Facebook’s Declining Utility
Facebook is a multi billion dollar juggernaught and companies have spent millions of dollars on building brand recognition on the social media platform. Rather than blogs and even over Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Instagram, authors use this service to sell themselves to readers.
Like Amazon, Facebook operates under super secret algorithms that it is constantly tweaking. The premise of Facebook is simple. Set up a profile and friend those people and pages that interest you. Your News Feed will then be populated with self curated information that will enrich and entertain you. Back in 2010 (which is the Cretaceous period in internet years), Facebook was referring more traffic than Google because the links, comics, videos were all recommended by “Friends” of yours.
The problem that exists now is that Facebook is now hiding pages and posts from people and pages that you have once liked. It’s hard to say whether this is in response to user complaints or whether this is the result of something a little more sinister.
Facebook’s platform is selling exposure to the 500 million Facebook users. There are twenty-five million small business owners that use Facebook to sell its wares or its brand to consumers. But more and more reports from businesses big and small are saying that there is both a lack of accountability for the ad dollars spent but that ad dollars have little or no efficacy.
There are two main types of Facebook entities: the Profile and the Page. Per the terms of service, a Profile is to be linked directly to a real person. A Page can be used in any number of ways. There are author Pages and Pages devoted to just a particular book or series. Sometimes those book pages are set up by fans and others are created by the author herself. Facebook requires companies like Nike or CocaCola to set up a Page rather than a Profile and all Profiles are capped at 5000 friends.
To interact you can “friend” a profile or “follow” a page and once that is done, you can like, share or comment on a status update. I admit to being quite the Facebook rube. Early in its inception I created one for personal use and I accepted every Friend request. Then one day I complained about a negative encounter I had with opposing counsel. It was a short update and something like “I really hate defense counsel some days.” Annnnd a judge that I hadn’t known could see my updates commented on it, trying to console me. Needless to say, I panicked, deleted my status update and defriended everyone but my family and a few very close friends. I remain under 40 friends today and only recently opened it up to accept new people because Facebook is the primary way that moms communicate about their kids. I feel conscripted to using Facebook against my will.
New algorithms from Facebook will decrease the amounts of view Pages receive to 1 or 2%. So even if you liked a Page, you wouldn’t necessarily be able to see the content on the page if you are in the 1 or 2% unless that Page owner decides to pay for you to see it. (Dear Author has a Facebook page but I’ve not done much with it other than to post links to the Dear Author website content). Lisa Renee Jones says that even if you pay, it’s not reaching the audience that it is intended to reach aka the people who have “liked” your Page.
From a reader point of view, in order to continue to see the content that you “liked” or “followed” you have to interact with that Page or Profile. I’m a pretty passive user. I use my likes to indicate that this post had interest to me. I shouldn’t have to like a status update every day in order for that content to keep showing up in my news feed. I shouldn’t be required by Facebook to share, like, comment on a Page or Profile if I’ve already given my consent (by friending or following) to see. While I don’t follow many authors on Facebook, I follow a TON of bloggers and I get a lot of information from them regarding new releases, new trends, and price drops. But if I have to like, comment, or share in order to continue getting that information, Facebook’s utility is reduced. And I don’t expect those bloggers to be able to promote and pay for views as an author or a big business would. (I read in one article that some large companies spend $100,000 per day on Facebook marketing).
At least one online marketer says that if Pages and Posts don’t get the results they want, it’s because the owners are doing it wrong. But it seems to me that Facebook should show me the content that I’ve requested without extra effort. I get that Facebook is a business and that it’s unlikely that my little post will make any difference but I’m kind of fed up with Facebook and this is my platform to talk about it.
What about you? Are you seeing a decrease or increase in utility from Facebook as a consumer and reader?
Facebook is different from the rest of the online ad industry, which follows a standard of allowing click audits by third parties like the IAB, the Media Ratings Council or Ernst & Young.
In 2012, General Motors announced that it would cease paying any sums to advertise its presence on Facebook given that the paid ads were having little influence on purchases. GM maintains its Facebook page