this post is to prove why you should go back to sharing links the way Facebook had intended. I’ll do that with a little help from my data.

Why You Share Links


We marketers are so easily distracted. We’re always looking for the latest shiny object. The newest quick fix. The weakness that can be exploited.

As a result, we have also lost track of why we share links in the first place: To drive traffic.

Sure, you want to start a conversation as well. Likes, comments and shares are good (with shares being great).

But particularly if you’re sharing your own content, the main goal when sharing a link is to drive traffic to your website.

Guess what? Facebook tracks link clicks. They track link clicks either within a typical Link Share, within a Status Update, within the text connected to Photos and within comments.

So if you wanted, you could actually compare the effectiveness of driving link clicks with each post type.

I have a feeling we’re about to do just that!

My Data

It’s always important to open with this: My data is a very small sample size. I represent only one Facebook Page (Jon Loomer Digital). It may not represent your data.

But what I found is convincing enough that I’d be surprised if you’re seeing something significantly different.

I took more than a year’s worth of data on my Page from February 2012 through February 2013. I then cleaned up the data by doing the following:

  • Removed any posts that received promotion;
  • Focused only on Status Updates, Link Shares and Photos;
  • Removed all posts that were targeted by location or language;
  • Focused only on the Photos and Status Updates that included a link within the text.

The result is a pool of 588 pieces of content from which I can compare, broken down as follows:

  • Link Shares: 410
  • Photo Shares: 158
  • Status Updates: 20

Obviously, the Status Updates are a very small sample size. But you’ll quickly notice that plenty can be learned from those 20 updates.

Facebook provides number of Link Clicks within the Consumers and Consumptions tabs of the Post Level Insights export. I will use Consumers since the focus here is on unique users for all data.

Note that the Link Clicks that Facebook tracks include clicks on links within the comments of posts as well. While I went through my data line-by-line to only focus on the posts that had links within the main text, I can’t separate the clicks within comments of the posts included in my final data. But I will point out a couple of scenarios where there is a link shared in the comments of a post that also includes a link.

Since my number of Fans increased significantly (from 1,889 to 9,586) during this period of time, I will be focusing on ratios over number of Fans.

[NOTE: Watch the video at the bottom of this post to learn how to find this data.]

Difference in Reach

A hot topic of late has been the high Reach of Status Updates when compared to Photos and Links. Here’s an example of my Reach from May 1, 2012 through January 31, 2013 (from yesterday’s blog post):

total reach by post type jonloomer 600x300 Stop Using Facebook Text Updates and Photos to Share Links

As you can see above, the Reach of my posts in general has favored Status Updates.

The Total Reach for the data used in today’s experiment is broken down as follows (Total Reach / Total Fans):

  • Status Updates: 39.44%
  • Photos: 28.34%
  • Links: 26.69%

reach likes facebook post type 600x419 Stop Using Facebook Text Updates and Photos to Share Links

It’s important to remember that the numbers above don’t represent the Total Reach of ALL Photos and Status Updates shared from my Facebook Page. It only includes those qualified posts (as explained earlier) that include a link within the text.

The percentages above show exactly why so many marketers have been using Status Updates lately to share links (meaning the link is shared in plain text without a thumbnail, title and description).

The thought is that this significantly higher Reach leads to better results.

Difference in Engagement

Of course, before the latest trend was using Status Updates to increase Reach, the hot thing was to attach links within the text of a Photo.

The thought here was that using a photo brought more attention to the eye. Additionally, such a post would take up more room in the News Feed. These things, we have been told over and over again, would lead to more Engagement (clicks within posts).

So now let’s take a look at how Engagement is broken down within my data (Engaged Users / Total Fans).

  • Photos: 1.38%
  • Status Updates: 1.01%
  • Links: .92%

engaged user likes facebook post type 600x414 Stop Using Facebook Text Updates and Photos to Share Links

This supports everything we’ve been hearing. If you want engagement, share Photos!

WHOA! Difference in Link Clicks

Here’s the problem with this line of thinking: Focusing on Reach and general Engagement doesn’t help us measure whether we are reaching the intended goal of the post (in this case, driving traffic with the link).

So how about those link clicks?

Even the raw data is eye-opening. I sorted all of my qualifying 588 posts in order of link clicks. The top 356 were all Link shares (this is not a typo).

The first non-Link share that showed up was a Status Update with a grand total of four link clicks (for comparison’s sake, there were 58 Link Shares that had at least 50 link clicks). But guess what? That post also had a link within the comments, so it’s not clear how many clicks there actually were on the link within the Status Update.

