The Real Deal with 3rd Party Facebook Publishing Tools

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[The following is a guest post from Mike Maghsoudi of PostRocket.]

No matter what anyone says or does about 3rd party posting tools (short of Mark Zuckerberg personally and individually telling Page owners that they don’t hurt Pages), the stigma will remain.

There will always be someone out there who swears that using a 3rd party publishing tool is Facebook Page suicide. And that person will probably stick in the back of your mind as you decide whether or not to sign up for a third party tool that seems very useful.

And that’s a damn shame.

I’m here to introduce facts regarding the controversy that is 3rd party posting tools on Facebook. As a disclosure, I’m a co-founder of a company that is a 3rd party publishing tool.

You can claim bias here, but I invite you to check my sources.

The Past: There Were Issues With 3rd Party Tools

I’m going to start by admitting that there was a time when 3rd party tools were at a disadvantage by default on Facebook.

As Michael Lazerow of Buddy Media (now Salesforce) noted in this post, the main issues were that Facebook was collapsing 3rd party API updates and that some of these updates were not optimized for Facebook.

To take a step back to look at the collapsing issue, check out this photo from Lazerow’s article cited above.

collapsingposts 300x69 The Real Deal with 3rd Party Facebook Publishing Tools

In this case, there were 173 posts from Twitter, and one was being shown. Yikes, collapsing was quite an issue.

The other issue was the lack of optimization of these tools for Facebook. There were a lot of ugly posts out there. I’m sure you can remember the auto-posted RSS feeds that looked terrible. Obviously, these posts suffered.

Today: No Punishment for 3rd Party Tools

But this is all in the past. Facebook has come out and said that Pages that use 3rd party publishing tools are not punished by EdgeRank, Facebook’s news feed filtering algorithm.

Brittany Darwell of Inside Facebook speculates that “it’s unclear whether the subtle note about where a post is coming from has an effect on how users respond to it” — which is a fair point, but one that is no longer applicable now that Facebook has removed attribution for 3rd party apps (in other words, there’s no more ‘via app name’).

See the photo below for more clarification.

Screen shot 2012 10 19 at 3.42.58 PM 600x372 The Real Deal with 3rd Party Facebook Publishing Tools

The ‘via Publisher’ line no longer exists, so there’s no possible way for a user to differentiate a post via a 3rd party publisher and a post via Facebook natively.

When you couple the statement above with the fact that there’s no longer a collapsing issue on Facebook and 3rd party tools are generally super-optimized for Facebook Pages, it becomes clearer that there’s no downside to posting through a 3rd party tool.

Can I also bring to your attention the amount of engagement on this post (and this Page) — and yes, they use a 3rd party posting tool!

Screen Shot 2013 03 19 at 5.04.22 PM 600x269 The Real Deal with 3rd Party Facebook Publishing Tools

It’s pretty amazing for a page nearing a million fans to have a PTAT rate of around 10%. Even more impressive is that they are this good AND they don’t spend money on ads or sponsored stories, which I learned watching this video about news feed optimization.

The Big Brands are All Doing It

But I know — wait, you don’t need to tell me. I can see it on your face. You’re not convinced.

Let’s go back to Michael Lazerow’s article from AdAge mentioned at the beginning of this post. In this article, he shows this screenshot of a post that was created using his 3rd party posting tool.

verizonpublisher The Real Deal with 3rd Party Facebook Publishing Tools

The key here is ‘via Verizon Publisher.’ If you’re on Facebook as much as I am, you’ll probably start to remember this being a very common thing for big brands. I remember seeing ‘via Sprite’, ‘via Skittles’, etc.

So if all these large brands (with 7-figure Facebook ad budgets) are using 3rd party tools to post to their page, I think it’s pretty safe to say that there’s no default punishment to worry about.

Case Studies

In addition to everything mentioned above, there have been some case studies done recently to test whether or not 3rd party posting tools are punished by default.

Jon wrote about one of them last summer — a test conducted by Emeric of AgoraPulse. Emeric compared the performance of photos posted natively through Facebook and through his company’s 3rd party tool and saw no apparent disadvantage in reach or engagement posting from his tool.

In fact, one of the posts outperformed its counterpart by over 35% — which leads to the next logical question.

What are the Advantages of Using a 3rd Party Posting Tool?

‘Power users’ of Facebook Pages will find that 3rd party tools will provide lots of extra, advanced features that you won’t find on Facebook. These features will help you be a smarter, more efficient Facebook Marketer. Let’s look at a couple quick examples.

