Over the last several years social media has turned into the go to place for marketing. The biggest name in this group of social media outlets has been Facebook. Anyone who markets on Facebook, or has a fan page, also knows about how over the few years since Facebook went public with their IPO they've changed the way fan page feeds work. For the most part, the outcry has been that Facebook has limited the chance of a post showing up in a feed so much that you almost have to pay for exposure. Some pages have reported only 1-2% of those who have liked their page actually seeing the posts they put up. That's quite a sad thing to hear.
With the launch of Fit and Fashionable we too created a fan page and fully expected things to be a bit rough getting off the ground. They always are when you start something new and you're trying to limit spending in the beginning until funds start rolling in. Lucky for us we've had some experience with social media marketing, and we know a few people who also specialize in it that we can turn to with questions. At least we thought we were lucky. Facebook's changed a bit more than we thought over the last few years, and not for the better when it comes to marketing.
Let's start with how important people seeing your page is. Part of Facebook's algorithm relies on shares, likes, and comments on a post. The more you have, the more likely a post is going to show up in the feed for everyone else. There's also been talk of there being a timer portion to what gets shown and what doesn't. The faster likes, comments, and shares happen to the post being put up, the more likely it'll go viral. Facebook does this to make sure things that get posted are current, which is a good thing for everyone who wants to stay up to date on the latest and greatest.
For companies this is important. Obviously the more you're seen, the more people will like your page to stay up to date on what you have to offer. For entrepreneurs and artists, this can sometimes be even more important. For instance, consider that investors may look at a pages followers when considering making an investment in a company. For filmmakers and writers such as myself, publishers and distributors have checked social media followings when considering giving an opportunity. Someone with an already sizable fanbase represents a safer bet for someone offering a contract for publishing or film distribution.
Now, as this offers an opportunity for income for people, it might be considered acceptable for Facebook to try to leverage this and grab a piece of the pie. Most people are going to want something in return if they're helping someone else to make money. A commission, a small fee, or something of value might be okay to ask for, which Facebook is obviously doing with dropping the amount of posts seen from fan pages and charging for exposure.
To a point this seems okay. While it's a bit annoying, I can understand Facebook charging a fee to acquire new followers and to get the name of your company out to others. I may not like it, but I get it as I think most reasonable people would. What I've noticed though is that Facebook has taken this a step further which seems unacceptable to me. It makes me wonder if trying to market on Facebook might have hit the tipping point where it isn't even worth trying.
The tipping point for me, both from a marketing standpoint and even as a user, has to do with how much further Facebook takes this than just limiting how many posts are shown to customers that aren't aware of your brand. Honestly, this should tick off all Facebook users who have liked pages. Going through the fan pages of social media promoters I noticed how much user engagement (IE likes, shares, comments) changes from post to post. Obviously the more likes and comments someone has on different posts, we can conclude those posts were shown more in the feeds than others. Again, understandable that some will be shown more than others, and those shown more will have higher engagement when they are being shown more.
What surprised me was which posts consistently had higher engagement. The posts that were shared from other people had up to 10x the amount of engagement than those written and posted by the page itself. Let me rephrase that just to make sure you understand. When the page posted its own status update, or when it uploaded a photo, almost no one saw it. When the page shared someone else's photo or post, it shot up in how many people commented, shared, and liked it. Now a bad post here and there might be understandable in seeing fewer responses to it. Going through the feeds though, this was a consistent thing with what people were seeing and what they weren't.
Essentially Facebook is not only charging for getting the followers, but then charging yet again if you'd like your posts and photos to be seen. To me that is outrageous. Even Google doesn't go that far. Sure Google will charge to get ads at the top, but in its organic rankings you see results from everyone without those people having to do much more than putting time into adding good content to build a website up and getting it seen.
Even if you're not a marketer, and merely a user, this should annoy you when you realize how this is working. If you like a product or page, it's likely because you like what they have to offer. Instead of Facebook showing you this, they instead relegate you to seeing not what the company or product has, but what the company or product is sharing from other companies and products. To me that is insanely stupid, and as a marketer and creative person I have to ask myself why even bother starting a fan page for something I'm doing if the only thing that will be seen is what I share of other people's work. It almost seems as if it'd be a better choice of time and effort to push a Youtube channel than to spend the time building up a Facebook fan page.
Am I wrong on this or do others feel the same way? As a user, does anyone else feel a bit cheated when they think about what they're actually seeing when they like a fan page? Before you answer, remember Facebook is also dipping a third time by seeing exactly what you've already liked to make even more of a profit, they just aren't showing you the results of those likes. Charging to make a profit off of advertising so pages can acquire more followers and likes is one thing. Charging a second time to get those customers who've already been paid for to see any other posts afterwards just seems like it goes a bit too far.
With that said, Facebook is huge and it's hard not to have something on their website for your fans to like. If you're still looking to take the plunge with Facebook and you're searching for a social media marketing expert we'd highly recommend working with Girlfriends Creating Wealth, who offer a plethora of services including social media marketing. In a year, they've been able to build up an extremely sizable following on their Facebook fan page along with the work they do with entrepreneurs in the community. Definitely not an easy feat with the changes Facebook has made.