Facebook: Starting to Circle the Drain?

Facebook is about to get worse — a lot worse — and I think my days there are numbered. I can’t be the only publisher getting ready to give up.

I’ve posted a lot of fun (and/or thought-provoking) stuff on True’s Facebook page over the past couple-few years, and that page is approaching 10,000 “fans” (now called “Likes”). But even if you’ve clicked “Like” there, Facebook is showing the content I’m posting (and everyone else’s such “page” posts) to fewer and fewer of you. They want us page owners to pay to reach you.

That might make sense if I were pushing things for sale, but I rarely do; I can’t shovel money to Facebook shareholders for the privilege of entertaining their audience. Or, at least, I won’t! I haven’t given up on them yet, but it’s in the cards, which will make Facebook of less and less value to those visiting, which just results in a spiral effect — medics call it “circling the drain.”

Really: do you want to only see things that make big companies a “return on investment”?!

Just $11,000!

Facebook suggests I spend $30/day to get an estimated 29 to 118 “Page Likes” — or about 25 cents to over a dollar per Like. For what? So I have the opportunity to pay again for every single post to reach the people who have already said they Like This is True and want to see my posts.

I refuse to p(l)ay that ever-more-expensive game. And again, you should wonder about the companies who do choose to put that kind of money in for your attention. What will they do with that attention?!

Do the math: it’s almost $11,000/year to play their ever-escalating game.

It’s going to get worse, too: An article in Adweek yesterday, Facebook Reportedly Slashing Organic Reach for Pages, asks in a subtitle, “Is social net trying to force bigger ad spends?”

Well Duh! They note that “Organic reach [unpaid viewership] will be reduced to 1 percent or 2 percent.” So for my 10,000-strong audience, only 100-200 people will actually see what I post unless I pony up — and I just won’t. In the old days, I’d sometimes get 50,000, even 100,000 people seeing what I posted there, since so many would share what I posted. No more: a wildly popular post might now reach 5,000. With them cutting circulation to just 1-2 percent, I can’t be the only one ready to give up.

When? I’m not sure. Could be weeks. Could be months. But why go to the work and pay to increase Facebook’s audience? In the past, sharing meant that others were exposed to the This is True brand, but that’s clearly coming to an end.

So feel free to visit the page and see what you’ve been missing, even if you’ve already “Liked” it. If you do frequent Facebook, you can improve your odds of being shown what I post if you click “Like” on the things you like, or otherwise “engage” with the posts (e.g., by commenting or sharing). But at some point, I’ll be giving up, because Facebook will be going the way of MySpace: right down the drain.

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41 Comments on “Facebook: Starting to Circle the Drain?

  1. I’m already around 2-5% much of the time. At best for a really great, shareable post, I’m at 25% or so. It’s awful — and I’m not paying.

  2. Welcome to Facebook!!

    It’s important for people to remember that Facebook — like most social networking applications and other “free” online services — is not really free: And to quote noted security curmudgeon Bruce Schneier: “Don’t make the mistake of thinking you’re Facebook’s customer, you’re not — you’re the product. Its customers are the advertisers.”

    Yep, and it’s reasonable to charge a fee to reach a big audience. I don’t have any problem with that. The issue is, Facebook is trying to have it both ways: they want advertisers and the audience — those who supply the content — to pay, to justify its overinflated stock price. Ain’t gonna. -rc

  3. Just one of the (many) reasons I have never subscribed to, or used, Facebook. I worked for Big Daddy DIRNSA in the early 70’s and believe me, Big Brother has ALWAYS been around. No reason for me to give them any more insight into my life on Facebook even though I am and always will be on their radar screen. FYI, I am also the Atty Gen’l’s definition of a homegrown tear-o-wrist.

    DIRNSA is the Director of the National Security Agency. -rc

  4. You have a Facebook page? Next you’ll be telling us you’re on Twitter too!
    In all seriousness, I don’t “do” social media, so go ahead and leave Facebook behind. I didn’t know you had a Facebook page until it was mentioned in this week’s email. The weekly edition and the occasional visit to the archives and Jumbo Joke are plenty enough.

