Facebook Find$ a Way…

With much fanfare followed by a tremendous thud, Facebook became a publicly traded company earlier this year. Opening at around $38 a share, it has seen lows as low at $17.50 and closed on the day of this writing right around $20. It may or may not ever see $38 again. It won’t be for not trying though… It is expected that Facebook will generate $2.16 billion in advertising sales in 2012. That is no small feat to say the least. Anyone who is on Facebook knows how insidious their advertising is. My home page holds on average, 8 advertisements in the right hand column. We could spend a while discussing who, what and why web sites advertise there. But, we’ll save that for another time. You’ll also find advertisements on your photo galleries and just about anywhere they can be crammed in.

Now, Facebook users are faced with a new round of advertising in the form of “Sponsored Posts.” These can be annoying to the user, like when your best friend “liked” the other Presidential Candidate and as such his liking kept showing up at the top of your page!#$)( What is going on there? It is Facebook’s newest strategy for extracting money from the business community that supports it. You see, it’s not enough to entice you to advertise on Facebook. They figure some good old fashioned arm twisting is in order.

What we don’t like about “Sponsored Post” advertising is the way that it is being forced down our throats in an “or else” move by Facebook. They have come up with an¬†algorithm they call “edge rank” which calculates how long any post will survive in the news feed before it is invisible. Recently they have cranked this “edge rank” to the extent it is estimated that only 10-20% of a businesses fans will ever see the post. To 80% or more of a businesses audience, the business has become invisible. There’s no reason to go into the calculation they make here. That’s not the point. This is being done to force you into paying for your post through “sponsoring” it, so that it stays up in the news feed longer for more of your fans to see it.

The crazy thing about this is, we think, having the option to “sponsor” a post is a great idea. We just hope that Facebook can learn to use it as a carrot instead of a stick. Because, as it is, it actually is counter productive. Because, when a business can only get a few people to see its posts without paying for it, what is the best way to get in front of more people? Create more posts… the overall quality of the posting goes down and the news feed gets noisier and contains less quality. ack! The real crime is that real people have made real decisions to follow a business so as to stay informed with what they are doing and with this setup, most of them can’t see the businesses regular daily feed of information. This is happening to bands, artists, florists, restaurants, shops and virtually any kind of business.

We have been testing the tool that lets you create sponsored post advertisements. It’s quick and easy to use. For most businesses it’s not even that expensive. If you sponsored one or two really good posts a week, it might cost you $50 a month to push it out to a wider audience, which could be money well spent. But here is the real rub. You are given two options to advertise to a) just your fans or b) your fans and their friends. We have found in both instances that instead, Facebook is showing it to whomever they can. We get people from other countries when we are sponsoring a very localized post. This is not good and we hope to see Facebook get much more transparent with whom they show the sponsored posts to. After all, the whole premise of sponsored posts is to put your post in front of your actual fans!#$%

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