AgoraPulse: AgoraPulse provides analysis on Facebook Insights in a much cleaner way than Facebook (in addition to many other things), including collecting data on your Fans through applications.

Most of what they do would require quite a bit of additional work from you if you wanted to extract this data from Facebook yourself, and some of it isn’t included in Insights at all. Instead, if you use AgoraPulse, they provide you with something like this.

agorapulsemetrics The Real Deal with 3rd Party Facebook Publishing Tools

PostRocket: PostRocket (my company) makes it easy for you to post from anywhere on the web at the best time for your fans with our Chrome Extension. Rather than switching back and forth from a website to Facebook, copy-pasting links, you can just click a button while you’re on a site and voilà.

Screen Shot 2013 03 20 at 7.06.26 AM 600x354 The Real Deal with 3rd Party Facebook Publishing Tools

There are many, many other tools out there beside the two I mentioned here, and they all provide additional value through features that Facebook doesn’t offer.

So do some research, find yourself a tool that helps you with what you need to be a better Facebook marketer — and use it!

Do you have a favorite 3rd party publishing tool? Let me know in the comments below!

Mike Maghsoudi The Real Deal with 3rd Party Facebook Publishing Tools

About Mike Maghsoudi
Mike is the Co-Founder PostRocket, making Facebook marketing easy for everyone. You can read more posts from him and his team on the PostRocket Blog.
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  • http://www.facebook.com/scottwayres Scott Ayres

    Good post Mike.. There has been a stigma for some time about 3rd party tools. Even I blogged about them some time ago for Hubze when we noticed posts being collapsed together.

    But fast forward to today and those “punishments” do not seem to exist any longer. Post from 3rd party tools look just like regular posts for the most part now.

    I think what needs to be emphasized is that scheduling your post with a tool is only a small portion of what you should be doing on Facebook and other platforms. These tools help you stay organized and focused. But the real work comes in after you have posted that great piece of content.. That’s when you have to engage with those that are commenting, liking or sharing it. Fail to do that and you lose..

    Oh.. and btw.. I’m kinda biased towards Post Planner!! :P

    • http://twitter.com/itsmikemags Michael Maghsoudi

      Thanks for the kind words Scott! Totally agree. We need to do everything we can to make our tools kick ass and overcome this silly stigma! :)

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

        Agreed. And I say “Down with Hootsuite”.. haha.. Just kidding.. well maybe…

        • http://twitter.com/itsmikemags Michael Maghsoudi

          hahahahah

  • http://www.facebook.com/lisawilsonwriter Lisa Hall-Wilson

    I tried post planner when it went free. Doing a 1-month experiment on one page I admin. No 3rd party attribution on the web version, but still shows up on the mobile version. Did see a drop in reach and engagement but can’t say if that was the issue or not. Will this be fixed with the new news feed?

    • http://twitter.com/itsmikemags Michael Maghsoudi

      I think it’s safe to say that Facebook will remove the attribution on mobile with the new news feed. That’s the direction they seem to be headed, and I think it’s the right way to go. Also, what kind of drop happened? 2%? 20%? 200%? There are so many factors that can impact this, so I’d be interested in seeing your page / data if you’re willing to share!

      • http://www.facebook.com/lisawilsonwriter Lisa Hall-Wilson

        The drop wasn’t significant, so I can’t really say that attribution was the reason at all, you’re right a lot of things could have impacted that. Was just something I noted for further consideration. As far as ease of use, using the 3rd party planner instead of the native scheduler was SO much easier. A few glitches, but nowhere near what I encounter with FB.

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

          Yeah I agree with Michael here. Lots of things impact reach and engagement. Hard to pin point and honestly hard to measure and compare. Nearly impossible to compare a post on one day to a post on another.

  • http://www.facebook.com/scottbangs Scott Bangs

    I’m a big hootsuite fan, and only reason, is I just haven’t found another app that gives me that ability for free. Thanks for writing this article, I have been wanting to read info on this topic for some time. Cheers :)

    • http://twitter.com/itsmikemags Michael Maghsoudi

      PostRocket has a free option Scott :)

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

        So does Post Planner!! So in your face doodie head!!! :P

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

      What makes you like HootSuite’s free option?

  • Fred Alberti

    In my experience pages of less than 1 million fans do not suffer from using a 3rd party app, however, once you pass that threshold you can see a difference between one that was scheduled in an app and one scheduled using the Fb planner.

