Re-Test: Does Facebook Punish 3rd Party Scheduling Apps?

October 24, 2018 • By

Scott Ayres

Re-testing Facebook Reach of 3rd Party Scheduling Apps

The very 1st test I ran on the Social Media Lab attacked the myth that Facebook punishes posts from 3rd party scheduling apps, such as Buffer, Agorapulse, Hootsuite, etc.

In that test we found that Facebook does NOT punish posts from such apps — in fact the posts from the apps had higher reach ironically:

Facebook Reach

We couldn’t conclude that posting with scheduling apps would always get you higher Facebook reach, but I was certain there was no penalty by using them to schedule your content.

Bad thing is this research is now pretty dated — it was originally run in December of 2016 — so is it true now in late 2018?

Hypothesis:

Setting Up the Re-Test of 3rd Party Scheduling Apps

You might recall I ran one other re-test recently on Instagram Carousels. For that test since we already had a baseline from the original test I didn’t see the need to go into as much deep testing in order to gather data.

The goal of a re-test is just to make sure things haven’t changed.

In my original test on scheduling apps I used multiple apps in order to see if any of them were treated differently and to just be certain of the data.

But since we know from our last experiment that Facebook doesn’t look at the tools differently I didn’t see the need to dive as deep this time — unless the results have changed.

For this re-test I simply used the Agorapulse app, along with scheduling on Facebook itself.

Facebook Pages used for testing:

  • Agorapulse  – 57540 Likes at the start of testing
  • Space Walk of Central Texas – Local business page with 5464 Likes at the start of testing

These were also the 2 pages used in the original test, so this gives us a very pure data set to evaluate.

Schedule used for testing:

Over a period of 3 weeks starting on August 20th I scheduled a post every other day with the Agorapulse app and every other day natively on Facebook. Alternating the days and going 3 weeks ensured that posts from both sources would be on every day of the week at least once during the cycle.

Here’s what the schedule looked like for the Space Walk page natively on Facebook:

And here’s what it looked like on Agorapulse (split into 2 images due to being in 2 different months):

The schedule for Agorapulse looked basically the same:

The only difference in the 2 accounts was the post types. For Agorapulse I posted links, for Space Walk photos.

The reason for this is that’s the type of content both pages tend to post when not in “testing” mode so it was best to keep things as natural as possible to not skew results.

Data on the Re-Test

All we are looking at for this test is Facebook Reach. While engagement is important for your marketing efforts, it’s not important for a test such as this.

Agorapulse Reach Average:

  • Native Facebook Posts: 727.71
  • Posts via Agoapulse: 797.17

Posts made via Agorapulse had a 9.54% higher reach.

Space Walk Reach Average:

  • Native Facebook Posts: 455.56
  • Posts via Agoapulse: 556.56

Posts made via Agorapulse had a 22.17% higher reach.

Just to be certain of the results I removed the highest and lowest performing posts in each data set and had these results:

  • Agorapulse page: Posts via the Agorapulse app had a 6.43% higher reach
  • Space Walk page: Posts via the Agraopulse app had a 12.34% higher reach

So not as big of a reach difference compared to the raw data, but still tells me Facebook isn’t punishing posts from apps.

But let’s take this 1 step further so none of you can argue about my results via Twitter!

I removed simply the highest performing post from each data set and got this:

  • Agorapulse page: Posts via the Agorapulse app had a 6.81% higher reach
  • Space Walk page: Posts via the Agorapulse app had a 10.01% higher reach

And I also removed just the lowest performing post from each data set and got these results:

  • Agorapulse page: Posts via the Agorapulse app had a 9.48% higher reach
  • Space Walk page: Posts via the Agorapulse app had a 25.06% higher reach

Regardless of how I look at the data the results are basically the same…

Conclusion about Facebook Scheduling Apps and Reach

Based on this re-testing data it’s easy to conclude that Facebook is NOT punishing posts made via 3rd party scheduling apps. The data doesn’t lie.

Oddly enough once again posts made via the app versus native on Facebook had a higher reach.

Using the original set of data without removing any anomalies we find that reach was 14.41% for posts via the Agorapulse app on average when we combine data for both pages.

Seems pretty cut and dry to me that this myth is yet again BUSTED!!!

Post with scheduling apps with confidence — we’d love for you to use our app of course!

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