Gini Dietrich

Facebook Promoted Posts Remove the Level Playing Field

By: Gini Dietrich | November 5, 2012 | 

The awesome thing about the web and social media, in particular, is it levels the playing field. No longer do you need millions of dollars to spend on PR firms and ad agencies in order to build your brand and reputation among the masses.

Today all you need is a good writer, a self-hosted website and/or blog, and organically grown social networks. With those three things, you suddenly are competing with the big boys for reputation and credibility. You’re seen as a thought leader in your industry. You’re creating kinship among your prospects. And you’re selling in a way that has never before been possible.

All of the tools are free so it’s a really low barrier to entry. And it works.

The big social networks continue to run their platforms free to us because they consider us the product, not the user.

We’re the Product

Take Google for example. They have been successful because they keep introducing free features – analytics, blogging, RSS feeds, Google+, Docs, Hangouts, and more. Their thinking is of course, if they offer really good free features, we’ll continue using them, which boosts their pageviews and drives advertising.

Advertisers are their users. We are the product. And it works really well for them. They do, after all, have a market cap of $25o billion.

So why is it Facebook is trying to squeeze more money out of its users? Why not look at us as Google does…as the product?

Sure, I understand they’re now a public company and they have to find new ways to make money, but there are several business models before it lighting the path.

And yet.

If your business has a Facebook page, you’ve likely seen a decrease in “likes” and interaction. We have one client who went from 10,300 interactions per day to less than 3,000. Overnight.

Promoted Posts

Why? They aren’t using Promoted Posts to increase their visibility. In other words, they’re not paying Facebook to show their updates to the more than 63,000 people who have voluntarily liked their page and opted in to have them in their stream.

Only 30 percent of those people are seeing their updates. The other 70 percent? They have to set aside a budget to pay to promote their posts to those people.

Yes, those people who’ve already said, “Hey Facebook! We want updates from this company.”

If they were to pay for it, they’d need a budget of $228,800 to reach the people they were reaching for free before the social network’s IPO earlier this spring.

Small Business Implication

I run a small business in Chicago. We update our Facebook page 20-25 times per week. We have just a tad more than 3,500 fans so we wouldn’t be charged as much per post as our client. But we’d still have to spend in the $25,000-$30,000 range to reach the people who have voluntarily liked our page.

So I would have to decide if it’s more important to reach all 3,500 of our fans or pay for half a person to help service clients. I think you know which way I’d lean.

Suddenly the playing field is no longer level. We’re both the product and the user at Facebook.

Seems like a pretty big conflict of interest.

A version of this first appeared in my Crain’s Chicago Business weekly column.

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

  • Nice one, Gini.
    I’ve yet to test this, but apparently Facebook’s made a (albeit extremely slight) concession recently – see
    Seems that if you can get your fans to jump through the hoops, you can get them back again. Unfortunately I’m guessing that the majority of a brand’s fans aren’t going to do this.

    • @KEXINO I saw over the weekend that one brand asked its fans to like comments or even just post a “yes” so it would increase their chances of being seen in the stream without having to pay for it. It feels really icky to have to do that, but it may be the only way.

      • @ginidietrich  @KEXINO I’ve scolded clients for doing this, for just that reason. But on the other side, we’re still seeing success without promoted posts. I hate spending money. On the other side, I’ve only seen a few promoted posts, and they got very spammy, so I ended up unfollowing the business. One particular A-lister promoted posts about his new book and I couldn’t log on to Facebook without seeing it. Goodbye!  That’s the upside of this: it will force businesses to think carefully about how they post and promote. If they get to spammy, people can turn them off.

      • @ginidietrich  @KEXINO I hate that…there’s a lot of brands I like to follow on Facebook, but I don’t want to be the tool that likes and comments on everything they post so I can keep seeing it.

  • ryanleecox

    @ginidietrich @spinsucks I really loved this post Gini. Your apples to apples comparison explained it perfectly.

    • ginidietrich

      @ryanleecox Why thank you!

  • ryanleecox

    @ginidietrich @spinsucks oh and PS: #missyou PSS: Good Morning

  • rdopping

    Maybe you know this or you don’t but how does Facebook decide which people get your stuff and which don’t? It’s the wrong way either way but just curious.
    I listened to an interview between Chris brogan and Srini Rao where Chris was suggesting that Google+ is an interesting alternative for the express reason that it belongs to google and ranks higher than shages on Facebook ever will.  Now, that’s a gross generalization and paraphrased but the idea makes sense. now that FB is treating businesses in this manner maybe more will take the GM approach and opt out.

