I uploaded a new video to my Youtube channel called “If They Only Knew” and went to Facebook to send an update to the people I have on my Fan page. This “Update” feature allowed me to send a blast to all the people that “liked” my fan page in one swift motion. My message would show up as a message in each fan’s Facebook inbox. Unfortunately for me, I discovered Facebook has disabled the ability to send fan updates as of September 30th of 2011. Here’s Facebook’s official statement:
As of September 30th you’ll no longer be able to send an update to fans using Facebook Messages. We want you to connect with your audience in the most effective ways possible, and updates that go to Facebook Messages may end up unseen in the “Other” folder.
Here are other ways you can expand your reach:
• Post content on your page Wall so people see your updates in their news feed. You can target your posts by location or language by choosing Customize from the audience selector dropdown before you post.
• Consider using targeted Facebook Ads or Sponsored Stories to help grow and highlight your message within the Facebook experience.
They speak as if a wall post is any more guaranteed to be seen than a message. When you post a status update/wall post it shows up in the news feeds of the people that subscribe to your page which is great. What’s not so great is so does everyone else’s. Every friend, colleague, associate, and family member’s status updates/wall posts show up in the news feeds of the people that subscribe to your page as well. This means that your update is competing with marriage announcements, baby photos, death announcements, news regarding piercing world issues like hurricanes and Earthquakes, etc., aside from that, as more status updates are posted the previous updates in the feed are pushed down lower and lower until they disappear from view on the page. Your best chance at reaching the fans of your page would be to continuously repost the same message increasing the likeliness that it will show up in their feed by constantly turning it into a new update. This is assuming that your updates/wall posts will show up in their feed at all being Facebook has this new policy of only showing user’s the updates of users they most actively engage with. So if a fan doesn’t like, comment, or share any of your wall posts Facebook will restrict them from showing on his page.
Playing Devil’s Advocate I can say that if people were really interested in your fan page they’d be following your updates more closely, even visiting your fan page directly to check for updates and that the lack of them doing so shows a lack of interest. As a friend of mine pointed out, “If they aren’t checking out your fan page then they aren’t clicked in already and it’s functionally the same as spamming”.
You have a website and a mailing list. You send out a blast to your mailing list to alert them to new updates made on your site. You do this to compel them to revisit your site if they haven’t visited in a while or just have forgotten about you. On the Internet where there’s this oversaturation of content and users find themselves constantly bombarded with new media it’s easy for your message to get drowned out by the crowd. I don’t think it’s a matter of people losing interest as much as it is a matter of voices being drowned out by the shouts of the crowd. When a room is too noisy what do you do, you find a quiet corner and pull the person you want to speak to aside. This is what having the ability to email your website visitors is like to me, this is what having the ability to send a Facebook update is like to me.
If a user loses interest in a page and receives an update from that page, that user can easily “unlike” that page and no longer receive updates. You can’t send updates to people that haven’t liked your page. It’s not like an email mailing list where you can just add someone’s email address and send them unwanted messages. If sending updates is ineffective shouldn’t it be up to the fan page owner to come to that conclusion based on the results that come from them? And why is Facebook automatically restricting what shows up in users news feeds and leaving it up to them to figure out how to change it back? A user could be lukewarm to your page but the right post containing the right content could turn them into a true fan. Facebook’s new policies kill that possibility. Facebook is also sure to note that if you’re not reaching your fans through your status updates you should take out an ad which takes us to the heart of the matter. Obviously they want people that are using Facebook as a vehicle to promote their brand or product to purchase ads. You’re using their site to make money and they’re not being cut in on it and that’s the problem they’re trying to solve with these new changes to their site.
With this new restriction it makes me look at a Facebook fan page like a Myspace page. Artists worked very hard to generate as many “friends” as they could on Myspace, just as they work equally as hard to generate “Likes” on Facebook. After amassing all those “friends” on Myspace they found themselves only able to contact them simultaneously through Myspace’s Board which kind of functioned like a News Feed. As Myspace fell in popularity and users began to flee artists found themselves with no way to contact the thousands of “friends” they had generated over the years to either direct them to join their mailing list or join them on another site. Facebook fan pages are leaving artists in much the same position.
It’s created somewhat of a conundrum because I feel like people are now more so reluctant to sign up for an email mailing list because they can “Like” your fan page on Facebook or “Follow” you on Twitter. The same news they’re getting on those social networking sites is the same news they’d be getting in their email so why get three different newspapers to read the same article. Staying updated through social media is viewed as being more convenient because they don’t have to give up something as personal as their email. The difference is that an email sits in someone’s inbox until it is either deleted or opened. Status updates and Tweets just come and go. If they’re not seen in the time they’re posted they often are never seen.
This makes me think that artists should focus more on trafficking people to their personal sites and email mailing list sign-ups and move away from fielding people to their social media sites and from broadcasting them as an option. If someone is on Twitter and wants to follow you on Twitter let them find you and follow you on Twitter. If they take the time to take that action it represents a certain level of interest that expresses more of a commitment to actually paying attention to your updates, outside of that Sign-up for a service like MailChimp which I use and consider one of the best mailing list management systems out. Go to a site like Godaddy and register your domain name & hosting. I can vouch for Godaddy because I use them as well and find their service incredibly easy to use and understand. Make sure you have control over how you can access and interact with your fans. Remember, they’re your fans, you earned them.