The people at Applum, creators of Edgerank Checker, decided to find out. They analyzed more than a million Facebook updates on more than 50,000 Pages in order to test the theory that posting to Facebook via third-party apps simply doesn’t generate as much engagement as posting directly on Facebook.
The results were surprising. Applum found that posting via one of the top ten third-party APIs gave you an average of 88% fewer comments and likes, compared to posting directly to Facebook yourself.
Applum’s speculative reason: Facebook penalizes third-party apps in its complex algorithm. Indeed, Facebook updates from some third-party apps are condensed into a single News Feed story. This effectively eliminates opportunities for the kind of impressions and engagement you would get on separate posts.
Facebook users can decide to block all updates from any third-party app, which could also be a factor.
However, Applum notes, it may also be the type of content that is being posted through these apps — and its timing that is causing the problem. Many posts in third-party apps are scheduled or automated, which can lead to weaker engagement. Content from third-party apps is often not optimized for Facebook. For example, Twitter posts don’t usually include links with descriptions and thumbnails.
So is Facebook deliberately downgrading third-party apps? “We’re focused on ensuring that users see the highest quality stories in News Feed,” a Facebook spokesperson told us. “As part of this, related stories are typically aggregated so users can see a consolidated view of stories from one app. In some cases, we work closely with trusted partners, such as Preferred Developer Consultants, to test new ways of surfacing stories, and gather feedback to improve the Platform experience.”
UPDATE: An earlier version of the Edgerank Checker post, and of this article, broke out figures for two third-party content management apps: Hootsuite and Tweetdeck. After being contacted by at least one of those services, Edgerank Checker has removed all mention of either of them. We’ve reached out to the author of the post for further explanation.