    • rdopping

      Shages? Well, of course! Geez, Ralph. Clearly I meant shares.

    • @rdopping The problem with Google + is that the general public still isn’t there, for the most part. And the latest numbers I saw is that time spent on G+ is dropping drastically.

      • rdopping

        @KenMueller Maybe we need to change that. Facebook doesn’t care about you any more than Google does. I don’t own my own business so I can’t say how a small businesses success rates on either platform but the fact that you have to pay to play is setting a dangerous precedent.

        • @rdopping How do you change it? I’m no there but rarely use it. It offers me nothing as a user. Plus, I have great success with Facebook for my clients because I’m not approaching it as purely a marketing tool.

      • @KenMueller  @rdopping I was going to say what Ken said. I like Google+ for SEO purposes, but it’s not a social network. No one is there. The geeky social media circles use it, but rarely is there a conversation like on Facebook. It’s just not as enticing.

        • @ginidietrich  @KenMueller  @rdopping Totally agree. It’s a better platform in theory – the interface is better and it’s tied in with search, but since the general public isn’t there, it’s not great for engagement.

        • rdopping

          @lauraclick @ginidietrich @KenMueller Sure. Gang up on the casual user with a big yapper. Ok, so if y’all don’t see a way out of FB charging you to share your business with your fans then you will have to do it the old fashioned way. Use your name only and share there just to be social.
          Interesting the opposition to G+

        • @rdopping  @lauraclick  @ginidietrich  @KenMueller It depends. Srinivas Rao of @blogcastfm sees WAY more engagement from the Google + page compared to Facebook. 
          I see a lot of value from Google + from the SEO side of things, but not so such as a social platform. Like all things, what works for some doesn’t necessarily work for all.

    • @rdopping Have you ever noticed how, when someone comments on a post that is a few days old, it gets a new life? That’s the idea here. The more people who comment on your post, the more likely it is to show up in the stream. But if no one comments or likes? You may as well be talking to a wall.

      • rdopping

        @ginidietrich Understood but how does FB help when you have to pay for the stream? I am still trying to figure out how to talk to people. I guess it depends on how you use FB then. What are you going to do to get all your 1,300 fans to get your great content? I agree that going to a platform where no one is doesn’t help but letting FB pave the way for paid social seems scary too.

        • @rdopping  If you pay for it, instead of it showing up in 16 percent of your fan’s streams, it’ll show up in 30 percent. Or 40 percent or 50 percent, depending on how much you pay. Or you can write super compelling content that generates likes and comments (asking people how much milk they drink in a week works really well, I hear) and then more of your fans will see it without your having to pay for it.

        • rdopping

          @ginidietrich I like milking it as much as I can. So, we have to be ok with 15% saturation. Well, damn, i hope I am in the 15% that gets the content because the ONLY platform worth their weight is Facebook.

  • atlanticwebworx

    Great post, Gini. It does, indeed, pull the rug out from under small businesses. It does something else, too – encourages those same businesses to focus more effort on communicating with their stakeholders on other networks where they can still leverage their efforts  (Google+, anyone?).

    • @atlanticwebworx The problem with Google+ is the mass audience isn’t there. When clients ask us about it, they do so begrudgingly. They’d rather stay on Facebook where their friends and family are already hanging out. They don’t have to do any work to connect with people there like they do on G+. But I do love G+ for SEO…Google wants you using their products so they reward you in search results for doing so.

  • AmyEtheridge

    Facebook Promoted Posts Remove the Level Playing Field via @SpinSucks

  • Not only is it bad for small businesses, it’s bad for us as users. I like the pages that I like because I want to see their information in my NewsFeed. What gives Facebook the right to decide what updates I should and shouldn’t see? It’s this type of eroding user experience that will cause people to jump ship.

    • @brittanybotti And, like Ken said, it bogs down your stream with spammy updates when someone sponsors a post. I don’t like it.

    • @brittanybotti Totally agree.

  • Completely agree here @ginidietrich . I’ve felt forced to start promoting posts to gain any traction, but as you said, I would have to spend a ridiculous sum to get any solid reach. Even though the whole thing is insulting, I promote posts with big news or a particular podcast we have done with the idea of getting a bit more reach. And it is working, but of course, I shouldn’t have to pay anything to get additional reach. I do have to admit loving that I now have the ability to target posts though.

    • @katskrieger The thing that bothers me most about this is we’ve already gained permission to show up in our fan’s news streams. Why should we have to target posts or pay for updates or ask our fans to go to our page and like updates so we show up? I get Facebook needs to make money. Make it from the people who buy advertising, not by those of us using the product so they have a billion users and can charge crazy prices.

