How Facebook chokes out your personal posts

Recently, I conducted a very unscientific experiment on Facebook. At 1:14 a.m. Tuesday, July 28, I posted a simple message.



I didn’t post anything else on my wall for one week. I did, however, interact with other people’s posts, liked statuses and photos and I posted to my FB pages (I manage three). But my own personal profile page fell silent. During this time I started posting on Twitter. Not nearly as much as I had on Facebook but more than I usually do. I posted more personal stuff there than I had previously. One person asked where I went because they were used to seeing my posts show up in their feed.

At the end of the week, I took note of how much engagement my last personal post had had.
There were 383 likes. Of those likes, 45 of the people who saw the post are not my “friends” on Facebook. The post was public, so that shows you that whatever you post publicly really is seen by people who don’t interact with you.

The remaining 338 were likes from friends. In addition there were 23 comments made on the post, some coming from people who said they didn’t want to have to like the post. Such scofflaws! Anarchists! LOL. Anyway. Of those comments, 19 were unique and were not from me. So let’s add this to the 338, giving me 357 engagements. But 12 of the comments had also liked the status update, so let’s subtract those out giving a total of 345 unique engagements, either as a like or as a comment only, not both.

As of today I have 2,246 friends on Facebook. So a little more than 15% of my friend list engaged with this post. If I include the people who are not my friends, there was 17% engagement. As for the rest of my friend list, there are three possible reasons they did not hit like: 1) they have my feed muted; 2) the FB algorithm prevented the status from coming up in their feed; or 3) they saw it but didn’t feel like participating. I will never know the answers to these questions.

Why did I conduct this experiment? Because it is important to note that no matter how much we put out on social media, especially FB, we are only ever going to reach a very limited number of people. This is important for people who are trying to promote events or themselves or who are just looking to interact with friends. Not a lot of people see your stuff, and more than likely, the ones who do are the same handful of people that you engage with in real life.

If I had included a photo or link with my simple status, marketing studies have shown that more people see those posts. In fact, you could post a terribly sad status with a cute animal photo and get tons of likes from people who never bothered to read the words. This holds true whether you are posting on your personal profile or a page you manage.

So don’t be fooled. Your message only goes out to so many people, and more than likely it’s the people who already know what you have to say anyway. Facebook wants to you pay to reach more people. They choke out your posts and you get less engagement, just like they would on a page you manage. Facebook is a fraudulent representation of your actual engagement with humanity. Don’t let it get you down if only one or two people like your posts. It isn’t real.

My silent week on Facebook was nice. I had plenty of engagement, but I was much more outwardly focused, thinking and responding to other people’s statuses and photos and less about pushing out my own personal agenda, whatever that may be at the moment. I will probably do it more often. Enjoy your lives. Love in real life. Watch the videos below.

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