Lots of talk lately about what’s going on with Facebook brand pages and their visibility in news feeds. Promoted posts are all the buzz for brands looking to heighten their reach on Facebook – 1 billion members strong, it’s easy to see why it’s the #1 social media platform that businesses are using to target their audience, with Twitter a close second.
Social media has become one of the best ways to engage with our audience and become “close” without having actual physical proximity – revolutionary for brands large and small. Though I don’t believe social media is a great place to do hard selling, it is a great platform for information sharing and community building. With this comes credibility and trust – that brands will treat people fairly, talk unbiased, provide great customer service and maybe a little fun. When sales can be tied to great brand awareness, word of mouth and customer service on social media, that’s great. I’m all for it.
But now Facebook has changed the rules.
This was first brought to my attention by Simply Zesty – and after checking several professional pages I manage and many more pages I consult for, it has become a harsh reality.
TechCrunch attempted to “bust” those “myths” in this post. I’m going to do something unconventional here and call a little BS. Here’s one more look at another post by a business who noticed the changes to their brand pages and their take on the changes.
Facebook is a little less organic and a little more money-driven. Yes, I know there were Facebook ads before, but their current monetization of the network seems like a significant sign of the times to come. Are we going to need to pay to sign up for Facebook or be a member sometime in the future?
First, the algorithm changes.
You used to be able to like a brand on Facebook and get their updates in your newsfeed, no sweat about it. Due to Facebook’s changes to its EdgeRank, if you “Like” a brand page but then neglect to like, comment or share any of those brands posts, their updates will be removed from your news feed. Kind of ridiculous – I read plenty of brand posts without interacting with them, and I simply like it that way. Problem #1.
Marking Facebook Pages as Spam
Why is this even an option? If I dislike a brand’s posts or feel like they aren’t relevant to me, I just go to the brand page and click dislike. But now there is an option to mark brand posts as spam that appear in your news feed. To me, this doesn’t make sense. Endorse a brand with a “like” and then report them for spam? Doesn’t seem like the right or honest way to get them out of your stream. Problem #2.
Pay-for-play: Paying Facebook to hover your updates at the top of your audiences timelines whether they like it or not. I find it a pretty intrusive tactic and just another form of advertising. No one wants the “hard sell” on social media – precisely why I’m against it as well as Twitter promoted posts – it’s just intrusive noise that ends up turning people away.
All of these things seem to be happening around the same time – though Facebook says no. Is this an unfortunate coincidence? Or something planned as part of a larger strategy? What do you think? Ginormous problem #3.
This month, the “People who saw this post” metric has gone down between 3-4x what they are usually are for my pages. This is the difference between a few thousand and a few hundred. Conveniently, these page metric dips come at the same time Facebook promoted posts are rolled out to brands – making it seem like Facebook is basically pushing users to pay to promote their posts in order to get the visibility they crave – visibility that a month ago, was free.
And it’s not all about getting stuff for free – it literally just seems like a bait and switch. What about the countless amount of time loyal Facebook users have taken to build communities, content hubs and real relationships? It’s not like it’s easy to hop off and start all over on another platform overnight. Heck, many have tried with Google +, which had the highest social media adoption rate in the history of social media, but guess what? There’s little engagement there (though it’s great for search). And what engagement we’re currently getting on Facebook and Twitter, is going to take quite some time to recreate – not to mention the amount of content. Is it time to reconsider new and additional social platforms, place more emphasis on Twitter, or create our own brand social networking platforms altogether?
Creating high quality, relevant content including multimedia and opportunities for engagement is obviously one of the best ways to fight these Facebook changes – but it seem like Facebook is making it just a little tougher in marketers books.
And for fun, here’s How To Suck at Facebook via The Oatmeal.