      • @ginidietrich Very true.

        • @katskrieger  @ginidietrich I have a solution to this whole problem, but you’re gonna have to like my page and share it if you want to find out…

    • @katskrieger I would be interested to know what the difference in conversion rate is between those people who promote posts versus those who just appear organically in someone’s news stream.

  • Pingback: Is Facebook no Longer a Viable Option for Small Businesses? | Blue Kite Marketing()

  • This has definitely been the hot topic of conversation the past few weeks. I’ve been having an ongoing email discussion with a couple of colleagues about this for the past week or so. 
    The whole thing sucks. While I don’t necessarily agree with Facebook’s approach, it’s Facebook’s right to do it. However, it does feel like a bait and switch or a very underhanded way to go about driving revenue. From the user’s perspective though, it makes me wonder if the general population likes it because they’re seeing fewer brand updates. 
    I think the question becomes what do we DO about it. I don’t have all the answers, but I think now we need to focus on how we can help brands shift their focus to be successful in this changing landscape. I don’t think it’s time to ditch Facebook pages, but maybe brands should shift their focus elsewhere or change up what they’re doing.

    • @lauraclick I’m not sure what we do about it either. It’s pretty interesting to watch the EdgeRank of our client’s pages drop overnight. I think we now have to figure out if people liked our pages because they really want information from us or if they were just being nice. If it’s the latter, we have to create more compelling content. The more compelling, the more comments and likes. The more comments and likes, the more people see it. It’s just another game.

      • @ginidietrich  @lauraclick And to me, this is THE thing- I believe most “likes” on fb are just people being nice.  Most people do not come there to learn or engage with brands, regardless of how much content I try and force upon them! Most come to see cute ecards and whine about their kids/husband/job. I know, I am not really saying anything @HowieG hasn’t said before… Perhaps this will actual reveal just how ineffective FB is at promoting businesses?

        • @RebeccaTodd  @ginidietrich  @lauraclick  @HowieG That is why I go to Facebook. Sometimes I want to see pictures of cats performing random acts of “awe, so cute”

        • @ExtremelyAvg  @ginidietrich  @lauraclick  @HowieG For me, it is glorified email. As I am of a certain age, we did not have email leaving high school, so this is how I keep in touch with those peeps. And message my Mum. And try and make G Bang laugh.

        • rdopping

          @RebeccaTodd  @ExtremelyAvg  @ginidietrich  @lauraclick  @HowieG I can only imagine who G Bang is. Glorified email. Now there’s taking a stand. I knew I liked you for a reason.

        • @rdopping  @ExtremelyAvg  @ginidietrich  @lauraclick  @HowieG That’s this week’s nickname for Gini. Join me!

        • rdopping

          @RebeccaTodd  @ExtremelyAvg  @ginidietrich  @lauraclick  @HowieG Waddup G Bang?

        • @rdopping  @ExtremelyAvg  @ginidietrich  @lauraclick  @HowieG BOOM.

        • @rdopping  @ExtremelyAvg  @ginidietrich  @lauraclick  @HowieG …I’m sure Rusty is gonna send G Bang another sassiness report on me…

    • ErinKinzel


    • ErinKinzel

      @lauraclick Great post and discussion here. Regarding whether or not users prefer this model because they will see fewer brand updates, I think users will end up being annoyed by it. I have become highly annoyed because there are a few pages (some political, some for sweepstakes-type pages, and some for consumer products) whose promoted posts end up in my news feed and there is no way for me to hide them. Just because my friends happen to like that page doesn’t mean that I want to see continual promoted posts from them and as a user, I hate that they show up looking like content in my feed. I would much rather see posts from the pages I have chosen to like and be able to ignore posts from pages I have NOT liked.
      For marketing and PR I see the value of having these posts show up in the news feed but I think there is limited patience for that. My opinion is that when you try to make paid media look like earned media, that will only last for so long before consumers get tired of it and jump ship.

      • ErinKinzel

        P.S. I just did some investigating and realized that I can hide promoted posts just like I can hide any other post in my feed. (Yay!) I also realize that I can add pages I’ve liked to interests lists (or somehow indicate that I want them to show up in my feed) but I’m still annoyed that I have to take ten extra steps to see info from a page I’ve already liked.

  • ElissaFreeman

    Timely post, Gini. I think since Facebook starting highlighting promoted posts…I wondered is it worth it? Plus, I also wonder if people will genuinely like/engage in your product if it promoted within this medium? Does it take the shine off of the purity of the content?

