Levelling the playing field
By Mike and Barney Chunn
The advent of Facebook, and the online world in general, saw a massive shift in the way we were advertised to. In many ways, it levelled the playing field. Previously, there were only so many ways you were able to advertise; big bucks got you big exposure, and if you had a specific niche you stayed within that niche. There could be no such thing as global reach for small to medium advertisers, and few ways to target effectively, rather than the shotgun approach.
But all of this has changed with Facebook. You can know the age and gender, the location, the varied interests of everybody on there. The importance of this is obvious, both by the massive shift of companies now advertising online, and by some of the recent activity by Facebook itself.
While the merits of the advertising industry at large having access to the sort of information that Facebook can provide is certainly one of debatable merits, let’s put that aside for now. What it does do is provide an avenue for smaller organisations to build a community of like-minded individuals that prior to Facebook would have been very hard to muster.
Prior to the internet, if you were a great fan of an obscure author or musician say, that few of your peers appreciated, it would have been nigh on impossible to connect with like-minded people. Now, a quick search on Facebook and you can be connected with a whole community of like-minded people. You can communicate, relate, and inform each other. It’s a wonderful way to grow and foster a niche community.
For a Trust like Play it Strange, Facebook and online media have provided us with a means to maintain relationships with the students and people within our community. We can inform every one of them of our upcoming events, competitions, news. It is the perfect tool for allowing our community to grow and for people within that community to communicate with each other, learning and developing their musical and social worlds.
However, Facebook have recently made significant changes to the way in which you can communicate with your followers. It used to be that when you posted something, it would appear on the wall of everybody that had signed up to ‘like’ your page. Now, it only appears on the wall of 10% of those whose people of have liked your page. If, like Play it Strange, you have 300 fans, that is suddenly well over 2,000 people who are no longer able to see what is happening within that community. That is 2,000 people remember, who have opted in to receive the updates that that page is releasing.
So now 90% of your followers cannot see what you are releasing, that is, unless you ‘promote’ your page. To promote your page so that you can reach 100% of your audience, now costs per post. A lot of pages make multiple posts per day, which means that there is now a significant cost to using Facebook where once there was none.
The shame of this is that it is most likely to be the smaller pages, like Play it Strange, and other charities, niche communities, and other pages that make little to no money, that get hit the hardest. Large profitable companies will likely be able to afford to promote their posts, as more and more larger companies shift more and more of their advertising budget into the online market. As we mentioned earlier, and as is widely documented, the online forum provides targeted advertising that traditional advertising never could.
It is overly naive to think that Facebook would continue to be totally free, and in many ways, this move makes sense for Facebook. ‘If you’re good at something, never do it for free.’ The world has recognized the power of Facebook as an advertising tool, and Facebook has realized that this can be a profitable mechanism for them. That makes sense. What is the shame is that not every Facebook page is a company. Many are communities, and make no money at all.
There is a way to continue to get all of the postings from a page you have liked. You have to go to that page, hover your mouse over the ‘like’ button. In the menu that appears, click ‘+new list,’ then name it and when you select that interest list, and make sure that ‘show all news feeds,’ is selected, you will see all the postings by that page. It is however, a convoluted process, and one that will actively discourage people from doing so to every page they have liked.
Facebook was always going to be the most profitable company it could be. That is what billion dollar multi-national companies do, especially now that it is a publically listed company. However, it has made these changes bluntly, and is tarring every page with the same brush. Distinctions need to be made between pages with more discretion that pay scales according to how many likes you have. Until then, Facebook is crippling smaller pages and communities that aren’t profitable companies that can afford to ‘promote’ themselves.