I have a problem with Facebook

February 17, 2014

 

Those of us who have been on Facebook for a while have noticed a concerning trend over the last year or so. Since Facebook started its ad platform, we have started seeing less and less of what our friends post and more content that was sponsored or boosted.

Facebook allows users to create profiles and businesses to create pages. Personal profiles allow you to be friends with other personal profiles. Content you post to Facebook can be seen by those friends and vice-versa. Businesses and Organizations create Facebook pages, which act a bit different. Users with personal profiles can “Like” a page, which allows the content that is shared through pages to appear in their news feeds. The idea is that you would see posts from your Facebook friends and posts from businesses you like.

Facebook is keeping content we want to see from showing up in our news feeds. When we post something to Facebook it typically gets seen by those who interact with us most on Facebook. When they like the post, it expands the reach because when people click the like button it lets Facebook know that the post is good and would probably be enjoyed by others as well. If a post does not receive many likes, it does not get this special attention. The problem here is that things you don’t take the time to “like” will disappear over time and eventually your news feed will become nothing more than a reflection of what you already know and like. Other opinions and things you might have found interesting but never liked will go away. I know that I often like a post but don’t click the link button, so what happens to that information over time?

This is why we end up seeing photos of our friends kids and pets more than anything. Facebook obviously needs some sort of filtering to make sure that we see content that is relevant to us, but I feel like they are filtering out a lot of content from pages I have liked in order to force those pages to pay for ads.

If you manage a Facebook page for your business or organization, you are probably aware of the options Facebook has built in to help “boost” your post. It started out as a $5.00 option which I have now seen upwards of $4,000. I am sure pages with over 100,000 likes have seen prices even higher than I have.

Now don’t get me wrong, I think Facebook’s ad platform is pretty genius. Because of the information we share on Facebook, ads can be displayed down to the very niche things we enjoy or post about. For example: As a Website Designer, I can show an ad to people who have mentioned, liked or shared anything related to website design in my region. Say I wanted to market my website design services to Chiropractors in the area; I can create an ad that is shown to people in my area that have Chiropractor listed as their job title. It’s pretty cool from a marketing standpoint.

The problem is that Facebook wants us to use their pages platforms for our businesses and they themselves have said that pages should expect their content to show up less and less in the news feeds of their subscribers. This is Facebook telling us that the only way people are going to see our content is if we pay for it. Did you know that you can even pay to promote a post you make to your own personal profile? I have to pay $6.99 to be assured that more of my friends see my posts.

In a normal world, businesses who create content are usually paid in one way or another for their content. I can place ads on my website or in Youtube videos to earn a little bit of money for the content I produce. On Facebook, you actually have to pay to get your content seen. That sounds crazy to me. When you pay for your content to be shown in the news feeds of people who already performed an action saying that they want your content, do they actually see that content?

I have ran many tests myself using my own Facebook pages and the truth is that it is hard to measure. Facebook shows you how much larger your reach is compared to what it would have been otherwise but what does “reach” actually mean? I think it is a loose term that describes how many people would have seen your post if they were not scrolling quickly looking for things that stick out enough to stop scrolling. I know that when I look at Facebook, which is usually about 3-4 times per day, I scroll pretty quickly and I am sure I miss a lot. Photos stick out to me as they do with most of us, so I end up clicking the link button on photos more often. When I see pages from businesses show up in my news feed it is usually a sponsored post from a company I have not yet liked to get me to like their page.

In my opinion, Facebook is broken and there is not much value left in it for me as a business owner. I have spent over $10,000 promoting my page through ads and sponsored posts for a few years now, the return on investment is decreasing and becoming harder to measure.

This does not mean I am going to leave Facebook. Once you get someone to your page, your content is free for them to browse. I feel that having a presence on Facebook allows people to see that you and your business are active and that is a good thing. It is easier to get someone to look at our Facebook pages than it is to get them to our website. I think that facebook is trying to ride as close to that line as possible. Until it is easier and cheaper to integrate the feeds from our websites into the social sphere, we will have to play ball with social media platforms such as Facebook.

What are your experiences with Facebook Pages? Let’s continue this conversation in the comments box below. I would especially like to hear from those who have spent any amount of money attempting to promote their content. How did it work out and do you feel you were able to measure your return on investment?

If you want to learn more about how to setup a Facebook page for your business, check out this free online course I produced: Introduction to Facebook Pages for Businesses and Organizations

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