Let me start by saying this. At this time there is no evidence to support that using 3rd party apps to post to Facebook hurts your reach. That said though, this is a prevailing belief, so it’s important to address in some detail.
First lets talk about where this myth came from. Back in 2012 Mari Smith wrote a post suggesting that 3rd party schedulers would not only reduce reach but would also reduce engagement by up to 89.5%. As you can imagine, this became a huge thing quickly. Everyone had an opinion about it. Well after further research it was apparent that the issue wasn’t with the 3rd party schedulers at all. In fact, additional studies showed that reach was improved using 3rd party schedulers. And since peer review and replicateable results are the soul of scientific proof, the original theory was debunked.
So why the disconnect?
When you examine the research from Buzzsumo’s study a bit further, it showed that the posts in question had not been scheduled using 3rd party apps, but rather were cross-posted content using automated RSS feeds. Very much like when you use WordPress or Instagram to post to Facebook.
Why do People Still Believe It?
The reason this continues to prevail is this. Often people aren’t aware of the other aspects of their posting strategies that contribute to their declining reach. Things like not using enough keywords and using tactics and content that suggests engagement baiting can severely diminish your reach in an already difficult landscape. Compound that with the algorithm change of early 2018, and generally speaking – reach is on the decline, regardless of whether your posts are scheduled or not.
Studies have shown that there is no measurable difference between scheduling posts and posting them right away. The only way to truly impact your organic reach right now on Facebook is to craft meaningful content designed specifically for your target audience.
It’s also crucial to remain available and continue to engage with your communities when you schedule posts. This will help your Edgerank score continue to grow. The problem with schedulers is that people usually “Set it and Forget it”. Which means that after they schedule the post, the user disappears. Which means that even if 10 people see it and comment on it, if you aren’t there to respond, or other people aren’t engaging with each other, the reach of that post will continue to decay over time. So, the issue is less about the scheduler and more about the way in which users employ the tool.
How to prevent post decay due to scheduling
To maximize the chances of your posts not falling into the decay black hole, I recommend the following:
- Create a balance between scheduled and non scheduled posts, just for the availability factor. I usually schedule about 75% of my posts, and then the rest I do as needed. Of the 75% that I schedule, I am present for about half of them to engage, and then the others I know I’ll engage with later on in the day.
- Don’t schedule them for “on the hour” since almost no one posts that way, psychologically speaking its better to schedule your posts at random times like 11:54 rather than 12:00.
- Write the post as if you are going to post it right now, in the moment. Don’t make it sound like something you scripted. SPEAK IN PRESENT TENSE!
- Always have a Call to Action in place for your posts that clearly tells your audience you expect them to do something next – engage, click, etc.
- Don’t forget about your post. Come back and remember to engage on it when it does!
- Keep an eye on current events. If you have a day full of exciting and happy posts planned and there is a major tragedy in the world that morning, you may want to go into your scheduler and move those to a later day. Don’t let your scheduled posts make you sound out of touch with current events.
That said though, I want to insert a BIG caveat in here. At this time there’s no systemic reason for schedulers to deliver limited reach. Facebook is always updating the algorithm, and when one thing changes, there can be a lot of unintended consequences. Which means that you may have pockets of time where your scheduled posts won’t have high reach. This is part and parcel of working on a living platform. If you see limited reach for a short time, don’t immediately assume that it’s a systemic change without evidence.