Facebook Updates: How Many Fans Really See Them?

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How many fans really see your Facebook Updates?

Artists with a Facebook Band page, self-included, find themselves baffled at how few of their Facebook “fans” engage with their status updates. So much so some wonder if their fans see their Facebook updates at all. If you run to Google for answers you’ll find plenty of articles that say “It’s not them, it’s you”. They’ll offer solutions like posting less frequently, posting more frequently, posting content that your fans are more likely to engage with, shit like that. I’m skeptical of that advice because I have a hunch that it’s not you, it’s them! Here’s why

Full disclosure, this is just my unqualified opinion. I’m no expert on Facebook nor do I desire to be one. I’m just an observer reporting on what I see.

Facebook wants you to buy ads. Last year they took away the ability to send a single message to all of your fans simultaneously (like an email blast). I wrote about in a post titled “Facebook update, no more fan updates” They claimed it was ineffective. The best way to get users to engage with your content, they said, was to post status updates. If your fans weren’t responding to your status updates they suggested you buy Facebook ads. They followed that up by introducing promoted updates which currently allows page owners to pay to have their updates appear in the news feeds of their fans and users that are friends of their fans.

Here’s what’s happening if your updates are not appearing in your fans’ news feeds organically and it’s your fault. They’re having negative interactions with your page. A negative interaction occurs when a user hides your post or unlikes your page. Facebook gave users this ability so they could avoid being bombarded with updates about things they were disinterested in. If Facebook is so concerned about showing users content that they’re likely to engage with why would it allow you to pay to force status updates on them with content they’ve already proven to have no interest in? For you, it’s like paying to be in the same room with a girl that intentionally avoids seeing you every day. For the user it’s like being the girl forced to be in the room with a guy she’s been avoiding seeing every day. Something tells me that scenario doesn’t end in marriage. If users aren’t taking negative actions against your page your posts should appear in their feeds right? Well, not exactly.

Have you ever heard of Edgerank? It’s Facebook’s new content filtering system. Every post is ranked using criteria like relationship (Affinity), engagement – Like, comment, share, etc. (Weight), and the date the post was posted (Time Decay). Affinity looks at how often a user interacts with a page. Weight determines the value of each interaction (comments weigh more than Shares, Shares weigh more than Likes). Time Decay looks at the time that’s elapsed since an interaction. Posts with a low Edgerank score are punished with low visibility in News feed (meaning they’re suppressed from the feed). For more information on Edgerank visit “What Is EdgeRank”

Since a Like is the weakest act a user can take, it essentially means nothing for your band page, even though in Liking your page a fan is explicitly saying they want to receive your content. In order for fans to see your content they have to engage with it and not just any engagement but the most valued engagement. In order for fans to engage with your content they have to see it, which they won’t if they don’t engage with it. Doesn’t this sound a bit like a dog chasing its tail? Facebook’s solution is for you to pay to ensure that the fans that asked to receive your content, actually do by taking out ads that promote your status updates. It’s like having messages to your girlfriend blocked by her friends because they don’t think she’s that into you or, to use a better analogy, it’s like your fans are being held hostage for ransom.

With Facebook focusing more and more on generating dollars from ads to satisfy its investors, there’s less and less of an incentive for brands to reach their goals on the platform organically. If they are, there’s less of a need to buy ads because the brand message will spread organically. Ironically, this betrays Facebook’s own brand message

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