    TRUE’s Facebook page was mentioned on average in every other issue during the year 2013 — about 25 times each in the Premium and Free editions. I’m not sure how anyone who actually reads the publication couldn’t have spotted at least one of those mentions, so I suspect you skipped over them and didn’t take note because you didn’t care. Which, of course, is fine: different readers have different interests. -rc

  5. I am a retired 65+ year old third generation native Arizonan and I have NEVER, ever used either FaceBook, Twitter, nor any of the other nonsensical, so-called “Social Media” sites and I never will. I live out in the sticks by myself and am more than content to see all the wildlife and very interesting critters that constantly amaze me with their beauty and diversity. Thanks for hearing my views.

    You’ve missed out on a lot of rich interactions, Bob: you can use “social media” to connect with old friends, schoolmates, workmates, and family. In my case, we can add readers (or to use a more generic word that applies to more people, “customers”), which I really enjoy. There is entertainment, interesting reading, knowledge, and more that is shared. I also live in a rural area, and wouldn’t trade it for anything, but even though I am rural, I can still interact with other humans in interesting and entertaining ways thanks to “social media.” That’s enriching, not “nonsensical,” which is why I’m sad that Facebook is making its platform worse with its unrelenting commercialization at the expense of all of the above. It’s their playground, sure, but I don’t have to play there if I don’t find it valuable. It’s sad that you dismissed it without even realizing the benefits. -rc

  6. Actually according to one Facebook user, if you pay for likes, you just get bogus foreign click farm users.

    Yeah, that went around the community like wildfire. For the record, I have never paid for Likes, and never would. I only want people to “Like” my stuff because they …well… like it! -rc

  7. I’ve enjoyed your FB posts, because I only have 45 Friends and three Like pages by preference, since for me at the other side of the world this interaction works well to keep in touch. I’ve had good conversations with your other readers, who are fascinating people. But don’t pay, no way! If/when you go off FB please let us have a farewell bask party on FB to shame the greedy SOBs at FB!

    Wait… you think FB will feel shame?! -rc

  8. Anyone remember Compuserve, Prodigy, AT&T’s National Communication Network? How about AOL? They, too, tried to create “gated communities” in which they could corral all the consumers’ eyeballs and sell access to them. Didn’t work then, won’t work now.

    Randy, having something to sell is only part of the necessary. You also need viewers who are in the mood to buy. People don’t go to bars to buy t-shirts and flowers; they find it annoying when some street peddler interrupts their drinking fun, and that’s why bar owners chase peddlers out. People don’t come to Facebook to buy, they go to Etsy or eBay or….

  9. I used to be on faceache but I quit 2 years ago when they started using this “timeline” thing. I told them I didn’t want to change to it as I was happy with it as it was, but they forced me to have it anyway, so I deleted everything I had put on my page and I haven’t been back on since. I don’t miss it one little bit! By the way, I also don’t do twatter either!

  10. Whatever happened to the popularity of good old RSS feeds… which is how I read your blog.

    When Goo Reader died, I moved to “theoldreader” which was a bit slow at first but is up to speed, especially for those who contribute a whole $20 a year to support the service. (If a website is free, then YOU are the product, yes.)

    To my knowledge, RSS means I get EVERYTHING you post on your blog. I don’t use FB because I don’t care what’s “popular”… I want to see the content of the people (like YOU) that I value.

    Get thee back to old RSS, peeps. Cmon.

    The average online user doesn’t know what RSS is, let alone how to use it. It remains difficult for most. My readers are a bit more savvy than average, so I’m not at all surprised to see support for RSS. This site has an RSS feed for those who use it. -rc

  11. Do not pay Facebook for anything. As a user aka product that is being sold, I am angry that things I subscribe to via “liking” aren’t being delivered to me as I was led to believe they would. I also am constantly reporting ads I don’t want to see (almost vulgar, create unwanted emotions, repeating, lewd, etc.). I think my time on Facebook may come to an end. I am on it less and less. They’ve even taken to having you pay $1 to get your message to show up in the inbox for someone not on your friends list instead of it going to basically a spam folder.

