Facebook Engagement Research: How 43 Million Posts Will Make You Rethink Your Strategy

As the third largest website globally behind Google and YouTube, Facebook commands audience eyeballs, time and engagement.

Regardless of company size or marketing budget, you need Facebook for your marketing due to its sheer size as a media entity.


Let’s accept that Facebook’s recent negative press regarding sharing its users’ personal data is cause for public concern.

Despite this, its reach and targeting options are difficult to replace cost-effectively. So you need Facebook to distribute your content, engage with your audience, and build your community.

However, there’s a silver lining:

“Facebook depends your marketing dollars, because advertising drives its bottomline.” #FacebookClick To Tweet


So let’s examine how to get the most out of your Facebook marketing.

BuzzSumo and Buffer’s analysis of 43 Million Facebook Posts of the Top 20,000 Facebook Pages provides insights to improve your Facebook engagement.

Facebook Engagement Research: 5 Key Marketing Insights


To figure out how Facebook Pages perform for businesses and marketers Buffer and BuzzSumo teamed up.


Because in addition to having one of the most robust sets of social media data on the planet BuzzSumo is known for its independent, deep dive analyses.

BuzzSumo revealed that organic reach of Facebook shares had declined 20% in the first 6 months of 2017.

Facebook Engagement

Facebook Engagement Decline via BuzzSumo [August 2017 Chart]

For the 2018 Facebook Engagement Research BuzzSumo analyzed 43 million posts from across 20,000 of the top Facebook Pages. To put this sample in perspective:

Facebook has 80+ million business pages including over 40% of global small businesses. @BuzzSumo @Buffer #FacebookClick To Tweet


1. Top Facebook Pages increased their posting frequency


Top Facebook Pages increased posts per quarter 24% from 1Q2017 to 2Q2018.

In 2Q2018, top brands published an average of 135 posts per month on Facebook or just over 4 posts per day. @BuzzSumo @Buffer #FacebookClick To Tweet


These brands invested in people and resources to create these shares and to engage on Facebook everyday.

Further, these top brands add roughly 20,000 additional pieces of content per day on Facebook. And that’s doesn’t count the other Facebook Pages! 

To put this in context, many bloggers have reduced their blog publishing frequency, notably Content Marketing Institute and Convince and Convert. They focus on serving better quality content without being overbearing.

Marketing Reality:

Increased competition for visibility in the Newsfeed.

Top 20K Brand Facebook Page Posts via BuzzSumo and Buffer-Chart


2. Overall Facebook Page engagement continues declining


Since BuzzSumo’s August 2017 Facebook analysis found reduced engagement, this shouldn’t be a shocker. (Note: It’s based on a different dataset.)

But the actual numbers reveals a stark marketing reality:

Average engagement per Facebook Page post declined 65% from 1Q2017 to 2Q2018. @BuzzSumo @Buffer #Facebook #SocialMediaClick To Tweet


Further declines occurred from quarter to quarter.

Facebook Engagement Research Chart-2018

Facebook engagement declines significantly for Top 20,000 Brand Pages- Chart via BuzzSumo and Buffer


3. Facebook engagement for all posts types declined but opportunities still exist


Your ability to improve Facebook engagement by changing your post format has vanished.

Based on this Facebook Engagement Research engagement declined by format as follows:

  • Video engagement declined 47.7%
  • Image engagement declined 63.0%
  • Link engagement declined 70.4%

Facebook performance per post type

Facebook engagement down for video, images, and links via BuzzSumo [Chart- 2017]

At first glance, images look like your best bet.

Don’t let the chart fool you!

Instead look deeper and you’ll discover that Facebook engagement isn’t black and white.

While video engagement declined the least, significantly fewer brands use video.

To understand, let’s examine BuzzSumo’s August 2017 data.


Facebook Post Engagement By Content Format Over Time via BuzzSumo [Chart- 2017]

Use of video is significantly lower than other post types. There’s an opportunity to stand out!

Even though marketers are improving their use of video, Contently Visual Content Research showed that content marketers shy away from video for cost reasons.

But there’s another catch:

“With video, you have to be willing to be bad until you’re good,” advises Convince and Convert’s @JayBaer #videoClick To Tweet


With more limited resources and less established brands, small businesses are more agile and willing to take risks with video especially livestreaming.

The good news for marketers:

Many Facebook users prefer livestreaming. No surprise it enhances the feeling of personal connectedness.


4. Marketers have increased Facebook Page posting frequency


Despite lower visibility marketers have upped their Facebook posting frequency.