[NOTE: I know what you’re thinking because I was thinking it, too. Is Facebook not tracking the links within the text of Photos and Status Updates, tracking only those within comments? Nope. There are several such posts that don’t have links within comments that do show link clicks. And there are also such posts that I promoted that got far more link clicks.]

Even the second Status Update on the list had a link shared in the comments. While my standard Link shares were generating an average of about 25 link clicks, the Status Updates and Photos averaged fewer than 1.0.

Let’s take a look at the average number of link clicks by post type (Link Clicks / Total Fans):

  • Link Shares: .455%
  • Status Updates: .006%
  • Photos: .003%

link clicks likes facebook post type 600x414 Stop Using Facebook Text Updates and Photos to Share Links

I had to go to a third decimal place, otherwise Photos would be rounded to .00%. Link Shares resulted in 159 times more link clicks than Photos with attached links and 73 times more link clicks than such a Status Update.

These numbers are ridiculous. Obvious. I shouldn’t need to waste more than a few words making my argument, but I’m so shocked by the disparities that I’m going to waste those words on expressing my shock.

If I am looking to drive traffic to my website with a post, there is absolutely no reason to share that post as a Status Update or Photo. None.

Status Updates generate more than 50% the Reach than Link Shares. Photos similarly result in more than 50% the Engagement. But neither of those post types come close to satisfying the number of link clicks of a good, old fashioned Link Share.

Quite frankly, I hate myself for taking as long as I did to move entirely to Link Shares for driving traffic. I wasted countless opportunities to drive traffic to my website.

The Science

So the immediate question is Why? Why would users be so much more likely to click on the normal Link Share as opposed to a link that’s in the text of a Status Update or Photo?

When you include a link within the Status Update or Photo text, you are wanting someone to click that small area to be redirected to your site. Like this…

status update link Stop Using Facebook Text Updates and Photos to Share Links

But a link? Click anywhere within a box that is approximately 379 x 116 pixels and you’ll be directed to my site…

link share dimensions Stop Using Facebook Text Updates and Photos to Share Links

Which link would you be more likely to click?

Your Turn

As convincing as my numbers are, they of course don’t necessarily mean you are seeing the same thing.

I encourage you to do your own research. Pull several Post Level Exports. Remove the promoted content. Find those Status Updates and Photos that you created to share links. Then find which posts generated the most link clicks.

What are you seeing? Do you plan on changing your posting habits when it comes to sharing links?

Watch the tutorial below to learn how you can find your link click data!

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About Jon Loomer

Jon Loomer is a digital marketing consultant with a unique perspective on social media. He was introduced to Facebook in 2007 while with the NBA (back before Pages) and has been using Facebook for business ever since. Stay in touch by liking his Facebook Page (Jon Loomer Digital).

  • http://www.facebook.com/ali.mirza Ali Mirza

    WOW Jon. I am going to check my numbers right now.. thank you

  • joshharcus

    Hey Jon,

    On my personal biz page http://facebook.com/joshharcus I have gotten in the habit of always sharing status updates: jokes. But when I do take the time to occasionally add an image my engagement definitely increases.

    This could have to do a lot with the fact that humor is very viral, and when I do something that stands out from the norm of my content my following notices.

    • http://twitter.com/alisammeredith Alisa Meredith

      Hey, Josh! Photos are still king for engagement,but for clicks, I’ll be using regular old link shares from now on.

    • http://www.christiankonline.com Christian Karasiewicz

      @joshharcus:disqus, I second @twitter-16651293:disqus. Photos are great for engagement. It just depends on the situation. I took a look at your page and adding photos might help break up the standard status update (which looks like it is working – 27-30 likes per update) and make it more visually appealing. I recommend trying some of each to see where you get the most mileage.

  • Kenneth Hart

    Another epic article. Just curious, do you recommend deleting the URL entirely from the status update? ie. I paste the URL, it creates the link box and then I delete the URL so it just posts the link share.

    • http://twitter.com/TheKeelGroup The Keel Group, LLC

      This is an interesting question. I do the same thing…I look forward to Jon’s answer.

    • http://twitter.com/marioAquinones Mario Quinones

      For me, deleting the URL helps clean up the post and shortens the amount of space the post takes. Some of my data suggests an increase in reach for this reason, but it could also be the length of my post’s copy.

    • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

      That’s what I do since I think the URL makes it cluttered, but you should test and see the results for your own page!

    • http://www.christiankonline.com Christian Karasiewicz

      Yes.Paste the URL, let Facebook pick-up the title, description and image and delete the link. It’s a lot cleaner.

