Stats are a form of social proof. If you see a post with zero likes or tweets, it looks like nobody liked it enough to recommend it to their social followers.
In reality, it may be because the post is too new, hasn’t been found yet, or the site is quite small and all of its posts have relatively few stats. But when a post has very low social stats, it can give off a bad signal.
Do posts containing links get seen less?
There’s a tip going around on Facebook. If you include a link in a status update, it may get seen by fewer people. However, if you write the Facebook post and post the link in a comment, this should not occur.
In “Here’s How Facebook’s News Feed Actually Works” (TIME) it’s suggested that users who click one type of content a lot will see more of that content. Here’s the relevant quote:
The post-type is also a big factor, as Facebook hopes to show more links to people who click lots of links, more videos to people who watch lots of videos and so forth.
There are a couple of reactions to this. One is “how dare they try to show me more of what I might like – just show me everything”. Another is, if you do this as a publisher, you’re screwing with the algorithm.
One slight issue is if you don’t often click links but you do want to click links from a particular person. However, if you genuinely don’t want to click links, publishers who try to get around the alleged decrease in showing of some links may become unpopular with readers.
The real impact of putting links in comments
If I post a link on Facebook and people like the Facebook post, add comments or share the post, it clocks up Facebook stats for that URL. So if I have a Facebook button on that post on my blog, I’ll see the numbers going up.
Conversely, if I post on Facebook saying “link to follow” and then post a comment, the numbers on my blog will not accumulate.
Which would you rather have: potentially increased visibility from readers who might not want to click links? Or potentially higher numbers recorded against your posts, thereby improving your social proof and hopefully getting more people to interact with the posts in the first place?