    • @ElissaFreeman I think it does. I had something really interesting happen to me last week. I took a picture of the Starbucks holiday cups and uploaded it to lindsaymallen Facebook page. It asked me to promote it in order for her to see it! Um, what? I just want to upload it to HER page. I don’t care if anyone else sees it.

      • @ginidietrich  @ElissaFreeman  lindsaymallen That is crazy. I am fine with FB crashing and burning. Great post, Gini.
        How many words do you have?

      • @ginidietrich  OMG! Whoa! Wth???

    • @ElissaFreeman I think the choice of the word ‘purity’ says it all!

  • Hi Gini, great heads up post here…
    I don’t think most people see the conflict you pointed out here… or maybe I’m just slow 😮
    Monetizing your assets can be a dirty game. FB is under pressure everyday from some serious ass greedy people who influence how they do business and produce profits.
    We already know Zuck doesn’t have much respect for his users when it comes to ‘properly informing’ and ‘choice’ –  he just basically takes full advantage of their ignorance and laziness to make decisions for them.
    They murmur at worst… and then move on down the road while willingly giving more of their life over to Facebook.
    Put the greedy bastards at the top, together with the guy playing god with your virtual life, and you’ve have a scary combination at work there 😮
    Thanks for the thoughts, miss : )

    • @Mark_Harai being the number 1 resident Facebook hater here Mark you bring out a lot of great points. I have been saying for 2 years that facebook will be supplanted by something else eventually. Primarily because they don’t care about the users. Most people say they are too big to fail. So was AOL, Blockbuster, Yahoo Search, Yahoo, Netscape, etc etc etc
      Yesterday I tweeted that I was very bored with social media. Facebook yawns me to no end. I love twitter but use it a bit less. The other stuff out there I use some but sparingly. In 2009 the average facebook user spent 50 mins on the site a day. Now it is 19 minutes. The average person in the US spends only 13 minutes using social media.
      Curious if the trends will reverse or not. Looking for something new, slick,, neat, cool, fun, useful, know of anything?

      • @HowieG  @Mark_Harai It’s interesting to see the predictability of adoption curves played out in near real-time.

        • @jasonkonopinski  @HowieG You know Jason, up til recently I’ve never paid attention to much of anything, other than the conversations I was having with some really cool friends in the blogosphere.
          I’ve actually been diving into some analytic’s and tools to measure stuff on my blogs lately and t’s mind-boggling to see the real time information you can gather.
          Doing research market research is a trip; with the right tools and couple of clicks of the mouse, you can see adoption curves living and breathing – LOL! 
          Cheers, sir!

      • @HowieG  @Mark_Harai You want something new for social, Howie? I am with you- I withdrew from FB for months and returned reluctantly. My version of “new social” is this- I spend much more time with LiveFyre now than with pretty much anything else. Let me know if you find anything new and fun.

        • @RebeccaTodd  I struggle to see how you have the same social experience through Livefyre as you do on Facebook. I may have missed something.

        • @joshchandler I don’t believe that I said it was the same, I believe I said LiveFyre is much preferred. Facebook is glorified email to me- keeps me in touch with those people from my past in the pre-ee emm days (yeah, I’m that old). Basically, FB is sharing of trivial personal info to me. I find that LiveFyre and my blog communities are the spaces I seek out- I can’t wait to read Gini’s posts, read Howie’s snappy replies, some of Brian’s artful prose, etc. Much like the variable reinficement schedule of FB notifications, I immediately jump to attention when I get a livefyre update.  In fact, I am playing with IFTTT solely to get my LiveFyre updates texted to me so I can stay in the conversations in real time.  I do not have notifications enabled for FB, Twitter (on any of my 5 accounts), Path, etc.  So no- the experience is not the same.  I withdrew from FB for almost a year, and only rcently returned, as the CBA for me showed way to much cost for little return. Conversely, in the past maybe 7 months since I found Gini and her tribe, my social experience has blossomed, allowing me to learn and engage in dialogue with thought leaders. The best part of my day is my morning coffee while I review all of the blogs I love and comments left by my tribe. If you took my minutes per day spent across FB, Twitter, Path, Grooveshark, and Livefyre, LF would be where the majority of my social minutes are spent. Does that explain my position more clearly?

