Where is Facebook going?

Why Big Business Has To Pay Facebook And You Might Too

Where is Facebook going?Facebook had made several recent updates that pose a significant challenge for bloggers and business. EdgeRank makes “engagement and interaction” vitally important and the only other option is to pay. Now there’s a new wrench in the gears with the feed “separation“changes. Let’s take a look at how this affects bloggers and both small and large business and what we can do about it.

Update:The term “EdgeRank” is no longer correct but the principles are the same.

Friday afternoon I was listening to an interesting radio show; NPR’s “Here and Now” with Robin Young addressed Facebook and their promoted posts advertising program.  Robin Young interviewed Nick Bilton, columnist and lead writer for New York Times’ Bit’s Blog about his recent post, Disruptions: As User Interaction on Facebook Drops, Sharing Comes at a Cost. You can listen to the podcast of the interview below but Nick Bilton has 399,000 Facebook followers and has noticed a drastic decline in Facebook likes and shares.

The Social Problem?

Mr. Bilton’s post seems to point to Facebook’s revenue interests for the decline in what were popular posts before Facebook launched their “promoted posts” program. While I don’t doubt for a minute that Facebook’s number one priority is for their shareholders (I’d be disappointed if it weren’t), I do hope there’s more to it than an old fashioned squeeze play (?).

It’s EdgeRank Silly

Back in November I explained that Facebook’s algorithm (EdgeRank) requires interaction for effective exposure; the more interaction from friends and followers, the more exposure. No or little interaction, in the form of likes, shares and comments, results in less exposure.

Now while EdgeRank can pose a challenge to most bloggers and marketers, it is possible to increase exposure and take advantage of the new system. We simply engage with our followers more often, post great content and watch our analytics improve. The trick is encouraging that “act” from your followers because they actually have to DO something to keep seeing your feed.

Pay To Play?

So, what does big business do when interaction is not an option? Hire a team of social media operators to interact on their behalf? Perhaps, but the more likely option is to pay. Facebook holds the cookie and, right now, it’s the best cookie around so they can ask for exorbitant advertising fees for companies that feel the value of the social media platform warrants the expense.

So How Does That Affect You?

You don’t have to be a large corporation to struggle with EdgeRank; you just have to have an established business that’s taking up far too much time for the required “social tasks” to get the most from Facebook. Will you be willing to pay to promote your posts? I imagine that will depend on the profits indirectly generated from the exposure and, sadly, that will be very little for most bloggers.

Now The Bad News

As rough as EdgeRank has been, many social media experts think engagement on Facebook will get even more difficult with the latest update, at least for your Facebook business page. It looks like business (fan) page and Group updates will no longer show in user’s home page feed. Let me say that again, Page and Group posts may no longer show in the main news feed. That’s huge! Your followers will need to click their “following” feed to see what you’re trying to share.

The Takeaway

I’m a firm believer that foresight can make the difference in a booming business and a dismal failure. If your blogging business is long term, build your social empire strong. Have you noticed how the mega blogs seem to have enough momentum even though we see very little interaction from that “guru blogger?” It’s the same with social media.

You see, Facebook EdgeRank requires interaction but it DOES NOT require two way interactions. By that I mean, as long as a large number followers are liking, sharing and commenting on your Facebook posts, you are golden. Facebook sees that as a signal that those users “want” that content and will continue to serve it as long as it’s wanted and available.

Now, as for the separate feeds on Facebook and our pages no longer showing on the main pages? I’m hoping someone has a solution for that. What I’m going to do, in the mean time, is post everything through my personal profile by “sharing” my own Facebook Page updates.

Is Facebook Moving Toward A PAID Only Format For Business?

Start Now!

Can you imagine trying to convince hundreds of thousands of followers to share or like your content? That’s a tall order for sure. That is, of course, if the interaction and engagement wasn’t there from the beginning. The way I see it, the best time to “grow” that engaged audience is before the numbers become unmanageable.

The Contradiction

Now Nick Bilton’s story would seem to contradict what I just detailed above since he said his follower’s engagement dropped from a very high percentage in a very short period of time. This would indicate that either the common understanding of EdgeRank is wrong, or Facebook is trying to force businesses to pay for social media success. Is it possible that once Mr. Bilton’s “inactive” followers no longer were exposed to his updates, there weren’t enough “active” followers to keep the momentum up? I’m sure that his “active” followers don’t engage on every update and after a while those followers will drop off as well. If that’s the case, Facebook want’s personal users and paid businesses and we’re fighting a losing battle.

Your Thoughts

Either we need to work on our following’s engagement or Facebook is moving to a “Pay to Play” system for business. Which do you think it is? Any advice about the latest “separate feed” issues on Facebook? Is Facebook even worth all of this trouble? I’d love to read your thoughts below in the comments.

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  • http://www.tipsntricksblog.com Srikanth

    Hi Brian D.Hawkins,
    Great Post !! Was really helpful to find About Google Edge Rank and also Ads Posting !! Thanks For Sharing!!
    @Srikanth

    • http://hotblogtips.com/ Brian D. Hawkins

      Glad to help Srikanth.

  • Rashmi Sinha

    Hi Brian, Thanks for this great share!!!
    For me if you are on top of the mountain, you can dictate terms, no matter what the world say or think. SO yeah, Facebook is worth all the trouble if one is looking to earn money and make a mark in the virtual world.

