Facebook’s Failure for Page Owners and Fans

For years now, I’ve been an ardent fan of facebook. I’ve been happy with every change they’ve employed. I loved the new time line. More importantly, I have facebook to the thank for a decent amount of traffic to my sites, and for developing my reputation in the world of photography.

Sadly, in recent months, and like many other page owners, my fondness of facebook has been replaced by a certain degree of resentment.

Ever since facebook rolled out its new ‘Promote Posts’ feature, exposure on both my personal photography page and HDR One have dropped significantly.

I’ve been aware of my decreasing exposure for a number of months, around about the first time I first read about facebook’s plan for this new feature.

For those of you who aren’t page owners, facebook only shows a very small percentage of your followers your updates. For full coverage they’re asking for payment now.

It’s interesting that facebook have repeatedly said that they control our updates in this manner in order to stop our followers’ walls from being bombarded with posts  – they’re looking out for our followers’ best interests. It’s also interesting that for a princely sum they’re willing to forego the best interests of these very same followers.

I’ve noticed on my wall, almost daily, other page owners complaining about the complete lack of exposure facebook is giving them. I asked page owners to comment if they’d experienced the same thing. To quote a few:

Frederico Rebeiro: As the owner of A Place For Roses ( my photo page) i’ve experienced that, and im informing my audience that they need to put my.page on am interest list on facebook (not a pratical or desirable solution. I think im gonna go.tp G+ and promote my work there too. And keep my Page on flickr too, because facebook is takong internet freedom away from users

Dawn Conners: I’ve noticed activity on my page has gone down. Is that the reason? I’m a small fish in a big pond and not sure how to confirm.

Kelly Lukach Cardona: photographer with a page. I despise it as I do no advertising except for facebook which is supposed to be a “free” social network. As they say, nothing in life is ever free!

Andrew Lowther: Exactly the same on mine Jimmy – down 50 to 75%.

Steve Huskisson: Same thing here. Steve Huskisson on g+

Brian Barry: Same deal here, we’re on G+ too; Wandering On. Don’t know many people using it right now.

James Murray: its really annoying. I’m at the point of ignoring Facebook for photography

Paul Boger: Yep, we have that same problem. And you’re right, it’s become a larger issue lately.

Harish Srinivasan: Have faced this issue sometime back and have already cribbed in fb.. even that post was not shown to all since it was not promoted. Let’s use Google plus. Sack fb.

A.D. Wheeler: Hey everybody, I need your help. Facebook is now charging content providers like myself to display my work on your newsfeed. After years of building my audience, FB has taken 90% of it away. 

And here are two recent articles from photographers complaining about the same exact problem – Nelvin.com & lighting-essentials.com.

What has this proven? Well up until now, that there are a few disgruntled page owners.

We can add some figures to make the picture clearer:

Insights From HDR One (click to enlarge)

Facebook’s Promote Post feature appeared on HDR One around the end of September, and unsurprisingly, our ‘Reach’ dropped significantly around that time too. Why do we have a small spike in October? Facebook very generously gave us a free $10 credit to test out the Promote Post feature, which we used to promote this month’s downloadable magazine. Even with the $10 credit we didn’t achieve the heights of mid August.

My personal photography page has taken the biggest hit:

‘Promote Post’ appeared on my personal page around the time I arrived back in the UK in late August, early September, and the drop in number is incredible – at least a 50% decrease.

My latest photo had a ‘Reach’ of 900 people. From a page that has about 7,600 followers that’s about 11% exposure. However, in January of this year a survey found the average exposure was about 17%. Again, that’s a noticeable decrease. However, if you look deeper we begin to notice that the true number of followers receiving your update is far lower.

Latest post

Facebook have very deliberately chosen the term ‘Reach’ to refer to exposure. ‘Reach’, in the words of facebook, is ‘the number of unique people, fans or non-fans, who saw any content about your Page in their News Feed, Ticker or on your Page’.

In other words, when someone likes one of my photos, and it shows up for a split second in their friends’ ticker in the top right, facebook consider that ‘Reach’. Therefore, the true number of followers who receive my updates is significantly lower.

Update:

Shortly after publishing this, I was made aware of the following article from Social.Ogily.com.

“Facebook announced last Thursday that it would alter the algorithm that decides what a user sees on their newsfeed. The crux of the change is centered strictly on organic brand page posts, in an effort to de-clutter the amount of posts served up to mobile and tablet users by brands.”

“The change comes at a time when Facebook is trying to maximize the amount of paid advertising it has on the platform, in an effort to bump its share price after a struggling stock share post-IPO.”

What can we do about this as photographers?

Firstly, I understand that facebook is a business and needs to make money. As a business owner I get where they are coming from. However, facebook was undoubtedly profitable long before this new feature was introduced.

It seems we have to forget our photography pages, and start to take advantage of the ‘subscribe’ option on our personal profiles.

Alternatively we could use a different social media tool. At this moment, google+ hasn’t held page owners hostage, and that is certainly where HDR One will be headed in the near future.

Sadly, most of us can’t close down our facebook pages. It wouldn’t be prudent. Not only would you lose potential exposure, you may have worked hard to get the followers you have, even if they don’t receive your updates. Who knows, in the future, facebook may change their practices.

My name is Jimmy McIntyre and I’m the editor of HDR One magazine. I travel for a living, learn languages, take pictures, and generally strive to enjoy every minute of the waking day! You can visit my daily HDR travel blog or subscribe to my updates on facebook – Jimmy McIntyre
  • Chris Newham

    I have never been into facebook perhaps this is a sign you should switch focus to G+?

  • Jim Nix

    Jimmy, I really think this just shows that you have to promote yourself everywhere and not rely on a single medium for exposure. In other words, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. So that means FB (page and personal), G+, Twitter, 500px, Flickr, and more (in addition to your first priority, the blog itself). It’s more work but better to have balanced exposure in case one of them tanks (or starts charging a lot like FB). Let me know how it progresses for you and if I can help with any of it mate! Good luck. Jim

  • http://www.facebook.com/freribeiro Frederico Ribeiro

    Moving to G+….facebook is full of it…and is it only me or the compression they put on pictures is crappy?

  • http://twitter.com/Edithlevy21 Edith Levy

    Jimmy I agree with you. It’s been very frustrating. I’ve been trying to build up my fan base and this was a big hit for my page.