      • @HowieG @jasonkonopinski @RebeccaTodd Hey ladies and gentlemen, it’s good to hear from you all…
        As you know, we’re plugged into a community of first movers or people who are in a business that need to stay completely relevant technology wise, so I’m kinda the wrong guy to be asking.
        I’m just trying to keep up – – or catch up, rather 😮
        The most interesting changes I’ve seen on an existing platform are on Linkedin. It seems to me the latest changes are mostly based on encouraging quantity over quality actions. 
        It was a bit more creditable prior to the recent changes, which is good or bad, depending on you look at it. 
        One channel I would love to test drive and implement into my marketing strategy in the near future are Google hangouts. 
        I haven’t done one yet; however, it seems to me like an effective way to immediately launch your own web based TV channel if you desired to do so – pretty easily as well.
        It all boils down to why people are on social, what they’re getting out of it, etc.
        Facebook has grown significantly since 2009, and I suspect some of the more recent users may not spend as much time as the earlier crowd did, which would skew those numbers a bit.
        I hear you on companies appearing too big and great to be overcome in the marketplace.  What’s different about FB is how much DNA they’ve sucked from everybody’s veins over the last few years. 
        A good percentage of people’s virtual lives are being ‘lived out’ on Facebook and they’re doing things people NEVER WOULD HAVE DONE IN A MILLION YEARS 5 years ago.
        The world is really changing fast all around us… it’s like turning into a bad acid trip or something – HAHA! (Not that I would know anything about that!)
        Cheers, Howie!

        • @Mark_Harai  @HowieG  @jasonkonopinski Great reply! I was going to mention the recent linkedIn silliness, but you summed it up much better than I could have.

  • rjfrasca

    @JulieBIrving I couldn’t agree more, but I think Facebook will be the biggest loser in the end for the decision

  • I find this interesting. The investors have cashed out. They did so at $100bil. There is no reason to to have a push for faster growth or profits. But there is a different problem now. a tech company attracts talent with stock options. They don’t have the ability to pay in salary what more mature companies do. And if their stock is in the dumps they will have a big time attracting talent.
    Fan pages were by accident. They never were developed for business. Facebook and Businesses saw an opportunity and this idea was born. The fact is fan pages were always a big failure. I like 400 pages including arment-dietrich. I see about 3 posts a week from them. So my LIKE is worth zero for all those pages including arment-dietrich.
    As I am curious your client with 10,000 interactions how many were unique and how many total fans they have. A few select brands get really high participation rates because the brand is adored off line vs what the brand does on their page.

  • jeffbalke

    @currentlysavvy Thanks. Slightly flawed logic in the story but a good read.

  • JanMinihane

    Great post Gini, it ties nicely to my growing disdain of the the ‘like this post if’, ‘share if’, ‘comment if’ posts on FB, even from respected brands with very good digital agencies behind them, all desperate to boost their Edgerank. It just means I’m unfollowing/hiding a lot more pages now. I understand why they are doing it but linking to a few other comments here, it’s just cheap and rather depressing.
    Something has to give or the business model may well implode for FB.

    • @JanMinihane I just saw a small business post “just comment yes” if you like this post so we show up in your stream. It was an interesting case study on how people react. Is it OK if it’s the local Mexican restaurant but not OK if it’s Nike? Where do we draw the line?

      • @ginidietrich  @JanMinihane I was just going to comment on this! “click like if you like cats!” is one I just saw.

        • JanMinihane

          @RebeccaTodd  @ginidietrich  ha, I’ve also witnessed ‘click like if you have children/have grandparents/like coffee/eat cake’ – the (depressing) list goes on. I understand why but it’s depressing to see!

      • JanMinihane

        @ginidietrich I think that’s the hard thing, distinguishing when it’s ‘acceptable’  – I’ve seen many a begging post from small businesses asking people to click on the ‘get notifications’ option so they get notified on their posts (I’ll stop their or start ranting about that new option too!).
        We tend to feel more ‘sorry’/more willing to tolerate from smaller businesses as they ‘struggle’ more but that makes it an unfair playing field, no? Or does it even out as the bigger brands have the bigger budget to play with….
        I can’t help feeling that a lot more users will tire of the requests to like/comment/share, not just old social media geeks?

  • Gino, a quick review of the comments finds no one disputing your excellent point. When a large company has so few defenders, you have to wonder how long until they crash and burn.
    Hey, you ever thought about applying for a job ad CEO of struggling social media giant? Bet you’d get a few letters of recommendation…

    • @barrettrossie I don’t think Zuckerberg is a bad CEO. He knows what he knows and he brings in experts for the stuff he doesn’t know. That’s a smart leader. But I also think he’s crumbling to Wall Street pressure and going away from what it is he set out to do. The Crimson just posted their article online about when it launched. It was pretty interesting to see he said he would never charge users to use the site. I think he’d like to stay that altruistic. Google has figured out how to make us the product; I don’t understand why Facebook can’t do the same.

  • Use Empire Ave and send people on missions to like your page and see if that helps balance it out. That is only partially tongue-in-cheek.

