That's a Relief: Facebook Says Performance Plummet on Brand Posts Was Just a Bug

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If your brands' Facebook posts failed to catch fire earlier this month, that was likely a bug and not necessarily bad marketing, according to the social network.

A glitch led to underreporting of metrics, including emoji reactions.
A glitch led to underreporting of metrics, including emoji reactions.

On Thursday, Facebook issued a statement saying a "bug" led to faulty reporting on reactions, shares and comments on organic posts, but it did not impact ads.

"While people continued to engage with Pages and posts during this time," Facebook said in its statement, "Page owners may have noticed lower-than-usual page and post engagement counts when reviewing their Page Insights for this time period."

Facebook said it fixed the problem, which affected numbers from Oct. 4 to 14.

The statement itself was a nod toward more transparency for the social network, which has been trying to combat perceptions that it guards the science behind its platform too closely. These are numbers that brands and marketers need to understand what messages work for them, how many people comment and how many react by hitting the emoji signals.

Last month, Facebook was criticized for being slow to uncover and disclose a glitch in its reporting on how long people viewed videos. In that case, publishers were seeing inflated average view times.

Also, a decline in performance of free posts would be a worry to most brands and publishers, which already feel their Facebook content getting squeezed by the algorithm that decides what posts show up in people's News Feeds. Through the years, Facebook has restricted the reach of free posts from marketers, showing them to fewer followers and pushing the brands toward paying for audiences on the platform.

That makes understanding performance with accurate numbers even more important, so brands can try to engineer success with all their content. Facebook said the bug impacted the numbers reported on its Page Insights page, but that marketers would have seen the correct metrics on individual posts.

"We apologize for the inconvenience this may have caused," Facebook said in its statement. "We now understand the root cause of the bug and can help prevent this issue from happening in the future."