Thursday, October 30, 2014

Why Bother with Facebook?

On Tuesday I tooted my own horn, and today I vent some steam – Facebook steam.

If, like me, you have or administer a Facebook fan page, you probably know that the number of people who see your posts on their walls is at the mercy of Facebook's algorithms. In late 2013 Facebook implemented a change to the algorithm that determines what content appears on people's walls, greatly affecting fan pages. Cynically, it can be seen as a ploy to get more money through post-boosting (paying for more eyes to see the posts), but at the time it was said to be directed at getting more "news" on people's walls over "viral memes," which were seen by Facebook honchos as shallow and unappealing.

What the above tweaking did to my archidose fan page, which can't really be considered news and is hardly a page that sells anything and therefore can't afford to boost posts, was to make its "reach" (number of people seeing posts on their walls) plummet – from roughly 1,000-3,000 per post (or 10-30% of my ~10,000 fans) right before the tweak to about 100-300 per post after (1-3%). This screenshot of a post from summer 2014 illustrates just how small a reach is now taking place:

[Screenshot from my archidose fan page]

Now I'm aware that a whole industry exists to help companies take advantage of Facebook, keeping on top of the weekly tweaks that range from minor to, in the above case, pretty major. But I use Facebook as a way to let people know about a blog post or a book received, or sometimes to link to content on another site; it's more about sharing than profiting, even if clicks to my site notch up the ads being counted and chances of people buying books via the Amazon sidebar; we're talking pennies at a time – nothing for me to get upset about. I'm not going to pay for tips and tricks, and I'm not going to pay Facebook hundreds of dollars per post to get a thousand more eyes scrolling past my posts on their walls.

So basically I'm venting because the question posed in the title of this post is serious: Why bother with Facebook? What is the point of me manually posting to Facebook if only 1.6% of my fans see my posts on their walls? (1.6% is based on the 180 people reached in the Book Briefs #19 post and the 10,656 fans I have right now.) My emails sent to subscribers are automated, and I'm pretty sure a lot more people see my blog posts in their inbox than on Facebook (and they don't even have to click over the website to read the content, since it's all in the email – that's how much I don't care about traffic to my site).

So what do you think, should I bother with Facebook?