Facebook Gravy Train Nearing the End of the Line
For years, businesses have set up shop on Facebook for free, gaining unfettered access to its hoards (one billion probably qualifies as many hoards) of users.
Those days are over.
Since going public and watching the company’s stock prices go far below what was expected, those who rule at Facebook have made it harder and harder for businesses to successfully reach their audience on the social media platform without paying for it.
Later, Facebook decided IT knows best what people want to see on their own news feeds. After that change, when your fans logged in and went to their news feeds, they MIGHT see what you posted. This potentially reduced the reach the posts on your pages would have, but in the end it was still a system that worked well enough and could be optionally supplemented with paid Facebook advertising.
Recently, Facebook made changes to the algorithm, called “EdgeRank”, that it uses to decide what posts are shown on your fans’ news feeds. These changes may have gone too far for some page owners. The algorithm takes a number of factors into account to decide who sees your posts. The recent EdgeRank change, which supposedly happened on September 20 but has been said to have started as early as the end of August, was reportedly made to “de-clutter” news feeds. What it really did was make room for more sponsored posts. After this “de-cluttering” change happened, page owners found that the reach of their posts was cut anywhere from 40 to 70-percent.
With this change and the addition of sponsored posts, Facebook is essentially saying that we have to pay to reach a higher percentage of people who opted in to receive our information by clicking “like”. In fact, we have to pay to reach the percentage that we reached this summer!
So, what’s a business owner to do? Here are some options:
- Pay the piper: Fortunately, Facebook advertising is not terribly expensive, and can be worked into the budget of all but the smallest businesses. Either use paid banner ads to boost your number of “likes” or use the money to purchase sponsored posts for your most important information.
- Squeeze out what you can: Take a look at what you’re posting, when you’re posting it, and who is being targeted. Make sure you’re posting interesting materials with as many bright pictures and/or videos. Also, look at your Facebook Insights to ensure that you’re posting at the best time of day. Finally, use Facebook’s targeting tools to target your key audiences with the right posts. The more that individuals interact with your page, the higher the chance will be that they’ll see your posts in the future. In the end, you’ll still have to get used to the idea that your reach numbers are going to be lower than they used to be.
- Look for alternatives: Perhaps Facebook isn’t your cup of tea anymore. It’s not sensible to completely abandon it, since it’s by far the largest social media outlet, but maybe for your business it would be a good idea to expend some energy on Pinterest, Twitter, or even LinkedIn.
What it comes down to is that going forward a successful Facebook campaign will almost be required to include an advertising budget in addition to the man hours it takes to manage it.
Facebook Creeping Toward Google+
Facebook made an announcement this week that once again shifts the ever-evolving service. The subscribe button added by the social media service allows you to subscribe to public updates posted by anyone on the site — even if they’re not your Facebook “friend”.
This move is being widely reported as making Facebook more like Twitter. I think those who are reporting that are missing something — this new feature makes Facebook more like Google+. On Google’s new social media service, you can add anyone to a circle, which adds their public updates to your news stream regardless of whether you’re in their circles. Sound familiar?
The question here is whether Facebook is a little concerned about the new competition from Google. We may never know, as this could be a feature they’ve worked on since before Google+ launched this summer.
Shut Out by StumbleUpon
You may recall it was only a little more than a week ago that I wrote a blog post praising StumbleUpon, and giving tips on how it can be used. Well … my StumbleUpon experiment is coming to an abrupt end. I’ve not been banned, but apparently StumbleUpon has decided that the content I find should not be seen by anyone. Let me explain…
Previous to the last handful of days, when I discovered something and then submitted it to StumbleUpon with a review, it would receive anywhere from 50 to 200 “views” by StumbleUpon users. My network was growing on the site, and I was starting to stumble more and more content, including (of course) content that I didn’t write or own. Essentially, I was doing what I suggested in my previous blog post. In fact, I was sure that I wasn’t using the site improperly because I received this review of my previous StumbleUpon post from a community manager at the site:
A truthful and well-thought article from someone who understands StumbleUpon and how to properly use it.
Then … the bottom fell out. I discovered a client article last weekend, and it received only one view. I figured it was a fluke, because that’s happened before. Then, I discovered and reviewed a client news release from PRWeb. It received 12 views, which is well below average. I still wasn’t worried, though. The next three articles I discovered, stumbled, and reviewed received only one view each. This included the post I wrote here about the new Facebook Weekly Page Updates, which was well received elsewhere. Now I knew something was up.
Facebook’s Weekly Page Update
I wanted to be one of what surely will be many Facebook Fan Page administrators to applaud a new offering from the social networking service. Today I received a handy little email from Facebook called the “Weekly Facebook Page Update”. Being an administrator on two of my own Facebook fan pages plus several more client fan pages, it’s sometimes hard to keep track of stats. These new weekly updates do it all for you. The email put all of my stats for the week in one easy-to-read list. Here’s a sampling:
Here is this week’s summary for the Facebook Page: Sheltering Arms Physical Rehabilitation
+8 Fans this week (188 total Fans)
6 Wall Posts, Comments, and Likes this week (5 last week)
130 Visits to your page this week (101 Visits last week)
I get a LOT of junk emails from social networking sites. It’s nice to get one that, while unsolicited, is extremely useful to me!
Facebook is Better for “Old Folks”
There’s a great post today on Mashable about something I’ve been talking about with clients and when I present to groups for quite some time — the fastest growing segment of the social media world has grey hair.
The article, Baby Boomers and Seniors Are Flocking to Facebook, has some great stats about the growth of the number of Americans 44+ on Facebook.