Heather is passionate about helping companies deliver marketing that is hyper-relevant to the customer and drives profit for the business. As an experienced strategist with 20 years developing integrated marketing strategies across a range of industries, she advocates a data-driven approach to marketing.

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Is Facebook Broken?

Broken-FacebookHave you noticed your Facebook Fan Page isn’t performing like it used to?  You’re not alone.  Lately, there’s been a lot of controversy around Facebook’s new revenue stream – charging pages to promote their posts to their fans; fans that have already liked the page (usually an indicator that they’re willing/interested in receiving updates from that page).

To be fair, when you update your Page, it’s never been automatically seen by ALL your fans.  My post on Facebook’s Edgerank algorithm and making posts more engaging explains how Facebook determines if fans see your posts.  In the past, posts were typically rolled out to about 10% of fans and their interaction with the post would determine if it was rolled out to the larger fan base.

So, if posts were typically only seen by 15-18% of fans, and Facebook claims that they are still seen by the same amount without promotion, then why are Page Owners so upset? Because most people don’t understand how Facebook works.  Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm wasn’t a secret, but it wasn’t well known and, like everything else on Facebook, it was constantly changing and inconsistent.  Many small/medium sized businesses simply weren’t aware that posts weren’t being seen by their entire fan base.

What about large businesses?

Things start getting really interesting because companies/organizations/people with tens of thousands of fans tend to understand how EdgeRank works and they’re also in a position to have enough data to notice when performance changes by a statistically significant margin.

Even though Facebook claims that they’re simply offering pages an additional way to connect with more of their fans (albeit one that boosts their chronically disappointing revenue numbers – see Facebook’s Sponsored Stories rake in $1 million a day) there are too many businesses with enough data to suggest that this isn’t the case.

Just read through this recent post from EdgeRank Checker and it’s pretty obvious that something fishy is going on.  The New York Observer’s recent post on this epidemic doesn’t just point fingers at Facebook and highlights the bigger problem of publishers gaming the system and where this short-term mindset leaves growth-obsessed start-ups.  (Remember MySpace?  Yeah, me neither.)

What’s a Business to do?

Reaching your fans doesn’t require a new strategy, or deep pockets.  The solution is the same unglamorous one as always – create engaging and useful content that is inherently shareable.  If you want to use Sponsored Stories to promote your content, test it out, but be aware that Facebook adjusts the cost based on the quality of the content.  Putting out boring, generic content will be a lot more expensive than highly interactive posts.

Has your business noticed less engagement to posts over the last few months?  Have you tried using Sponsored Stories?  Let us know your experience in the comments!