Facebook recently made a large increase in link size images in the news feed. Link images used to be small:
Now the link images are much larger:
When the announcement was made, our first assumption was that this will increase clicks for images. The new link images have more real estate within the news feed due to their increased height. We sat down to figure out if this was the case.
We normally come up with a hypothesis, run the data on our dataset, analyze, and report it. However, this time is different. Not each linked post has the updated dimensions (the site being linked to must have the updated Open Graph information). Further complicating the issue is the essence of the content of the link. Even if we pull in the updated dimensions, will some posts receive less clicks due to the content? For this study, we had a control group. For more on the methodology, head to the bottom of the post.
New Link Images Receive +55% Increase In Total Clicks
The new big image links received 7.39% Total Clicks per person Reached as compared to Smaller Links at 4.77% Total Clicks/Reach.
Total Link Clicks is the metric that Facebook displays in Insights as “Post Clicks” (Link Clicks + Other Clicks). When looking at that number, we’re seeing roughly +50% increase, but we’re more interested in actual Link Clicks. How many people went to the site we linked?
Link Clicks Up Just Under 2x Increase
When examining just Link Clicks, big image links received 5.55% Link Clicks / Reach, while small image links received 3.29%. That’s a +69% increase! Bigger link images are definitely contributing to an increase in clicks when being displayed in the news feed.
How Do I Take Advantage of This Change?
We advise brands to make sure their websites are optimized for the new image format. Many brands use Photos that include a link to increase their likelihood of distribution in the news feed. If you’re still doing this tactic, we advise that you stop — update your images on your site and promote links that have stronger ties to “success” with Facebook marketing.
Engagement Rate Also Increased
Engagement rate (Total Engagement / Reach) also experienced an increase. Users were more likely to click Like on the larger images. We believe this is due to the increased awareness in the news feed. An object that may have been missed before, is now being spotted by the user. The user is more likely to click on the object, therefore more likely to read the object, therefore more likely to potentially click the Like button.
How Did We Study The Data?
We posted in the news feed a total of 14 times. We know this a small sample size. For this experiment, a lot of control was necessary to weed out potential confounds. We took many steps to make this study as statistically accurate as possible.
We essentially did two experiments. Experiment A had 8 total posts. All of the posts had identical copy, content, and link description, except for the size of the image. We paired up posts in sets of two, one news feed targeted to an age group such as 24-25 and the other targeted 26-27. These sets were published at the same exact time on the same day. This experiment was carried out over several days. This way, each pair was reaching a random grouping of people similarly distributed against other demographic information such as gender and location. The age groups we tested ranged from 22-40.
Experiment B was tested with 6 total posts, all of which were posted at the same time with different age groups targeted. All posts had identical copy, content, and link description. Three posts had large link images, 3 posts had small link images. Ages 24-36 were targeted. Each age group alternated between big or small link image.
24-25 Big / 26-27 Small / 28-29 Big …
Examining Each Experiment
Both experiments had a noticeable increase in Link Clicks when using a larger image. Experiment A had a +71% increase in Link Clicks, Experiment B had a +63% increase. Both had roughly the same increase in Link Clicks. We believe this begins to show a trend in effectiveness of the new links.
Facebook’s change to link’s images has increased consumption in the news feed. This is a good change for both Facebook and marketers. We expect to see more Pages begin to post more links, as links more often have a bigger bottom line impact. We encourage brands to make sure their linkable content is optimized, if not, upload an image that is optimized when posting a link.