Do not use Hootsuite for Facebook

by Joel on July 23, 2012 · 13 comments

in Social Media

Facebook penalising HootsuiteThis is going to be a very short post as it is just on a specific finding that I have had over the past few weeks and thought that I should share it in case any of you are still making the same mistake.

I generally use Hootsuite for managing social media communications; it is great for Twitter as it gives me a simple dashboard where I can see all of the tweets that relate to specific searches I have set up or all of the mentions about me or any of our clients, sent tweets etc etc. As a quick distraction here is a video on using Hootsuite to find new customers on Twitter.

However; Facebook management through Hootsuite is not such a great story.

I have been using Hootsuite for months to post to my Facebook page and also the Facebook pages of my clients. However; since Facebook started publishing data on the specific number of people reached by each posting I could see that each post made through Hootsuite only received about 25% of the impressions as the posts made directly in the Facebook interface.

This can be seen in the following screenshot:

Do not use Hootsuite for Facebook

These are two posts made 5 days apart. Note that the first one was posted via Hootsuite (and received 102 views) and the earlier one was posted direct in Facebook (and received 459 views). Although the earlier post was shared which added to the impressions I have noticed that typically a post direct in Facebook gets between 3x and 4x as many impressions as a post from Hootsuite.

I guess that this is not just Facebook having a go at Hootsuite and that the results would be the same whatever social media management tool you use (please let me know in the comments if you use any other tools?). Facebook did penalise 3rd party tools late last year and then stopped doing so therefore this could be a temporary thing but I have a feeling that with the company now being public there is even more pressure to own the users time. This is a shame as Hootsuite makes my life easier but there is just no way that I am going to use it for Facebook with this smaller reach. If you are using Hootsuite for Facebook then I suggest you test this out for yourself and see the results – I would be particularly interested to see if you do not have the same issues as I am having.

Hootsuite have now just announced the release of their support for Google+ pages which means that those can now be managed from the Hootsuite dashboard. needless to say I am going to keep a watchful eye on the variance in performance between direct and 3rd party posts to Google too.

 

 

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Not scientific July 26, 2012 at 3:52 am

Haha, are you serious? No way scientific. Different copy, images, days and times. Linkbait.

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Joel July 26, 2012 at 3:57 am

Hi “Not scientific”
Yes – it is not scientific you are correct – it is just an observation that I have made. I did not claim scientific accuracy. However – I have seen this across numerous accounts with the same results. I just put in one example.
Are you seeing different? If so I would like to know about it, although I guess that you just made a criticism for the sake of a criticism.

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Annalisa July 26, 2012 at 1:38 pm

Hey Joel,

This is certainly interesting. I know that not all friends on FB get every post that you make in their stream. I wonder how that factors into using Hootsuite to make posts, if it factors in at all.

The way I see it this has both positives and negatives. On the positive, the algorithm that is used to determine who gets your post in their feed and who doesn’t helps to sort out the friends that don’t interact or engage with you. However, no algorithm is perfect, so you may loose part of your audience that is/would be interested. In general though, it could be said that the traffic that clicks through to your site from the post is more targeted.

On the other hand, it is a negative because (again no algorithm is perfect) and if it is not posted to everyone’s feed you may loose out on someone that could be interested. This doesn’t help in building engagement or brand.

Nonetheless, this is an interesting finding. I’ll have to test it and see what I find. I think that posting directly on FB may be the best option. At least from your findings. Thanks for sharing.

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Joel July 26, 2012 at 1:55 pm

HI Annalisa
Interesting comments…I have noticed the same thing too.
The more I use Facebook the more I am impressed by their algorithm.
Specifically If I talk about football then I notice that it is my friends who like football that like and comment on the post.
However; I do not believe that they simply liked/commented because it was a topic of interest to them and that they just skirted over my other postings.
I think that Facebook’s algorithm understands peoples specific interests such as sport/music/fashion/children/parenting etc and then filters the posts that enter your feed based on these interests, so my friends who like football are more likely to get my posts about football in their feed and the same goes for friends who like music.
Please let me know what you notice in a like for like comparison on using Hootsuite (or other 3rd party tools) versus direct to Facebook. I am convinced that there is something in the FB algo penalising posts from 3rd party tools but this is only based on my experiences so I could be wrong.

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Annalisa July 26, 2012 at 2:38 pm

That’s a good point about FB’s algo. I have been using Hootsuite for posting sometimes, but recently started using http://socialyzerhq.com/ (Socialyzer). Have you used that tool? I’ll let you know if I notice any similar effects to using third party tools on FB posts.

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Joel July 26, 2012 at 2:53 pm

Hi Annalisa
No, I have not tried that tool – i have been pretty faithful to Hootsuite as I really like it for Twitter. Please let me know what you find on this through using Socialyzer. Thanks.

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Annalisa July 26, 2012 at 3:25 pm

Sounds good, Joel. I will have to talk to our Social Media Strategist and get a look at the API for our in-house posts.

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Annalisa July 31, 2012 at 2:40 pm

So, it appears that when we’ve posted to FB using a third party tool such as Hootsuite the reach ranges 5% – 30% less. I don’t think we have enough data on ours to make a case because we haven’t used a tool to post very much. Just wanted to let you know what I found out, thanks again.

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Joel July 31, 2012 at 2:44 pm

Thanks for letting me know. So that is nowhere near as dramatic as my results (75% less) and could be put down to external factors, but then again it is enough to be worth posting direct to FB. I really appreciate you taking the time to check on this and let me know.

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Annalisa August 2, 2012 at 6:00 pm

No problem, glad to help out! It could be external factors. I would say in your case 75% less definitely makes the enticing case to post directly to FB 🙂

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Dylan Robertson September 7, 2012 at 6:09 am

I’ve noticed this, but was never able to put my finger on it. Thank you for bringing it out in the open. I hope the HootSuite people can work something out with Facebook because it really is extremely efficient to be able to automate via bulk schedule, auto-schedule, etc.

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Joel September 7, 2012 at 6:45 am

Hi Dylan
I have been testing this more over the past few weeks and although I am still seeing on average more views of contented posted directly into Facebook the variances are not as extreme as they used to be (at least for me). This has made me wonder if posting time of the day is not more significant as if you post at a time when many of your audience are asleep then it is likely that by the time a good percentage of the friends check out their feed your post will have slipped down and perhaps off their feeds.

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James Lane May 6, 2014 at 10:26 pm

Hi Joel,

Stumbled upon your article and found it an interesting read. I have actually found the opposite to be true and found there not to be a negative impact on exposure.

Like one of your early commenters drew quick (and fair) attention to, my own testing would not stand up to scientific scrutiny (i.e. ran a few tests over a period of time with similar(ish) copy), but found the contrary to your results.

I wrote a bit more here if it’s of interest – http://www.socsolu.com/using-3rd-party-client-like-hootsuite-affect-facebook-edgerank/

All the best,

James

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