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Facebook Pages: No Longer Worth the Effort?
Until recently, Facebook Pages seemed like a no-brainer for websites looking to increase their exposure. Make a Facebook page for your website, get users to like it, and then post regularly to remind them of your site. Furthermore, your posts could "go viral", reaching the friends and extended network of your Facebook "fans". It was easy to set up, effective, and totally free.
But I believe that recent changes to Facebook's algorithm have reduced the marketing value of Facebook pages. Going forward, page owners will have to pay to reach their Facebook fans.
Posts from your Facebook Friends don't always reach your Facebook Feed. The same goes for posts from Facebook Pages you've liked. This makes sense. I don't need to hear every last detail from that guy I went to high school with, or that page I liked last year. To determine which posts get displayed, Facebook uses an algorithm called EdgeRank. Posts that get more interactions are displayed to more users. And users who interact with a page are more likely to see future posts from that page.
As a result, Facebook pages only reach 16% of their fans every week.
This is disastrous for brands that have spent millions of dollars getting users to "like" their page, only to find themselves unable to reach these so-called fans. What's a page owner to do? Last week, Facebook provided the answer: Promoted Posts. Quite simply, pay Facebook to reach a higher percentage of your fans. The more you pay, the more fans you'll reach.
For example, we recently posted about our Name that Object Quiz #3. So far this post has reached about 1,000 of our fans. However, by paying Facebook $10, we could reach an estimated 3,500.
The question in my mind is what now happens to unpromoted posts. According to Facebook, "nothing has changed" about how unpromoted pages are displayed to users. And while this may be the case for now, one page's gain is another's loss. Feeds will become crowded with Promoted Posts, and it will be harder to gain visibility. Less visibility = fewer interactions. Fewer interactions = lower Edge Rank, and even more difficulty reaching fans.
Of course, the biggest worry is Facebook's incentive to increase revenue via Promoted Posts. The algorithm could change at any time, and it's not inconceivable that in the future paid promotion will be the only way to reach one's fans. To me, this negates the value of building a large group of Facebook Fans. Spending time and money acquiring a fanbase ceases to become worthwhile when Facebook acts as a gatekeeper, standing between you and your fans, and potentially charging you for the privilege. At JetPunk we will continue to try to reach our users via Facebook, but it's unlikely we'll spend more effort on further Facebook integration.