  • http://twitter.com/RedKiteSocial Catherine LloydEvans

    Ah, so my instinct to always recommend deleting the URL from the status text box ‘because it was ugly’ was right then!

    • http://www.christiankonline.com Christian Karasiewicz

      @twitter-859964828:disqus, you could look at it like that. I would take a look at your data first before you begin deleting URL’s though. It may suggest otherwise.

  • http://www.facebook.com/MarkCrowleyDenver Mark Crowley

    Hi Jon – great insights here – can you clarify for me the difference between a status update with a link and a link share? Is that something as simple as erasing the url from within the post after the link box appears below the post?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1089785493 Scott Linklater

      Mark, I think in this case it is the other way around.
      It’s having a link in a pure text status update, so you are actually removing the preview generated by Facebook.
      Then a normal link share would be putting the link into a status update box, waiting for the preview to be generated and removing the URL from the status update box to leave a link share.
      I’m pretty sure that’s what Jon is referring too.

      • http://www.facebook.com/MarkCrowleyDenver Mark Crowley

        Thanks Scott!

    • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

      A status update with a link in it is removing the “link preview” — the thumbnail, title and description — that you’ll see with a link share. It’s text only plus a URL.

      • http://www.facebook.com/MarkCrowleyDenver Mark Crowley

        Appreciate the distinction Jon! Thank You!

      • http://www.facebook.com/bbmaclaird Bonnie Berg MacLaird

        I’m afraid I still don’t understand the difference between a “status update” and a “link share”

        • Jenny @ Abundant.Life

          Okay. When you share a link directly in a status update, you have three choices: 1) Post the comment, the link, and the little link preview box. 2) Post the comment and then delete the plaintext link when the preview box pops up. 3) Cancel the link preview box and post only with the plaintext link (which of course becomes clickable once you post it). 1 and 2 are “link shares,” and 3 is a “status update.”

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  • http://shockingfit.com/ Mario

    I’m using a custom short URL domain and track them with bit.ly and I’ve notice the number of clicks on the link increased when I started embedding them with Photos.

    • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

      Interesting, Mario! I think it’s important that everyone find their own results and not rely on mine!

      • http://shockingfit.com/ Mario

        I think it’s because the photos get shared so the URL in the end reaches more people. But yea, I totally agree that you should gather your own data, at least 20 links of each 3 types and just compare the results.

        PS. Loving the blog, thanks for providing so much free value. I’m a big fan.

  • Jennifer Bilbro

    Great insights Jon! I experiment with this daily and even the time of the day, weather, thumbnail are drivers in how engaging the post is. Just in the last week, I feel like i’ve noticed a tweak in the algorithm. Would love to know (as another comment asked) your opinions on the short links and whether or not you delete the url before link box?

    • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

      Hi, Jennifer. You actually may want to use shortened links as a second way of tracking, but I wouldn’t use them otherwise. I’ve heard that in general people are less likely to click on them, especially if they aren’t customized.

      I always remove the URL from the text in a Link Share (rely only on the link preview with thumbnail, title and description). I find the URL clutters it up.

      • http://www.facebook.com/vizachero Vincent Vizachero

        Jon, our website runs on WordPress, and a lifesaver has been the Short URL plug-in from SedLex. We can create short-ish URLs that start with our domain name but are relatively short and can be cutomized.

        Example: http://www.bluewaterbaltimore.org/LoomerLink

        It works for internal pages OR external links and simply redirects. Not the same groovy tracking as other services, but it has OUR brand in the URL.

        • http://www.christiankonline.com Christian Karasiewicz

          @facebook-1594440194:disqus, I like your approach. A branded short-url will definitely help build trust with fans – it also makes them more inclined to click on your link compared to normal bitly or Twitter shortened URL’s.

      • Lindsey

        Hi Jon, thank you for your helpful insight! Do you have any reason to believe that Facebook penalizes the use of a link shortener? Earlier this year I was using one and Facebook eventually shut it down–I wasn’t able to post using the shortened link. Do you think this still might be the case?

    • http://www.christiankonline.com Christian Karasiewicz

      @google-06103a79b0420bec9b2ca09635ed0ff7:disqus, you would want to delete the URL once Facebook has picked up the title, description and image from your link. As far as using short URL’s, Bitly links tend to have a much higher click-thru rate compared to other URL shorteners. Customizing it helps significantly too.

  • http://www.facebook.com/vizachero Vincent Vizachero

    Great insight! I just checked, and our Link Share updates are getting 5x the clicks of photos with links.

