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Not Much to “Like” About Promoted Posts


Have you recently noticed that less people are visiting and engaging with your company Facebook page? What about on your personal page – have you noticed that you aren’t seeing a lot of posts from businesses you follow lately? If you answered yes to either of these questions, you’re not alone.

What happened to all our fans?

As an admin, and the most frequent poster, on our Red Sage Facebook page (be sure to like us if you haven’t!), I have noticed a significant decline in our reach and the number of interactions on our posts the past couple of months. We have a modest, but loyal, following on Facebook, and we believe strongly in the “social” aspect of social media, which is to say that we actively participate (via comments, likes, shares, retweets, etc.) with customers and others. In August, just two months ago, we averaged 202 views per status update. (The most was 417, the least was 99.) So far in October, we are averaging 126 views per status update – a decline of roughly 37%. And those are just views (our “reach”) – that’s not counting the decrease in “likes” and comments per post.

While our numbers are still well above Facebook’s estimated 16% fan reach, this decline has still been of concern, and frustration.

At first, we wondered the usual things: Are we posting too much? Is everyone just busy every single day of every single week? Are we not as interesting as we thought we were? Is it the wrong time of day?

One by one, we dismissed these concerns. So far in October, we have posted 13 times: we posted 28 times in August. So no, not too often. We purposely vary the time of posts, so that couldn’t have been the issue. The type of posts we’re putting out are mostly the same (office happenings, website launches, speaking engagements, etc.), so that can’t be it. The reason that our interaction and reach on Facebook is down is…Facebook itself.

Facebook decides which of your posts are “interesting”

In May, Facebook introduced their new program: promoted posts. Business owners (and now individuals) can pay to promote their posts and gain additional exposure – i.e. reach the friends of a business page’s fans. In September, Facebook changed the algorithm for how posts show up in newsfeeds, which has resulted in a decline for many businesses, Red Sage included.

This algorithm change is fraught with speculation, in great part because of the secrecy with which it was unveiled. There was no press release or press conference regarding this change, rather a few Facebook representatives sat down with some of the larger technology bloggers to discuss the situation. Of course, this being social media, nothing stays a secret for long, and rumors have run rampant – which may or may not have been Facebook’s plan all along.

Facebook’s stance on this is as follows:

“We’re continuing to optimize News feed to show the posts that people are most likely to engage with, ensuring they see the most interesting stories. This aligns with our vision that all content should be as engaging as the posts you see from friends and family.”

While the exact wording may vary slightly (for instance, sometimes they have delivered a bullet point list, such as can be seen here from source to source, the overall message remains the same: Facebook believes they know what content Red Sage’s (and every other business’) fans want to read – and it’s often not what is being posted.

The future of the “like”

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and Facebook has obviously denied – and will continue to deny – this, but my own interpretation of this course of events is that Facebook introduced this promoted posts plan to make money after they lost money by going public. Not enough companies were taking advantage of it, so they decided to change the algorithm to make companies use it.

Additionally I, and I believe many others, feel that if a fan has chosen to like your page, they actually want to receive your posts! Of course, Facebook has an answer for that, too: “If a page has a piece of content that it feels will be very engaging e.g. A good offer, a great photo, an announcement, etc. then using paid media to “boost” that post to fans in newsfeed can be an effective tool to increase engagement with fans.”

Have you noticed a difference in your reach and interactions as a business on Facebook? Will you use promoted posts? As a fan, do you feel like you should have more of a say in which posts you receive? And what do you think when you see the words “promoted post” show up in your newsfeed?


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