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social media how toAre you tired of your Facebook posts getting buried in the news feed?

Want to get your Facebook posts seen?

Facebook algorithms dictate how many people see your updates. Two recent changes should help you get more organic reach and lower your frustration level.

In this article, I’ll share how you can adjust your Facebook tactics to make the most of news feed visibility today.

improve facebook news feed visibility

Find out how to format updates to get you the most visibility in Facebook’s news feed.

#1: Links in Posts

There are three ways to show a link you’re sharing on Facebook. Before I explain which format the Facebook algorithm likes best, let me take you through them.

1. Text and Automatic Preview Link

Copy and paste a link into a Facebook status update, and Facebook automatically generates a link preview. That preview includes a headline and a little blurb pulled from the destination URL, as well as an image pulled up from the link’s destination or one you upload. You can keep the link in your update text or delete it.

automatic preview of facebook link

When you post a link onto your feed, Facebook automatically generates a preview.

2. Link Only

If you want, delete the preview, so your link is shared as a simple text URL. Just click on the “x” in the top right corner of the preview.

delete preview of facebook link

To delete the link preview, just click on the “x” on the right-hand side.

3. Photo and Text Link

A final way to share a link is to upload a photo and include your URL in the caption. This way, it will also show up in your page’s photo album.

automatic preview of facebook photo

Upload a photo to share along with your update, which includes the link via text.

Facebook has been running tests to determine which of these three ways to share a link is favored by users. Once they discovered which type of link format their users click on most, Facebook decided to give that one better reach.

The Best Facebook Link Format to Use

The answer is the first one: use text and links with a preview to get the most visibility. Facebook announced that this type of link would be given more competitive reach than the other two. Remember, this is the default format when you add a link to a status update.

However, there are ways to make a link preview more eye-catching. While Facebook automatically pulls a selection of images from which you can choose, you also have the option to upload your own image, like in this update from American Eagle Outfitters:

facebook link with uploaded image

American Eagle shared the link to their website and then uploaded a photo to promote their sale to go along with the update.

The link goes to the website, but American Eagle created and uploaded the image specifically for the update’s link preview. (The photo doesn’t even exist on the website.) The image promotes the offer, and is the perfect way to capture the attention of skimmers who may not stop to read text updates.

When Facebook announced this algorithm change, they noted quite specifically that they “will prioritize showing links in the link format, and show fewer links shared in captions or status updates.”

With that in mind for another approach, post photos with updates (not captions), as Old Navy did in this example:

facebook image with no link

Old Navy posted an image without a link. They know their customers can find them online.

Old Navy’s approach is clever not because of what’s there, but because of what’s not. They posted a photo update without a URL in the caption.

Old Navy’s update would not register as a link shared in a caption, because there is no link. Facebook recognizes this update as just another photo post. Presumably, Old Navy knows that any potential customers who see this photo update can surmise the store’s URL on their own. They bypassed having their reach reduced by opting not to include a clickable link in the caption.

Bottom line: If you’re going to share a link, use a link preview. If you’re going to share a photo, don’t put a link in the caption. And don’t forget that you can upload your own custom image even if you’re using a link preview format.

#2: Click-bait Content

The same day that Facebook announced the algorithm change above, they released an interesting statistic: 80% of the time, users prefer headlines that help them determine whether they want to click on a link, as opposed to those that encourage people to “click to see more, without telling them much information about what they will see.”

facebook algorithm update image

Facebook found that most users prefer a straightforward headline.

The latter type of headline, which is really more tease than value, is commonly known as click-bait. Click-bait headlines have become increasingly popular for their ability to drive curiosity-based click-throughs.

And, according to Facebook, users just don’t like them. That being the case, the social network is actively trying to discourage marketers and news organizations from courting clicks with these types of headlines.

Facebook is looking at two key factors regarding links to external content to help determine whether a link may be click-bait: time spent at destination and user engagement.

1. Time Spent at Link Destination

The network is monitoring how long users spend at the destination URL before returning to Facebook. The rationale is that if the content is valuable and worthy of greater organic reach, users will spend more time reading it. If the content isn’t valuable, or the link was only clicked in a fleeting moment of click-bait–influenced curiosity, it probably isn’t worth showing to many more people.

google analytics session report

Use Google Analytics to find out for yourself how long Facebook users spend on your pages after they click through.

These two examples, which show you what to do and what NOT to do, are both from Upworthy. Both updates link to the same video, hosted on different sites.

First, here is an example of the type of update you should write:

facebook link with descriptive information

This update has enough information for a reader to make an informed decision about whether to click.

