Facebook is not a charity!
I watched with interest this week as New York Times columnist Nick Bilton wrote an article in which he documented how he’s seeing massive declines in organic Facebook engagement on his posts and questioned the practice of Facebook prioritising paid content over organic. Facebook responded and stated that there is no play and pay going on and that their goal with News Feed is to show each individual the most relevant blend of stories that maximises engagement and interest.
What is being question here is the EdgeRank algorithm which is used by Facebook to automagically filter posts in and out of your stream with the objective to ensure that engagement is optimised and spam is minimised. It is an interesting topic to debate as users can question whether this is legally or ethically correct or question Facebook as a viable marketing channel. What I think we cannot forget is that Facebook is not a charity or a social service, you as a user or a brand may work hard to use this channel to build a network but that then does not give you the right to spam them with whatever useless content you think is semi interesting (as I have mentioned before in past posts). This algorithm rewards engagement.
There are a number of explanations that could explain Nick’s results, some of these include:
In making this analysis Nick was comparing the response to post that were made over a year apart.
Facebook could in fact be getting better at filtering Spam. The previous likes he experienced may have come from bots.
User are liking the same amounts of posts per day, but as they have more friends there are more posts in their newsfeed.
We as both users and marketers need to understand that the organisations that we engage with through the Internet, whether this is Facebook, Google or Twitter to name a few have a responsibility to both their users and their shareholders. While they have to find the right balance between user experience and techniques to grow revenue it is up to us to develop the necessary skills to utilise the channels and the services that they provide to generate the results that we expect. I read every day the success both individuals and brands have managed to achieve using Facebook, while there is definitely rules to engagement this does not seem to be a barrier to success.