Like many — even most — people, I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook Inc., its intensity growing as I expect the platform help me communicate and Facebook tries to make more money.
Facebook does a lot of really great stuff, but it also stumbles badly and doesn’t do nearly all it could. And because Facebook is where the audience is, we have no choice but to engage with it.
The battle to stop companies from “freeloading” their advertising on Facebook is causing a lot of collateral damage to small businesses and community groups that lack the ability to pay.
To wit, a kid’s softball team shouldn’t need to have a social media budget to use Facebook effectively. But it probably does.
A post on a Facebook page or in a group only reaches a small number of those who’ve taken the effort to “like” the group or page. A message on a page with 200 likes might only reach 10 or 12 people. Or it might reach 70.
If you want your message to reach more — remember these are people who have already indicated they want to receive your content — Facebook makes you pay.
The trouble with missed content
The only way to be certain of seeing all the content on a page or in a group is to visit it specifically. If you participate, you may also receive notifications of new content and comments. I generally find these to be as aggravating as they are useful.
Most Facebook users, at least in my experience, take the easy way out and allow Facebook to display its best guess of your interests on your newsfeed.
If you are actively liking and sharing information from Pages and Groups, you should see much of what is posted. But if the Group doesn’t get a lot of messages, you may miss important content.
My solution is to allow users to subscribe to the content they care about, perhaps adding tuning features similar to those used on Google News to personalize its feed.
Treat people and non-profits better
Facebook should treat individuals and do-gooders differently from for-profits. If you are using Facebook to organize a small club or organization, you need some assurance that members will actually see what you write.
I need to say, all this is my impression of Facebook and my interpretation of articles written about the service.
Small business needs guarantees of what their investments in “boosting” Facebook posts and advertising on the service will get them. Something more like paying for performance than paying for hoped-for performance that only Facebook knows how to estimate.
If I have 1,000, 10,000 or 100,000 followers, how much will it cost me to reach them all? Over what period of time? Forget random members, these are the people who have already said they wish to receive my messages.
Really big spenders probably know this already, but I don’t see how us small organizations can really understand what they are purchasing. And how much free carriage should not-for-profits and community groups receive?
It is often useful to share the same information with multiple Facebook groups or pages.
But, when a user shares a post from one page or group to another, it creates a separate and disconnected instance of the post. This is even worse when some smartphone user posts a photo of a post to another page or group as though it were the original post itself.
Because the cross-posts are detached from the original post:
- The original poster is unaware of the new conversations that develop and won’t even know to look for them.
- If something changes — like the original poster changes the post or deletes it — the new conversations will go on until (and if) someone goes back to the original post.
- Sorting out this confusion, especially with hundreds of random but wanting to be helpful users mixed in, is a recipe for getting nothing useful done and doing it very slowly.
We need an option (perhaps a default option) that links reposts to the originals so that change to the original are reflected across all the locations where crossposting has taken place. Then a message can be distributed across Facebook without a major loss of control. Plus, the original poster could kill all copies of the post system-wide because they would be linked.