    I spend less than 10 minutes a day there now and even skip days here and there. And I have never been good with Twitter. I have a feeling something better than FB is on the horizon and we will all be better off for it.

  12. Ditch it. It’s a plague and I’m glad you’re seeing it. You already know there’s a problem, why procrastinate? Go to another medium that understands that content creation and sharing are cornerstones to the social network.

    And keep up the great work!

    I’m there because my audience is there. But Facebook is taking the audience away more and more, even if they remain members, making it less useful over time. The less useful it becomes, the less people like me provide content — and the more the audience will leave (like Kimberly, above). That makes it less useful, and…. -rc

  13. I too edged into Facebook and recently added ‘text’. It helps me stay in contact with kith and kin. I used to be able to keep up with family by family dinners. We are too scattered to to that today. Facebook is a substitute.

    No don’t pay, I suspect if Facebook does flush away something will replace it. We have gotten used to doing this. Remember the thing called myspace, it was hot for awhile too.

  14. Funny, I just read somewhere that Mr. Zukerberg has $25 bn worth in Facebook stock in reserve. I wonder how he got those…oh wait — by selling our info to advertisers. Tricky part is, everybody knows that yet here we are — still using darn FB.

    But if what you say is true, then question is, WHY is FB changing to that model? Is it possible that stricter privacy rules are taking on a (possibly big) chunk of FB’s profits?

    Although, this might just be a nice April’s fools prank too 🙂

    Not only do I not “do” April Fools jokes under the This is True brand (which could damage the brand), note that my essay was published yesterday. -rc

  15. I started on Facebook to do Farmville as I have some issues being unable to enjoy reading any longer, and need something to do to allay the boredom in my life. I have never paid real money for anything on the farms. I am doing ok with them.

    If it says it is free and always will be.. what do they mean? If it is free to me, the user, then someone has to pay. OK, the advertisers pay. No problem with that, but Randy, you are not advertising you are sharing. I have no problem with that. But to have to pay to share is downright stupid. So quit. As much as I enjoy your posts… not worth it to you to show them to me. Weird, NO?

  16. I have really enjoyed your FB postings and hope that you continue. I always “like” your postings to ensure that they keep getting through.

    Regarding FB uses in general, I am a three time oral cancer survivor. After numerous operations, radiations and chemos I can no longer speak. FB gives me a voice. There are about 50,000 laryngectomees (neck breathers) in the USA. Through FB we can help each other by sharing coping strategies that we have learned. The doctors can’t teach us everything. Partly because they don’t know everything.

    So, I hope FB pulls their head out of where the sun doesn’t shine and backs off of the greed agenda.

  17. “Circle(ing) the Drain” is right. (Great headline, by the way!)

    I had heard rumblings that FB was planning on changing its methods with Facebook Pages and that Page admins might have to pony up some $$$ in order to reach more people, but I didn’t realize how bad it was until I visited one of my own Pages the other day, checked my most recent post (I schedule them in advance), and beneath it saw the text “This post was served to 32 people” — text isn’t verbatim and the number isn’t exact, but it was a ridiculous figure considering my Page has 2,430 Likes. I blew my stack when I saw this. Just for you-know-whats-and-grins, I clicked on “Boost Post,” and — surprise, surprise! — while I can still choose to sponsor any of my posts for only $5.00, the estimated reach would not be all that high, and the next increment is not $10.00 or $15.00 but $20.00. There must have been complaints since yesterday, since today the “served to” text has been replaced with the former “(###) people saw this post” and it appears to me that the estimated reach for a paid post has increased, although still not spectacular.

    I’ve been using Twitter much more than FB these days anyway, and my Tweets automatically post on my FB timeline — additionally, posts from my Page automatically get Tweeted — and I have FB and Twitter widgets on my websites. But I’m starting to wonder whether there’s a better alternative to FB out there. If they keep up stuff like this, somebody will come up with one!

