If you have "no place to go," come here!

Facebook charges you to talk to more than 15% of your "friends".


This might be old news to you, but not to me. In a conversation with Davey D today, really on the new FCC rulings being promulgated, he noted in passing that Facebook is now charging you for the privilage of talking to all your “fans” and “friends.” I spent a few minutes online right after the conversation, and confirmed it. According to Facebook's own advertising department, on the average, about 15% of the folks you imagine are getting your stuff are getting it. The other 80 or 85%..... not. That's one in five if you're lucky, one in seven if you're not.

Ever wondered what that “promote” button at the bottom of your posts is? That's the doorway to talking to ALL your followers or friends or fans. It's the ONLY doorway, and it's a toll booth.

This is not a bug, it's a feature. Facebook is not a level playing field, and it's certainly NOT a meritocratic online universe in which you can “earn” an audience and then once that audience is built get to address them merely by posting on your Facebook page in the certainty that they will see it. What would be the profit in that? If you want to talk to ALL of“your” friends instead of the random percentage FB allows you have to pay Facebook for the privilege, about $1 per click thru item per “friend.”
Although Facebook is Black Agenda Report's number one referrer, I have long wondered at the relatively meager returns we get, a fraction of the traffic we should have been seeing if all 12K people who "liked" the page were actually seeing the articles. We've got pretty good Google Analytics records for the last several years. I wonder if I look back to the spring of 2012 will I see the fall-off that this article mentions, around the time they stopped automatically forwarding stuff to everybody who's your “friend”, you “fan” or who “likes you?
What we are seeing then, is Facebook turned into another forum where only those with the big bucks can really afford the mic. It's the American way, at least until we can drastically change our country and our world.
The lessons here are that email itself (along with the old-fashioned telephone and the radio) are the killer people-reaching apps. You KNOW when a phone call goes through. You can employ low-cost means to verify that your emails are reaching people, and local radio, when available, reaches a local audience like nothing else. Community building, reach-building and organizing will not happen on Facebook, for the most part. Often they will happen in spite of it. In-person events, with people signing up to get on your lists, and giving you their phone numbers AND email addresses are the gold standard, as far as building up an audience goes.

I'm certainly not the smartest guy in the universe. I am far from even the smartest person I KNOW. But if I didn't know this about Facebook, it's a safe bet that most people don't. Some large fraction of these are doubtless still walking around with the illusion that it, and some other parts of the online universe are techo-meritocracies where persistence, originality and whatever are rewarded ---- for those who can just get it right. It's important that we help people out of this delusion, when and wherever we can. I mean I knew the Facebook

Is Twitter gamed the same way? I dunno yet, or if so, how. Will look into it. I promise.

Thanks to Davey D for the tip.

No votes yet


twig's picture
Submitted by twig on

I had no idea. Actually, it makes no difference to me, because I bailed out of there a while ago. But I do know a lot of people who still think it's a completely free way to publicize their efforts. Guess not. This needs to be sent far and wide.

Thanks, Bruce!!

DailyPUMA's picture
Submitted by DailyPUMA on

Mark Cuban of Blog Maverick does an excellent job of covering social media issues every now and then. When Cuban writes something about social media, it is usually laden with a lot of good information based on his own actual personal experiences.

chicago dyke's picture
Submitted by chicago dyke on

signing up for WasteBook. what a total waste of time.

i'm much more interested in the process by which so many people decided that it was the thing to do, people who were, a few years ago, contemptuous of anyone "eating cheetos & wearing pjs in momma's basement while blogging."

this blog remains the finest interface of its kind, imho. and i thank lb for that. but even the more commercial formats are superior to facebook, in my experience. and i guess i just can't understand why so many people decided that facebook was worth all that time and effort that i see people putting into it, for so little, and at such great expense.

but no, i'm not surprised and i think i have actually read this about facebook before. remember, *you* are the product on facebook, and your data is being sold, even as you don't get a cut of the profit.

