Taking a brief break from personal finance for an update on our communication plans. We’re breaking up with Facebook, it’s clear it’s become an entirely one way relationship, and I don’t think we should put any more effort into it, until it changes. I know there are things we can do to make it better, but frankly I think there’s more value focusing on other things, and I don’t see the point of putting a disproportionate amount of effort into something that has marginal value to our customers.
BudgetSimple has had a Facebook page pretty much since the first day they offered them. We’ve never done a ton to promote it (which should be obvious since we only have 2,000 Likes from the 200,000 users of our software), but we’ve always given our customers the option, hey if you like Facebook as a medium for receiving communications from us, go ahead and “Like” the page. When Facebook launched company pages it was a mutually beneficial arrangement. We send people to Facebook to “Like” our page, and Facebook shows them content from us.
Unfortunately at some point, Facebook changed this. Most likely because some company pages were posting 20 times a day and ruining people’s Facebook experience. Instead of creating an obvious option for people to stop seeing content from pages they don’t want to see anymore (“Unlike”?), they made a “Smart” algorithm that shows a subset of content to a subset of people who are most likely to appreciate it.
This would be all fine and dandy if it worked that way. Unfortunately the way the algorithm works is that it shows the content to a very small subset of people who “Liked” the page (my estimates are around 1%). If that 1% expresses interest in the post by Liking, commenting, sharing or clicking a link, Facebook will then show it to a larger group (but pretty much never to everyone who liked the page).
The problem, as people like Vertitasium has pointed out, is that there are many fake or unused accounts that have likely Liked our page in the past, and there is no way for us to remove them, so the 1% sample is often not enough to build engagement.
It hit rock bottom for me last week, when one of our posts (we only post maybe once or twice a week) was shown to only 9 people. Despite having over 2,000 Likes to our page, only 9 people got a chance to see that post. Well, you are saying, maybe Facebook is smart and knows 1,991 of those Likes don’t really care about your post?
I happen to know that’s wrong. First, I have more than 9 friends, family, investors etc… who have some interest in what’s going on at my business. Even if customers don’t want to see our posts, I’m sure my Dad does. When I saw this low number I asked some friends and family, “I know you Like our page, did you see this post?”, to which the overwhelming response was “BudgetSimple posts things on Facebook?”. I asked them to look in their feed and no one was seeing the post, again, despite Liking the page at some point.
To further test this theory, I decided to pay Facebook to promote the post that only 9 people saw. They charged $20 to show it to an estimated 2,000-3,000 people, or roughly the amount of people who already expressed interest in seeing our content.
Suddenly people are engaging with it! What do you know? My Aunt left a comment, my friend who Likes every single BudgetSimple post to support us suddenly Liked this one, some other actual customers liked it. So this proved to me that Facebook is not even showing our posts to people who want to see it. They are breaking their end of the deal. They want us to pay to show content to people who have already expressed an interest in seeing it.
Well forget that. If we’re going to pay to promote, we’ll do that for specific ones, but I don’t see any reason to invest time in promoting our content to an organic audience on Facebook. If you want to see our blog posts, subscribe on the side bar and you’ll actually see them. If you don’t want to see them, cool, you won’t! But we’re no longer going to promote Facebook or help them until they agree to be an equal partner in this.
It’s worth noting that no other Internet companies work like this. I posted the same link to our Twitter account, which has a quarter of the number of followers and it got way more clicks. There’s no way on Twitter to see how many people saw it, but you know that everyone who follows us and signed on during that time did have the chance to see it (Although ironically while writing this, Twitter has announced it will start filtering too…).
Google makes you go through all kinds of hoops to appear at the top of the search engine, but it will organically promote your valuable content and at least gives the chance for people to find anything it indexes.
Both Twitter and Google allow you to pay to promote outside your current users, which I think is fine. I’d love to pay Facebook to get new viewers of our content and product, but I refuse to pay them for people who already wanted to see us.
And yes, social media experts I’m sure you’re thinking “oh man he doesn’t know what he’s doing!”, I’m familiar with all the tricks to get engagement on Facebook. Post 20 times a day (I “Like” NPR’s page, they do this, and I see maybe one of their posts a day), use clickbait headlines and catchy images, etc… Sorry but I refuse to lower the effort we put into our content into being “15 Things Kittens Can Teach Us About Money” every day. Either people want to see our content, and they Like the page, or they don’t want to see the content and they unlike us. I’m not going to pay their extortion to repromote to people we sent here in the first place when there are much more useful channels.
TLDR; We’re removing all links to our Facebook page, and no longer posting content there