This article emerged from a simmering anger that had no place to go. Monopolists will have that effect you.
Like many publishers, I was stunned by Facebook’s incomprehensible “new and improved” business strategy to simultaneously insult their end users and, for a lack of a better word, rob, from its paying customers, the “likes” and “followers” publishers had paid for.
First, Facebook (without asking anyone it seemed) removed news feeds from users who had actively and consciously decided what content they wanted to see. Importantly, this pursuit was unnecessary because if the content was deemed uninteresting or annoying, the user could easily “unlike” the offending newsfeed. But Facebook decided its users were not up to that task. Presumably FB sensed its users lacked the “proper necessities” to make that decision wisely on their own and so they just dropped the whole business altogether.
Facebook says they did this to make the experience more meaningful, more “engaging” as they like to say. The result of their brilliant new algorithm is that I can’t stand my Facebook news feed. It’s boring drivel and I have heard this from other people. It’s filled with sneezing cats and things like, “Try not to laugh”. I’m serious, my news feed seems to be designed for the institutionalized mentally ill. I don’t look at it as much any longer. Facebook took away the content I wanted, I guess, because they were protecting me from Russians, Fake News, people with bad skin, mean people, who knows. To me it is insulting to the greatness of America to worry about these things. It’s bogeymen underneath beds.
But Facebook acts like Jack Nicholson in the movie “A Few Good Men”. Facebook is basically saying to its 2 billion users: “YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH”.
Please Facebook, give me back my news feeds. We can handle it. I took the time to decide what I wanted to see and for some arrogant reason you think your AI computer code knows better? Trust me it does not.
Like a few billion people, I use Facebook as a tool to keep in touch with people, but I am also a publisher, a blogger, a whatever – I write things, post things and people read it and some people actually seem interested in the things I do. I have 33,000 Facebook followers for my Catholic news site “Mystic Post”.
Facebook has been instrumental to my growth. I loved Facebook. It was a powerful platform to distribute my content around the world. Prior to Facebook all media was controlled by fatcat arrogant media executives both in the secular world and in the faith-based world. The barbarians had crashed the gates and I was one of them.
As my pageview growth accelerated and my Facebook “likes” accumulated, I began to give Facebook money in the form of what is called “Facebook Boost”. I gave money to Facebook to send my content to an audience that they promised would be interested in my articles. I suppose I subconsciously knew Facebook’s talent of target marketing was based on raiding people’s privacy but we were all convinced that our stuff was so good Facebook was really doing everybody a favor.
It is important to understand that the ONLY reason I was sending money to Facebook was that I wanted to build my followers, my “Likes”. I assumed that Facebook would make an effort to distribute my content to users who had “Liked” my page particularly those who I had paid for.
But now Facebook has pulled off the ultimate iconic Peanuts cartoon scene of Cathy taking the football away from Charlie Brown. And they are getting away with this because they are a monopoly.- plain and simple.
As I was dedicating resources to Facebook and shaping my business model based on Facebook’s platform ( that seemed to be working fine for everybody) they took the football away just as I was ready to kick the ball through the goal. And the goal was to create a news magazine that my audience enjoyed while making some kind of financial contribution to my life that added up to more than minimum wage. It’s why so many people work hard at blogging and writing and publishing – there was a path – but now the monopolists have shut the whole thing down.
Why would they do all this, you might ask. Well.
- Because they can – they are monopolists.
- They want me to pay them more money to get their referrals to my website. They don’t say much about this but this is what it is really all about. The cravenly greedy executives at Facebook (and it is about their greed) could not stand it that their platform was sending traffic to my website without collecting enough of the toll. In a way, Facebook, being a monopoly, is acting like the British colonists of the 1700’s collecting taxes for tea from the New Americans. It did not end well for the British after seeking gratuitous taxes from their good customers.
- Panic to some extent. Facebook executives may have really believed that “Fake news” on their platform got Trump elected and that Russian trolls are a threat to our democracy. Maybe they believe this – but I doubt it. I think it’s one big lie, a smoke screen. They are probably terrified that at some point there will be a massive lawsuit demanding money back to publishers who paid Facebook for followers because they are not sending content to followers that were paid for. Better to blame it on the Russians. “Gee, we had to change everything and screw our customers because of Russian “bots” – we needed to destroy the village in order to save the country”
I never would have given Facebook a dime if I knew they were going to stop distributing my content to people who actually wanted to see it.
Thank you, I feel so much better now.
7 strategies to grow your blog in a post Facebook world
- Seek out Facebook and other social media “Group” pages. Facebook still dominates publisher referrals – it’s just a sad fact. Bloggers still need to be in that game (see here for more on that) Facebook can still be an effective tool, but expectations need to be shifted. One of the most important activities I pursue is posting in Facebook “Group” pages. Keep in mind, this is much easier said than done. Without a good understanding of the culture of the Facebook group page you will run into big trouble. If your selling a product this strategy will not work. I don’t want to see your product pitch, nobody wants to see your product pitch on a Facebook group page. But if your blog has a niche interest then spend some time – maybe a lot of time searching for like minded FB “Groups”. They are out there. I have discovered many of these groups are starved for interesting and fresh new content. This is a great way to drive traffic to your blog. It like a treasure trove of Facebook followers that will be eager to read your content.
- Create a Facebook or “MEWE” “Group” page. If you don’t have one yet, create a group for your page today. Start actively promoting it among your Facebook audience and friends. It should not be just another place to broadcast your content, so you’ll need a community strategy. Seek out administrators who want to help with this project
- “Comments” Encourage comments on your Facebook page. Try and create meaningful discussions. Facebook says its new model will favor content with active user engagement as measured by “comments” about a post . Prior to the new algorithm FB “shares” and “Likes” helped to determined how content was distributed across the platform. Now FB is looking for “comments” on articles and more active engagement.
- “See First” Let your followers know about Facebook “See First” preference. Users can still opt into seeing posts from the pages they follow at the top of News Feed.Users who want to see more posts from pages they follow or help ensure they see posts from certain pages can choose “See First” in News Feed Preferences.
- Develop alternative channels. Email, messaging, Newsletters and push notifications are ways to connect directly with your community. But getting your audience to opt into those channels will require a different approach. In Facebook’s news feed, your work is just another piece of content. In these more intimate settings, your work should serve a purpose for your community. Ask for email addresses and phone numbers and offer value in return.
- “Collaborative Encouragement” Identify “influencers” in your sphere where a mutual admiration exists and don’t be shy about the ask. Back in the day the “Old School” strategy to improve Google search rank was to spend time pursuing “Link exchanges”. I have had success asking important influencers in my world to encourage their FB audience to consider “Liking” my page. In return, of course, I ask my followers to do the same. It goes like this: Dear Mystic Post fans, “Mr/Mrs. So and So does great work for our cause. Please consider “Liking” their page on Facebook. It is very important to helping us reach our goals”
- Other Social Media Facebook was so successful to my growth I ignored Twitter, and other social media. Each day I would count my new Facebook “Likes”. Now I focus on growing all my assets.I look at Newsletters subscribers, Instagram followers, Twitter and MEWE followers.
Facebook is not the Titanic yet but people are heading for the exits fast and if publishers don’t adjust they will be heading for the lifeboats.
Right now is an exciting time for publishers in certain ways because with hard work and some smart and lucky decisions opportunities may be huge for publishers who adapt to the Post Facebook world.