  • I’ve got it! G you need to invent your own social network. Like Livefyre, but with pictures of puppies. I have nothing insightful to add- the comments here really say it all.

    • @RebeccaTodd I would join that social network.

      • @ExtremelyAvg Me too! I need to think more, but really, LiveFyre is my favourite thing about “social”. THIS is where I learn, connect, grow. Is this the future- more smaller networks based around actual commonalities? Rather than one monolith? Can I use some anthropological theory about societal collapse to support this notion? Where is my copy of A Short History Of Progress? Coffee?

    • @RebeccaTodd You may be onto a winner there.. 🙂

  • Ginny Soskey

    Gini, awesome awesome post! I’ve been mulling this issue over for a while and I agree with you–Facebook is shifting toward pay-to-play rather than organic, which has huge implications for small businesses.
    I’ve been interested to see how PR/marketing/communication folks are responding to this change–some are pointing out how frustrating this while others are urging people to work harder/be more creative to get around this barrier. We’ll see how people feel as Facebook’s model evolves, but for the moment this is still a pretty even debate. Thanks for this awesome post!

    • @Ginny Soskey I definitely think organizations need to be more creative and valuable in their use of social media AND I think Facebook needs to figure out if they’re content creators are users or the product. If they’re the user, then by all means, charge us for using the platform, but don’t also expect that we’re also going to create content for you.

  • kmskala

    Unfortunately, in business there is no level playing field. Never has been; never will be. It’s the same reason why Mom & Pop’s Hot Dog Stand doesn’t advertise during the Super Bowl.
    Why should Facebook be any different? It’s a free platform. They have the right to make money & I don’t see it as a conflict of interest. It’s about the economics.
    The issue I have is with brands putting so many of their assets on Facebook & other third-party assets. If your business is suffering because of a change Facebook made, that’s poor business. Nothing more; nothing less.

    • @kmskala First off, I liked your post about this a few days ago on The Electric Waffle.
      I don’t think that the Super Bowl analogy is entirely accurate.  In that situation, the network has created/purchased the content that brings in viewers that the advertisers pay for.  Here FB is essentially asking the content creator to pay.  That’s a bit like asking the producers of The Mentalist to pay CBS for the right to reach viewers that only tuned in to watch the show.  People are only on Facebook because of the wealth of content that is there and Facebook isn’t creating that content.  Asking business content creators (and in some cases personal people) to promote a post is a little ridiculous.  
      Of course, no business should put all of their eggs in one SM basket, but FB is still the behemoth and FB often has an out-sized portion of followers even for diversified companies.  Whether Facebook has the right to do it, it’s still pretty inconvenient.  
      Plus, let’s be honest, people want information to come to them. Facebook used to help companies push information consistently into one central place.  No user is going to reach out to hundreds of brands on their own turf, but the same user will happily let a couple hundred send information into a feed they are already looking at.. A strong online hub will definitely increase conversions and sales, but needs those outer spokes to bring people in and Facebook has been the best hub for many brands for awhile.

  • Would be super interesting to get some “affected stats” from George Takei! 
    Also, I’m thinking more and more that G+ and their business pages are sounding better and better!

    • @LisaMarieMary I follow him, too. I love his posts.

      • @ExtremelyAvg  @LisaMarieMary George Takei is awesome. I wish I were that funny.

        • @ginidietrich @ExtremelyAvg @LisaMarieMary Not knocking George or anything, but I’m pretty sure he gets his funny pictures from Pinterest. They’re just not as funny when I post them!

        • @ginidietrich  @ExtremelyAvg  @LisaMarieMary
          I wish you were that funny too.

        • @Sean McGinnis  I constantly ask myself why we’re friends.

        • @ginidietrich When you ask, who answers and what do they say?

        • @Sean McGinnis I guess you can’t read.

        • @ginidietrich And when you answer yourself, what do you say? 😉

        • d @ginidietrich An is it an ”out loud talking to myself in the mirro” sort of moment, or is this all happening in your head. Does that voice in your head answer in a Gollum-like voice?

        • @ginidietrich And is it an ”out loud talking to myself in the mirror” sort of moment, or is this all happening in your head. Does that voice in your head answer in a Gollum-like voice?

  • ginidietrich

    @akeats xoxo

  • ginidietrich

    @currentlysavvy Dislike is right!

  • My page interactions have still been increasing, but just as Jordan had his rules, superheroes gave theirs. Although, to be fair, my “increases” still don’t match your clients reduced figures.
    Overall, your post is rather astute. It’s a desperate moneygrab and will likely send many seeking respite w/ FB’s biggest competitor(s).

