I own a small brick & mortar retail business and I have the requisite Facebook page for our customers. As a former marketing executive/consultant I am well aware of Facebook's desire to wring as much advertising money out of me as possible - but yesterday I smacked my head into the Facebook pay-to-play wall.
Out store Facebook page has, as of this morning, 632 followers. Not a huge amount, but we don't put any real effort into building a following so this seems decent for a small store in a small town.
I would characterize those 632 people as being passionate about our store. We never offered any special incentive to "Like Us", so I assume that these folks are doing it because the want to hear about what's going on in the store.
And so, in one of our infrequent posts, I announced that we were having a Pre-Holiday Sale. I think this is the kind of information that the people that follow us would want to know. But apparently Facebook feels differently. This post has been up for 24 hours and Facebook has only shown it to 5 of our followers.
This decision is made by the Bot they call the Edgerank. This is the algorithm which decides which posts you, as a Facebook user, are going to see in your timeline. In 2012, Facebook changed Edgerank significantly. Officially, the purpose was to protect Facebook users from Spam:
What a load of horse shit. Just so you have this straight in your head, Facebook will filter posts from a Page that you explicitly followed, but eagerly show you ads from anyone who built a demographic profile which you fell into. In other words, they purposely did not show my followers my post so that I would pay to "Boost" my post to those very same followers.
Now this is not news. None other than Marc Cuban was incensed by this move when it happened in 2012. So I know that I am late to the party in vilifying this move. When I was consulting, I tried to educate my clients on this phenomenon. I guess the reason for this rant is that this post shows how heavy handed this Bot is now.
Jeff Doak, of the ad agency WPP, put it into perspective at the time:
We will continue to support out Facebook page. But this is purely a commercial effort, not a social one where we develop a relationship with our followers. This is Facebook's choice - not ours.