Saturday, October 7, 2017

Should I Post Native Social Content or Link to the Blog?

Should I post native social content or link to the blog?

This article examines the question, "Is it better to post native content on social media websites or link back to my blog?" To help give some context to this article, let me explain how I got here.

Background Story

Recently, I returned to writing longer form articles. For the past few years, I resorted to posting pictures on social media and writing a short paragraph related to the image. It could be a story, thought, or some kind of update. While it served the purpose, I always felt that I needed to more fully explore topics. For me, this meant going back to the blog. 

Whenever you write an article, you want it to be read. Because I had a community on the various social sites, I went there first to share the story. I continued to do what I had been doing over the previous number of years, I posted a picture and text. However, the difference is that my posts were much longer than before. 

While it didn't appear to cause any reduction in Likes or engagement, I did read a few observations from readers that the posts were much longer. Not that longer is a bad thing. If the topic is interesting and people are willing to stop long enough to read, then I'm OK with that. Although, I am not ignoring the fact that some people are not actually reading, but simply looking at the pictures. I accept that reality, too. 

One day, I post my longer form article to Facebook like I had been doing many times before and it got next to zero Likes or engagement. What happened? I asked. Was it the time of day that I posted it? Was the picture not a good one? Was it just not a good topic? What's wrong?

The next day, in an effort to understand the recent outcome, I shared a really nice picture, posted it earlier in the day (versus late at night), and wrote a story that I believed many could get behind. Unfortunately, nothing changed. It happened for a second time in a row. I was perplexed. How can my stories be active one day, but in need of life support the next?

Over the next couple of articles, I tried following my previous routine. To help increase the reach, I started sharing the post to my Facebook groups. Still, no amount of activity on my part seemed to revive the underwhelming activity on these posts. 

While at work, one of my co-workers made a comment about not seeing my article that morning. This gentleman said that he always looked forward to reading my posts (Thank you, Zach!), but hadn't seen anything. It was right then that I realized what happened. Facebook was playing around with my organic reach. To say that in another way, Facebook wasn't letting my posts get the same attention that it had been getting. I was so disappointed to learn this was happening, but I couldn't let Facebook win. 

As a result, I decided to take back the control and direct what little traffic I was getting on the social networks to my blog directly. In addition, I would rely more heavily on my email list. My thought process was that email will touch every subscriber's inbox. From there, I had a better chance of getting read. Also, by directing traffic from the social networks, I would ultimately build up this email list and eventually bypass any algorithm changes in Google, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn. 

Linking Back to the Blog

Disheartened by Facebook's recent change, I started posting articles as links. This means I stopped sharing the whole article as a post and simply posted a link with an introduction. The social network typically pulled the graphic from my website and then I posted it. Again, the number of Likes and engagement stayed uncommonly low. Thankfully, LinkedIn didn't appear to squelch the post like what I noticed on Facebook.

In addition to sharing on Facebook, I also posted on LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, and Google+ communities. As a result, I noticed the number of website visitors on my blog went up. I even noticed a number of new email subscribers. That was an exciting turn of events. 

I continued to post articles as links back to my site and the number of page views continued to rise on my blog. Still, the Likes and comments on Facebook remained close to dead. It just felt like the post never really got off the the ground. 

Over the next few days, I started to cut up my articles into smaller pieces of content and schedule them using Buffer. Taking one blog article, I could cut it up into multiple quotes, images, questions, and main points. Each time I shared a smaller piece of the whole, I would add a link back to my website. This only continued to improve my page views while Likes and engagement on Facebook stayed dry. 

Native Social Content

Up to this point, I have talked about posting content on different social networks as regular posts, but it seems that a number of social networks, mainly Facebook and LinkedIn, are trying to formalize the practice and give publishers greater control over the look and feel of an article.

In this section, I want to quickly introduce what Facebook and LinkedIn are doing to assist publishers and then share my results.

Facebook Post vs Facebook Note vs Facebook Instant Articles

As outlined above, my recent strategy has been posting the entire article within a Facebook post along with a picture, which produced somewhere between 40 and 100 Likes. There were a few posts that skyrocketed into the the 200 Like range. This became my benchmark for what followed.

While I found the engagement worked, I didn't like that I lost text formatting in the process. Because my posts were much longer than a normal picture with text, I believe it was hard to follow headers and subheaders in the text because the font size and color was the same throughout.

As a result, I found that Facebook Notes allows for a much better user experience. If you are unfamiliar with Notes, it has been around for years. I'm going to guess since 2010 or 2011. In the beginning, it was pretty barebones, but Facebook upgraded it to include better text formatting along with multiple image options. Unfortunately, posting long form content in Notes produced next to zero Likes or comments. I just knew that Facebook would value Notes over long posts, but this wasn't the case for me.

