Yep, it’s true. Reach (determined by Edgerank) for your Profile Page on Facebook is bad, and recently got a bit worse. Report after report, from both individual brands, and agencies, confirm this.
So don’t invest a ton of strategy in your Facebook Profile Page. Y’all know I’m down on Facebook in general.
But something that bothers me about the recent Reach-bashing is that it might accidentally give folks a premature, “Screw Facebook” attitude. Facebook is more than Profile Pages.
Yes, Facebook Profile Pages are an unreliable funnel, but Facebook drives tons of traffic.
So where is this traffic coming from if it’s not coming from Profile Pages?
It’s coming from off-site. Err… on other sites. Like your site. People FB Like/Recommend/Share from the web/apps off of Facebook that have Facebook Share/Like/Recommend buttons, it shows up in their feed, then people click out from there. (Reminder: When a person shares something in a feed, it has better Edgerank than when a Profile Page shares something.)
A Facebook Profile Page is not the only path to Facebook users. Facebook is mostly tons of people who will never Like your Profile Page. But they may very well Share your off-site stuff in their feed. Sure that doesn’t feel like a “capture.” But a Profile Page Like is just the illusion of a capture.
So make it easy for folks to do Facebook actions from your site/store/social-object-of-choice. Put Facebook actions in handy locations around your site. Do a little testing, and let your audience amplify your stuff on Facebook better than a Profile Page ever could.
As for what I’ve reblogged below? It’s a well-told account from an artist about how weak Facebook Profile Page Reach is, and how nothing beats email. Sound familiar?
I’m calling it - Facebook is pretty much useless for musicians at this point.
Much has been made about Facebook’s recent changes to their proprietary algorithm EdgeRank, especially with regard to forcing brand/organization Pages to pay to get more prominent placement in their fans’ news feeds. Rumors fly freely; small businesses are easily taken in by misinformation, and re-post the dubious “you must add us to your ‘interests’ list” message, brands mistakenly believe that their posts before the changes were always reaching their fans, and most regular users probably have no idea what is going on at all.
The simplest explanation is probably the closest to the truth - Facebook is trying to squeeze more advertising money out of the brands that use it, in order to please investors. This article, “Is Facebook Broken On Purpose To Sell Promoted Posts?” sums it up well. So what? Facebook is, of course, free to do what it wants with its own platform. They have always seen their competitive advantage as “Facebook knows what you want better than you do.” The news feed is the best example of this - EdgeRank heavily filters and sorts your feed, pushing more “compelling”/popular content to the top, showing more posts from those you interact with frequently, and showing more of certain types of content (photos), and less of others (text-only status updates). So many interactions trigger events on Facebook that viewing them all (“Most Recent” or the “Yo Dawg We Put A Facebook In Your Facebook” right-hand pane) is like being blasted with a MySQL-based fire hose.
The problem here is two-fold:
- Promoted posts aren’t really advertising, they’re pay-to-play.
- The experience for everyone, Page owners and fans alike, is completely unpredictable.
Basically Facebook is undermining its own EdgeRank system by giving Page owners the opportunity to pay to temporarily override it. No Page was ever reaching all of its fans with any one post, to be sure, but it is much worse (by some accounts, 50% worse) since the recent changes. Look at this ridiculous screenshot above. With 438 fans, and 14 hours live, this post was only seen by 22 people. It’s a middling-ranked content (links are below photos but above text-only posts), and no one has liked or commented on it yet - but how is it supposed to receive rank-boosting likes and comments if no one ever sees it in the first place? As for the fan side - users are deliberately liking Pages and, in most cases, expecting to see updates from those Pages appear in their news feed. In many cases, folks are doing this instead of signing up for an email list, which is a huge problem. But again, Facebook knows best, and content from most Pages a user likes will never be shown. Page owners who had previously found Facebook useful for interacting with fans are now having a much harder time, and some cases their sales are suffering. Unlike channels like email, Twitter, or Tumblr, where your message always shows to 100% of your followers (assuming they’re reading), Facebook’s system is unpredictable unless you’re willing to spend vast sums of money promoting everything.
[here’s the point where I can’t believe I’m wasting my lunch break writing about Facebook, so let’s wrap this up]
What musicians (and other small Page owners) should do:
- Email is your friend. If people want to hear from you, they should be on your email list. If you don’t have one, go sign up at mailchimp or tinyletter immediately. Then try to get as many folks as possible to sign up.
- Don’t ever rely on Facebook to be your primary web presence. Set up your own site, blog, or point your domain to Tumblr. I use Tumblr because it is free, fairly straightforward to set up, and predictable (so far). They’re starting to experiment more with advertising too, but in very tasteful and innovative ways (shoutout to Rick Webb) without breaking the user experience for anyone. Use Facebook as a necessary outpost to drive people to your main site and/or email list.
- get excited about the potential for New Myspace (I’m only being half-facetious, this actually looks potentially great)
- Educate your friends & fans about Facebook’s unreliability. It’s a fine site for photo-sharing and keeping up with family and close friends, but it can’t replace more stable, predictable mediums like email, and well, The Internet in general.