There’s been a recent revelation that Facebook has been throttling down the online presence of Facebook Pages (pages by organizations, businesses, celebrities, etc. that Facebook users can “Like”) and crimping the ability of owners of those pages to reach their respective fans:
Spring of 2012 was when bloggers, non-profits, indie bands, George Takei, community theaters, photographers, caterers, artists, mega-churches, high schools, tee-shirt vendors, campus coffee shops, art galleries, museums, charities, food trucks, and a near infinite variety of organizations; individuals from all walks of life; and businesses, both large and small, began to detect—for it was almost imperceptible at first—that the volume was getting turned down on their Facebook reach. Each post was now being seen only by a fraction of their total “fans” who would previously have seen them.
Some are describing this as “broken on purpose:”
It’s no conspiracy. Facebook acknowledged it as recently as last week: messages now reach, on average, just 15 percent of an account’s fans. In a wonderful coincidence, Facebook has rolled out a solution for this problem: Pay them for better access.
As their advertising head, Gokul Rajaram, explained, if you want to speak to the other 80 to 85 percent of people who signed up to hear from you, “sponsoring posts is important.”
In other words, through “Sponsored Stories,” brands, agencies and artists are now charged to reach their own fans—the whole reason for having a page—because those pages have suddenly stopped working.
This is a clear conflict of interest. The worse the platform performs, the more advertisers need to use Sponsored Stories. In a way, it means that Facebook is broken, on purpose, in order to extract more money from users. In the case of Sponsored Stories, it has meantraking in nearly $1M a day.
I like to simplify things for my clients. Broken on purpose is cute, but I’ll be calling it a bait-and-switch because that’s what it looks like to me. (Extortion also sounds rather apt) Regardless of the terminology, the conclusion is clear: it’s a dick move by a rapacious corporation. As such, I’ve lately been recommending to my clients that they approach Facebook differently than they’ve done in the past.
In short: Use Facebook to drive people to your site, never vice-versa.
On your Nation (your NationBuilder site), you control your outreach. You decide your message. You even have control over what a particular set of people see, while showing another set something different. You know who went where, what they saw, and what they did. You have the ability to sign up people for events, ask for donations, sign them up for email, etc. Your Facebook Page provides none of this. Think of it like this: your site is your home and your Facebook Page is there to invite people over to hang out. 🙂
NationBuilder makes it effortless to display a Facebook Like Box. By default, a NationBuilder user can have this box appear in the sidebar of their two-column pages. Since it’s so easy, most orgs with a Facebook Like Page opt for it.
I’m not going to tell you not to do this. I’m going to tell you the best way to do it:
(Before we start, if you are not using the blog on your Nation, start using it. Your blog is where you post anything relevant that you think your users might want to see. If you’re only using your blog for press releases or official announcements, then you might as well draw cobwebs on it, too, because nobody’s going to look at it, much less follow it or subscribe to it with RSS. Want to know what to put on your blog? Ask yourself: would you add it to your Facebook Page? If yes, then add it to your blog in a blog post.)
When you want to share something with your audience, follow these steps:
- post it on your blog
- copy the link to your new blog post
- go to your Facebook Page
- post the link to your blog post on your Facebook Page. You can write a little something about it, too.
Each blog post is an opportunity to get eyeballs away from Facebook and onto your site. Your Facebook Page should have no original content, it should only consist of links to the original content that’s posted on your blog (or events page, if you’re posting an event).
I always recommend the Facebook Like button without reservation:
When a user is on your site and clicks Like, a thumbnail of your website appears in the user’s timeline. Free advertising!
The Facebook Like Box is to the right and you have some control over what it displays. You can have one with an Activity Stream, one with faces, or one with both. I recommend the one with faces only. The Activity Stream is huge leak in your bucket. It invites people to click on something that will take them away from your site and land them on Facebook, which is likely where they will stay to read all the new updates from their friends. They might not even remember to come back to your site.
Again, your Facebook page should exist for one purpose only: to drive traffic back to the your site. And once they are there, you should do what you can to keep them there and minimize anything that might send them away. The Activity Stream is so big a leak that I’m surprised it doesn’t make its own sucking sound like a sink draining out the last bit of water.
- Post everything to your blog that seems interesting
- Post each link to each blog post on your Facebook Page. Don’t forget to Tweet the link, too!
- Never post something first on your Facebook Page.
- Never, ever post something only on your Facebook Page.
UPDATE: The NationBuilder blog beat me to the punch by a couple months. Dammit!