“Here lies Facebook, another victim of corporate greed.”
A couple days ago I posted a short status on facebook about how the feed is beginning to suck. That inspired me to write a bit more about what facebook is doing wrong, and why it seems to be so difficult for social media companies to be able to balance the hunger for profits, and value of the user experience. To better explain this, let me start with how facebook is ruining its own functionality for both users and businesses alike, and how facebook is writing their own (metaphorical) epitaph, reading something along the lines of: “Here lies Facebook, another victim of corporate greed.”
I’ll start by describing the genius marketing ploy that both facebook and twitter have been great at exploiting, and that is their ability to get the most free advertising in history. It constantly blows my mind how much the facebook icon is displayed everywhere from store fronts, news reports, and websites. Everywhere you turn these days you see: “Follow us on Twitter, @BlahhMcBlahhson” or “Like our page on facebook”. Using CNN and twitter as an example; their obsession with gaining followers is almost comical, but it makes sense. Social media marketing is a great tool to get users to stay current on your business. The beauty in social media marketing resides in its difference to the old ways of a snail mail/email blast marketing which always came off as spammy. With social media, businesses can create a much more customized experience for those that are actually interested in opting into their updates with a ‘follow’ or ‘like’. This has been the champion of facebook. Every business that wanted to stay relevant online tried to get as many people to ‘like’ their page as possible. Some industries even judge each-other by how many ‘likes’ they have as an indicator of success. All of this traffic driven to facebook costs facebook absolutely nothing in marketing dollars, and in return facebook used to provide those businesses with a great way to keep in touch with customers and grow their brand organically. However, facebook has recently made some changes to the way pages work, which benefit a small wealthy minority of page owners, and more importantly make facebook pages completely useless for the average page user.
Facebook has essentially turned the water off for any page maintainer that isn’t willing to fork out money to promote their posts, and even worse they have enabled those willing to pay a lot, like large corporations, to blast their promoted posts to people who haven’t even liked their page. In my own personal experience, traffic from un-promoted social posts have decreased by more than 50%. Entire business that grew themselves through their followers (like bloggers) are being ruined by the new costs associated with staying in contact with their users that wanted to stay updated through facebook. This is making the whole point of having someone ‘like’ your page completely worthless, unless you want to start spending a few thousand a month promoting your posts. Who this does benefit are the large corporations with multimillion dollar marketing budgets. Those corporations are now able to spam blast a gargantuan amount of people by promoting their posts to the friends of those who like their page. This brings me to why this greedy tactic by facebook is not just leading the average page owners away from facebook, but why the ‘average Joe’ who uses facebook to stay in touch with friends will be jumping ship at the first half-decent opportunity as well.
“Facebook is silencing their own users, and filling everyone’s feeds with advertisements instead of status updates.”
I have been noticing that recently my news feed has contained a lot less of my friends updates, and a lot more advertisements sneaked in. These advertisements are slipped in with the appearance that my friend shared it themselves into the feed, however when you look a bit closer the post exists because the page owner paid to have it fill my news feed. My friend had nothing to do with the post, they never liked the post, the only thing they did was like that page sometime in the past and that somehow equates to that page being able to fill my news feed on my friends behalf. For me (and the average facebook user) this is absolute bullshit. Facebook is silencing their own users, and filling everyone’s feeds with advertisements instead of status updates. It is becoming less and less about ‘friends’ and more about corporate ads. So it’s not just page owners that are losing interest in facebook, facebook’s users are losing enthusiasm as well.
“Any idiot understands that if you squeeze the profit balloon too hard, it will burst.”
So why would facebook blatantly ruin their user experience for both pages and the average facebooker? Aren’t facebook’s ranks full of Ivy League, Computer Science majored ‘geniuses’ that should know a little something about UX? Profits are a reasonable answer, but any idiot understands that if you squeeze the profit balloon too hard, it will burst. If you look back on the history of social media, the demise of companies usually closely correlate to greed. Remember Myspace? Remember when they stopped caring about their user experience? It was right around the time that Rupert Murdoch’s Newscorp bought the social media heavyweight and stopped caring about the user and focused on how to squeeze out profits. Facebook was the service that lured MySpace users away with the promise of a better product that cared about friends keeping in touch with friends. When facebook made the move to become a publicly traded company, they lost their own ability to control their product. Facebook now has a legal obligation to their shareholders to eek out as much profit as physically possible, and boy have they been sticking to that rule. With facebooks terrible IPO overvaluation and plunging stock price over the past year, I’m sure Mr. Zuckerberg has been shitting his pants to figure out a way to show that facebook can be the advertising giant that its investors demand. As facebook turns itself into a money making machine, it’s alienating the very people that give facebook advertisement value, which is of course the facebook user. By ruining the user experience, facebook is shooting itself in the foot. I am not sure who will be the big winner of facebook’s demise, but what I do know is that facebook is making it pretty easy for competitors to siphon off users.
I wrote this article to express my own dissatisfaction with facebooks path, and to hopefully enlighten people as to how the service has been changing for the worse. If you agree, share this article with a friend and help raise the awareness. Maybe this will help change the way facebook has been operating, or maybe it will cause everyone to begin thinking about a move to a new social media standard. This is also the first (and only) time I have ever used the ‘promote’ your post feature on facebook, and while it disgusts me that I have to pay facebook to have my voice heard, I hope that in the end it will allow this article to be read by more people. I kind of feel like a stereotypical kook saying “Don’t let the corporations win mannnn,” but seriously it’s annoying to have all the corporate ads dominate my facebook feed. Agree or disagree? Let me know your view in the comments below.
—– Update —–
Immediately following the posting of this article facebook started asking me to take a survey about my ‘experience with the news feed.’ This is the first time I have ever seen this ‘survey’ message, so they are obviously scanning for people that are speaking negatively about facebook. Kinnnnda creepy . . .
Also I promoted this through my regular profile, meaning that I basically just paid to be able to use the service like it used to work. Facebook has been updating me about how much greater it is that I paid to post, 127 times, or 99% greater to be exact:
Riley scribbled this article down on: November 3, 2012