Between the update text and the link preview, the reader has sufficient information to decide whether he or she wants to click through to this emotionally charged PSA—presumably about domestic violence involving children. Note that this links to the website TakePartnot Upworthy.

The next day, Upworthy hosted the video on their own site, and promoted it on Facebook again.

Below is an example of the type of update you should not write.

This update is engineered to withhold information from the user. It’s a video with cute children in which something shocking and/or horrifying happens. That’s all you know until you click. That may pique the reader’s curiosity enough to click through, but once they start watching and learn the nature of the video, they may not be compelled to stay on the site. The user doesn’t click because they’re genuinely interested in the video’s content; they click because they want to know the secret.

The headline (“These Kids Are Cute. But 24 Seconds In, You Might Be Horrified”) is also troublesome. It can and will drive clicks, because it promises the user a very short time investment before they know the big secret; it will take less than 30 seconds. However, this is exactly the type of behavior that may raise red flags with Facebook and restrict your reach.

facebook click bait link without descriptive information

This update links to the same video, but on Upworthy’s site. It purposely withholds information, making it click-bait.

If most users are spending less than 30 seconds at the destination URL, the network may identify it as low-value content. If this happens regularly, Facebook may determine that not just that link, but the Facebook page itself, is of low value, and consequently lower its average reach over time.

Avoiding click-bait headlines may mean a lower initial click-through rate. However, the click-throughs you get will be motivated by genuine interest, not superficial curiosity. As far as Facebook reach goes, you’re better off with a lower number of users who take the time to digest your content than you are with a higher number of users who quickly come and go.

Bottom Line: Don’t try to trick your readers. Explain what they’ll see and link only to high-value content.

2. User Engagement With Updates

Facebook is also now identifying whether something is click-bait by monitoring engagement with the update itself. The network explains that if the number of people engaging (liking, commenting on or sharing an update) is significantly lower than the number of people clicking, it may indicate that the content is low-value.

One popular strategy is even if you want people to click the link and read the article, drive as much of your engagement to Facebook as you can.

For example, this is how the video posted by Upworthy looks on their website:

video on website with closed comments

The comments are intentionally left off the post on the site, so the reader must return to Facebook to comment.

Notice anything missing?

Upworthy does not offer a comments section for content like this. Any user who watches the video and wants to comment has no choice but to return to Facebook and do it there.

Upworthy also makes it remarkably easy to share (and see more of) its content on Facebook. You’ll notice that while there is no comments section, there are four different calls to action surrounding the video both above and below. There are places where users can click to either like Upworthy on Facebook or share the video they’re currently watching. It’s virtually impossible to miss; encourage viewers to engage on Facebook, which is exactly what Facebook wants and rewards.

This doesn’t mean you necessarily have to take the same approach. Find a way to offer both options.

While other sites like Copyblogger have made a similar choice to remove on-site comments (note that Copyblogger did this months ago, long before Facebook’s algorithm change), this isn’t the only solution. For example, ESPN often shares links to its own content, but encourages engagement even from those who don’t click through:

video with open comments on facebook and website

ESPN encourages comments on both the website and the Facebook page.

Those who do click through will find a comments section on the ESPN website. Those who don’t and want to register an opinion about the two teams in question can do so right on Facebook. By encouraging that type of discussion, ESPN can actually improve its engagement rate on a shared link without necessarily driving visitors to the URL.

Bottom Line: Whether you encourage engagement on your own site, you need to foster it on Facebook. This will help the network recognize the value of the content you share, and may help ensure that your content is seen by more people, both now and in the future.

Conclusion

Facebook’s recent algorithm change can really help a brand or business. By identifying what types of link updates Facebook likes (and what is discouraged), it’s easy to incorporate them into your Facebook strategy.

Share this sort of content in a way that the social network will recognize and reward. The result: more reach, more engagement and ultimately happier clients.

What do you think? Have you been having challenges with Facebook news feed visibility? Have you figured out how to make the new Facebook algorithm work for you and your brand? What URL format gets the best engagement? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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  • Love this tip and have noticed a huge increase in reach since implementing! Love the detail included here. I will sharing this one with some of my clients. Thanks. 🙂

  • Awesome tips – thanks for the great article!

  • Marketing Bees

    I would say that “link only” option (without preview) is worst of all three. Two others are good and can be combined from time to time.

  • treb072410

    Very useful post Laura.. Awesome tips being shared here..

  • James Keru

    I have been pasting links and waiting them to autogenerate and then delete the URL. So far so good. The problem comes when I share images…somehow they don’t achieve the desired reach.

