Facebook’s new policy: Gotta pay for fans to see your posts

June 8, 2012

$ Facebook LogoFor small businesses, non-profits, and other organizations, Facebook offered a cheap and effective way of communication.

I suppose that this is still technically true, but it is much less the case now than it formerly was.

This shift is due to changes that have taken place over the past several months.

The first of these changes was probably the revamp of Facebook’s News Feed, which didn’t necessarily show you all of the posts and status updates of your Friends and Likes, but rather prioritized those which have seen the most activity (Likes, comments, etc).

Facebook’s Timeline, the next change, was forced onto all non-personal Facebook Pages on March 30, 2012.

Among several other changes, the new format caged all user comments within a tiny little box on the right-hand side of the page.

Okay, so that change was pretty bad for on-page fan interaction, but the owner of a Facebook Page could still reach all of the Page’s fans through status updates and other posts, right?

Yes…except that now you have to pay for it.

Facebook ReachOver Memorial Day weekend, a new metric showed up under all posts telling the Page admins just how many of the Page’s fans had the post appear in their newsfeeds (see image at left).

In other words, you are no longer seeing all of the posts by the pages that you “Like” (there are one or two ways around it for the Page’s fan, not the admin, and you can read about them here and here).

I don’t know the exact algorithm used to determine which posts will appear to which fans, but it seems to show up more frequently to fans who visit the Page more often.

In addition, the cap on a given post’s reach seems to be at around 20% of a Page’s fans.

To show up in more of your fan’s newsfeeds, as mentioned above, you have to pay.

Depending on how many “Likes” your page has, you could be looking at spending anywhere from several hundred to several thousand dollars per post – to the people who already like your Page.

Many of you reading this may be wondering if Facebook is going to do the same thing to individual’s Facebook Pages, but that simply isn’t going to happen.

Individual users of Facebook are a valuable commodity – after all, how could Facebook justify its high prices for ad space if the number of its individual users started decreasing?

That’s not to say that there won’t be a negative impact on Facebook’s individual users, though.

Unless you take extra steps to keep up on the Pages that you Like, you likely won’t see their updates.

Furthermore, since companies will have to pay to get a message out to their fans on Facebook, they are going to post messages that are more likely to give them a return on their investment.

Translation: more ads, less consumer interaction.

If Facebook’s new direction is toward a higher saturation of advertising, it may, in fact, be what half of Americans, according to a recent poll, believe it to be: a fad.

How so?

That same poll also found that 57% of Facebook users say they never click on ads or Facebook’s sponsored content, and only a fourth say they rarely do.

If other users out there are anything like me, ads on Facebook are such an annoyance that I go out of my way to ignore them and anything that they have to say.

Increasing the amount of ads on Facebook will cause me to visit the site less often, and possibly make my visits shorter.

Less interaction with the Pages that I Like will likely lead to the same result.

I “Like” certain pages because I want to stay updated and perhaps engage in interactions about their products or services.

I would never like a page if I thought it would subject me to increased advertising.

With these changes, that’s what’s going to happen, so I’m far less likely to Like something on Facebook.

Hopefully Facebook realizes its folly and changes its ways.

If not, it just took another big step towards going the way of the dinosaur.