  18. I’m one of those that never cared for facebook, but I have bought into the google ecosystem fully.

    I understand that I am the product there, and people have privacy concerns, but the value add is so great for me that the trade-off is entirely worthwhile. At least there isn’t the same ambiguity as there is with facebook.

    One of the people I follow on G+ recently talked about the issues you are mentioning and gave an example of the differences in interaction he saw between FB and G+. Granted g+ is more of a tech area, and he’s a tech writer, but the differences were rather staggering in the short 4 hour window. My guess is that it has to do with the fact that google monetizes based on ads from separate advertisers rather than in network costs, and G+ not being the primary source of revenue for google, which frees them to propagate the posts a lot more widely for free.

    Indeed each “social media” site has a different flavor, and a different audience. Yes, I’m definitely aware G+ is more “techie” — from the ground up. My Facebook URL is https://www.Facebook.com/ThisIsTrue — which pretty much anyone can remember. My G+ URL is https://plus.google.com/u/0/+ThisIsTrue/posts — which not many average users can. -rc

  19. I can understand companies wanting to pay for advertising, however, to force payments for “Likes” is ridiculous. I’m doing more and more with G+; Less and less with FB-.

  20. If you get your users to click on the Like dropdown on your Facebook page and then “Get Notifications,” they will get a notification every time you post.

    Until that scuppers their profits as people catch on!

    My understanding is, they are already removing that. -rc

  21. I remain torn on the issue of FB. I hate some of the techniques they are using to try and cheat their users more and more while doing things like this as well. I also miss the way they used to let you tune out of things that you can’t anymore (I prefer just to see people’s status updates, for example, and not all of their other stuff). On the other hand, I have a number of friends around the world (having lived in a few other countries in my day) and FB is one of the best ways to stay up on how they’re doing. Not to mention the fact that it’s a good way to hear about friends you’re not in touch with on a daily basis, especially big events like getting married or having children.

  22. https://plus.google.com/u/0/+ThisIsTrue/posts

    Seriously? That seriously is your URL on G+?

    That is &^%$#ing ridiculous. See, this is what happens when engineers design a website. They have no clue that there are human beings out there who will be (presumably) using it.

    That really irks me.

    And now you know at least part of why G+ hasn’t seen wider adoption by normal people. -rc

  23. I personally closed my FB account 3 years ago. Not just for the business side of it where I was asked to pay for likes, but because I finally had enough of the privacy policy changes that I saw every few months.

    I just decided it wasn’t worth it.

  24. In business there is no free lunch, and this is no different. FB in the past has stated that they are not a social network. They are an information gathering and selling network. The fact that you can communicate with your long lost friend in Australia is just an minor effect of that. perhaps you will communicate something of interest between yourselves that an advertiser is willing to pay money for.

    Mark Zuckerberg is not a great philanthropist building all this infrastructure out of the goodness of his heart. He can run his business model anyway he sees fit, because it is his. If he has made this choice to charge both the advertisers and the audience (those that generate the content), and if that drives people away from his product, it was his choice. It is our choice if and how we choose to use his product.

  25. WRT RSS, when Google Reader went, I searched around for a number of readers (on my computer and smartphone). Finally “back” with NNW (NetNewsWire) on the computer, which is still in “beta” so having some issues, but even then, worth it.

    Get a number of FB feeds (not yet This is True) via “Get Notifications” (as RSS feed). But I’m suspecting that FB is even throtling that back.

    Haven’t found a “good interface” for G+, but do have a personal account on there.
    Think it’s time to close some of my non-personal FB pages. Just really annoying how few see some posts.

    The full text of TRUE isn’t available by RSS, but you can get notification that the latest is web-posted via RSS, and then click through to read it there. The url for that is https://thisistrue.com/freetrue.rss — but I just discovered that it seems to be broken. Will work on that! -rc

  26. Facebook is a huge “quitatiempos” (time-taker-upper) and I only peruse it occasionally. My husband actually got off of Facebook several years ago. I have noticed that people’s posts I want to read don’t always show up — and others who I could care less about do show up. Mysterious algorithms may be to blame, or just shrewd marketing, but the “social” aspect of Social Media is getting very skewed.