  • http://literateforlife.org

    Super useful. Thanks for sharing. I have wondered how people find out how to do this. There is a lot of info. to wade through. Thanks for providing clear examples that we can apply. 🙂

  • jsegal

    Thanks for the great info on Facebook’s content filtering.
    I don’t see how to replace an image fb pulls into my posted link with my own image. Can you show me how that works please?

  • Guest

    Sure! When you copy/paste the link into your update and Facebook pulls an image, it should give you the option right there, like in the picture I attached.

  • Thanks Chloe!

  • Glad you liked it Andy 🙂

  • Thanks, glad you found it valuable!

  • jsegal

    Hello and thanks again for the great info! 🙂 Maybe I’m using an older version of Facebook. It has no such upload image button for me.

  • It’s definitely a tricky dance with Facebook, you just have to keep trying different kinds of images and see what your audience responds to.

  • You’re welcome! 🙂

  • You’ll need to hover over the image to see the button

  • nathanlatka1

    Laura you crushed this. Great article and thorough overview!

  • Great to see you here 🙂 Thanks Nathan!

  • Meredith Clark

    So, I’m a total newbie, so just to clarify, when it says “upload image” – it means “upload your own custom image” NOT “upload the image showing.” Do I have that right?

  • Yup that’s exactly right!

  • Mary Cate

    It is so frustrating trying to get content to go through on Facebook. This really explains what the algorithm change has down. Great ideas. Thank you.

  • Leon Bartropp Carper

    One of the best articles I’ve read in a longtime reference the current changes that have impaired the reach of so many of my clients, at least i know we are doing it right and you have filled in the gaps. many thxs

  • Angela

    Thanks for the insight!

  • Geri Lafferty

    Thank you so much for this information. I am going to start implementing these strategies on my client’s pages right away. Bravo!

  • Cheri Duran

    Did Upworthy & ESPN use an app to create those posts?

  • Great tips!

    Certain images I post get more shares than others. However, I’ve noticed that controversial or negative comments drive engagement too. Community involvement is important in social media!

    You can share an awesome image that’s shared and liked 100,000 times but how does it convert? What’s the goal?

  • Erin Baker

    Great article, Laura. Very helpful!

  • rachelcabose

    Sometimes I put the link into my post, but the preview doesn’t auto-generate. Or only the text preview appears, with no image and no place to add one, even though there’s an image on the page I’m linking to. Usually if I reload the Facebook page it will work, but recently I just had to come back a couple hours later and try again. Anyone else had this problem?

  • Kischa Peña

    Great tips! I agree with James, sharing images and getting the desired reach is the next task up for a solution. Thanks for this!

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  • How have you noticed a huge increase since implementing something that you read a maximum of 12 hours ago ???

  • Hi @disqus_f6wXFLquN9:disqus while I read this particular article this morning, this isn’t a new strategy to me.
    It’s something I’ve been implementing for a few months and have tested across a number of clients. Having read the article, I just wanted to show my appreciation for the detailed explanation Laura provided.
    Quite often I like to provide resources to clients that I don’t manage accounts for but simply don’t have the time to write them myself. Having a great article like this that I can pass on to these clients is both valuable to my clients and myself in that it saves time.

  • Mike

    An excellent article Laura, with some very helpful tips.

    However, if you work with Facebook for very long you will quickly come to realize that everyone is not treated exactly the same. Facebook’s stated policy is that an ad may have no more than 20% text, on the image itself. They even provide a tool to help you measure.

    If you aren’t American Eagle Outfitters, or Amazon, or Walmart etc., who I would assume has a large advertising budget, then you won’t be allowed to have that much text on the image in your ad.

  • Yes it can definitely be frustrating! Glad this article helped 🙂

  • Hey Mike, these aren’t ads, just organic posts. You can do whatever you want on a Facebook post.

  • Glad you found it useful 🙂

  • Thanks Erin!

  • Well if you had an image that was shared 100k times you would definitely get more exposure/clicks to your page. On social it’s important to always be drawing in a new audience, and shares a huge part of how that happens!

  • Glad you found it useful Geri 🙂

  • You’re welcome Angela!

  • jsegal

    its possible this is a new feature they only partially rolled out to some users.

  • Awesome tips – thanks for the great article!

  • Caileen

    If SME used less click-bait in their emails, I’d likely read more articles. The lack of real information has me considering unsubscribing. It would be more time effective to visit the site and search.for relevant articles. But this article caught my eye. Improving Facebook visibility is an ongoing challenge.

  • ArbitreDuMepris

    Hi there, thank you for the post. The photo+link change is a huge thing for me. Any tip on the frequency of the post you can afford, especially for media group? Time magazine recently halved it. From 500 to 250/week, I think it a direct consequence of the new algorithm but cannot explain why.

  • Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Caileen. And happy you found this article.

  • jsegal

    Great info thanks but I’m still disappointed this doesn’t work for me. Its possible this is a new feature not rolled out to every fb user.

  • You can edit the headline and a little blurb pulled from the destination URL. Sometimes this comes in handy. If you edit, does this affect reach?

  • Not as far as we’ve been able to tell

  • Thanks!

  • I’ve been following many of these tips for a while, but have come to the conclusion that Facebook as a whole isn’t as good as it used to be for reaching people. I have way better luck interacting on Twitter. I’ve also heard that Facebook hates it when you link outside of Facebook?

  • Laura Hoover

    This is great info. Thanks for putting together such an easy-to-read and helpful piece! I’ve often noticed that when I choose to upload a photo to go along with a link, the photo ends up being a smaller thumbnail size (rather than the full size that it would have been if I had used one of the auto-generated photos). Do you know of any reason for this? Or a way to work around it so that it appears as full sized?

  • Richard S

    Very useful. Posted an image without links about 2 hours ago and reached just over 1100 with 94 engagements. If only the image can be linked to a URL so that clicking the image will take them directly to a detailed product description etc (or, can we do that now?)

  • Great tips Laura!

  • Thank you, Laura. You are sharing valuable info. You gave your post a lot of thought and it shows.

  • There actually IS a reason for that! To get the larger image preview, your image has to be AT LEAST 600×315 pixels. (Facebook actually recommends 1200×630 for the best results, but either way, it’s going to display as 484×252.) If it’s SMALLER than 600×315, Facebook’s gonna shrink it down into the smaller thumbnail that you mentioned.

  • Organic reach on Facebook is definitely down across the board – you’re right about that! Facebook keeps pretty mum about whether or not they like you linking away from the network, though, so there’s no saying for 100% certain – best to just experiment, work with the facts that we know, and see what happens!

  • Victoria

    Fabulous tips! Here goes…: )

  • It only works when you are posting to a Facebook page, not a personal profile

  • Erika Musser

    I guess I’m confused. This article says “Copy and paste a link into a Facebook status update, and Facebook automatically generates a link preview” is the best way but then it says “When Facebook announced this algorithm change, they noted quite specifically that they “will prioritize showing links in the link format, and show fewer links shared in captions or status updates.” So where’s the best place to put links?

  • Good question! Basically, when you copy/past a link into your status update, Facebook automatically generates a preview. You can choose to delete that preview if you want, so all you’re left with is a normal-looking, text-only status update with a URL in it. According to Facebook, the algorithm change we’re talking about here favors updates that KEEP the link preview, rather than ones that get rid of it. (I uploaded a picture to show you what I mean.) Hope that helps!

  • Erika Musser

    Thanks for clarifying. I was actually told to post the url in the comments section for the best results. Any thoughts to this?

  • Well, remember – when you get a bunch of comments, Facebook will only show the most recent ones, and older ones are only visible if someone clicks the “View more comments” button. So if you post your URL in the comments and then other people leave comments, too, it’s gonna get buried!

  • Erika Musser

    Excellent point. Thank you!

  • Jacquie Levine

    do glad you asked that. LOL Chloe clarified , makes better sense,

  • Jacquie Levine

    did you mention JUST plain paying FB? apologize if you mentioned, ,lot to read 🙂

  • Jacquie Levine

    I mean …the whole reason I figure FB did changes was to increase revenue , right? Value in return for paying , not sure just yet. driving customers to FB page for a sale ?? could happen. it works for BIG companies I guess.

  • Paying for visibility is always an option – but it’s good to know different ways you can improve your reach without emptying your pocketbook!

  • @jsegal:disqus
    It’s not an available feature when posting as/to a personal profile, only for business pages. Hope that helps =)

  • jsegal

    Hi Michael, thank you for explaining what was going on!

  • So basically, there are two ways to share a link with a link preview. You can either copy/paste the link into a status update, which will automatically generate a preview, OR – as you point out – you can use the “share” button plugin (if one exists) on the page you want to link to.

    What it seems like you’re asking is which of those two methods Facebook prefers, and the answer is: we don’t know. Facebook doesn’t say. They DO, however, imply that copy/pasting a link into your status update is totally fine, as long as you don’t delete the link preview. They’re very careful about how they word things, but you’ll notice that they do say that they have “found that people often prefer to click on links that are displayed in the link format (which appears when you paste a link while drafting a post),” and that they “will prioritize showing links in the link-format.”

    So whether you use a page’s plugin or you just copy/paste the URL, it seems (at least for now) that as far as Facebook is concerned, the ends are more important than the means!