    I do, also, see a clear uptick in the number of clicks since Facebook changed the size of the link box in mid-January: about a 40% improvement in clicks for us.

    • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

      Makes sense, Vincent! That bigger area not only takes up more space in the News Feed, but provides greater click area.

  • http://twitter.com/alisammeredith Alisa Meredith

    Wonderful post! I’ll be changing the way I share my blog posts. One method I’ve seen is to post a status update and put the link in a comment, with “link in first comment” in the original update. I asked the page admin why she did that, and she said she gets more clicks that way. I don’t know about you, but that makes no sense to me!

    • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

      Alissa — I’d certainly check your data. I’ll say that I’m not a fan of putting the link in the first comment. It just seems awkward to me. But I guess if that’s what gets you the most results, you should consider it.

      • http://twitter.com/alisammeredith Alisa Meredith

        Oh, it’s not me! I find it awkward for sure. Looks a little gimmicky, even. I downloaded my data, but it looks awful when opened in Drive.

  • http://www.facebook.com/scottwayres Scott Ayres

    I think with all things it’s all about your goal when you post. Photos will get higher engagement, which will help your page show up more in the news feed, but will get less link clicks. Short statements or questions status updates without links increase engagement as well. But good ole link posts are all about getting traffic, so your data does make sense to me.

    For me I’ve always included a url in every image posted just on the off chance people click on the link, but the goal of posting the image itself is not to get traffic to my sites, it’s merely to get engagement, likes, comments and shares.. It’s all about having a plan for what and why you post.

    • http://antoniocalero.com/ Antonio Calero

      Great comment Scott. I have a similar theory (that I have just shared on this thread). As you know, Facebook has made the thumbnail showing on link shares much bigger, providing links with a combination of visual attraction plus the engagement of links.

      It would be good to make a comparison before and after this change was implemented. Do you (or anyone) know when this “larger thumbnail on links” was launched?

      • http://www.facebook.com/scottwayres Scott Ayres

        Facebook has been playing with different sizes for the thumbnail preview for link post the last few months. I like how they look currently for sure.

    • http://lukerumley.com/ Luke Rumley

      Scott, I have been doing much of the same, but recently began posting photos with no links just to compare, and the engagement activity is often DOUBLE that of photos with links in the description. If seems as if Facebook is penalizing link sharing this way. Maybe I need to lower my expectation of engagement AND link clicks to just one of those per post?

  • Mark Leo @sfcpdx

    Really great post, Jon. We often get caught up in habits and hype. Nice to get clarity via data. Thanks for doing the research and sharing.

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  • Dave B Goode

    I think that some of it is life cycle…you need the pics an engagement to be able to get into more news feeds THEN you can use the links to drive people to your website. But if you don’t have the engagement you won’t show up (that bugs me about FB). Great article… For me, it’ll be a balanced effort.

    • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

      Hey, Dave. I agree 100%. To be clear, the point of this post wasn’t to say you should stop using photos and status updates. It was to consider stopping using them for the purpose of sharing links. You absolutely should use status updates and photos for things, but I would not advise using them if your goal is to drive traffic.

      Thanks for your thoughts!

  • http://www.facebook.com/jessica.seba.mx Jessica Seba

    My highest rates posts in’Lifetime Post Consumptions’ didn’t even have links in them. Nor in the comments. It was just a photo. Am I missing something? I though we are looking for what link was clicked inside the link/photo/status update.. But how can it generate a number if there isn’t even a link in the photo update?

    • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

      Consumptions includes a bunch of different types of clicks, not just link clicks. There’s a tab for Consumptions that breaks it down within your insights.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/vcabrera21 Vanessa Cabrera

    Fantastic discovery Jon – really eye opening.

    • Douglas Ewing

      Ive found that when I post Pics with links from my main timeline page, that they wont show up on the home page some times but if I post from the home page, I get far more reach and likes and shares.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kerry.armour Kerry Armour

    I feel SO much better! I tried my own, albeit much smaller and less scientific, experiment when you posted about this topic a while back. And even without going to the level of detail you did it just seemed that the typical link share was better for me. So I stuck with them even as everyone else was doing photo and plain text. I now know my instinct was right!

  • http://antoniocalero.com/ Antonio Calero

    Mmmm….very interesting analysis (don’t hate yourself, I had not come to this conclusion either…so we are at least two)

    As someone with certain experience in Consumer Behaviour techniques, I have a theory: in the online world everything is fast and spontaneous. You may have X minutes to check Y posts on Z websites… so, on top of EdgeRank, your brain automatically makes a further filtering based on what it “wants”

    When a photo shows in your News Feed, it certainly grabs your attention (no discussion about this), but the “impact” is….the photo itself. Nor the text or the link associated to it. Your brain was attracted by that pic, you opened it and made it bigger, your brain “hunger” gets satisfied and…it moves on. There is no need to dig further.