While posting less than once a day delivers the highest engagement, overall engagement increases with additional posting.

Facebook Engagement Research-Daily Posting Chart

Facebook Engagement based on posts per day- BuzzSumo and Buffer Chart

But there’s an upper bound to posting frequency.

To maximize brand engagement per post, Facebook Page posting sweet spot is 5 times per day. @BuzzSumo @Buffer #Facebook Click To Tweet


After 5 posts per day, Facebook engagement yields diminishing returns.

While you’ll get more likes and comments in total, after 5 posts, each piece performs at a lower rate on average. 

Facebook Engagement Research-BuzzSumo and Buffer -Engagement by posts per day

Facebook Engagement By Brands based on average posts per day. Optimal posts per day= 5. Chart by BuzzSumo and Buffer


5. Top Facebook Page categories lost over half of their engagement


Engagement on the Top Facebook Page categories fell 50+%.


If you’re in one of the biggest Facebook Page categories, you’ve got more competition by definition.

You’re up fighting content saturation.

Further, in the top categories, artists and movies have a financial stake in promoting their offerings.

Historically, they’ve use big advertising budgets to promote their products across different media.

Now, they’ve added Facebook to their media mix.

But compared to other options, Facebook is relatively inexpensive for these businesses. As a result, they can do more with organic and paid options.

Marketing Reality:

  • More businesses are competing for a fixed amount of visibility on Facebook.

Therefore choose your Facebook Business Page category with care. Your options are to niche down further or pivot to find another way to reduce category competition.

Facebook Total drop in Engagement by Page Type

Facebook Engagement – Total drop in Engagement by Page Type. Chart by BuzzSumo and Buffer

Think Like Facebook


Put yourself in Mark Zuckerberg’s hoodie. (Don’t worry—I’m sure that it’s clean!)

Once the darling of Wall Street, Facebook lost over $100 billion of market value in late July. To put that in context, Facebook lost more than the total market value of McDonalds.

Personally, I wasn’t surprised:

“I’ve always believed that Facebook has undervalued its data as its core monetizable asset.” @HeidiCohen #FacebookClick To Tweet


While most Facebook users didn’t delete their accounts, participant usage eroded along with user trust.

Further, Facebook failed to diversify their income beyond advertising. Until now, the fragility of this single revenue stream was hidden behind its continued size and usage expansion.

Bottom line:

  • Expect Facebook marketing costs to increase. This includes  related participation, content and paid promotion.
  • Assume organic Facebook content will have reduced visibility.
  • Assess your Facebook results on a more granular level to find targeted opportunities.

Facebook Page Engagement Example: Social Media Examiner


To appreciate what this means on a smaller scale, my friends at BuzzSumo ran a Facebook Engagement search for me using their Facebook Analyzer tool.

We looked at Social Media Examiner’s Facebook Page because it’s the go-to social media reference. Additionally it hosts of Social Media Marketing World.  Further, Social Media Examiner has a team managing its social media participation.

BTW – Registration for Social Media Marketing World 2019 opened this week. You can save big if you signup early. Please use my affiliate link to register for SMWorld 2019. Thanks.

Lastly and most importantly, Social Media Examiner has developed a vibrant community of engaged social media professionals.

The BuzzSumo 2018 Content Trends Report snapshot reveals lower Social Media Examiner publishing over time accompanied by a steeper decline in social shares.

Average shares of Social Media Examiner articles measured by BuzzSumo – Chart

Over the past two years, on its Facebook Page, Social Media Examiner posted an average of 3 posts per day. Each post yielded an average of 159 Facebook engagements.

Despite December-January boosts in 2017 and 2018, Social Media Examiner Facebook engagement declined from its 2016 levels. 

Average shares of Social Media Examiner articles measured by BuzzSumo – Chart

To get the latest scoop on Facebook check @heidicohen favs: @MariSmith, @JonLoomer, @AndreaVahl  and @SMExaminer. #FacebookClick To Tweet


5 Actionable Tactics Based on Facebook Engagement Research


Don’t let this Buffer-BuzzSumo Facebook Engagement Research get you down.

You knew that the social media free lunch disappeared years ago. Further, while marketers continue or even increase their organic posting, their reach continues to decline.

Instead use this analysis to make you a better informed Facebook marketer.

To reassess and improve your Facebook marketing:

1. Strategically use Facebook to support your business and marketing


Regardless of your business type or focus, integrate your business use of Facebook into your overall marketing plans.

