Link posts have been the most hated and least engaged-with posts on Facebook for quite some time. Since the network made huge, visually-focused updates like Timeline and the Newsfeed redesign, users have grown accustomed to being entertained by images rather than written content. I mean, who could blame them? It's instant gratification without having to click on anything or leave Facebook. The people who typically had a problem with this big change in user behavior were marketers.
“We need to use Facebook to drive traffic, but no one is clicking on our links!”
As a way to solve that problem, most of us adopted a different strategy to Facebook posting. It's been working pretty well, but there are a few issues.
1. Just because people engage with your image, doesn't mean they are clicking on your link.
2. Users feel tricked when they find an image they like, click on a link, and find themselves in a place completely irrelevant to the picture that got them there in the first place – (If you did this, shame on you)
3. Facebook became a hail storm of terrible memes, cutesy pictures, and insulting stock photos.
Finally, after what seemed like decades of chaos, Facebook decided to try and solve some of those problems. How, you ask? With larger link previews like this.
Quick Not: Facebook has been rolling these out slowly since January but just recently they seemed to have opened up for everyone.
The question on everyone's (every marketer's) mind is, “Will they drive more traffic?”
In an attempt to answer that question we did some testing. We chose several random posts and alternated between posting them as a link or an image with a trackable link in the description.
For this test we were looking primarily at clicks and then also on the post engagement activities: likes, comments, and shares.
Here Are The Big Take Aways:
- Link posts are now reaching farther than image posts prior to any engagement, but image posts are still getting significantly more engagement—which leads to a larger reach.
- The new link previews are outperforming video and plain text posts for business pages.
- Timing and quality of the content has more to do with its success than the post type.
- Link posts and image posts are getting about the same amount of clicks?!?!
One More Thing To Think About
Web traffic is great, but increasing your web traffic is better. If link posts and image posts are receiving about the same amount of clicks, or sending close to the same amount of traffic, then the next thing to think about is engagement. That's right, it's not just a vanity metric. The different types of engagement increase the reach/visibility of your posts. This means that more of your fans, and their connections, will see your posts and ideally make their way back to your page and become fans (if they aren't already).
As your audience grows–and if you keep them engaged–you'll reach more people and hopefully drive more traffic. Because images are still getting more engagement, I'd recommend primarily posting engaging and visually striking images with a link in the description for now. If you're looking for a link shortener that doesn't make people nervous, we've been seeing great results with Bit.ly for feelings.
The next thing we'll be testing is the new ability to upload your own images for the link previews. This opens up the posts for more customization and allows for you to still appeal to the visual preferences of your audience, without having to sacrifice traffic.
I'm going to stop at this point and let you digest this for a little bit. I'm sure there are a million different ways to take action on the new features and insights so feel free to leave a comment and let us know what's working for you.