Facebook Users Outraged Over New Extortion Model

BREAKING NEWS (Oct 31, 2012) ALLFACEBOOK: Facebook Users
Can Bypass EdgeRank, Opt-In To See All Facebook Page Posts
INSIDEFACEBOOK: Facebook rolling out option
for fans to receive notifications about page posts

Best post about Facebook charging to reach your friends and fans

Click image to read “Facebook: The Biggest ‘Bait ‘n’ Switch’ in History?”

Facebook is deliberately showing your content to less people to make you pay to reach that audience ~ and that has sparked a HUGE controversy.

The new “feature” is Promoted Posts and relies on Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm to determine who sees what you share at Facebook. This applies to both personal and fan pages. (More on that below.)

Dangerous Minds called this “The Biggest Bait ‘n’ Switch in History” and their post generated 726 comments and 5907 reactions in one week. In that post – which you can read by clicking on the image – they quote Ryan Holiday’s post on Observer.com Facebook Broken on Purpose: Why Getting It Wrong Pays More Than Getting It Right. Here is the short version:

“It’s no conspiracy. Facebook acknowledged it as recently as last week: messages now reach, on average, just 15 percent of an account’s fans. In a wonderful coincidence, Facebook has rolled out a solution for this problem: Pay them for better access.

FACEBOOK PROMOTED POSTS VIDEO:

On this week’s Future of Engagement Murray offers some additional background and insights about Facebook Advertising and paying to reach your own fans:

Video Highlights:
  • Earnings are up according to Facebook’s new earning statement
  • Engagement is up over 800%
  • Facebook is trying to wring more money out of users

FACEBOOK EDGERANK AFFECTS PERSONAL AND FAN PAGES

Facebook is reducing who sees ALL content shared on both personal pages – between individuals and their friends and family – and fan pages belonging to brands, bloggers, musicians, artists – anyone who wants to stay in touch.

WHAT POSTS CAN BE PROMOTED:

According to this Facebook Promoted Posts Help File [Unlinked because Facebook removed the page]:

From your personal account:

You can only promote posts you’ve shared recently, typically within the last 6 hours. Group posts and private messages are not eligible to be promoted.

People with 5,000 or more friends and subscribers cannot promote their posts. If you want to reach an audience greater than 5,000 people, consider creating a Facebook Page.

From a Facebook Page:

Only Pages with at least 400 likes can promote their posts. You can promote Page posts while you’re creating them or within about 3 days after posting.

FACEBOOK CONTROVERSY

There are basically two camps in this controversy:

  1. Those who say Facebook can do whatever they want.
  2. People who consider this a bait and switch strategy.

On top of investing time or paying someone to create a presence on Facebook,

many PAID FACEBOOK FOR ADVERTISING to get the fans they have that

they can now not reach unless they PAY AGAIN.

“So when I leave Facebook because they screwed over all my small business friends or anyone with a big friends list, how does that profit Facebook? I think the point isn’t “do they have a right to do it?’ but “Why would they shoot themselves in the foot like that?” I’m not on Facebook to get posts from Bloomingdales! Thats why everyone uses spam filter in emails, we don’t want to volunteer ourselves to more advertisements from companies we are already fully aware of. Facebook will become a ghost town if it continues with this!” ~ Christina Hoerler ~

Blogs that have large followings have added up the cost and realize they’ve been priced off of Facebook. IF what Facebook charged was reasonable there would be less uproar. It is the fact that you would need to be insane (or really egotistical with the bucks to back up your vanity) to actually pay what they’re charging that will keep this a hot topic.

This brilliant video by Derek Muller of Veritasium is the best way to understand what is going on:

Personally, I believe that Facebook DID pay offshore people to create fake accounts and like fan pages to make their IPO look better.

HOW TO GET MORE FACEBOOK VISIBILITY WITHOUT PAYING

If you want to get Facebook to share your content with more people, you have to get those people interacting with that content. If they do, theoretically Facebook WILL show them your updates. Theoretically. (Sorry, lurkers, if you don’t interact you won’t see it.)

One way to get around the limitations created by the EdgeRank algorithm is to encourage your fans to create an interest list for your content – but for that to work they have to actually click on that list to see the content which may be unlikely unless you periodically remind them – which might mean paying to do that.

The best solution is to get them to subscribe directly to your content via your mailing list. With FeedBurner RSS being in limbo, RSS may fade so you want to be focused on building your list. We recommend the FeedBurner Alternative FeedBlitz.

SHOULD YOU PAY FACEBOOK?