    • Fred Alberti

      BTW — also biased towards Post Planner. :)

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

        Thanks Fred!

    • http://twitter.com/itsmikemags Michael Maghsoudi

      interesting, I haven’t encountered that issue with larger pages. They do reach a smaller percentage naturally, but I haven’t seen that shrink any further due to 3rd party posting.

  • reallifesarah

    Thank you! I have been saying in my circles for some time that third party publishers Don’t affect performance anymore. In fact, when we started with our third party software (Vitrue/Oracle), we saw all our engagement and reach numbers jump pretty high. Maybe if enough people present evidence the “gurus” will pick up on it. :)

    • http://twitter.com/itsmikemags Michael Maghsoudi

      You’re very welcome Sarah! Thanks for reading and sharing your experiences :) Totally agree with and love everything you said :)

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

    I’ve used several 3rd-party tools (primarily Hootsuite, Crowdbooster, and PostRocket). The main problems with using these for Facebook for me has been two-fold. 1) They don’t allow me to tag other Pages, which I often want to do; and 2) they are very clunky when there are multiple Page administrators (i.e. weI can’t see what others have scheduled for the same page unless we share a log-in).

    PostRocket has great functionality, but I end up using Facebook to create and schedule posts because of these two missing features.

    • http://twitter.com/itsmikemags Michael Maghsoudi

      Hey Vincent – the tagging pages problem definitely stinks. There’s sadly nothing we can do about that at this point.. We’re waiting on Facebook to allow us to build this feature.

      In regard to multiple page admins, this shouldn’t be an issue at all. Many users share pages with other co-workers and can see and edit each other’s posts through PostRocket.. test it out again if you get a chance and let me know about your results.

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

        Hootsuite is definitely set up for teams: not only can I see WHAT other admins have done, I can see that THEY did it. For example, John Doe posted X. Or Jane replied to Y.

        If PostRocket works similarly, I’ll definitely give it another try! Thanks.

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

          Don’t confuse a “management” tool with a “posting” tool. Post Planner, PostRocket and etc simply help you plan out your posts. It’s not a tool to manage your pages.

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  • http://velev.co.uk/ Bobby Velev

    Hi Mike,

    I just wanted to share with you that the link to PostRocket Blog in your info is broken. I guess you might want to know this ;)

    Cheers mate!

    • http://twitter.com/itsmikemags Michael Maghsoudi

      Thanks Bobby! I believe it’s fixed now. :)

      • http://velev.co.uk/ Bobby Velev

        Yes it is ;)

        I like your blog. Good luck!

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  • Greg

    Hi! Do you know if commenting a post from a third party app affects the
    post insights? We choose to display our Facebook Newsfeed directly on
    our website (people can interact through Likes and Comments). Even if
    interactions are correctly displayed on the facebook post, it seems that
    insights don’t take it into account (people talking about this, engaged
    users…). Any clue? Thanks!

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

      Are you referring to the Like Box that includes your latest posts? Pretty sure Facebook counts those impressions and comments.

      • Greg

        Thanks for this really quick reply Jon ! I am not talking about the like box plugin. We use the API to retrieve our Newsfeed and to display it on our Website. Users that are logged in (using facebook connect) can interact with the Newsfeed (with likes and comments but for some obscur reason shares are not available…). Because we asked for the publish stream autorization, interactions are correctly displayed on the post (likes count for example). But when we look at the insights it seems that those interactions are not taken into account… Not sure to be clear enough :)

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

          If it pulls from the API, I’d assume it is reflected in the stats. Then again, I’d assume that mobile views are accounted for, too, but those weren’t for a while! Your guess is as good as mine, unfortunately.

          • Greg

            Facebook Magic Black Box !! Anyway thank you very much for your replies.

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  • http://antoniocalero.com/ Antonio Calero

    Excellent post Mike (not sure why I missed it when it was originally published) It’s funny how people tend to blame on Facebook for all dificulties and changes they find, and when someone creates a tool to solve those issues, then they blame – or get scared – of that tool.

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  • Jow Perez

    This information is not accurate, as I just opened a Hootsuite account and the “published via hootsuite” link DOES show up on the facebook post!

    Furthermore, when asked last month (June 2013) via their Hootsuite forum, a rep specifically said they couldn’t do anything about that: https://forum.hootsuite.com/hootsuite/topics/hide_message_via_hoosuite_in_fb_posts

    So where are you getting this information from???

    Thanks!

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