Data in the Headlights, May 2018

Data In The Headlights

Change is in the air as we roll into the summer. This month, we’ve got brand new data from over 8 million Facebook posts to share with you – what’s working on Facebook right now. You’ll find that in our Bright Idea just below.

We’re also booking miniature mastermind groups for four people or less with our Table for Four Consultations, so if you’ve got questions you need answers to right now, hop on the phone with us for an hour.

Now, let’s dig into the data…

The Bright Idea

In this issue’s Bright Idea, we dig into Facebook data. One of the key questions marketers have is what’s driving reach on Facebook. Using over 8 million Facebook posts from more than 8,000 Pages since July 1, 2017, we analyzed 3 periods – before the anti-clickbait News Feed change in December, the December – January 2018 period, and post-January friends and family News Feed update.

What did we find? With each successive update, we see secondary indicators changing as to what drives reach, but the core indicators remain unchanged. Let’s take a look at a subset chart to determine what impacts post views:

Facebook Drivers

The red outlined area are the core engagement metrics Facebook has had since its early days: likes, comments, and shares. The less whitespace in a column, the more important a metric is; blue areas are areas that are more important since the January 11 update. Light red areas indicate diminished importance of a metric. We see that likes and shares have diminished a little in the last 6 months in terms of driving views; comments remain the strongest predictor in the core metrics.

In the green outlined area are basic content metrics – post length and post sentiment. We see that post length has increased slightly in importance, whereas sentiment has increased significantly in importance. Note that sentiment is any kind of emotional valence/emotional appeal at all – positive or negative.

The blue outlined area gives us a hint about that sentiment; haha and love (positive Reactions) have diminished in importance, while sad and wow have increased in importance. Angry still remains a constant, reasonably strong predictor of post views.

When we put all these predictor metrics together, it paints a picture that accurately describes Facebook’s stated intent: they want more comments, more engagement, more emotional appeal with their audiences. What’s interesting is that they care about the emotional provocation in general, but not specific emotions, and we see those emotions tilting towards the negative (based on Reactions).

What should you do with your Facebook content strategy? It’s all about the conversations. Create content that appeals to strong emotions and incites comments and conversations. Don’t worry about length – it’s okay for posts to go longer if you need the space to write great, thought-provoking stories.


Sample sizes:

  • Pre-December posts: 4,513,022 posts from 8,632 Pages
  • December-January posts: 502,200 posts from 8,632 Pages
  • Post-January 11 posts: 3,329,480 posts from 8,632 Pages

In Case You Missed It

Shiny Objects

Social Media Marketing

Media Landscape

Tools, Machine Learning, and AI

Analytics, Stats, and Data Science

SEO, Google, and Paid Media

Upcoming Events

Where can you find us in person?

  • Content Marketing World, September 2018, Cleveland
  • MarketingProfs B2B Forum, November 2018, San Francisco

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Trust Insights ( is one of the world's leading management consulting firms in artificial intelligence/AI, especially in the use of generative AI and AI in marketing. Trust Insights provides custom AI consultation, training, education, implementation, and deployment of classical regression AI, classification AI, and generative AI, especially large language models such as ChatGPT's GPT-4-omni, Google Gemini, and Anthropic Claude. Trust Insights provides analytics consulting, data science consulting, and AI consulting.

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