    When it comes to post updates, brains are “hungry” for text to read…therefore, they read. They don’t want to click or dig further, they simply read. Once again, mission accomplished.

    However, when it comes to Links there’s a double “trap”. Firstly, as you said, the link is bigger (379 x 116 px) but also, users clicking on those are expecting to find something else…The pic or the text associated to the link is not enough, they want more.

    I think I’m going to do some data analysis myself. Would be interesting to see the results.

    • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

      Excellent thoughts, Antonio. I will say that I have some doubts about the data. I mean… I am convinced that sharing links the old fashioned way is the right way. But the numbers are SO crazy that I think something may be amiss.

      But you are absolutely right. I think that beyond the numbers — accurate or not — there is every reason to share links the normal way. Not just the huge click area. But think about reshares. Have you ever seen a status update or photo with a link that was reshared? I guarantee those get FAR fewer link clicks.

      • Jenny @ Abundant.Life

        The link share also has a teaser that makes it harder for people like me to skip by. :) The photo is complete in and of itself.

  • Tina

    Great article! Thanks Jon! Will you share, please, how you set up the image in the link share box? If it’s not already there by default, that is. -For instance, I just tried to make a post linking to my own website, and no image showed up.. Thanks for your help! /Tina

  • http://jeffkorhan.com Jeff Korhan

    What this tells me Jon is that Facebook is going all-in on mobile (we already knew that). So, my take is they want to be THE “location search engine.” One needs to look no further than the anemic Graph Search to get more clues. What do you think?

    • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

      Hey, Jeff! I actually don’t know that this reflects anything from Facebook’s side. If I understand you correctly, you are suggesting that Facebook has made a change to hopefully force us to change our behavior and share more links. Well, the truth is that nothing actually changed here. Marketers have been stuck in a trap trying to solve a problem that wasn’t there (partially, but not totally, due to the bug in Reach reporting). In general, we’ve done a poor job of measuring success when it comes to sharing links.

      So ultimately, my theory is that we should have stuck with sharing links the way Facebook intended from the beginning. Nothing Facebook did moved me in that direction. Simply looking at my stats from the past year made it obvious.

      That said, YES. Facebook absolutely should want us to share links. I feel that Graph Search can be infinitely more useful once you start looking at links shared, authority of those who shared the links, categories of the people who shared them, etc.

      Thanks for stopping by, Jeff!

      • http://jeffkorhan.com Jeff Korhan

        Jon – What I was suggesting is the greater reach of Status Updates is probably telling us something. It makes sense to me because that content is mobile and location based and supports where Facebook is probably going with Graph Search. Google merged Places into G+Local and Foursquare has announced they are a “location search engine.” It seems to me the race is on to capture more mobile/location data. These links are inherently richer in contextual data and arguably more valuable for search advertising. That’s my take anyway.

        • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

          Gotcha, Jeff. That’s tough to say since the Reach data is essentially useless since Facebook announced on Friday that there was a bug in Reach reporting dating back as far as September. So we won’t know for sure how Reach shakes out until… well, now and going forward!

          • http://jeffkorhan.com Jeff Korhan

            They love to keep us guessing :)

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  • http://www.allinbound.ro/ Alin Vlad

    Hi Jon,

    I think the “Link clicks” report from Insights doesn’t work as you say. I manage the fb.com/bitdefender page and i can tell you for sure that clicks on the links attached to photos are not counted.

    I’m using bit.ly to track the clicks on those links. Always, the difference is huge. Insights reports between 10-30 link clicks, while bit.ly reports between 150-800 clicks originating from Facebook.

    I made the analysis on more than 150 photo links. Are you sure that some of the clicks are not counted in the “Other clicks” column?

    I can provide you the stats if you want.

    • http://www.facebook.com/steph.allard Stephane Allard

      Hi Alin,
      we’ve found the same results on thousands of Pages, that’s why we, too, use bit.ly data.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1089785493 Scott Linklater

      Yea I was wondering about that too.

      Because I’ve got page post ads that are links and they just aren’t showing as link clicks in the facebook stats.

      So I assumed Facebook didn’t count them because i’m getting people enter a give-away in large numbers yet facebook say I haven’t had any link clicks….or maybe 1 or 2 when there have in fact been hundreds.