Yesterday, I found that Facebook has rolled out a feature called Instant Articles. From what I have been able to gather, it is a publishing service that pulls articles from RSS feeds and APIs into Facebook. To put it another way, it takes our external articles and pulls them into Facebook so that users will not have to leave Facebook. As of this post, I have crafted 5 articles from my blog and submitted them for review. According to the message I received, it should take 3-5 days to hear something back.

In addition to publishing directly into Facebook from our RSS feeds, the company is now offering a way to get paid from ad placement throughout our content. Does this mean our native social content will be viewed more often than before? Will it result in more Likes and engagement? Once I start getting some feedback on this new feature, I'll let you know.

LinkedIn Pulse

Similar to Facebook's Instant Articles, LinkedIn also provides a place for publishers to post full articles, it's called LinkedIn Pulse. From what I understand, authors are able to submit written work through the "Write an article" feature.

Based on my experience, having submitted articles through Pulse and as mere links to my blog, the views and engagement are about the same. While some topics just do better than others, I believe that LinkedIn serves both the native article and the linked article about the same. While I could be wrong, know that I am basing this observation on my own views, Likes, and comments for both types of content.

Like Facebook, any content that is published through Pulse receives text formatting, links, images and more. This tool makes articles look really nice and presentable.

Pros & Cons of Native Social Content

In this section, I look at the pros and cons of posting my content directly into the social network versus linking back to my website. With native social content, I am including Facebook Instant Articles and LinkedIn Pulse to the comparison.


  • Facebook Posts tend to get more Likes and comments than sharing external links
  • Visitors don't have to leave the social network to read the article
  • With more Likes and higher engagement, I have more opportunities to be found by new readers
  • Content can look very attractive when using native publishing tools


  • I have no control over who sees my content because I'm at the mercy of the social network's algorithm
  • My website's pageviews drop dramatically
  • Search engine ranking could be negatively affected by lack of new posts and engagement
  • Facebook Notes, while more attractive than a regular post, underperformed against the less formatted post
  • There are fewer new email subscribers because they never actually see the call to action on my website
  • With no website visitors, my ads are not being seen, which means no revenue generated 
  • Posts on social networks don't have a long shelf life in the way articles on my blog do


To determine whether the results are good or bad, one has to understand the desired outcomes. For me, I primarily want my content to be read. Additionally, I enjoy the engagement that comes along with a good post. Just recently, I asked a question related to a blog article and got some pretty heartfelt responses. I love hearing stories and receiving questions from readers. 

Clearly, I don't like it when Facebook or any service provider changes how they do business and I am negatively affected. In this case, I was receiving fewer viewers and engagement than before. Instead, I would much rather be in control of the outcome then giving that control to someone else. Additionally, I would hate to lose all of my work should the company decide to close its doors. 

I didn't start writing to receive money, but when I received a check in the mail for the advertisements on my website, I was pleased as punch. No, it's not a driving force, but it is a nice perk. Currently, I don't see any financial benefit from the social networks, excluding YouTube. YouTube, like my blog, pays me for advertisements. However, it is important to remember that Facebook Instant Articles offers financial benefits through its ad network.

While I enjoy the immediate response and engagement of posts on social media, I also like the long-term benefits of pointing visitors to my blog. I have articles and videos that are being found and read 7 years after I initially created them. The shelf life of an article on social is a few hours, at best. Additionally, I'm curious to find out how many people are searching Facebook or LinkedIn for articles. Are articles on social networks even indexed in search engines?

Closing Thought

As I bring this article to a close, I hope that you found value. While there are opportunities and benefits for posting as native content, I think I am going to continue my latest effort and focus more intently on building This means that I will write my articles here and then share snippets, questions, small videos, quotes, and highlights from the blog on the external social networks, but provide readers with a link back to my website. This will help me build my email list, regain control over my success, and help provide a more consistent relationship with you, the reader.  

I imagine that as I learn more about the topic, I will either come back to this article and update it or deep dive into other areas of related interest.

Questions for Discussion

I would love to hear from you on this topic. What is your position on posting content directly to Facebook, LinkedIn, and the other social networks? Do you prefer posting entire articles or creating links back to your website? What have you found to be most beneficial? What success have you experienced by using Facebook Instant Articles, Facebook Notes, or LinkedIn Pulse?

As a reader, what do you prefer? Do you want to read an entire article via social sites or do you prefer reading it on the author's website?

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Damond L. Nollan, M.B.A.

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