    • @TonyBennett We’ve been testing different things on our page and some things work while others do not. I also test things on my personal page and it’s funny to see what gets its second wind four or five days later.

  • Just came across this – here are some alternatives outside of FB (perhaps not possible), but I like the thought behind it.

    • @katskrieger I’ve gone to read that link four times now. I’ll get there eventually!

    • @katskrieger I think the second point on the list in the article you link to “Concentrate on making your website more advocacy- and engagement-oriented. ” is the most important alternate marketing method to Facebook!

  • Justjeffpls

    @ginidietrich Between u n me, r u a democrat r a democrat?

    • ginidietrich

      @Justjeffpls I don’t talk politics!

  • ginidietrich

    @sradick Great minds…

  • pwfitz5

    Gini, nice post, good insight. This has been on my mind lately because of the number of political “promoted posts”.  While it has helped my manage my “friends” list, some of the posts are driven from family members with differing views, so while those cannot be eliminated, they still really P*&^ me off.  With this FB is trying to monetize the “Reach” the platform offers; as the political posts show though Reach without targeting is like Gin without Topics, it has little value.  Because I like my conservative uncle, and he likes conservative politics and politicians, my timeline is littered with promoted posts that really annoy me.  From the beginning FB has been capricious in their treatment of the community of users (the product) and gotten away relatively unscathed. As a public company, it needs to operate differently; the question is can they?

    • @pwfitz5 You crack me up! The political rants – from both sides – are driving me crazy, too. I cannot wait until tomorrow is over!

    • @pwfitz5 It’s not the thoughtful political posts that get me. (I’m guilty of those. I was an aspiring political campaign manager at one point in my life. I got better.) What gets me are the posts fraught with hyperbole and emotional blackmail and the FRIGGIN MEMES that make me want to scream. GOOD NEWS:  I see that Google created an extension that replaces political posts with pictures of kittens. Enjoy.

  • ginidietrich

    @sradick You know what they say about great minds

  • mlaffs

    @elissapr @ginidietrich @spinsucks I saw @gordonwithers post something similar

  • Unlike.
    –Tony Gnau

  • Hi Gini,  interesting post.  One issue is that most brands are sending updates to fans that are not interesting so filtering out some of this content is actually useful.   It’s hard to figure out the best solution but at the end of the day Facebook look at this as a big revenue opportunity and as share price goes down I think the percentage of fans that see the content without paying will also go down.
    What about the future when they say that your Facebook page becomes a destination site like a website so no updates goes to a newsfeed?  So the only way of getting an update onto a newsfeed is paying…..  Not beyond the realms of possibility.

    • @ianmcleary You know, it’ll be interesting to see how/if that happens. I know there are pages I already visit daily just to be sure I see what they’ve posted. I suppose you could eventually have RSS feeds set up for the stuff you really want.

  • ginidietrich

    @Tehcobra Well, thanks! I guess our experience with it doesn’t count @markwschaefer

  • ginidietrich

    @Tehcobra I agree it does encourage good posting strategies. But it also can be VERY expensive for small businesses.

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  • ginidietrich

    @DebWeinstein xoxo

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  • nickwuthrich

    Same here!
    This new model is KILLING our small web publication.

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  • ltcassociates

    Hi Gini,
    You’ll get no argument from me over the “promoted post”, but I might quibble over a couple other items from your otherwise excellent article.
    First, I don’t think it’s accurate to say, “Google’s been successful because they keep introducing free features.” Why not? Let’s do a quick thought experiment: if Google charged users directly (say $0.99/month) while Bing and Yahoo remained free (ie ad-supported), how long do you think folks would stick around? Fact is, it’s competition that keeps Google free (ie ad-supported), they have no other choice. (If you want to know why they’ve become a world-dominator, look to copyright-violation and a look-the-other-way attitude toward piracy… but that’s a story for another blog).
    Second, in your example of the business with 63,000 “likes” who chose not to use “promoted posts”, I suspect (although you may know better) that one of their reasons for eschewing the paid posts was inside knowledge that many of those inflated likes were gamed (ie fakes). Why pay to reach fake customers? Unless that’s a major, national brand, that’s an awful lot of likes…(“likes”, we’ve learned, are indicative of almost nothing.)
    I’m not surprised Facebook has turned to “promoted posts” as a way of raising revenue– its targeted ads have been under assault almost since the beginning. Ever since its Instagram purchase I’ve argued that the site is basically nothing more than a photo-sharing and music-oriented site for teens– NOT a serious place to conduct business. That’s why I continue to remain skeptical about investing our resources there.

