If You’re Worried About Likes, Avoid Posting To Facebook From Twitter

Facebook is showing your content to far fewer people than they used to, says Nick Bilton at the NY Times, pointing out that while his subscribers have soared, the number of likes per post has declined rapidly. Josh Constine writes his thoughts here.

Bilton’s theory is that Facebook wants to incentivize people to pay to promote their content, so they show unpaid content to far fewer people. Hunter Walk has other theories (and correctly points out that comparing old data to new could be explained in other ways, as well).

Occam’s razor suggests Bilton is right, simply because Facebook has the incentive to make the free views scarce in order to increase demand for the paid views. But I just don’t know. As an aside, when I promoted a post back in November, Facebook told me I “had 969x as many views because you promoted it.”

Here’s what I do know – if you really care about Facebook likes, don’t just post your stuff to Twitter and then rely on it being republished automatically to Facebook. In my sample size of one, Facebook penalizes you significantly for that and shows that content to far fewer people.

I have Twitter auto post to my Facebook page, and I occasionally post things directly to Facebook as well. I’ve always noticed that the direct-to-Facebook approach generates far more likes, but I’ve never actually gone back and run the averages. Today I did, although only for the last few weeks of posts.

Here’s what I found. The average post published to Facebook by Twitter gets 13.6 likes. The average direct to Facebook post gets 81.1 likes.

I don’t care enough to change the way I publish to social networks. But you might.

Disclosure: I am a partner at CrunchFund, a venture firm. I and CrunchFund each own shares in Facebook. CrunchFund owns Twitter shares. More information is here.