October 03, 2012

Warning For Facebook Page Owners: Pay The Piper Or Lose Your Following

As of today, I'm back to blogging as the epicentre of my social media plan. 

For the last few months, my Facebook Page has been my go to for posting updates related to my business, writings and my outreach.  Why not?  It was easier than a blog post, and once you figured out what Edgerank likes (hint, visually based content), you could garner significant reach. 

I started to buy FB's "Promoted Posts" when one of my missives was working.  And by working, I mean that it had a 10% viral co-efficient or better.  By that, I mean that if the organic traffic was 500, then the viral traffic was 50 or better.  When I paid to promote it, say for $10 or $20 dollars, the post would catch on fire.  That proved that you only promote content that works, which is a win/win for me and my followers. 

Screen Shot 2012-08-03 at 5.05.30 PM

It was a bonanza for marketers that understood how to create content that works.  I set aside a reasonable budget, a few hundred dollars a month, and was satisfied with the service. 

But all of that changed when FB got greedy, and expanded Promoted Posts' range from $30 to $300.  With that little change, EdgeRank's goal (promote quality in your feed) was shoved aside for gold-old-fashioned campaign delivery requirements.  If I plunk down $300, I get over 80,000 reach with little little old 5000 base.  

Screen Shot 2012-10-03 at 8.16.11 AM

Starting last week, I noticed something: Unless I promote a post, my traffic is down significantly.  I can post the same quality of content, getting the same initial reactions from my following, and the post still decays quickly...unless I triple or quadruple my spend on promoted posts.  Because I didn't spend more, even though I maintained the same editorial calendar, my traffic dipped a whopping 75%.  (According to this WSJ Online post, I'm not alone in this finding.) 

Screen Shot 2012-10-03 at 8.19.24 AM

Here's my theory, and likely I'm not alone in this.  Remember when United and Continental merged? If you had status on either airline, you stopped getting upgrades as often.  Why? Because there were too many Elites in the system, crowding the scarce upgrade slots.  This is what happened at FB. Deep pocketed or spend thrift Page owners were buying traffic-to-the-moon and FB's EdgeRank gave way to what I now call Paid-Rank.  To fill all the Promoted Post offers, FB now distributes content regardless of whether it had Weight, Affinity, etc. (the quality algorithm they built to deliver users quality content in their Top Feed). 

What does this all mean?  For users, expect more commercial noise in your stream, less quality and visual content - and an increasingly irrelevent platform to discover your world.  Unless you want to think of FB as a digital zine of sorts.  

For Page owners, it's a subtle reminder that you should NEVER build your business on a free platform.  (I talked about this last year in this post.) Sure, FB might be a good referral source of traffic for your blog, but don't let it be your online HQ.  If you put a hard ROI against Promoted Posts, you'll be very disappointed with their value because there's very little way to measure what you get for your money.  Google's Ad Words, on the other hand, demonstrates value via it's pay per click model.  If you fall for the 'you got mega-reach for $300' argument, remember, that's not an advertising impression, it is a post impression which is much weaker in it's call to action, creative and execution. 

Typepad (my blog provider) cannot and will not choke off my traffic unless I pay them more.  I pay a monthly service fee to ensure that.  So expect to see me blogging more and provisioning my FB Pages to drive traffic to it.  

It's natural that FB, desperate to prove itself to Wall Street, would resort to tactics that undermine the user experience for the share price.  Apparently, Yelp has been doing this too.  When I worked at Yahoo, I saw this phenomenon back in 2001 with pop-unders, front page takeovers and suspicious user targeting programs.  What's dissapointing in FB's case is that they should have known better, or at least learned from Yahoo's decline that in the end ... you need to create marketing solutions that are user focused.  

(Note: This blog post refutes my claim of reduced traffic, but frankly, the data isn't fresh enough. Check back on his analysis in a month, and I suspect I'll be vindicated. This Indie-Wire post from Monday supports my POV.)

Posted at 8:40 AM in Blogging and Blogtalk , Social Media  |  Permalink  |  Comments (20)  |  TrackBack (0)

Comments

Commentor

Your contents are too simple to read and easy to understand.

Commentor

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Commentor

There are different opinions regarding the definition of Social Media and Social Networking, and their scope overlap. This document considers Social Media as a larger concept and Social Networking as one of its prominent implementation channels.