      The fact that they did report some (very few, usually under or 10) confused me as to what these were as I knew they weren’t the link in the page post ad, but what the heck are they then?

      So if I follow what you are saying Alin, you’re saying they don’t count them but they don’t not count them 100%? :)

      They show some numbers there but those numbers are totally false and just random rubbish?

      Or do they represent something like a particular type of click? Not sure how they could but it seems weird that facebook provide such confusing, useless and off the mark stats!

      Cheers

      Scott

      • http://www.allinbound.ro/ Alin Vlad

        ” but what the heck are they then?” Exactly my thoughts to.

    • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

      Hey, Alin! You know, someone else asked me that as well about “Other Clicks.” I went back to my data and I found that even if I included “Other Clicks” + “Link Clicks”, the amount of over clicks between the standard link shares and photos would be about the same for me. And if you assume that “Other Clicks” does include “other” things as well, that still means that the standard link share drives more traffic (assuming, of course, that some data isn’t being left out somewhere).

      I’m totally with you on challenging the data. I’m not 100% sold either. But it’s enough to make me second guess what many of us have been doing.

      What are you seeing with bit.ly regarding links vs. photos vs. status? My issue with bit.ly in general is that their numbers tend to be inflated (though it could be relatively inflated if you compare across the board in the same way).

      • http://about.me/celivingston Courtney Livingston

        If you’re using UTM tags on the links in your posts, couldn’t you just check Google Analytics to see what traffic is coming from each post? Avoids any possible padding/under-reporting from FB and bit.ly…

      • http://www.allinbound.ro/ Alin Vlad

        Bit.ly doesn’t inflate number if you check the correct stats: in Bitly, the Stats Section, check the ones originating from Facebook in the Your Stats tab, not the Global one. Also, as @courtneylivingston:disqus says, we’re using GA utm tags to. Same results as in bit.ly.

        On my side the number of clicks is correctly displayed for the Link post type, but on the Photos is not even close. The differences are huge. Bit.ly reports numbers 10x bigger than FB.

        • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

          Thanks, Alin. So you say that bit.ly’s numbers are 10X as high as Facebook’s. So how do the click numbers from bit.ly compare between Photos, Status and regular Links?

          • http://www.allinbound.ro/ Alin Vlad

            Yes, but only for the Photo post type.

            I didn’t use links in Status Updates, so i can’t make any assumption. Also, i didn’t use bit.ly for Link updates, so i can’t answer your question.

            But, using GA reports, i figured out that the pages linked from photos have 2x more traffic than the the ones linked from link updates.

  • Jo Manderson

    Thanks Jon, always so interesting, your insights are amazing and provocotive.

    • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

      Thanks, Jo!

  • http://www.facebook.com/steph.allard Stephane Allard

    Hello Jon, we’ve found out the “Link_clicks” metric to be quite unreliable. We’ve identified several posts containing links but with no “Link_clicks” data.
    That’s the reason why we’ve been replacing this metric in our Facebook analytics solution with a bit.ly measure for now : http://www.wisemetrics.com

    • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

      Hey, Stephane. I admit that while my results opened my eyes, I do question if the disparity can be that great. That said, this is quite the gap to fill.

      What results are you seeing from bit.ly? My only concern there is that bit.ly has been known to provide inflated numbers.

  • http://www.bslashc.com Arnold Tijerina

    Interesting numbers. I had just finished a similar research project being a Social Media Strategist for a company that offers social media services as it appeared that Post Views had dropped significantly. I agree that the preferred content type (in terms of delivering posts to fans) were pictures. In analyzing over 100 pages that my company managed, the data result showed a significant decrease in Post Views over ALL types of content – for photos, for videos and for links. (I didnt track the decrease in status update in percentages) That being said, I did collate all Post Views for all post types and discovered that, as of Sept 2012, status updates had become the most popular in terms of post delivery. with photos 2nd, links 3rd and videos 4th.

    My theory regarding this included a couple factors. Facebook going public has caused them to increase the monetization of their platform. The only thing they really have is Facebook Ads and Promoted Posts but to include these types of things ON TOP of the Page posts being delivered would clog up a users feed with posts from pages and lower posts from their actual friends so, to accommodate this, they lowered the reach of Pages and increased the reach of paid ads and sponsored stories. In addition, more than 1/2 their users access their platform via a mobile device and status updates are much easier to deliver on mobile than on desktop so by increasing status updates, they can deliver more of the content from people’s actual friends while still including ads, sponsored stories and normal Page posts without a user feeling like their newsfeed became a “spam-feed”.

