Radio Wars

Hey Facebook, promote this!

Since we redesigned Bay Area Sports Guy at the end of April and added that little Facebook widget on the right side, we’ve seen a huge uptick in the amount of “Likes,” with over 100 in the last month. That’s great news. The bad news is that most of you who now “Like” the page are seeing a very small percentage of the activity that goes on there, because I refuse to be extorted.

About a week ago, a popup window started appearing every time I tried to post something on the BASG Facebook page asking if I wanted to “promote” the post. I had no idea what that meant and figured it meant paying Facebook a fee to show my post to people who don’t already like the page. So, I’d click out of that window and go on with my day.

In the days that followed I realized that there was a significant drop in the amount of response to each Facebook post, at least compared to what I had seen before. No big deal. Maybe it was due to the holiday weekend. Or the content wasn’t exciting enough (after all, I haven’t written about the “radio wars” in a little bit).

Then a day or two ago I noticed that under each Facebook post there was a little note that said something like “125 people reached – 24%.” Then my wife, who spends WAY more time on Facebook than I do said she barely sees any of the BASG posts in her timeline anymore. So I checked out this “promote posts” feature a little more, and found this:

This might make sense for a business like a coffee shop, which might post a mix of little notes like, “It’s a sunny morning, hope you have a wonderful day” with status updates that include coupons, or announcements on special events. If you want to push business, maybe you promote. If not, just leave it alone.

That could work for BASG, too … in theory. Facebook’s a lot different than Twitter, and people seem to get annoyed more easily on FB if you’re constantly cluttering their timelines. So I save almost all of my irrelevant stats and terrible jokes for Twitter, where people are a little more tolerant of chatterboxes and serial retweeters. Mostly on Facebook I just post content. However, that involves promoting about 1,000 posts per year. Since we want everyone to read all of them, to maximize reach on Facebook I’d have to promote every single one.

I don’t care if Mark Zuckerberg’s IPO didn’t do as well as planned — I’m not paying $5,000 a year to that twerp so he can eat more Big Macs on his Italian honeymoon.

I’m not the only one who isn’t happy about this development. It seems Facebook believes we owe it to them to use their site, because we need their platform to promote ourselves. Huh. Seems to me like if everyone pulled out of Facebook, they’d have no buzz, no users, no IPO.

I know how businesses that many to believe are “in the public trust” (like pro sports franchises) are more than capable of wringing every nickel out of our pockets, because they know that we’ll just keep coming back for another shakedown. Perhaps it’s my own feelings on Facebook (“No, I don’t care that your baby is sick, or that you just bought rainbow chard at the farmer’s market, or how you just came across the wisest pseudo-spiritual quote that CHANGED YOUR LIFE.”), but I never felt like I was getting a service that I’d be tempted to pay for.

While we see a little overlap between Facebook and Twitter in terms of who’s visiting (or interacting with) the site, the BASG Facebook page does include people whom I wouldn’t reach otherwise. I definitely don’t want to lose that, and I’m not going to boycott Zuckerbook anytime soon. But unfortunately, unless I start paying to “promote” posts, most of the FB people aren’t going to know when things go up on the site. Is this Facebook’s shark-jumping moment? Probably not, because people like looking at others’ photos at work and FB also bought Instagram. But if you’re a blogger looking to promote your content and still make rent, it’s probably best to put all your eggs in Twitter’s basket.

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