Fuck Facebook... In the Face12-10-2012
I hope you have heard by now that Facebook has changed the way that users see Page posts in their newsfeed. Before this move, Facebook's algorithm to display Page posts in users' newsfeed was mostly based on how many users initially interacted with the post organically (liked, commented or shared), then it would be shown in more newsfeeds. As of a month or so ago, Facebook (presumably to get Pages to pay to get their posts seen) has drastically reduced the visibility of non-promoted Page posts in newsfeeds (by about 50% in many reported cases).
Facebook released this statement as to why they did this:
"We're continuing to optimize News feed to show the posts that people are most likely to engage with, ensuring they see the most interesting stories. This aligns with our vision that all content should be as engaging as the posts you see from friends and family."
In Facebookspeak, this really means that they are hurting for cash (and Nasdaq score) and want brands, now that they have worked so hard over the past few years to get fans to Like their Pages, to PAY to get their posts seen by most (or even just a fraction) of their fans.
If I was on the board of directors at Facebook or a shareholder I would be applauding their brilliant business move.
One small issue. This KILLS indie musicians who don't have massive budgets like huge brands like Coca Cola or Lady Gaga. When this became public knowledge last month, Musician Pages initially spread the "Add us to your Interest Lists" (asking their fans to follow a list of instructions to put their Musician Page on their interest list so they'd see them in their newsfeed) post quickly and virally to attempt to get around Facebook's destructive move. The major problem with this non-remedy is that everyone who saw this "Add to Interest List" post by the Page was already in the small minority of that Page's fans who see their posts so the new algorithm doesn't affect them. It's redundant to "Add to Interest Lists" as Facebook has clearly already recognized that these users enjoy seeing this Page's posts.
Facebook has also mentioned that they don't want users newsfeeds to feel like they are constantly bombarded by advertisers (brand Pages). The major issue with this is that I assume average users would prefer a Musician Page post over a Coca Cola post. And since Facebook is virtually weighting all Pages the same with this new "pay to be seen" algorithm, Coca Cola has the budget to promote their posts to get seen and your average indie band (me and you) do not.
So in the end users will most likely get bombarded EVEN MORE by HUGE brands and barely (if ever) see posts from their favorite indie bands.
What to take away from this?
Well, remember Myspace? I knew many bands who were massively successful on Myspace and believed it would always be around and used Myspace as their one-stop shop for their fans. Most bands didn't even have a dot com website that they owned - just a Myspace. Then when Myspace died in 2009/2010 they lost access to virtually their entire fanbase.
The one thing that is reliable (and will be for the foreseeable future) is email. BUILD YOUR DAMN EMAIL LIST. You need to OWN your fans. You don't OWN your Facebook Likes. At any time they can pull these shenanigans and you lose access to the majority of your fans and you have nothing you can do about it.
If you don't have an email list of at least half the number of your Facebook Likes then you are way behind on this! Have a sign up on the home page/splash page of your website and offer an incentive to sign up (like a free song). Get all your band members to post on their personal profiles to sign up on the list (include the link). For now, at least, friends still see friends posts on Facebook. Tweet this and make sure you pass that email list signup clipboard around at every show. Give away stickers for those who sign up. Get the email signup on your mobile site so you can say over the mic at shows "go to myband.com on your smart phone right now and sign up on our email list and you'll get this next song in your inbox."