Brands

New Report: Brand Engagement on Facebook Is Actually on the Rise

Over the past few months, the marketing world—including Contently—has been ringing the panic alarm over the fast-dropping organic reach of brand pages on Facebook. But a compelling new study from Socialbakers suggests all that hand-wringing was misguided and that brand engagement on Facebook is, in fact, steadily increasing.

When examining posts from the 3 million largest brands on Facebook, Socialbakers found interactions are actually up 30 percent since January.

Philip Ross, social media analyst at Socialbakers and author of the post, speculates this steady rise in interactions is a sign brands are producing compelling content on the social network. “Because optimizing the News Feed is one of Facebook’s core duties to its users, they have always communicated their commitment to ensuring the quality of posts in the News Feed,” he writes. “So for brands to be seen, they must produce high-quality content.”

Another theory: Brands are buying interactions through Sponsored Posts. After all, Socialbakers doesn’t distinguish between organic posts and unpaid posts, and Facebook’s Q1 2014 ad revenue was up 82 percent from Q1 2013, reaching $2.27 billion.

Still, the analysis of the top 3 million pages is the most extensive study of Facebook engagement we’ve seen in some time. It also legitimately challenges the uproar sparked by Simply Measured’s study from two weeks ago, which found Facebook engagement was down 40 percent for the network’s top 10 brands. I’ve read enough Grantland and FiveThirtyEight to know a sample size of 3 million is much more convincing than a sample size of 10. (Though, admittedly, that didn’t stop me from sounding the alarm two weeks ago. Nate Silver would be so disappointed.)

This study isn’t only fascinating for brands; Socialbakers also uncovered some good news for media companies. They analyzed the total interactions for the top 10,000 media company pages and although engagement plummeted with Facebook’s algorithm change in December—Upworthy wasn’t the only one getting hit, apparently—engagement for media pages has rebounded to its August 2013 peak.

graph2-interactions-rising-on-facebook-4-

After crunching all the relevant numbers, a few questions still remain: How much of this increase is due to rising spend on Facebook Sponsored Posts from brands and media alike? And is this growth sustainable without a steadily increasing ad spend? And at the end of the day, isn’t this exactly what Facebook wants?

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Image by GigaOm
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