    The problem isn’t limited to Facebook. I am now receiving upwards of 4,000 emails a DAY. Although most are spam and about 60% get filtered out with spam filters, I still have to dig through thousands to find those that are really messages from friends or newsletters in which I am interested and to which I subscribe. Frankly, I’ve come to hate email! If it wasn’t the cheapest way to keep in touch with friends all over the planet, I’d drop out of my electronic life altogether!

    I too get a lot of spam (and a much smaller amount of real mail), and virtually all of the spam is gone before it gets to me. DO read my Spam Primer, and consider the cheap e-book that outlines how to eliminate virtually all spam. -rc

  27. I’m a 56-yr-old Newbie to Computers, sorta. Slow to catch on, I guess, but I’ve been AMAZED at the number of sites that REQUIRE you to Sign In using your Facebook account! There’s a whole lotta nothing on my Facebook, and I have NO Idea how to “find” anybody, like Friends/Family…or anybody else,who may or may not being using a fake name or God-knows what! At any rate, if they’re gonna be jammin me with ADS, that’s just one MORE reason to stay off Facebook. Their loss,not mine!

    RC, since I get notification of your Blog Posts, can I get a SHORT Tutorial on how to put FB to GOOD use??? Thanks!!!

    Yeah, but it’s gonna be short: stop being afraid to find people you know there. The very top of the page is where you Search for people. Type the name of an old friend and see what you find — odds are decent that they’re there. Some stranger faking it? Not likely. If it looks like your friend and the details match, they’re almost certainly who you think they are. Click the button to “Friend” them, then look at THEIR friends list and see if mutual friends are there, and “Friend” them, too. It’s a nice way to keep in touch with friends, and the relatives you like! -rc

  28. I experience the same thing with my business page. I am just a one person Massage Therapist, not a HUGE company.

    My suggestion is to open a regular “person page” like you have for yourself. Use the This is True as the first, middle and last names. Yes, there are still oddball algorythms in place and yes, you don’t get the trending info. However, more people will probably continue to see This is True than via the business format. We can follow the page or become friends, if allowed.

    Don’t give up the ship.

    Such a tactic is against the rules, limited to 5000 Friends, and exposes me to all of THEIR status updates, birthday notices, and such, unless I suppress each one individually. No thanks! -rc

  29. I’ve been a free page user for quite awhile and plan to be a paid member in the Very near future but just wanted to let you know that while l have a Facebook page l haven’t been to Facebook for over 2 years. I don’t like the way they operate and treat people as if they were sheep, so l just wanted to say Thanks for an Amazing read and to Keep Up the GREAT work. Please Don’t give in to Facebook as they Really Don’t give a Brass Razoo about anyone except those who have the $$$.

  30. I wondered what happened on Facebook. Even some of my friends have disappeared (not from unfriending) and there’s less of the material I subscribed for — news about my kids and grandkids.

    Who can take the time to wade through all the garbage? Feel free to dump it. I’m going to have to dig up the money to become a premium subscriber.

    Irritating, isn’t it?! (And you made me look up Julesburg, since I’ve not heard of it. We’re pretty much on opposite corners!) -rc

  31. Don’t know if you follow webpronews but they have had a series of articles about this. Bottom line is that FaceBook is saying “fooled you. You just thought we were a social network.” Sadly, I had just started using a fan page to build a presence for a company I am an affiliate of. That’s pretty much been killed. I will probably kill the page within a few weeks. 🙁

  32. Ditch it. Facebook is getting almost as bad as Google when it comes to privacy. If you doubt that, read Search and Destroy: why you can’t trust Google, Inc, by Scott Cleland. It’s a real eye opener.

  33. I’ve never subscribed to Facebook, or any other “Social Networking” site apart from LinkedIn, and even considering getting out of that.

    Right from the get go of Social Networking, MySpace, Bebo etc., I could see issues. Mostly privacy and security issues.

    Such an ENORMOUS time waster too. I’ve come to call it Farcebook or Fakebook these days.