Further, when you include Facebook in your marketing plans, take into account that:

Don’t use Facebook for a content distribution fly by! Social media marketing requires active participation. #FacebookClick To Tweet


Decide how you’ll position your business or brand on Facebook. This assumes that you have a set of branding guidelines. If you haven’t done a competitive analysis, do your homework to ensure that your business stands out from competitors and close substitutes.

Talk to your target audience. Actually take the time to engage with your followers, readers, prospects and customers. Find out what they want from you on Facebook.

Allocate resources, both headcount and budget, specifically to support your Facebook-related activities. Include both Facebook activity and advertising. Key point: Make sure they work together!


2. Develop a Facebook Distribution Channel Plan


Define these Facebook Distribution Channel Plan elements:

  • Goals: What do you want to accomplish by being present on Facebook?
  • Target audience(s): Who do you want to reach and engage with?
  • Specific topics: What information resonates with this audience?
  • Communications velocity: How often will you post content and when employees will be available?
  • Content formats: How does this audience like to consume content?
  • Responsibility: Which employees are responsible and how will you handle other employee interaction? Also include monitoring comments.
  • Call-to-Action (aka:CTA): What do you want followers and visitors to do next?
  • Metrics: How will you track the interactions on Facebook and how do they relate to your goals?

Also, determine your Facebook distribution guidelines. Outline how frequently and what type of content you’ll post. Don’t forget to set standards for acceptable communications and brand voice. This is key if you encourage employees to participate on your page.

3. Establish your Facebook Page


Your Facebook Page provides access to analytics, advertising and post scheduling.

For Facebook Page success:

Design a positive experience for your target audience.

To see an example of a good Facebook, look at  Social Media Examiner’s Facebook Page:

Facebook Page Example

Social Media Examiner- Facebook Page example

And here’s more detail from Social Media Examiner’s Facebook Page:

Facebook Page Example

Social Media Examiner Facebook Page information

Your Facebook Page needs:

  • Custom username. Keep your name short and memorable!
  • Cover image. As your business billboard, deliver your brand message.
  • Profile image. Use your logo, product or professional photo.
  • Description. Briefly explain your business to attract attention.
  • Calls-to-action (CTA). Select what you want visitors to do next.
  • Roles and Notifications. Define functions, assign people and select communication formats.


4. Consider developing a Facebook Group


A Facebook Group focuses on building a community. 

Key to Facebook Group success:

You can’t be promotional! Instead pay-it-forward. 

How a Facebook Group differs from a Facebook Page:

  • Associated with a personal profile, not your business.
  • Centers on a specific topic rather than on you or your business.
  • Runs on conversation and interaction.
  • No analytics or advertising allowed.

For example, Susan Moeller of BuzzSumo and Nadya Khoja of Venngage started Women In Content Marketing at Content Marketing World 2016. Since then, they’ve attracted 400 members. They spend about an hour a week supporting the Group.


Example of Facebook Group: Women In Content Marketing


5. Build your Facebook network


Facebook marketing isn’t for couch potatoes.

Instead, put your game face on since you need to see and be seen. Where appropriate, connect with new people.

As a marketer (or any business executive for that matter), you need to continually build your network and deepen personal relationships. Use Facebook and other social networks to start or extend your relationship.

Create your personal Facebook guidelines.

  • Determine the basis for connecting with people.
  • Decide what type of information you’ll share and how frequently.
  • Set boundaries on what is personal and what is business. Take care with your data.

Set aside time to engage on Facebook with the goal of supporting your business and your network.

Make your social media activity focused. You don’t want it to become a black hole of wasted time! Instead stop by at specific points during the day for a limited amount of time to engage.

Facebook Engagement Research Conclusion


BuzzSumo and Buffer’s Facebook Engagement Research confirms that organic Facebook reach continues to erode.

Before you write this off as a reason to stop using Facebook to achieve your marketing goals, put these results in perspective.

Due to content saturation, increased competition for audience attention isn’t limited to Facebook!

Based on this Facebook Engagement Research:

  • Post up to 5 times per day on your Facebook Page.
  • Use a combination of content formats especially video and images.
  • Take advantage of real time engagement like Facebook Live.
  • Examine your business’s Facebook analytics. Let the results drive your decisions.
  • Add Facebook advertising to your marketing mix.

But most importantly, you need a well-defined and executed Facebook Marketing Strategy. Ensure that it’s integrated with your overall marketing and business plans.

Further, share it across your organization and empower your employees to support your Facebook marketing efforts.

If your audience is on Facebook, you need to be present to stay on their radar and engage them.

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen

Heidi CohenHeidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies.
You can find Heidi on FacebookTwitter and Google+.


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