3 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Facebook


As Facebook finally crosses the incomprehensible 1 billion users mark, we thought it would be appropriate to do a bit of a check-in and make sure everyone was up to speed on the latest news from the social network. Hopefully by now, you’ve heard about the rollout of Facebook Exchange retargeting and their new e-mail list ad targeting. Here’s some nitty-gritty stuff you might’ve missed.

Sharing a link counts as ‘Liking’ something, even in your private messages

TheNextWeb surfaced this a week ago, but it’s worth sharing again. Facebook actively scans for links in your private messages. Anytime a URL shows up in your inbox, Facebook counts it as a “Like” of that particular URL for the sender. To be clear, this adds 1 to the ticker that some sites display next to links and might have a future effect on what Facebook does for that URL based on the number of “Likes” it has received, but it doesn’t mean that the URL will show up in your feed, your Timeline, or any social plug-ins the site itself might have. Additionally, in case you didn’t know already, liking, sharing, or commenting on a link inside Facebook’s ecosystem also adds to the “Like” counter for that particular URL.

They’ve just messed with the algorithm again

First brought to my attention by Jeff Doak by way of Jeffrey Colon over at Ogilvy, it seems that Facebook has been tinkering with their EdgeRank algorithm again. Apparently, sometime around September 21st, they enacted the changes. Pages have since experienced as much as a 50% decrease in reach from their posts, sometimes more. This, coupled with Facebook’s recent crackdown on fake likes and profiles might’ve just really jostled your analytics.

Top-Level Insights are pretty worthless

This is more general knowledge, but given that Facebook downgrading a Page’s reach is something of a big deal I think it’s worth mentioning. The top-level metrics like Reach and PTAT that you see in Facebook’s insights manager are relatively devoid of value. The Reach metric includes reach from paid ads, as well as reach from things like a user Liking your Page. Although interesting to note, these contributing factors are not going to help you determine the value or effectiveness of your content or posting schedule. To get at that, you need to download their Post-level metrics from the Insights manager. Similarly, PTAT includes all sorts of strange data points in its total. For instance, a user “Liking” you’re Page counts into the PTAT score, as well as a user commenting on your Page’s timeline. Again, although this might be interesting data in a broader context, it doesn’t really speak to how much advocacy your page is actively getting from users.

BONUS: They made a TV commercial

In case you hadn’t seen it already, Facebook released a TV commercial as part of their 1 billion users announcement. You can check it out here.

What news have you heard lately about the largest social network? Anything we missed? Let us know about it in the comments.

Dan Wilkerson is a former LunaMetrician and contributor to our blog.

  • That first one, link-in-your-email = like really sucks, because it is devoid of sentiment. What if I email you a link to show you how awful I think something is? (Memories of the whole NYT expose of the optician are streaming through my brain.)

    • Robbin – the same thought occurred to me. What if people share a link to a site they think is garbage? For instance, Christina blessed us with “ilovegiovannis.com”, a distillation of all things geocities. A ton of people commented. I sent the link to my friends. Do we like this page? No, it’s a nightmare. But Facebook will interpret our social engagement as ‘Likes’ for that page. Another important thing that people might not connect is that Facebook Chat = Facebook Messages. That means sending someone a link in chat will have the same effect as privately messaging them, although we might not perceive it that way (A message is something you send when someone is unavailable on Chat, generally).

      Sayf – true, tweets are devoid of sentiment – but ‘Like’ is a pretty loaded term. This could get tricky if Facebook decides to dabble in search and uses Likes as a key indicator of relevancy (though I doubt they will, given how easy they are to purchase). And your second point is good also – if someone’s dog dies, you’re not going to like it. Similarly, if their car dies and that’s an indicator of a crappy vehicle, you won’t like that. Defining negativity in an ecosystem completely built upon positivism is going to be a tricky step for Facebook (and Google when interpreting the effects of social signals on SERPs, for that matter). This is another arena that Google+ has a bit of an edge, technically – a +1 is emotionally flexible.

      Good discussion!

  • Sayf Sharif

    Really it’s turning the “like” number into a “shares” number more similar to the Twitter tweets number, which could also very easily not have any sentiment in it. At the same time, there are many ways we share pages which don’t get recorded (sharing via Instant Messenger for instance turns a share into a direct visit of a new visitor).

    It would be nice if they could separate out “like” in some way. How often does someone post something on facebook that’s truly awful and people feel inclined to not click “like” because it implies they LIKE the status or what’s in it.

  • Travis Loncar

    Robbin, that’s exactly what I was thinking. Seems ridiculous.

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