I originally read Eat24’s “breaking up with Facebook” post via Zite and it echoed so true, I shared it with a lot of folks I know. I wasn’t planning to blog anything, but wrote such a long comment to Mathew Ingram’s piece, I thought, hey, why not – let’s blog this one!
I don’t think anyone’s complaining about signal-to-noise, or even paying to have reach. I’ve never heard a brand complain about running Facebook ads. I think they are complaining about the following:
Facebook users are instructed to Like brands to get updates from them. There is no mention to users as to how to control frequency of said updates, nor any disclosure about brands *having to pay* to reach them.
This is at best unfortunately disingenuous. At worst its deliberately misleading.
What makes it all much, much worse, IS the tweaking of algorithm. If you were managing a brand’s Facebook page, you’ve noticed a steady drop in every single stat/category – unless, of course, you pay. This too is not disclosed to brands. As a result, it certainly appears that Facebook initially made it free & easy for brands to get “hooked” on posting to Facebook, and then, without warning, came along and said brands would then need to pay for the same reach they previously enjoyed.
Now we can certainly remain positively-minded and call this “evolution of a model” – but it sure comes across a lot like extortion. And when Facebook replies with callous comments, it does nothing but reinforce that perception.
Personally, if I were running a brand, I’d make every effort possible to create a funnel FROM my Facebook page to *anything else*. Email newsletters, Twitter accounts, etc – all services where the expectation/understanding of how brands are positioned *to consumers* is clear. The problem I see for Facebook is I’m not the only one thinking this way – it’s an increasing sentiment and one they should stem the tide of.
I’d suggest they start by fixing 3 things:
- Inform Users that Liking a brand on Facebook is not the same as subscribing to a newsletter. It’s an indication of taste, and occasionally that brand may appear in a Wall feed.
- Guarantee Something to brands so they can make meaningful long term plans. I think a lot of brand managers would feel better about betting on Facebook if they could provide guaranteed plans of any kind – I wonder how many people have had to tell their boss that their reach dropped 90% without anyone knowing how/why.
- Enable Subscribing to Brands for end-users. I understand Facebook controls the overall algorithm, but how about letting a user take control of some components? This could be a paid service to the brand – whatever – but if I *want* to get every update from a Reebok, Nike, NextGuide, Eat24 – shouldn’t I be able to?
Different but related: Many not-for-profits, including my employer, rely on their Facebook reach, and are in no position to pay for it. Facebook could consider exempting entirely from this throttling process all legitimate 501(c)(3) organizations. As things stand now, we are looking for ways to leave Facebook entirely.
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