Facebook is unstoppable. On August 24th one billion people logged onto the platform. One billion! One and a half billion users are active monthly. 45 million businesses have Facebook pages and Facebook is also beating Google as the biggest source of traffic to websites.

What’s next!? A dislike button?

Welcome to our Facebook growth and engagement study for the month of September 2015. We analysed 5,000 different Facebook pages and their results. We also aimed to collect all the important news and happenings in the world of Facebook. Here are the facts we discovered that you should know about.

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Videos reach 9.42% of the audience, but photos engage more

Videos performed the best reaching 9.42% of the total audience. Link posts were second best with 8.95% reach, followed by photos (7.75%) and status updates (5.51%). In terms of engagement photos performed the best with 6.6% of people reached engaging with them. Videos engaged 6.53% of people reached, status updates 4.25% and links 3.96%.

Facebook now allows you to upload GIFs to your pages and even use them in ads. Photos and videos work very well already so can GIFs help you communicate better and give you additional boost in reach and engagement? It’s worth trying out and seeing what results you’re achieving.

Organic page likes growth at 0.24%

According to Andrew Bosworth, Facebook’s vice president of ads and pages, unique visits to pages have increased 40% (one billion people visit pages every month) and people messaging pages has doubled year-over-year. According to him Facebook pages are “your best online presence.”

Facebook is certainly working on improving pages as you’ll see in our post, but first let’s look at how this translates to 5,000 pages in our study. Pages we looked at grew 0.24% on average during September. The largest pages, those with over one million page likes, grew by 0.07%. Facebook organic growth is now pretty much equal to the 0.25% organic follower growth we see on Instagram. The positive for Facebook and Instagram is that they both beat Twitter, where the average follower growth in September was at 0.18%.

Average post reach was at 7.91% of the total audience. Engagement was at 6.15% of the people that saw the post. This means that 0.49% of total page likes engaged with an average post that a page published. This number is much better than the 0.19% engagement we see on Twitter but is behind the 1.76% on Instagram.

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Facebook going deeper into video with 360-degree videos and live streaming

Videos performed the best of all formats in terms of reach and Facebook is now exploring videos even further. The platform has introduced live streaming to public figures with verified pages. Facebook’s competitor to Twitter’s Periscope is called “Live”. Periscope is actually not doing too bad with 10 million users and over 40 years of video watched every day but can Facebook beat that?

Facebook’s live streaming is interesting as the stream itself plays live in the news feed of your page likes and people who have recently interacted with the page also get a notification about the stream. The streams are saved and can always be viewed on pages. Instead of creating a Periscope account and building an audience from scratch, Facebook’s “Live” has potential to bring out new content to your existing audience.

Facebook is not stopping at live streaming, it now also allows you to upload 360-degree videos. This brings a completely new way of telling your story. 360-degree videos have been available on YouTube and now you also have a chance of uploading them onto Facebook. Users can view 360-degree videos on Android and on desktop, and iOS integration is coming soon.

360-degree videos are a step towards the virtual reality and the immersive experience that Facebook is betting on. It’s worth considering how you can use this to your advantage already today. How does it allow you to tell a better story? Can it be a great way of bringing your users closer to the experience of your brand? Here’s a guide on getting started with 360-degree videos.

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For those brands afraid of their video content being misused by third parties uploading it to Facebook without their permission, Facebook is working on improving and enhancing their Audible Magic system. They are really taking every step they can in order to get brands to upload videos onto their platform.

Facebook live streaming and 360-degree videos are novelties and can get extra attention from your audience. In our Facebook Pages Use Of Video study 47% of pages didn’t upload any videos at all. Videos are your opportunities. Are you uploading yet?

42.95% of pages use Facebook advertising

To combat the low organic growth and reach, pages are using Facebook advertising. 42.95% of pages we looked at used ads in the month of September paying for 30.83% of their total reach. 47.62% of the largest pages, those with over one million page likes, used ads paying for 32.45% of their total reach.

Facebook is doing a lot to make the advertisers comfortable in getting started with the platform or allocating a bigger portion of their advertising budget to Facebook. For those advertisers who didn’t find value in paying for partial impressions they can now choose the new buying option and purchase 100% in-view impressions. This basically means that the user has to see the entire ad before the advertiser is charged. An independent third-party is also integrated to verify video ad views and view lengths.

More options for doing better customer support

If you’ve read our Customer Support on Facebook study you know that pages suck at supporting their customers. 49% of all pages don’t even allow users to message them. 65% of those who have messaging enabled ignore all messages they are sent. All together 87% of messages sent by users are ignored by pages. Facebook wants to help pages do better and take customer support on the platform more seriously.

Pages can now reply to sensitive public comments in private. Facebook will show a note publicly that the page has responded to the customer.

Pages admin inbox has been improved too in order to help you deal with more user questions faster. Canned responses are now available to for you to save answers to the most frequently asked questions. You can even add a “Send Message” button to your ads.

Pages that respond to 90% of messages with a median time of less than 5 minutes will get a special “Very responsive to messages” badge listed on their profiles. The data for the badge is calculated based on the performance of the last 7 days.

But what if you’re away for a while (or sleeping) and cannot respond that quickly? You will be able to display the “I’m away from my Facebook page right now” message.

All page admins will have access to their own performance data privately in Insights. According to Facebook 500,000 Pages have earned the badge already. If you want to have an even deeper look into how your page is doing in terms of customer support on Facebook, take a look at the free Locowise trial.

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45 million businesses use Facebook pages: New features and improvements

More than 45 million businesses now have pages on Facebook. Facebook has worked on improving the way pages are presented and have added some new sections too. The idea is to try and move businesses away from having their own websites (which are tough and expensive to build according to Facebook) and just run it all directly on Facebook.

The platform is working on several different updates to the look of pages on desktops. These changes are expected to be introduced soon:

● Smaller profile photos (from 180 x 180 pixels to 90 x 90)
● Page tab links have moved
● Like and share buttons have also moved
● Pages can now view as a visitor
● Call-to-action buttons are more noticeable

Facebook has updated the mobile look of pages with the call-to-action now being more prominent.

The new call-to-action button is now “bigger, brighter and directly under the Page cover photo”.

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Two new sections have been added to pages both on desktop and mobile: Shop and Services. If you’re selling something or offering different services you can now highlight and present that directly on your page. People can even buy directly from your page thanks to Facebook’s partnership with ecommerce platform Shopify.

3 action points for you

1. Do take a look at Locowise Facebook Analyser in order to compare your own page performance against the 5,000 pages in this study. Facebook Analyser is a free and quick way to get a clear overview of how well you’re doing right now and where you can improve your activities straight away.

2. Facebook videos and photos work much better for organic reach and engagement. Does each and every of your posts feature an interesting image or a video? It’s worth reworking your content calendar to include some original multimedia. Not only that but also think about how the introduction of live streaming and 360-degree videos fits your strategy.

3. Think about how you can improve your customer support on Facebook. The improved features are there and your customers are messaging you. Now it’s up to you to respond back and create a better user experience in order to get your page likes closer to your brand.