Already in 2012, Facebook made changes to their EdgeRank algorithm that dictates what brand content appears in follower feeds in a move to get people to pay for the promotion of their content. I remember the backlash at the time was huge. So I would have hoped that by now Facebook would have addressed the criticisms and gone back to let followers decide what they want to see and not make that decision for them. But apparently not. Nick Bilton from the New York Times blogged on Sunday that he had started to see little interaction on his Facebook page despite having over 400,000 followers. All that changed when he paid $7 to promote his columns with his followers on Facebook. Believe it or not he saw a 1000% increase. EdgeRank also has another feature that influences how often your follower sees a new post depending on how that follower has interacted with you recently, if he has found your posts interesting and how much he has engaged with you. I started to notice this worrying development in the past few weeks on the brand pages that I am managing for my customers. They also have noted a significant drop in interaction. And (even worse) so has my own timeline.
Should an algorithm really make a decision for you what posts you should see? Should a person not make that decision by blocking or unsubscribing? After all it is people who have made a decision to like or follow other people and things that are of interest to us whether we engage, like or just read. Facebook surely is overstepping a boundary here.
To me the true value of a Facebook Fanpage is that I can reach all my followers with every post. As a brand, I value the presence I have on social media channels as they also help me as a brand to engage with my community and get an understanding of my audience. But probably this is of little interest to Facebook (even if they do want the data that is created on a daily basis). What is the true value of a Facebook Fanpage if you do not get all the reach with your post or that you as a follower are not reached? Maybe as a consequence one has to really consider to build up brand audiences on other networks such as Twitter (where the timeline shows everything) or Tumblr.
Hopefully Facebook will remember their mission statement to “make the world more open”. And find a balance between revenue and entertainment in order not to become the old MySpace that in the end looked like a littered, paid content cemetery.