    • http://hotblogtips.com/ Brian D. Hawkins

      Thanks Rashmi, we’ll put you down for “Facebook’s worth the trouble.” :)

      • http://www.techinitio.com Rashmi Sinha

        Lol!!! Funny. But then it started in a dorm room and have rocked our world in less than 10 years!!! So yeah, it is worth it :D :D

  • http://imdiscounts.net Sarah Harper

    Nice post, facebook is becoming more tougher for marketers, even for those that follow legit and right ways. The big example is they’ll cost you $100 to send each message to CEO of FB Mark Zuckerburg :D

    • http://hotblogtips.com/ Brian D. Hawkins

      Hi Sarah, that’s news to me but I haven’t tried to send Mark Zuckerburg a message before.

  • http://www.theworldtoptens.com/ Arslan

    Another informative post Brian. So we have to pay for likes and share. This is not fair. Big business can do that but we can’t. So i think we’ll continue creating unique useful content that everyone would love to share.

    • http://hotblogtips.com/ Brian D. Hawkins

      It’s true Arslan, Bloggers are kind of stuck in the middle when it comes to Facebook.

  • http://www.imjustsharing.com Mitch Mitchell

    It was an interesting conversation we had on this topic today. It certainly looks like we’re either going to have to pay for it or come up with really creative ways of promoting it. We’ll all have to figure out if it’s worth it in the end.

    • http://hotblogtips.com/ Brian D. Hawkins

      Really creative ways indeed Mitch. I’ve actually increased my views and interaction on Facebook recently but that doesn’t translate to blog traffic.

  • http://myliferefunds.com/ Marshal

    Thanks Brian for sharing great post. I Think Facebook is also going on foot print of Google. As Google Going paid for its maximum service after becoming popular. So Facebook also follow this strategy to become paid for Business.

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  • http://www.templatesreview.com Evan

    Very informative blog post, I really like this, however, it is not that easy to get to that level. This is because discouragement will surely comes around and if you can’t stand it, you will definitely give up. Blogging need more than passion to generate enough money, you got to be determined, no matter what comes your way.

  • http://tracigregory.com Traci Gregory

    I feel sure Facebook has just gone to pay to play …. they are a business and they are there to make money, and we keep thinking about what a great boon it is to us. Really, the only boon is for Facebook, and were it my business, I’d feel the same way. (Sadly)

  • http://www.h4hitech.com sapna

    HI Brian,

    Great information shared!

    I’m still learning to use FB effectively so it has really come in very handy for me.Edgerank appears to be difficult to understand but you have simplified that.

    Thanks for this great share.

    Sapna

  • http://www.quantumseolabs.com Yasir Khan

    I really don’t it will work because it first started as a free social media site and it’s reason why it garnered lots of members so if they imposed payment for business they will turn to other social media sites that are free like Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and Google 1+.

  • http://www.thesocialmediabloke.com Andrew

    Thanks for a thought-provoking post! The sceptic in me says that Facebook is just looking for that ‘pay to play’, but like you I would prefer to increase the engagement of followers without needing to pay to promote posts. Sharing your fan page posts through your personal page is a good idea and of course keeping your content relevant and interesting so that your fans are looking for your posts!

  • http://internetdreams.com/ Samuel

    I don’t know man. You really think they are going to take out the updates of business pages from the news feed?

    That would suck extremely since in no way will a user just randomly want to check a “no name” brand everyday. For a beginner, this is extremely hard on them.

    Right now, Facebook is trying to really clean up its user base and how information is passed around including its new design that is going to roll around soon.

    I just hope they don’t slap even more the lower-level businesses but at the same time increase its quality for the sake of the small business.

    I don’t what to say right now. I am going to watch them closely for now. Good article.

  • http://www.guestus.com Guestus

    Against all previous opinions, I would not jump yet, saying that companies will not get on this wagon so quickly as thought..If you look on the Internet, at different statistics, in travel industry for example, the revenue brought from Facebook gets up to only ~18% in the big picture. Is one thing to be present on Facebook and another one to pay Facebook.
    Plus, let’s face it.. the most active users on the Facebook are 18-30 years range, with low/no income. Statistics are saying it, not me..

    We shall see if social will beat Google. My bet is not!

  • http://billysbilling.com/blog Nikki

    My personal use of Facebook had gone down significantly before I started my blog earlier this year. Now, I pretty much use the audience I already had to get the word out about my blog. I’ve created a Page, but not much activity – now I see why since you’ve explained things a lot better than Facebook will!

    But even when I get to the point of having to pay for views on Facebook, I can’t say it’s something new. Google started the business model a LONG time ago. I’m surprised the EdgeRank algorithm got here so late.

    It’s expected that as Facebook grows, it’ll be more costly to enjoy the traffic for businesses. I’m okay with it. Because once you spend to build a significant audience, you can just pamper them in interesting and dynamic content. They’ll do their part and get the WOM out about the business if it’s valuable.

  • http://techpepe.com/ Rajkumar Jonnala

    well this is a bitter news for users but it might also have some logical advantages right

  • http://www.guestpostshop.com/ Ioana

    The way I see it, when you’re running a blog or small(-ish) company, the best thing you can do, if you don’t want to pay for promotion on Facebook, is to figure out those ‘very creative’ ways for promotion. For instance, it really pays to have authors with something of a high profile in their niche. If they already have a fair number of followers and also share blog posts or website content on their personal profiles, as well as engaging with the blog/company fan page, chances are these concerted efforts are going to translate into more engagement with the page, as well as increased traffic. My two cents :)