Study: Facebook users are sharing posts more frequently but liking and commenting less

A new study from analytics firm Rival IQ analyzed more than 9,000 brands on Facebook that included more than 8.1 million posts from 2015 and the 11.5 billion associated interactions. One of the most interesting morsels that came from that mountain of data showed a significant shift in the form of engagement occurring on the network.

Of the major post engagement types studies (likes, comments, shares), the only metric that saw a year-over-year increase in 2015 was shares. Share rate across all Page sizes saw a big jump in March and April and leveled off a bit throughout the remainder of the year. Likes and comments, on the other hand, saw YoY decreases and charts that show a downward line of best fit when looking at engagement rates:

So why is this happening? There are a few speculations. Facebook has been systemically working since 2014 to decease spam with initiatives geared to curtail Like-baiting. These efforts to remove faux likes/comments/shares have cleaned up news feeds significantly. When removing this synthetic interaction (such as a like counting as a vote for Candidate X and a comment counting as a vote for Candidate B), we may now be seeing the true engagement that is occurring on Facebook posts.

Also, news feed updates have continued to trend towards user updates instead of brand updates. Rival IQ suggests that everyone is finally being made aware of this change and adapting their usage to get the most visibility. The assumption is that users know they’ll get more visibility when sharing an interesting story or making a significant comment. Oh, and brands? The hypothesis is that they’ve adjusted to show content that will be more engaging and sharable.

A final thought is that the massive jump at the end of Q1 may be linked to new Messenger sharing features, as well as an iOS share extension launched at the end of February. With more sharing options, users may have simply elected to use them.

It is also worth noting that while the like rates declined in 2015, likes still had ≈7x the volume of the share rates throughout 2015. So, while share rates are increasing, they’ve got a lot more work to do.

Regardless of the causation behind the engagement-rate changes, it is a sign that folks are adjusting the way they interact with the network. For a bevy of data including post rate and engagement, head on over to Rival IQ for the full study.

About The Author

Greg Finn
Greg Finn is the Director of Marketing for Cypress North, a company that provides world-class social media and search marketing services and web & application development. He has been in the Internet marketing industry for 10+ years and specializes in Digital Marketing. You can also find Greg on Twitter (@gregfinn) or LinkedIn.