Submitted by lambert on

I prefer FaceBorg. I got an account because one has to go where readers are... Except, as Bruce points out, that was all fake, wasn't it?

Submitted by brucedixon on

Blogs are great, but on the intertubes somebody has to KNOW they are looking for you to stumble across your work, or be referred by somebody. I too was determined to avoid FB for all the usual reasons.

But I went to a Drupal users group meeting in Atlanta three years ago and learned that some astounding percentage of all internet users were on FB, something like one in four in the US. Twitter, they said, had one in six of all internet users.  Since my job is to figure out how to grow Black Agenda Report, there was no getting away from it. If you wanna get a message out there, the logic went, and this is the putrid waterhole everybody's gathered around, and folks who mark themselves as your "fans" or "friends" automagically get the updates you post, it was a no brainer.

Until I could find something else with that kind of reach, something open source and/or non evil corporate I had to figger out how to use FB and not let it be the timesuck it was designed to be. I jumped on FB as a way to solve the problem of how to introduce BAR, and my and Glen Ford's work and the work of the others that we publish regularly to a wider audience. I do some web work for the occasional paying client as well, and this is something they demand. Twitter the same, though I am just now getting around to learning to productively use it.

We got decent returns off the investment in terms of traffic and referrals, methinks, but early this year we experienced a drop in FB referrals and a noticeable dent in total traffic.

Around that same time, the wall posts of many friends I really wanted to keep up with simply vanished from my news feed. I went to their pages, and observed that they were still posting but it was not turning up on my news feed unless they directly posted to MY FB page. Now I know why. I also noticed this because having to write a piece or two every week for BAR and other stuff I need an endless stream of ideas to borrow, people to bounce stuff off before I actually write it.

Having hundreds of partially or fully like minded (and not) friends was very useful. On the minus side, lots of lazy people have come to believe that FB IS the internet, period, exclamation point. They won't email you or answer your email, they will only send you a FB message.

For the first several months on FB I did not even check the FB messages. For all I know FB has been throttling the propagation of posts to fans and friends forever, but from the time they admit doing it at present levels my traffic fell. I think this meant that some people who depended on seeing BAR articles in their FB feeds no longer saw them, and remained in the time-sucking FB world. So now that I have 1800 "friends" and BAR has 12,000 "likes" it's incumbent on me to find some ways around FB's restriction on my getting through to the people who have expressed an interest in my work.  

Several strategies occur to me, but I will not discuss any of them in an open forum like this for obvious reasons. Now that it has been concretely demonstrated to me precisely how FB is denying me access to people who have expressed an interest in my work, I clearly see that the ONLY list we absolutely possess is the list of email addresses of people who have used our site's page to ask us to send to them every week. Using Drupal and CiviCRM we can track opens, forwards and lots of data that we don't have to share with anybody.

And I cannot walk away at this time.  Talking to 2000 of BAR's friends by the simple expedient of 20 minutes spent posting on FB is still a justifiable use of my time.  Talking to all 12000 would be better still, of course.

A serious effort has to be put into enlarging our own email and phone list, by using pluggers and signup sheets at events around the country our friends attend and especially in places where we have folks on the ground, and  by begging people to sign up for the weekly email and forward it promiscuously, by doing some ads on selected radio stations and web sites too maybe........  I need BAR to contribute to our ongoing work on the ground with the Georgia Green party as well.

So that is my FB story.

Submitted by lambert on

... that chat box in our sidebar (tribune) can take remote content. If you ever upgraded, it could be a p2p solution for like minded drupal blogs rather like twitter except we would truly own the content....

Submitted by lambert on

The modules, which are pretty much ready now, seem to inter-relate better. It's a more robust and less finicky platform.

That said, it won't be easy....

