Whether it is to share something funny or get the word out about a project that you are working on, Facebook is a powerful medium.

In the past, if you shared a photo on Facebook, it would receive the highest exposure rate. The reason was probably because Facebook wanted to be the preferred social media outlet for sharing pictures.

Now that we all rely on Facebook, the website changed its EdgeRank to show less of your work.

You might have noticed that since last year. This happend roughly the same time when Facebook went public and needed to make more money. Therefore, by reducing exposure of photos, you will be forced to Promote (advertise) your Posts.

Check out the stats below for my Page of 10,400 Likes – this number is important because it will be used to calculate the effectiveness of the different types of posts. The estimates are considerably accurate since I have access to a number of Facebook Pages.

Photo With Text Post –
20% Exposure Rate

As mentioned earlier, in the past, users were encouraged to upload photos. It is aesthetically stunning and takes up a lot of visual real estate in a newsfeed. Plus, you can add a link (e.g., to your website).

For example, when I wanted to remind fans of my Platform Presentation for WPPI 2013, I had three options on this social media platform – photo, link or plain text. Observe differences below.

facebook photo exposure

With 45 Likes, it only reached roughly 20% of my fans. In the photo below, with twice as many Likes, it only increased its viewership by a few hundred. My point is that photos don’t have the same traction as in the past.

facebook many likes same exposure

Despite its lower viewership, photos have one advantage. If the image is striking enough to go viral, the exposure can be indefinite. Below is an example of noticeably more viewers based on shares by readers.

facebook viral photo exposure

Link With Text Post –
30% Exposure Rate

Depending on the value of the content, link posts receive roughly 30% exposure rate. It adds a thumbnail photo and meta information (e.g., title, first paragraph) from the post.

facebook link exposure

A common issue with link posts is that users who share the link get to pick the thumbnail. If your post contains multiple images, then there can be an inconsistency. To circumvent this dilemma, WordPress users can install this plugin, which lets you select which photo you want used.

facebook pick your thumbnail

Text Post –
45% Exposure Rate

Text posts are the least visually appealing and cannot contain a call to action hyperlink. However, I have observed that they receive the highest exposure, even if they have minimal Likes and no Shares.

facebook text little likes same exposure

So, why would you use a text post if it neither drives traffic to your site nor allows for cool photos?

If you have a message or announcement to make that could go without a photo or link, then use a text post. It will reach the most people without having to advertise. For example, to thank attendees for my WPPI class, I used plain text.

facebook text exposure


Whether you use a photo, link or plain text post, keep in mind that you should stay within seven lines of text. Otherwise, the post will be truncated with an elipsis.

facebook truncated post

Key Points:

  • Use a photo if that is the only way to express your message, it has potential for virality and you like a pretty Facebook Page
  • Use a link if it has valuable content and you want to drive to your site
  • Use plain text if the message can be conveyed without visual aid or a link

All of this is subject to change, which is why it is critical that you bulletproof your social media efforts. What happens if you create a loyal following on Facebook and the platform goes down the drain?

Hope you enjoyed the insight,

Lawrence Chan

P.S. I want to share an awesome email from Gary Smith who made some simple changes on his site using SEO (search engine optimization).

testi gary smith seo

P.P.S. Over the weekend, I went kayaking with some friends. It was a splash! Get it? Get it? Good.

kayak fun