Should Social Media Companies Quit Facebook?

Right from the beginning, Facebook has been a gold mine for marketers and digital publishers. The social network offered an easy way to distribute content to a steadily growing audience. However, it didn’t uphold for long. First cracks to Facebook’s credibility emerged after news outlets were affected by the changes to the algorithm and the recent Cambridge Analytica data breach scandal. Do these events already indicate that marketers and digital publishers should leave the platform? Or is it still worth using Facebook to distribute your content?

On the one hand, media companies and brands invested a huge amount of money, time and resources in building up and strengthening their presence on Facebook over the years. On the flip side, a recent study by Reuters Digital News Institute has shown that Facebook users use the network less and less for consuming news content.

In the United States, the usage is down six percentage points. The decline in news consumption also holds true for the UK and France. But what are the reasons behind this? Are users simply overwhelmed by the amount of information or is it to do with the Facebook’s algorithm? A look into the Facebook performance data of publishers and brands is helpful to shine some light on these questions.

News- and media companies fan growth is decreasing

Measuring the popularity of media companies on Facebook can already indicate if it’s still worth investing in Facebook or not. To analyse this, the fan growth in the Facebook categories: “News & Media Website”, “Newspaper” and “Media/News Company” was observed.

The analysed dataset consists of 93,010 pages and 85,462,505 posts in 2017. A more detailed explanation of the method can be found at the end of the article.

The beginning of 2017 showed an overall increase of 2,8% in terms of fans, but this figure steadily decreased over the year and eventually settled in around 1,4% in December 2017. A more recent observation for April 2018 showed that the follower growth rate falls under 1%.

The declining fan growth doesn’t favour to remain on the social network and is also a first indicator that users lose interest in liking newspapers and other news outlets. Maybe a look at the interactions on Facebook can give us more information on this matter.

More comments, fewer shares & likes

For most social media managers from news and media companies interactions are an important KPI and a great way to measure success on social media. Interactions contain the number of likes, comments or shares that a post receives.

For the analysed period the average interactions decreased by 30%. In absolute numbers: In January 2017 a post received on average 1719 interactions, whereas a post in December only got 1204 interactions on average. A similar tendency was seen for shares. Shares went down by 36,7%.

Another negative finding for all media companies that want to increase the reach of their content. One silver lining is the increase in the number of comments in the same period by 40,3%.

Shall I stay or shall I go?

Should media companies quit Facebook? A straight answer from a digital marketer: No.

Facebook has over 2 billion users and will continue to attract more users in the future. The social network still has a huge potential. The right social media strategies can still help to increase the reach of a brand, media or news company.

Anyone who is willing to try new methods and also expect that increase on social networks comes with a price will experience that social networks are a great way to successfully reach a lot of users.


Facebook performance data: From 01.01.2017 to 31.12.2017

Dataset: 93.010 international Facebook pages and 85.462.505 posts, that were accessed with quintly through Facebook’s API.

Sub dataset: The page categories;”News & Media Website”, “Newspaper” and “Media/News Company” includes 4.223 international pages and 31.684.011 posts.

Author: Nils Herrmann is part of the quintly digital marketing team. He is a committed writer with a keen interest in developing data-based stories and digital strategies.