Submitted by lambert on

.... it's taking advantage of new funcitionality. In general, the parts seem to fit together better with D7. It's easier to add stuff on.

chicago dyke's picture
Submitted by chicago dyke on

people are doing, mostly. he was a very sad example of someone who literally lives in the FB world. all day, every day, he's pushing his FB pages, friending people, leaving links to his page in the comments of other people's FB pages. he's very much all about self promotion, to the point of being a nasty troll, imho. in a certain sense, i'm glad he's mostly using FB to promote himself instead of email, as that helps me avoid his constant self spamming. he tweets too, and uses it in the same way, running around asking people if they want to read his content. he even has tweet adder, which 'follows' people's tweets that he himself never reads.

the thing i noticed about him and many of his "friends" is that a lot of people don't seem to do anything but read a tiny section of pages that they've already decided they want to read. the client was horribly guilty of that, unless it directed related to him and his blegging, he wouldn't bother reading, let alone commenting on someone else's pages. there also was very little conversation at the places i saw. every once in a while some topic would engender one, but for the most part comments seem limited to "you go, dood!" or "awesome!" and the like.

obviously, i know something about limited blog reading, being an experienced blogger who has gone down to a pretty short list of blogs that i read and mainly on a limited number of topics. but i would never make the claim that i was doing anything else. FB users seem to think that they are somehow reaching a large number of 'dedicated' readers and i'm not at all sure that is the truth, no matter how big your numbers are. bruce has discovered one reason for it, i suspect there may be others.

Submitted by lambert on

I spent a lot of time on FaceBook this election so here are some thoughts:

1. On FB I ran into left and right, Democrats and Republicans, and even alienated former Republicans; some of them I could even communicate with! In 2008, on Kos and later other blogs like Talk Left of Open Left, I ran into Democrats only.

2. However, on Kos in 2008 the number of people I connected with was much greater. My circle of "friends" on FB was much more circumscribed.

3. What seems to propagate easily across these small FB networks is Internet memes. Some of them leaped from my Corrente persona to my RL persona! (And I swear there was an Obama shop somewhere churning them out.

4. In general, my "reach" on FB is far less than it is at Corrente, even though Corrente is smaller. That's true partly because of how FB is gaming their social graph, but also because FB does not reward the long form work that I really like to do.

FB really is a lot like Farmville... I enjoyed Farmville for awhile, and in fact it helped me get out of a bit of a slump... But finally, it really was just a waste of time.

okanogen's picture
Submitted by okanogen on

I'm finally to the point where I might go a day without looking at my facebook. I know. Bad.

One of the things that pushed me away was the horrific partisanship from my friends (and "friends"). Sometimes I had to just kick them out because I had enough, or some unknown aspect of their character was revealed. But just as often, I found people who I could agree with, or at least have a rational discussion with, who I would have hardly thought I could agree with. Disillusioned Republicans, primarily of the libertarian model. Also people who had voted Obama, either left or right, who realized he was the asshole we all knew he was in 2007. You can't do that very much on a political-type blog, which tends to self-select based on common views and then becomes a bit of an echo chamber. I include Correntewire in this. Not to say there is anything "bad" about that, it is the nature of the beast.

It would be great if everyone "shared" this post on their facebook! ;-)

The only other place I've been able to have an online conversation with people across the political spectrum is "special interest" forums (whether they are sports related, or music related, or hobby related, whatever) which have set aside a forum for their members to vent their politics as a safety valve to keep from having it infest the other threads. "You are upset because Fender makes electric guitars in Mexico? Take it to the politics page, no place for that here." In some ways, Facebook is just a meta-special interest forum, where you swap people you know (mostly) and common personal interests, such as family and activities for strangers who are interested in a specific interest.

Interested to read what Cuban says, thanks for the liink.

Submitted by lambert on

I ended up having the most interesting discussions at Bruce Bartlett's FB page, of all people.

Bartlett seems to be under the delusion that his new-found friends on the Democratic side are in some way better, besides being different, but for now, at least his mind is reasonably open...