Marc Bigbie

It's really not about me…

The Facebook Problem – It’s ALL of Our Fault

by Marc on January 19, 2014, no comments

Facebook_iconRight now social media managers, online community managers, or whatever name they want to call themselves but people who get paid to “play” on Facebook all day are pulling their hair out because changes in Facebook are making their Page’s view numbers go WAY down. It’s a valid concern. Just last month Facebook was quoted as saying “We expect organic distribution of an individual page’s posts to gradually decline over time as we continually work to make sure people have a meaningful experience on the site.”

This isn’t the first time this has happened either, Facebook is continually tweaking their algorithms to “provide the user a meaningful experience,” which is a fancy phrase meaning that even though a user has chosen to Like a Page, Facebook can determine that it may not show that page to them all the time in their feed or maybe even not at all.

Social media managers are crying FOUL, that Facebook is “forcing” them to pay for ads on their network, “HOW DARE THEY!” This is where I have little sympathy because for many years they’ve had free, as in unpaid, opportunity to market and make money by advertising on Facebook. This is like the local newspaper or TV station running ads for free for years and then saying they are going to reduce how many get run but you can pay to have them seen. You can still choose to be free but they’ll run your ad less.

The people whom I do have sympathy for are the folks that use Facebook Pages for non profit/non business uses. I’m generically going to call them the “mommy bloggers” since they are a huge part of this community but just think of every inspirational post, funny meme, delicious recipe, or fitness workout you’ve ever seen shared in your feed, they likely came from someone running a blog and is using Facebook as a means of making a name for themselves. Many of them don’t make a penny or if they do they aren’t making much more than enough to cover their blog hosting or maybe getting a few freebies from advertisers in exchange for a product review. Facebook is going to limit exposure of their posts in our feeds and they just aren’t going to be seen by people that Liked their Page and basically asked to be shown their info. Since they don’t make money, they won’t buy those low converting ads you see in your feed or on the right side of Facebook.

The trick these community managers and mommy bloggers both have to use is they have to be good at what they do and give us all great content that we’ll want to interact with. The more times we click Like or Share or even comment on their posts, the more likely we’ll be shown their future posts. That’s why we see so many beautiful images that beg to be shared, funny posts that we think our friends will want to see, or 10,000 calorie casseroles with enough cheese and butter to knock Paula Deen off the wagon! The good Page managers are doing everything they can to get us to do something, ANYTHING, to interact with their Page.

This is where it’s YOUR FAULT that you aren’t seeing their posts even though you wanted to! Go take a look at your own Facebook profile. Not your newsfeed but the page that has all of your personal stuff, your wall. At the top, below your cover and profile photo are some navigation options and the last one is More, hover over that and click on Likes, you’ll see more menu options appear on the new page that look like this;

Screen Shot 2014-01-19 at 8.25.13 AM

A random survey of my friends on Facebook, so I admit it’s totally unscientific, shows that most of my friends Like somewhere between 150 and 800 Pages, you’ll see I’m just below that although I was around 200 a few weeks ago. A few friends were well over 1,000 with one approaching 3,000 Page Likes. Now add in all the posts and shares that your friends do and you can see why Facebook has to implement this technique, it would just be impossible for you to keep up with 300 friend’s posts about their cat or baby plus every post by every Page you’ve ever Liked since joining. We keep Liking stuff because we think when we Like something it just means we like it but when we Like someone’s Page what we are really doing is subscribing to their feed, sort of like signing up for a newsletter. We are asking to be a part of their community and that we want to see their stuff. Then we go do the same to 500 other Pages which is like subscribing to 500 newspapers, there’s just no way we can read it all and Facebook knows that. What would you do if 500 newspapers showed up on your doorstep every morning? That’s what you are doing on Facebook every time you Like a Page.

Don’t confuse this with Liking a post, picture, or link by a friend or Page, this is where we’re repaying them for offering us good content and helping them be seen more by us and maybe an interested friend, that’s the “viral” part. Think of it as tipping and if you see something that you truly like, click their Like, Share, or Comment on the post or picture.

It’s time to rethink how we use Facebook. It’s been around a while and most of us have been using it for years. When we Like a Page or a friend asks us to Like their Page, what they are asking us to do is consent to seeing their stuff, it’s an opt in. So don’t Like every Page just because someone asks you to and you think you’re helping them out, go check it out and see if there is useful content there that you’re interested in. Don’t feel bad about not Liking it because if you aren’t really “in” to their page and are just Liking it to “help them out,” you’re not doing anything. When you Like their Page but don’t interact or ever go visit their Page, Facebook will stop showing you their posts and you just become a number in a column and even worse, you may stop seeing something else that you wanted to see. You likely won’t even realize you aren’t seeing something because you didn’t really care about their Page to begin with, you just thought you were “helping out” by giving them a Like but you’re really stuffing your own mailbox with junk mail to the point that Facebook steps in and decides to throw some of it away for you and maybe they’ll toss stuff that you really wanted to see.

Go check out your Likes, I bet you can clear out a bunch of old junk that you followed years ago and forgot about. If it’s a friend’s Page, go check it out if you haven’t seen it in a while. Is there content there that you still want to see or have they even posted on it in forever? It’s ok, click that Unlike button and clear up your feed, unless you want Mr Facebook algorithm throttling what you see for you. You’ll be happier and you’ll see the things that you really want to see. Then start interacting with them and show them support, just like tipping a server, especially the non business/small business ones. You are their marketer, help them out if you truly like their product or organization. Then do the same for every request you get in the future, go check it out before you click Like.

It’s called Social Media, be social! Now go clean up your feed.

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