Commentor

I agree with the post. Something its better to share some informative post over the facebook so that it would attracts a lot of fans to the fanpage.

Commentor


Gracias por escribir esto. Realmente me siento como si yo sé mucho más de esto que yo hacía antes. Tu blog realmente trajo algunas cosas a la luz que nunca me hubiera pensado antes de leerlo. Debe continuar con esto, estoy seguro que la mayoría de la gente estaría de acuerdo tu tienes un don.

Commentor

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Commentor

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Commentor

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Commentor

Facebook is really a great way to advertise any kind of business,the bad things is i really don't know about this warning,most of the people now a days are using facebook and most of them are looking for some things that they can see in facebook which make them pretty interesting,in Finland country most of the internet marketing use Facebook and Twitter and it is really a great way for them to get views and traffics.

Commentor

I really appreciate this publish. I’ve been looking all over for this! Thank benefits I discovered it on Google. You have created my day! Thanks again!

Commentor

I really appreciate this post. I’ve been looking all over for this! Thank goodness I found it on Bing. You have made my day! Thanks again!

Commentor

Thanks Tyson, that's a good addition to this conversation. Here's my observation: There's only so much Top Feed inventory that can be filled. Their success with Promoted Posts, especially the 100-200 dollar option, is pre-empting the inventory, leaving non-revenue content (via EdgeRank) in the wings. There's no other way to describe why Page owners are seeing a 30-80% drop in average view rates, even with consistent interactions (Likes, Shares, etc.)

While at Yahoo, several of their revenue execs worked with me, and I'm really clear on their mentality towards revenue maximization now that Zuck is finally focused on making money. So that's my inside POV. You are right, it's like the YPs, except that you don't get to present an advertising experience and the CPMs aren't as easy to measure against sales as Google Ad Words or other Ad Networks.

Commentor

I'm also start creating my own Facebook page and I use to get more likes and get more visitors on my new blog.

Commentor

Facebook is really a great way to advertise any kind of business,the bad things is i really don't know about this warning,most of the people now a days are using facebook and most of them are looking for some things that they can see in facebook which make them pretty interesting,in Finland country most of the internet marketing use Facebook and Twitter and it is really a great way for them to get views and traffics.

Commentor

Sadly, Facebook has upped their advertising prices which really hurt a lot of business owners especially the smaller ones. Before people used to gain more from what they spend on these ads but now they are barely making it breakeven.

Commentor

Promoting posts is NOT replacing the EdgeRank algorithm. It does at times feel that way, but it in fact just increases the amount of people you can reach that fit within the algorithm. it can attract more Likes, and it has not had any negative effect on the pages we manage at Surf Social Media Management.

What stinks is that they are decreasing a business page's natural and organic reach to force a few dollars here and there out of the business. It is a good product (the best targeted marketing platform ever), that has been poorly rolled out. The way it has been handle feels like betrayal. However, FACEBOOK IS THE MODERN DAY COUPON BOOK + YELLOWPAGES + SEO + MORE. We are finding exciting ways to make just a little money go a very long way. It's money well spent. It was rolled out poorly, but the product is good.

HOWEVER, FACEBOOK IS NOT a replacement for a blog, a good website, or smart viral marketing techniques. Timeline wasn't the end of the Facebook world, promoted posts, paid offers, and ads won't be either. Use the tools intelligently and they will be worth it.

Commentor

I think we'll see this more often in the future, they have to pay the bills...

Commentor

Thank you
This blog is very knowledgeable Pay per Click Services

Commentor

I agree with Damien. I just coach others on the excitement of using a combination of combined available platforms to build community and help with SEO, and stress for local small businesses that the platforms are quite valuable for connecting and amplifying what they already do offline. For most small businesses the promo stuff is neither budget friendly nor are they that interested in the analytics side, they just want to develop their online space and make their website or blog the main focus. Socials just, I think, amplify and enable reach and growth without having to dump much money into it. My view. :)

Commentor

Hello Tim

as always a well considered post, I have been playing with facebook for some time now and I have to say its not been delivering, we will continue to use it, but only because of the SEO uplift you get from social interaction (allegedly), but that can be done without spending a fortune on facebook promos, I for one worry that facebook might be killing of what makes it work, relevance, paid for stuff you see is not often relevant!

Lets keep um on our blogs own the goose I say.

Damien


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