The social media landscape is still in its infancy. Many people overlook this. We use these tools so frequently that’s it’s easy to forget that a mere 10 years ago, the world was very different. Sure, we saw the rumblings of an early web 2.0…but what do you even call what we have today?
As all of these platforms learn to walk, we can plainly see that each platform has it’s benefits and drawbacks.
- Linkedin struggles with engagement
- Twitter struggles to stay competitive with features while remaining true to its simplicity
- Facebook struggles to bridge the gap between monetization, user experience and privacy
They all struggle with monetization; all except perhaps Google, which likely only cares about using Google+ to grow it’s already substantial ad revenue.
In this early stage we struggle to know what to measure, how to accurately measure it, and what return to expect from doing it. These social sites seek to grow revenues and become a viable, sustainable business. In the midst of all of this we see new tactics cropping up as a result of marketers and salespeople trying to adapt to a set of platforms and tools with its own set of rules.
One trend I find disturbing is the open begging for more likes.
Facebook has created a culture that begs for attention
While other sites allow uninhibited visibility into the profiles and pages we follow, Facebook has created something different. Through the use of EdgeRank, an algorithm designed by Facebook to “increase relevancy and decrease spam,” Facebook controls what we see in our newsfeed.
From what we’ve seen, Edgerank gives brands two options to reach their audience: either pay for it (via promoted posts or ads) or beg for the 6% that see your post to like it.
There is no disputing this, this is fact. If you want to cite the 1-5% of pages that are organically getting engagement, please remember that even still, they are only showing up in a fraction of their users newsfeeds.
If you build a network either organically or through ads, 80-94% of your effort is wasted. For every $100 you spend acquiring likes, only $6 is working to build your brand because once you get the like, you will only reach 6% of that audience.
This makes it VERY difficult for agencies like mine. Facebook has a billion people, but it has never been more difficult or expensive in social media to reach them. It’s hard to recommend to our clients that they focus on Facebook when 94% of their effort is wasted unless they pay or beg.
Facebook has begun encouraging page owners to behave in certain ways in order to get more “engagement.” They say things like “short conversational posts get more engagement” or “ask a question to get people talking.” Facebook is encouraging page owners to behave in certain ways and is moving us into a space where the real value of social media is being diluted as page owners are forced into a sad and pathetic display of begging for likes and comments.
This is because Facebook’s Edgerank algorithm assumes that ”likes” and comments are important indicators of interest, and uses these signals to determine what to show you. To quote Tom Webster of Edison Research, “an algorithm is math + assumptions.” In my opinion, the assumptions that Facebook is making are causing problems.
Rather than putting together something of value, and earning the engagement, we are seeing brands resort to gimmicks and ridiculous, off-brand, like and comment begging tactics, simply to get into the newsfeed.
This serves no one.
This way out
Facebook should cease this nonsense immediately. The abomination known as Edgerank serves no one: it doesn’t serve users, it doesn’t serve advertisers and it doesn’t serve Facebook.
- Users want to see what they opted in for, if they don’t like it, they can “unlike” it. There’s no better way to get a page to learn from mistakes than to have users leave of their own choice.
- Brands want to reach the audience they paid or worked to build. They don’t want to spend time gaining 100 users to reach 6.
- Facebook wants brands to advertise and use Facebook more effectively in order to validate Facebook’s business value. By making brands beg for likes, put up off-brand content, or irrelevant questions, simply for the sake of volume and meaningless engagement, it diminishes the platform’s true power. It also causes brands to pay for ads that most don’t want to pay for. Brands would be much happier paying for ADDITIONAL exposure rather than the exposure they thought they’d already acquired.
I get that Facebook needs to make money, and no one is stopping them. But the push for revenue should embody Mark Zuckerberg’s own words: “we don’t build services to make money; we make money to build better services.” If that REALLY is the case, why are we forcing brands into the position of begging for attention rather than earning it? If the goals is to truly make Facebook a better place…make it one where brands earn their way in.
As a side note: only 16 to 24 out of 275 of you that read us via Facebook will see this.