Three years ago, Facebook had just half the number of active users compared with today. Not only that, but each of those users has been contributing much more than they used to, resulting in an exponential growth in content that is visible on this social network.
Inevitably this means that you need to produce even more content to become visible on Facebook, adding to the never-ending spiral of mass content production in the hope that your business will be glimpsed.
However, Facebook operates using an algorithm that determines the strength of the relationship between people. It means that the “cream rises to the top” – in other words material about close relationships gets put higher up the visitor’s timeline than content from people or businesses where the connection is weaker. But the amount of material now being produced by close contacts means that the information being put onto Facebook by businesses is getting lower and lower down the page. The result is that increasingly it is being missed.
Indeed, Facebook has now admitted that for businesses to be seen on Facebook they are really going to have to pay. Unless you advertise or sponsor posts as a business you are less likely to be seen because your good content is drowning below the surface of all the material that people relate to more closely.
Of course, Facebook has a vested interest in making us think that there is no hope for us to be found easily because of the ocean of content and that we’ll simply have to pay them. After all, they are busy trying to increase income in order to impress their Wall Street investors.
Yet there is an element of truth in what they say. Business items on Facebook are being squeezed out. Unless a customer has a deep and lasting relationship with a business then that company’s content is less visible now than it was just three years ago.
Adding content to Facebook does have its value, of course. Facebook can raise psychological awareness of a business, even with no real engagement in the content. Indeed, research shows that engagement with business content on Facebook is at a lower level than direct snail mail.
What this all tells us is one thing. Using Facebook as a promotional tool is as good as worthless. But using Facebook as a relationship tool is another matter. Increasing those ties to your customers will mean that your content will be part of that cream rising to the top and that this will boost psychological awareness, even if they do not read your posts. And that means you won’t have to pay Facebook to advertise. Nice try Facebook; in your attempt to increase your income you have helped people focus on what they really need to do to avoid that happening. Whoops…!
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+