First look to see how much they want from you, and then you probably won’t have to answer that question. Personally, I am not surprised. Facebook has a history of breaking what bloggers and small business invested time and money in building, and they sometimes delete accounts with no recourse. This is just another step down the same path.

“This is EPIC fail!

Why in the world should I have to pay FB to access my entire friends list, no matter what I want to share? I have a personal page, not a business. FB wants ME to pay THEM to advertise SOMEONE ELSE’S product? They want to treat my list of friends like a mailing list that I have to pay to use on behalf of ANOTHER COMPANY? Get REAL! THEY should be paying ME!!

Hey FB! Why don’t you go completely nuts and charge the company pages every time I share their page and then pay that money to ME!

Keep it up, FB. You are already starting to lose the people who provide your bread and butter and capitalism or not, you can’t milk a dead cow.” ~ Patti Crawford ~

I would do what Dangerous Minds did and try paying ONCE – or maybe a few times over a month or two – to reach all your current fans and encourage them to interact with you somewhere else. Ideally that somewhere would be a domain you control, but for bloggers it could be a blogging community.

“I’ve experimented with promoted posts and have received little to no benefit. A recent promoted post for a local event was liked by 44 people and seen by about 1300. Of those 44 likes 39 of them were people in foreign countries, who are very unlikely to have ever been to my store or to care about a small event happening in Portland, Oregon. The problem isn’t just that Facebook is blocking access to our fan base and making us pay to get it back, it’s that when I pay to promote a post I am unable to target my views so I am paying to promote them to a bunch of people who will not be able to attend the event (or who aren’t actual people).” ~ Chloe Eudaly, Feeding Frenzie, Indie Book Store, Portland, Oregon http://www.facebook.com/rfrenzy

For more details, before you decide be sure you READ and understand eConsultancy’s Case study: Do Facebook Promoted Posts Work? and MarketingMag: Goodbye Facebook.

Kimberly Castleberry just put out this long video that you will want to watch if you’re serious about Facebook. She points out that content shared on Facebook was never seen by 100% of your fans, but not specifically that many have seen dramatic reductions in reach and traffic.

See Kim’s post Facebook Fan Page Fear Factor aka What’s REALLY Going On With Page Visibility and Reach for a complete listing of what she covers and the time each point she makes appears on the video.

ALTERNATIVES TO PAYING FACEBOOK

What we should all learn from what is going on with Facebook is that we need to build our social lives on domains we control or trust to stay independent. We should use our own domains as a base, and collaborate with others to drive traffic FROM the major social networks and sites TO our own blogs, forums, and communities.

I am personally using BlogInteract for socializing and strengthening relationships with other bloggers. I explained my reasoning in Why BlogInteract is the Best Blogging Community. You can follow and friend GrowMap on BlogInteract or join my Viral Marketing group if you’re serious about getting major sites to send you traffic and willing to support others who will support you.

“Facebook is a free service, and we pay the price of privacy to use it. But to rig the social conversation and then ask people to buy their way back in? That’s a terrible user experience decision, and it will hurt Facebook in the long run. Power users will see the philosophical flaws here, and average users will be miffed that their wedding photos are invisible to old high school chums unless they pony up the cash.” ~ Mike Silverman ~

I would also like to point out that bloggers can support small businesses and each other by using CommentLuv, writing about and linking to them, or at least allowing links in their comments.

WHAT IS EDGERANK?

Some people are calling these new costs to have Facebook show your content sponsored posts, but much of what you need to know is about Edgerank. Edgerank is Facebook’s algorithm that decides what we see.

FACEBOOK PROMOTED POSTS:

Background on promoted posts and how they’re affecting Facebook users.

FACEBOOK PERSONAL PROMOTED POSTS

It is confusing that there are costs for promoting content on fan pages and also costs for promoting content shared by individual users on their personal Facebook pages. These posts are specifically about the costs involved in promoting your personal content – like wedding announcements or photos.

FACEBOOK SPONSORED STORIES:

Promoted posts, Edgerank, Sponsored Stories – keeping these various methods of charging and controlling what you see is confusing. These are specifically about Facebook’s Sponsored Stories and the lawsuits and settlements around them.

FACEBOOK ANALYTICS

If you are going to spend money with Facebook, you need to measure whether it is actually benefiting you or just money out the window. These resources can help:

What do you think?
Is Facebook just trying to recover from their Failed IPO?
Should Facebook be charging users to reach fans advertisers
paid to get in the first place? Tell us in the comments!

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Gail Gardner

Small Businsss Strategist at GrowMap
Creator and owner of GrowMap.com, Gail is primarily known for mentoring small businesses and encouraging bloggers to join collaborations to share skills and support small business.