Official Blog

Facebook Changes and How They Affect Things You Like

If you have been following the Ingrained Media or have been following Facebook news that is not IPO related then this may not be news to you. However, if you have not read our Facebook blogs then now would be a good time. The one thing that seems to be certain about Social Media, is that the networks seem to come and go.

Despite knowing this information, these facts never seem to stop the major brands from pouring tons of money into building brand value on networks that have limited lifespans and that they do not own. The good news for these brands is that spending money to promote your Facebook page just became a requirement. The news coming from Facebook is that reach is more important than Likes. They are no longer pushing your content to those that like your page. Users will have to find your your page and check it or, and this would make the Shareholders happy, you can now promote your message. That is right, if you think your message needs to reach the people who like you, Facebook has provided you the ability to promote that message, for a fee. Yes, you have to pay to do this and the amounts that you will pay and the amount of people you can actually reach, all vary by the actions of those who follow you.

Yes, that means that Facebook is requiring users to be social. For the lurker you either search out the content, subscribe (which is getting harder to do) or hope the brand will pay to push the message to you, if you are not interacting you will not see the post. Facebook wants Brands pay to promote their message and thus increasing a brand’s exposure and decreasing the value for the visitor the Brand is desperately trying to reach or connect with.

Here at Ingrained Media we have been saying this for the last few years. Reach is the most important factor on Social Media. If Brands were running analytics they would have already seen that their actual reach vs the amount of people who follow or like is extremely low. Unless the Brand is engaging with the followers and providing unique content the actual reach has limited and return on investment is low. Paying to promote Tweets or FB messages can be effective but if you are not extracting the relationships then I see no value.

Pretty much every television commercial or print ad has the Brand’s Facebook page. The Brands are paying money to tell people about Facebook or Twitter. They are asking the consumers to follow them (some are) but now Facebook is telling you that you have to pay to reach them. So for those brands that have millions of Likes that were created by contests, unique content, engaging with the fans or followers or by the commercials promoting the brand’s Facebook channel, you now have to pay to communicate. Sure the user signed up and said let’s engage but Facebook wants to be paid for that. If Sally the home baker with just over 1,000 friends wants to tell everyone of them about her home bake sale on her Fan Page she will have to pay.

Social Media was supposed to be this great equalizer, right? Yet the big brands have the big numbers and mom and pop still have the smaller number of fans or followers. What exactly is Social Media then? It is an indicator that people like to connect with like minded people on the net. This is not anything new, but the Brands continue to look for some magical solution to connect and engage with the consumers. They want to build brand loyalty and reach their target consumer. The consumer has become more elusive and advertising to them is less about see my brand and more about connect with my brand. For the small to medium size businesses Facebook ads would be a better solution vs paying to promote to people who may or may not be engaging with you.

Connections are lasting engagements. If that is the true goal why in the world would you spend any money to build these engagements on platforms that you do not own, control, or fully understand? Those that were successful and played a role in building Facebook’s almost billion users, they would like to thank us by charging us to communicate our message. No thanks.

Brands need to be looking at these social media platforms like ripe hunting grounds. They can be a great source of things you need but they do not last forever. Make sure that you are investing in building your own platform and use Facebook, Twitter, Pintrest and any of the other popular social networks to target your potential consumer and extract them to your own platform. Invest in building great content on your own platform and use these third party social aggregators to identify the people you want to reach, pay to tell them about your network. A place where they can come and hang out with other like minded users. Think of it like a virtual rewards program. If it is worth doing it is worth owning. By building this platform you can control the controllables and your investment into your own social media content.

For some of you that might not be feasible, maybe you have limited resources or time. Maybe you are a small business or a local brick and mortar. My initial reaction would be if you fall into this category then do you really need a Facebook page for your business? Just because the brands you know are doing it doesn’t make it right (as we mentioned above) and even if it was effective for Wal Mart why would you assume that it will work for you? Could you service 1% of Facebook’s members if they decided to purchase from you? Of the almost billion users of Facebook how many of them would actually be your customer? You could still have your own social community but if you were not interested in that approach then you should be looking into Geo Social solutions. Such as Yelp, Fourquare etc.. These networks are much more community based and your time spent connecting on them will have a direct impact on your business.

If you are a Fan of pages and want to have the content pushed to you, there are a few things you need to “try” and do. I use the word try because Facebook has been doing different things for different users a lot more frequently. This means you may not see the promote button or be able to subscribe to a page. Here are some tips:

1. Find a page you’ve “liked.”
2. Hover you mouse over the “Liked” button. Which may or may not work.
3. Try clicking the “Liked” button. That also may or may not work.
4. After clicking “Liked,” try hovering over it again. This may or may not work.
(Sensing a theme? Access isn’t consistent…nor intended to be easy, I have a feeling. Please keep trying.)
5. Once you (finally) get a drop down menu, confirm “Show in News Feed” is selected. In theory, this should put all more posts from the page back in your newsfeed.

Even doing the steps above won’t guarantee that you get to see what your favorite brand or celebrity post on their page. The new Facebook algorithm is designed to push content to those that are truly interacting with the brand. Liking the page is not a “true interaction”, subscribing to the page will not be a “true request”, Facebook’s algorithm will determine what you see on your page no matter what you ask for or request. If you are a Facebook lurker and do not interact with the page you will not get the feed on your timeline. Unless the owners of the page pay Facebook to feed you the post. So ultimately the brands will have to pay to inform you or you will be required to interact with the page to get the information automatically.

The saddest part of these changes is that they are not ways to increase the value of the community but to increase the value of the company. Facebook has to answer to its shareholders and is expected to earn money and show that it can be a viable business. Up until this point the money had been made off the traffic. Now the traffic will have to participate and the brands that helped create that traffic will have to pay to communicate.

Jason Genet
CEO of Ingrained Media

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