  • Katy Zukas

    FINALLY facebook allows for a photo to be uploaded to the link preview! When did they roll out this feature? Must have been fairly recent…

  • Yes, that’s what I was asking. Thanks for your detailed reply!

  • I really love these tips esp the text links, the video links and the image links and the second one the click bait is also good where one forcibly enforces the content to draw the traffic towards their websites.Anyways Thanks a lot.

  • Jacquie Levine

    agreed , of course 😉 I will study your article and execute! will let you know~ Thanks, Laura!

  • I’ve been increasingly frustrated by the diminishing number of page views for my business posts. Thank you for helping me understand Facebooks policies.

  • Hi Does any One Use PVA accounts For Business Boost Promotion!!! Its a really great Method for Boost online marketing I think.. 🙂

  • Gail

    I’m not very tech savy.
    I am interested yet confused on these strategies. Is there technical support who can assist further on how to accomplish these goals?

  • Caitlin

    I know how I can monitor how long users are spending on a page when coming from Facebook, but how exactly is Facebook able to gather this data? Especially since links open in a new tab, how is FB able to see when users leave the platform and return if it doesn’t have access to my page analytics?

  • Great help! How about with respects to example of when upworthy shares takepart’s link, all links back to takepart and not upworthy when link is shared. With fb changes, how can one post a link that gives fb engagement as well as reach to our fb page when posting scheduled links since we cant share them directly from source’s fb share link if we want to schedule?

  • primshopgirl

    trying to figure out best way to get more page “fans” to see what I post…. seems facebook is unpredictable. I have over 750 likes on page but only a small percentage even gets to see what I post… for instance the last couple days the average amount of views have been approx. 33-60 people. Do you have any tips to how I can change this without giving in to PAYING for my LIKES to see my posts? I’m a very small business and have limited cash flow to be throwing to facebook whose slogan FREE and always will be obviously doesn’t really mean diddly Thanks in advance for any help!! 🙂

  • Thank you very useful and up to day

  • Norma Jack-Baschuk

    I am curious about the Old Navy photo. Doesn’t this violate the fb 20% text rule?

  • Thanks for the tips!

  • jsegal

    Yes I’ve concluded as much. Thanks for your helpful post and info. Wishing you great success and happiness!

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  • Michele Walfred

    In using the first link option in a status post, once the preview has populated, is there any deterrent or advantage to leaving the url in? I’ve always been told it can be removed, but discussion on LinkedIn say you should leave the url in the status. Thoughts?

  • Wow! What a detailed outline! I would like to add that some pages get more engagement and reach when they upload photos rather than link posts – so it might be advisable to try a combination of both 1 and 3. But I would only recommend this if the photo is self-explanatory or visually intriguing such as an infographic or photo with text overtop of it. Then attach a link for more information on what the photo talks about, or to your instagram feed, for example.

  • Dr Parvin carter

    Love these tips, I learned so much. Thanks a million!

  • I just looked through all the comments to see if this had been answered but I’m REALLY interested in the bit about tracking via google analytics. It’s the image above entitled, “Use Google Analytics to find out for yourself how long Facebook users spend on your pages after they click through.” Can you elaborate on this? Where do I find this in Analytics and how do I set it up? Thanks!

  • Vishnu Chaithanya

    I want to compare the conversation rate – the tendency to open links from a FB update on a PC and Mobile. I believe that this article is more relevant in case of mobile users, where as a user browsing FB on a pc/laptop has more tendency to open the link

  • Awesome Post! Thanks for the tips!

  • barbraL

    Terrific article but I haven’t read all the comments so don’t know if this has been addressed…numerous small sellers on handcraft websites(Etsy,Artfire,Zibbet) are panicking about Facebook changes. Can you address how this affects us? We’re not the Gap or Upworthy, just tiny independent sellers! Thanks

  • Fairly new blogger here, I found this informative and hopefully helpful. I will start to implement some of these things to see what could work better for my site!

  • Rissa Denise

    This was great. I am just starting out as a freelance Social media manager and i have been seeing success everywhere but FB. I am going to start implementing these into my strategy.

  • Hi there, really helpful article thank you. Does it make a difference if you write a Facebook post with a link preview but then remove the link text from the status itself leaving it only in the preview?

  • thanks for your great article

  • Randy Bowser

    Since this article is from 2014, I take it that newer Facebook updates make some of this advice no longer valid? “And don’t forget that you can upload your own custom image even if you’re using a link preview format.”— I can’t make that work – I’m wondering if there’s still a way to do that. When I try to replace a link preview with my own image, the link is erased – leaving only the option of having a naked URL in the post text, and that’s supposed to be the least effective way to post a link, as per this article.