    • @ltcassociates Hey Stephen! Thanks for the thoughtful response. 
      I don’t entirely agree with your assessment of Google. If they started charging us and Bing and Yahoo remained free, I don’t think everyone would move simply because they’ve become more than search for us. They’ve become email and documents and storage and calendar and analytics and payment processing and more. And it’s all free. They know, in order to keep charging advertisers out the wazoo, they need to keep offering us (the product) more things for free so we’re so entwined in how we use them, we’ll never leave. Of course, saying never is a generalization as any technology could go away, but I don’t think we’d leave for Bing or Yahoo because neither offer the other suite of things we’ve become accustomed to using in our business and personal lives.
      On the Facebook page, it is a major national brand and it’s one most of probably “like.” My point is that some of those likes probably are spam or robots, which Facebook is being proactive in deleting, but also that it’s absurdly expensive to reach those people who have actively said, “I want to read your updates.”
      Take my business as an example. We have nearly 4,000 likes on our page. We did not pay for any of those. We have done nothing to promote the page (other than have it in the sidebar here). It has grown organically. If we were to pay to promote our posts, it could cost us upwards of $30,000. 
      My point was that I could either pay an entry level person to join our team with that money or I could use it to promote our Facebook page to people who have already liked our page. I think you know which choice I’d make.

      • ltcassociates

        @ginidietrich  Hi Gini,
        You’d already won me over with your Facebook math– it just doesn’t add up.
        Back to Google: you make a sound case that by this point, the entirety of what they offer amounts to a “suite” with which we’ve become quite fond of, reliant upon, or plain used-to.  Other competitors may offer *better* products, but we’d have to acquire them scattershot, a la carte. That’s a competitive advantage right there.
        However, allow me to throw one more thought-experiment your way, just for kicks. Pandora and Spotify have both faced uphill battles in the “freemium” world getting free (ad-supported) customers to buy-up to the paid, subscription model where those companies can actually turn a profit. So let’s ask of Google: would *they* be able to transition their users from the free (ad-supported) model to an ad-free, subscription model?
        Would you pay to use an ad-free version of Google?
        I suppose the answer is “no” for two reasons 1) we actually derive value from those ads and expect to find some of our search results in them, and 2) unlike Pandora and Spotify, Google is actually making a bloody mint on ad revenue (cause it doesn’t have to pay royalties).
        Well, that’s how thought-experiments go.
        But what about Twitter or Facebook? Would you pay to use an ad-free version of those properties?

        • @ltcassociates OK…on Google. No, I probably wouldn’t pay for an ad-free model because the ads don’t interrupt my experience. I know not to click on the links in the light orange box at the top of search results or the ones in the right-hand sidebar. I barely see those anymore. 
          The reason I pay for Spotify is the ads interrupted my experience. I’d be listening to my music and then I’d have to listen to an ad. That drove me nuts. So yeah, totally willing to pay for it to get rid of that interruption.
          Same thing on Twitter and Facebook…the ads don’t interrupt my experience (yet) so I’m not willing to pay for an ad-free model. BUT I would be willing to pay for some sort of subscription if they could help me filter and grow and create different and new conversations without my having to hustle on my own. We pay for Hootsuite because they give us data we wouldn’t otherwise have.
          What about you on Twitter and Facebook?
          This is fun! You can come by and debate me any time.

        • ltcassociates

          @ginidietrich Hi Gini,
          All right, let’s think about a Twitter or a Facebook for a moment… I feel like you’re getting my mind charged up, and I like it : ) If I think of your comment as a Customer Feedback Form, here’s what I’ve just learned:
          1) My reticence to bombard you with ads and instead to keep them unobtrusive may backfire as a strategy. Why? Because the easier they are for you to tune out, the less likely you are to ever pay (Twitter or Facebook or whomever) to make them disappear.
          2) My customer would pay for business tools which help her grow and expand… and I can create and develop these, but as soon as one of my competitors drops the price to FREE, I’m screwed.
          (This phenomenon occurred in the music industry, and was followed by publishing, and decimated the ability of most artists to make a living wage.)
          In other words, although you’re willing to pay for valuable Hootsuite-like tools, it is also true that many similar tools exist for FREE which depress the ability of the market to invest R&D, then charge enough to recoup and profit. It takes just one to lower the cost to FREE to undermine the entire endeavor (after all, there’s a not-insignificant minority online who don’t believe in paying for anything…)
          What were we talking about…? Ah yes, in my case, I would pay for Twitter, because I’m that kind of guy (I reward companies I use and like whenever there’s a “pay as you wish” option), but given the choice, I’d leave Facebook in a heartbeat, since the Catfish comes for all of us in the end.

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