    All of that being said, with Facebook’s recent announcement that their Page Insight numbers have been inaccurate because of a “bug” and that posts had actually been delivered to more fans than the numbers indicate may warrant a duplicate study IF the past numbers were changed to correct this “bug”. Now, many people are hypothesizing that Facebook did exactly what I described above and, due to outlash from Page owners on decreased visibility and more emphasis on a pay-to-play” model, they are now back-pedaling and blaming it all on a system bug.

    So, while your numbers (and mine) may have reflected that status updates were performing better, it may be the case that those numbers WERE actually wrong due to this bug and, in fact, the old Edgerank algorithm was still delivering photos with links in the text more than status updates as it was previously.

    Great article, BTW. I just feel like, due to their “bug”, it’s a little early to ditch a strategy that’s been taking advantage of their Edgerank algorithm preferences until the data is either changed OR more time has passed so that we can re-evaluate the content types vs. Post Views.

    Just my 2 cents.

    • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

      Interesting thoughts, Arnold. What were you seeing with regards to traffic from links shared with each of those post types?

      • http://www.bslashc.com Arnold Tijerina

        I didn’t really pay attention to traffic. I just noticed that the drop in post views started in about Sept 2012 so I wanted to see how edgerank had changed (assuming it had.. or not if you believe reported Insight numbers were lower due to a bug). My goal is typically to expand the reach of the client to penetrate their fan’s extended networks via engagement and content marketing. Kind of hard to explain but, yes, traffic from the links do matter, I just didn’t measure them when I did this analysis.

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  • Andy

    Thanks, I tried changing my posts and normally get 100 views with a few clicks. Today I checked and had 1000+ views and 50+ clicks

  • kiwijase

    Ive found this very confusing, do you suggest it is better to have the blue box below your text and link. Or delete the blue box with the preview in it???

    • Jenny @ Abundant.Life

      You get a bit more reach without the box but way more clicks with the box.

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  • http://twitter.com/scalablesocial Scalable Social

    I got my data, but of course the headings are not as simple as those shown in your video. I can pull out reach fine, but which columns did you use for engaged and link clicks?

    • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

      Within the first tab, there are columns for Total Engaged Users and Total Engaged Users Who Like Your Page (not sure of the exact title of that second one, but it’s one of the last columns). You’ll have to work some magic if you want to find the ratios over fans. That’s actually a whole separate tutorial, so hopefully you don’t need that.

      The Link Clicks are within the Total Lifetime Consumers and Total Lifetime Consumptions tabs.

      • http://twitter.com/scalablesocial Scalable Social

        Great, thank you! I just skipped engaged users who liked my page and went for total. I hadn’t thought of combining those two columns for link clicks. My data showed better reach, engagement AND clicks for photos (more than double, actually) when compared to links, but the best of all were status updates, shares and videos. I’ll check again in a few months.

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  • http://www.rachel-levy.com Rachel Levy

    How are you differentiating between Link Shares and Status Updates? I’m not sure I understand the difference.

    • Jenny @ Abundant.Life

      A Status Update without a Link Share is when you delete the preview with the thumbnail.

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  • Megan Keane

    Fascinating stuff, Jon! Your research has really help informed me on the nitty gritty of Facebook stats and inspired me to do my own research.

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  • Veronica Athanasiou

    This is the second time I read about posting the link instead of photos or plain text and it makes a lot of sense. Great stats analysis! I find myself sharing links more frequently as with the other options I’d have to copy the URL and paste it – those are 2 extra clicks that would add to your observation about the area occupied by the link box.

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  • Daniel

    My problem is getting people to my art galleries. If I post a picture, no one clicks the link, and if I post the link, no one shares it. Sigh.

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  • namabile

    This was a great post. I always enjoy data-driven approaches to measuring social media, and this gave me some new metrics to look at.

    That said, on our page of about 20K fans, we’ve seen 35% higher click-through-rate (CTR) and 122% higher average reach on photos compared to link shares. I’m measuring CTR as the total link clicks over lifetime impressions.

    We’re also seeing 122% more impressions on average for photos than link shares.

  • Scott Raley

    Jon you are Pioneering on some big advancements in Facebook Advertising I am so pumped up for you right now buddy! I just found your site and think very highly of you!

    • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

      Thanks so much, Scott!

