16 November 2015

Unliked: Why I Froze My Facebook Business Page

by Freddy Tran Nager, Founder of Atomic Tango + Facebook Old Timer…

I should have iced my Facebook Page three years ago.

In 2012, Facebook tweaked its algorithm (called EdgeRank) to essentially screw over commercial Pages. Sure, I understand why Facebook doesn’t want to give corporations a free ride. It’s their snake oil sales pitch pitch that makes me hiss.

Facebook claimed the tweak was simply to improve our user-experience by showing us posts only from the friends and Pages we interact with most. Yet we all still see a lot of junk in our Facebook feeds — my favorites being comments from friends of friends (i.e., absolute strangers) and ads from businesses I care nothing about. And don’t get me started on the inanity of what’s “trending” on Facebook.

What we’re not seeing: posts from most of the news organizations and businesses we truly do “like.”

Facebook’s Bait And Switch

In “The Biggest ‘Bait N’ Switch’ In History,” Facebook encouraged Page owners to accumulate “likes,” then drastically dropped the “organic” reach of posts to those fans.

Today fewer than 2% of the people who “like” your Page initially see anything you post on it. (By the way, that applies to your personal posts as well. Think your friends are seeing what you write? Only the ones who interact with your posts the most – and those may not be your “best” friends, just the ones who kill the most time on Facebook.) Want to reach more than 2%? The archetypal “social network” says “buy an ad.”

Many people, including myself, ranted and raved about this. Billionaire Mark Cuban wrote one of the most widely read anti-Facebook rants, which raised the hackles of the social media zealots, but Cuban was right.

Many Page managers have since shared with me their complete frustration with Facebook. Although they can still post freely, their return-on-time is near zero, and for us mere mortals, our time is our most valuable asset.

And yet I kept my Atomic Tango Facebook Page alive and persisted in posting.

Of Hope And Dopes

For some reason, I kept trusting Facebook.

They claimed that all they ever wanted to do was reduce the amount of badvertising disguised as social content. Facebook also claimed they wanted to become the world’s news source, so they offered more exposure for editorial posts, like news articles and blogs.

And that’s the kind of content I like to share.

So as much as I accused Facebook of pumping snake oil, I dopily drank this promise up.

It didn’t take long for another switcheroo.

Facebook created the “Instant Articles” program, where major media like the New York Times publish exclusive articles directly on Facebook, and both parties share the ad revenue. For all other media, the returns on posting keep sinking. Indeed, Digiday just reported that “Facebook’s traffic to top publishers fell 32 percent since January.”

We’re talking “top publishers” with full-time social media pros and tools dedicated to getting exposure and traffic.

So why should the rest of us even bother?

End Of Page

I started the Atomic Tango Facebook Page in 2009, the height of the social media boom. Six years and hundreds of posts later, I finally accept that my Facebook Page is a waste of time. And, of course, I refuse to pay Facebook to promote articles that I write solely to share ideas, not make money. Isn’t that what social media was supposed to be about?

So my Facebook Page is going into a deep freeze. Picture Han Solo encased in carbonite, but even colder.

I’ll still keep my Page open, since it appears high in Google search results when people seek “Atomic Tango,” and I don’t want anyone else to claim it. Now, when visitors come to my Page, the first post redirects them to my website, where I’ll encourage them to subscribe to my updates.

(And, oh, if you’re reading this article and want to read more like it, please do subscribe. It’s free. Really. No bait and switch here ever.)

In the meantime, I’ll do what everyone else is doing now that the “Social Media Revolution” has fizzled into a fog of banner ads: start planning a TV show. Or maybe a comic book. Podcast anyone?

Whatever I decide, I’ll let you know — but not on Facebook.

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Freddy is the Founder & Creative Strategist of Atomic Tango. He also teaches graduate-level marketing communication courses at the University of Southern California (go Trojans!), shoots pool somewhat adequately, and herds cats. Freddy received his BA from Harvard and his MBA from USC.

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