    My sister in law got caught by a scammer, allegedly someone from the UK who was an oil rig engineer, who was going to marry her. Yeah Right. Totally sucked in and all ready for a wedding… well, of course never happened. I know of 2 others who got caught by scammers who conned them into believing they had won money on a lottery that they’d never bought. Yeah, I know, how can you be so dumb. But, as Forrest Gump said, Stupid is as Stupid does.

    Stepanie Manly owner of CopyKat recipes recently had her Facebook page Hijacked. She can’t get it back because she doesn’t own it! Well duh, it’s been hijacked!! To add insult to injury she has shares in the damned company.

  34. The signs of this were a long time coming — many could see it with the stock announcement, but I’m sure the signs for this go back much earlier than that. As a user I’ve been considering leaving Facebook, and after reading your article I’m having serious doubts on keeping up a page to promote myself. It’s definitely sad to see, but this might very well be for the best.

  35. Totally understand …and glad to be able to post comment withOUT having to register or some such silliness. FBook is too big for its britches unfortunately. I don’t have to pay so I guess it’ll be awhile before I fully quit, but I can see the day too.

  36. I signed up and used FB for about a month. Took me literally years to find out how to delete my account, not just ignore it. I can’t be anonymous on the web, and I figured Google already knows everything about my searches, so I might as well go with them, rather than spreading even more information with FB.

  37. I have a small business on Facebook, but quest for more customers has become more and more futile. I paid Facebook once for more hits: I was promised “up to 10,000”, but received barely over 500.

    Then they came back and promised me even more hits for even more money: I refused. Now they are regularly blocking my page from potential customers…unless I pay them, of course.

    Sounds like legalized extortion.

    If that’s what’s happening, I’m not sure I’d include the word “legalized”…. -rc

  38. I always avoided Facebook like the plague and this gives me even more reason to avoid it. I can use Twitter at least because I can hang on to at least some anonymity and I actually have use for Twitter. Facebook however always came off to me as basically a money-making venture and this just rubs it in even further. They’re sure as HELL not getting my usership.

  39. Well this explains why I have been missing on some of your posts. I didn’t even know there was a payment system for Likes, thanks for the insight. When I joined FaceBook I figured out pretty quickly Likes = promotion. So I got into the habit of mostly liking (or is it fanning? I can’t keep track of the name changing) small businesses, lesser known movies, not high rating TV shows (but still quality shows) along with charities and causes that don’t get much attention.

    I figured the multinational conglomerates, blockbuster films and large charities they have a lot of advertising vehicles and a lot of money to fuel their vehicles. So if my likes and shares can help promote something I’d rather promote something whose advertising choices are far more limited. I can’t say for sure if my system is doing anything practical whatsoever and maybe I’m being idealistic, but I’d like to think it helps.

    The independents definitely need grassroots support like that, or else only the giant media companies get all of the attention. Thanks. -rc

  40. I was not even aware that owners of pages like yours even had to pay! I have enjoyed “This is True” for years, and finally became a premium subscriber last year.

    I visit Facebook several times a week, not day, like most users, so I do not believe I have ever seen a post from your blog in my news feed. Please do not pay for the “privilege” of reaching 1-2% of your subscribers! Invest it in making more “Get out of Hell Free” items.

    One pays to reach more than 1-2%. I’ve already said I don’t intend to. More GOOHF stuff will be on tap once the current inventory is reduced. I guess I need to do a sale! Too busy this month, but will do one next month. -rc

  41. You can get your Google+ URL changed to just http://plus.google.com/+ThisIsTrue
    Here’s the URL on the process: https://support.google.com/plus/answer/2676340?hl=en

    Going through that process is how I got +ThisIsTrue in the first place. Still, when you click that link, it’s still redirected to something longer. Not even Facebook does that. Also, why is the “+” needed when the URL already has “plus” included? This is Google putting branding ahead of user friendliness — which is contrary to their dictum of “the user experience” being paramount. When all-powerful (e.g., the government, or Google), “Do as we say, not as we do” becomes common. -rc


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