It may seem like I have something against Facebook but that's not the case. It is now, and is likely to remain for some time, the number one social networking site in the world and frankly reaches more people than I can ever hope to. But it's the 'reach' part that is causing me concern.
Facebook are continually tinkering with their algorithm and essentially trying to produce a better user experience for those on the platform and for that they should be applauded, however much as Google can and does change its algorithm with impunity so it seems Facebook are going down this path as well.
The end result is that advertisers particularly feel enormously aggrieved that changes have been made to the platform in which they have no say, no warning and can't change. If you choose their platform you have to play by their rules.
Right now businesses advertising on Facebook are finding the compared to pre-Christmas levels their reach and engagement with customers is diminishing. The changes made during December 2013 have seen a number of advertisers reporting diminished reach for their normal posts. And if you read the small print you will see that over time this reach will just get smaller and smaller.
So Facebook is taking money from advertisers to promote their brands and slowly decreasing the reach of normal' organic' posts that people and companies are making. Sounds like a good business model, doesn't it? Well, yes, but only if your usage figures are going up. Ideally you need to have an increasing user base with increasing engagement times but sadly this is not the case.
Facebook are selling more and more inventory to advertisers in an attempt to monetise the platform but there is only a finite amount of space they can sell. Consumers know that the advertisements they see are an interruption of the reason they visited Facebook in the first place; which was to be sociable. Do you or anyone you know, go to Facebook as the first port of call when you are looking to buy something?
Here's the thing. I have a Facebook account. Last year I was on it less and less frequently but I am still a user. So far this week I have not logged in at all, despite receiving emails encouraging me to find out what others have been up to. It's not that I don't care about my friends; far from it. It's more that I am sick of seeing advertisements for things that are irrelevant and in some cases downright insulting. I don't go to Facebook to buy SEO courses, to date single women looking for older men, or make a compensation claim. I have no desire to buy the latest car from Dacia. What's more I want to see what my friends and acquaintances have been up to. Sadly however I can't.
Over the last year the number of times I saw posts from certain friends decreased to the point where now I see nothing that they post. They are still active Facebook users but their posts have been filtered out of my feed. In their place is advertising. As they say on another platform, #fail.
Put simply, Facebook is now failing in the one thing it was good at in the first place. The inevitable has happened and the requirement to placate shareholders is driving all the wrong sort of behaviours.
Back in August 2013 I wrote that;
Facebook was, and remains, a great way to keep in touch with people whom you don't see every day or week and allows for some pretty neat communication between you and them. It's a tool for catching up. It's a tool for being social. It's not a tool for business. People go there to chill out, to be distracted, to be amused. They don't go there to go shopping.
As Facebook seem to have forgotten that this was their original purpose I firmly expect that they have reached the tipping point and it's all downhill from here.
This article first appeared on the Aqueous SEO website