Earlier this week, I wrote a post on Medium expressing my frustration with Facebook. You can see my original piece here. It went kind of crazy on Medium, in the Top 20 on the site this week and lots of feedback agreeing with analysis that Facebook does bad business with pages and advertisers.
Clearly, MANY people feel the frustration, especially those that work with bigger pages like m.
After hastily typing it out and posting, I’ve had more time to think about it. A few things…
1. I believed advertising for new fans gave Facebook incentive to promote our material more. Yes, it’s pay to play but fine, we’ll do it. That doesn’t appear to be the case anymore (though I just turned off fan acquisition completely and the Facebook traffic tanked IMMEDIATELY even more.) I have tried promoting posts in the past but perhaps not with enough money behind them. It never made a traffic dent at all — and others agreed it hadn’t worked for them either. However, I’m switching strategies and taking all the budget I have to promote already organically popular posts. It’s a gamble — scary to throw your money out that way — and have no clue what will happen.
2. I claimed Facebook wasn’t displaying our content to fans. That is only partially true, as I did speak with a Facebook rep who showed me otherwise on certain items. Facebook is serving video and photo posts but links get the shaft. I can’t prove that but it only makes sense considering we’ve seen videos go viral but rarely ever a link. To put it simply, that’s crappy. Facebook knows publishers need those links to be served — that is our traffic, our main content, the way we make money when people come back to the site. They purposely screw us by not letting links fly. (And you can see why this is a dead end cycle from reasons I explained in the Medium post.) I’m glad to see our page and brand has had good growth in one sense but if we can’t get people back to our website, we are stuck.
3. Years ago, I had thought that having one “master page” was better for publications/orgs than having several. I thought it would generate more interest, traffic and reach. Looking back, I think I was wrong. Not that I was at National Review then, but at the Heritage Foundation — we could have created multiple pages that could now be serving their interests in a greater way. I’ve seen places like Huffington Post capitalize on the niches and I’m sorry I didn’t do that long ago. Which leads me to…
4. Fan pages. I started fan pages for NR writers last year but they have not been prioritized enough. I’m hoping that beefing these up will help with our traffic. Feeling…skeptical but hey, I’ll do anything at this point. It works best when writers take ownership of their pages but you can’t force people to do that. It has to be something they’re into…and it appears that’s a struggle for some of our people.
5. Link swapping. I’ve also started link swaps with other, like-minded publications and organizations. So far, it doesn’t seem like it’s helping all that much but it’s somewhat new and I’m working on ways we can improve this. I’m looking into larger strategies on this one and have ideas to explore further so stay tuned.
Many people will say, why are you working with them then? If they are doing “bad business” — end business with them. It’s really not that simple. As a publisher, we can’t just leave the platform. We could stop spending money but I’m not ready to give up the game just yet. I want to try a few other things and see if we can’t make a dent or find what will work for us in terms of advertising.
I also know that the digital world has changed. Yes, staying on platform is important and we have to adapt to a changing environment. I still think that if we are “paying to play,” we should get a fair shake on the play.
Onward and upward…
To echo one of the commenters on Medium, I’d sum up the Facebook problem as such: organic is mostly dead and getting more dead every day.
Instead, it all comes down to paid ads, and only paid ads. How much are you willing to budget? And are you making enough money back to justify the cost? (see: pointing your paid links toward pre-roll video ads and slideshows only.)
Like you, I miss the good ol’ days. Spend a little, be super scrappy, and Facebook would reward you with a bunch of organic promotion to balance out the paid budget. Now? Scrappiness isn’t nearly as important. It’s more about being clever with the dials: tweak this CPC, that targeted audience.
As a new to FB advert placer, I can say the UI is a mess and the lack of honesty in the options presented are a disgrace. Like you, I want an honest shake of the dice. I followed all the best advice to promote an event. 30,000 people reached, it says I have 300 rsvp’s but where are they? why can’t I email those people? 5 clickthroughs to register (Button under the cover picture) etc. Handing out leaflets would cost less and get a better result.
On showing my content to followers – Surely the follower should choose the quantity to receive from me and not FB arbitrarily deciding I am boring? Hard to jazz up new opening hours but rather important to my followers.
FB is supposed to be a neutral delivery person, not a decider of relevance and taste in society. Sheeple fed crap about the Kardashians instead of being able to choose Shakepeare. [/Rant]