  • Ron

    Jon – I find this confusing, I will explain why
    You are saying link shares will generate more link clicks than photos with links right? but my biggest success was with a meme that generated over 1000 link clicks to my itunes – everytime i do a link share to my itunes(thats what i am promoting cuz thats how i make money) it gets either 5 to 50 link clicks – and i do link shares 4 times a day that way – but according to what you are saying – if i stopped doing that on photos – how would i generate the 600 link clicks a day i am getting now? are you suggesting i promote my itunes link 12 times a day? that will come off as spamming – the reason i like the idea of including the link in photos is because it doesnt bother anyone – and people are clicking on the link – its all different kinds of amounts
    for example
    when i do just a link share like you say – on average i get 5 to 50 link clicks
    now with photos – i will get anything from 5 to 1000 – depending on how hot the photo is
    now i cant post up my store link 12 times a day – thats overdose
    but i can post up 20 photos in a day, which i have been
    follow me?
    so currently i am averaging 600 link clicks a day, and thats with a mixture of: regular link shares, photos with a link, statuses with a link, and videos with a link – i post all 4 different types within a 24 hour period – and currently get 600 link clicks a day to my itunes – the question now is, can i make it more? am i doing something wrong that would stop it from being 1000+ link clicks everyday?

    understand what i am explaining?
    thanks
    Ron

    • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

      I understand what you are saying, Ron, but this is certainly the exception. The case I am making isn’t regards to memes, but to people intentionally using a photo that represents their article rather than a pure link share. Your strategy is different since the meme itself gets a ton of engagement, which leads to more visibility for the link. And it just wouldn’t make sense to put a meme behind a link thumbnail, right?

      So I completely get what you’re saying. But in 99% of cases, if you’re trying to get traffic it’s not with a photo share.

      • Ron

        ok so hearing how i am doing things makes sense to you? i feel better cuz i am new to really doing well like this, and i dont wanna make a mistake
        in the end, you agree its about the stats right? meaning real link clicks to my itunes
        cuz that is what i was measuring before i seen you say it, which made me feel more on point since you are also speaking on that
        some days my reach might be 500,000 only, as compared to 1.5 million other days – but the amount of link clicks is different each day – maybe its 600 when i reached 500k, and only 700 a day i reach 1.5, so i get you on reach
        i am just happy that now i am averaging 650 clicks a day(almost 20k a month)
        this is new, and only happening now cuz of 2 specific things

        adding the itunes link to every post, wether photo, status update or just a straight itunes link share alone
        posting hourly, cuz i never know what will be popular, i could post 10 posts that are ehh, and then 4 hit really big where people are making it viral
        the scheduling was magic, cuz i could schedule 50 hours in advance and just let it coast
        my fans are wondering if i sleep or not hahhaha
        i dont wanna tell them though, cuz i figure its more magical letting them wonder

  • Ro

    I’m somehow stuck on HOW to post an article on FB. :) Furthermore when people on my site go to share an article it shares some random image from the middle of the article. I create the image in the correct dimensions (http://www.jonloomer.com/2013/09/11/facebook-link-thumbnail-image-dimensions/) and then… no idea how to make the rest of the magic happen.

  • http://www.amphibiankingwest.com Amphibian King West

    Hi Jon, I’m curious about the effect of this kind of post in the greater scheme. If for example you have a link from your Facebook account onwards to Twitter you will get increased engagement through the Facebook post but possibly less via the Twitter feed as it just comes through as a link with no by-line or introduction.

    I know you should ideally split up and multi-post with different twists on the topic to get a better spread across the media and engagement on the topic. How do you feel about this form of ‘duplicating your time’ and is it effective? Or should you forget about linked accounts and just put the extra effort into managing your social media activities?

    BTW I’m trying out the different methods of full link, embedded link & multi picture posts on my pages too.

    Thanks.

    AKW

    • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

      I don’t link my accounts at all as I feel that I use a completely different language from network to network.

  • http://www.robertlyon.org/ Robert A Lyon

    I’m a little confused on how to even share a link. On my website I see there’s an auto cross poster feature in the WordPress dashboard. I tried sharing like that but then I can’t write anything above the share. Also, when I click the link from my Facebook page, Facebook shows a warning message saying the site could be malicious.

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  • Nidhi

    Okay, So I own a salon and don’t have a website or blog, I just use Facebook for marketing!
    So, all I can do is, post my client’s picture before and after my service!
    After reading, I am doubtful about FB marketing helping me my business!
    Someone enlighten me pl!

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  • Eric Stein

    hey man all the sudden I cant link my pictures I post to a URL – there is no way- I tried everything… you can post the link and not change the actually url that the image goes to! – try it a million ways – its like they disabled it and doesn’t work anymore, please try right now, recently, and let me know, this is not cool! I cannot put a link onto a picture, only above it, and the pic links to a FB gallery it makes, no way to send an image to outside url anymore! please help if you figure it out

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