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How Facebook has literally taken your friends, fans for ransom

Facebook made some changes recently that were quiet, sneaky, and still wildly misunderstood by many, but if you’ve noticed that the number of people seeing your Facebook Page updates has plummeted, it’s because Facebook wants you to pay up…

facebook i want my friends back

facebook i want my friends back

Big changes at Facebook – maybe not such a great option…

When it comes to free social media, you, as a professional, have quite a few options. None have been more popular than Facebook—until recently, that is. Facebook has recently launched their new promotion options, for both company and individuals’ pages. However, many are now weighing in, claiming that this “option” isn’t much of an option. For some companies, it can either mean professional death or an overextended bank account.

Here’s how it has played out.

Starting a few months ago, innumerable businesses across the country noticed that their normal traffic from Facebook to their websites dropped significantly. It was later discovered that only about 15% of their fans were seeing their company updates on Facebook. So, what happened to the 85% who willingly liked their pages but now weren’t seeing their updates? Now, businesses have to pay depending on how many subscribers they want to reach. Keep in mind that these subscribers have already liked their pages voluntarily, and, undoubtedly, because they want to see these company updates. So, unless you pay for each post, only a small handful will actually see what you post.

You’re going to pay if you want to reach your own fans

While the idea behind this change could actually make business sense, Facebook’s execution has been less than desirable. Let’s start with the per-post fees. As of right now, the fees are based on the percentage of your fans you want to reach and your geographic location. The Dangerous Minds blog details their experience with promoted posts and their cost. For them, they have to pay $200 per post in order to have a post on the newsfeeds of all of their subscribers.

Now think of the small business or the freelancer trying to promote their businesses. These types of professionals are essentially being shut out by Facebook. Companies who are used to posting ten posts per day are looking at roughly $2,000 each day. Other than large corporations with expansive budgets, who can afford those kinds of fees? Definitely not small business owners in today’s economy.

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Facebook created a solution to a problem. However, Facebook also created the problem first—on purpose—by limiting businesses’ outreach to their subscribers well before the idea of promoted posts was released. Facebook created panic so that more businesses would be inclined to accept promoted posts as a reasonable and easy fix to their lack of traffic and post shares.

Your Facebook “friends” are being held for ransom

Here’s the problem. No one likes to pay for something that they originally got for free. Facebook may feel they are making up for decreasing stock values and increasing the worth of their company, but what they’re really doing is pushing their best customers and users away. These users will go somewhere else, and chances are it will be to a direct competitor.

Promoted posts may be a short-term fix for Facebook’s value problems, but it will ultimately leave them only with large corporations advertising to each other, as Facebook is also charging individual users $7 to promote personal posts. So, if you’ve wondered where your Facebook friends have gone, now you know they’ve been taken for a ransom.

Written By

The American Genius Staff Writer: Charlene Jimenez earned her Master's Degree in Arts and Culture with a Creative Writing concentration from the University of Denver after earning her Bachelor's Degree in English from Brigham Young University in Idaho. Jimenez's column is dedicated to business and technology tips, trends and best practices for entrepreneurs and small business professionals.



  1. btrandolph

    October 31, 2012 at 9:27 am

    remember when the internet was all about free exchange of ideas? users were outraged by the idea of commercial use of the channel and pledged to exit en masse if they ever saw an advertisement. we all know how that worked out.
    the changes to the edgerank algorithm controlling post visibility is in one sense a return to this idealism. social marketers have dismissed traditional mass promotion as broadcast and interruption marketing, sniffing “it’s about the conversation.” the changes to facebook are asking marketers to walk the walk. facebook is not penalizing brands and organizations whose fans are interacting with them through likes and comments and shares. effective marketers are having conversations. facebook is happy to let old-school marketers continue to shout – they are just asking them to pay for the opportunity as they would with any other promotional channel.
    if a tree posts in the forest and nobody retweets it, does it make a sound?

    • AGBeat

      October 31, 2012 at 9:49 am

      @btrandolph What about the one person business, what about the non-profit? It’s not just corporations being punished after being prompted, prodded, and pleaded with to join Facebook and give up their private information and drive traffic to the site for Facebook’s benefit. We could all sit by and allow our personal data to be repackaged and profited from, but when someone earns a fan, they should be reaching that fan on their newsfeed.
      Changing the rules (as FB often does) so dramatically is just wrong. This isn’t the same as the original days of the internet. Many of us remember them, and the algorithm change is NOT a return to that idealism, unless Facebook forces companies and non-profits to be limited in their reach to the fans they’ve earned. Again, this is not a return to idealism – let’s do some math here:
      Facebook = Property Manager
      Boutique = Page Owner
      Property Rent = Time sharing / gathering data for Facebook
      So in this scenario, a Property Manager puts a lock on a local Boutique’s door and claims that they must pay extra in order for the lock to come off *every time* someone waiting outside wants to come in. The boutique already has earned the customer that wants in, the property manager already has the rent, but without notice, there is an extra gatekeeper now between the two that doesn’t care if it bleeds the Boutique dry with fees not arbitrarily added during their lease (which would be illegal, by the way). In your scenario, there is no property manager, and the world is filled with nomadic squatters, but times have changed, and that world mostly keeps to itself on 4chan.
      The algorithm change not only punishes those who are actually good at social media and has earned fans, but limits Facebook’s long term growth –  piss off enough people, and G+ is just sitting there, begging for people to actually use it…  

      • AGBeat

        October 31, 2012 at 9:54 am

        I would add that I don’t believe this is exclusive to brands. Promoted posts exist for personal users as well, so again, I don’t agree that this is some way of making Facebook ideal like the old days of commercial-free interwebs.

      • btrandolph

        October 31, 2012 at 1:06 pm

        @AGBeat  @LaniAR apologies for implying that facebook was doing this out of idealism rather than monetizarion! my point was only that the effect of the changes pushes facebook marketing away from develop an audience and then talk AT it and more toward engagement.
        I don’t understand your question about the one-person business or non profit? non-profits are content machines whose primary revenue drivers are passion and engagement – facebook pages were made for these organizations. non-profits can use facebook to cultivate their most engaged fans and ideally raise awareness through those engaged constituents’ networks by encouraging them to share posts and fundraising appeals. if a non-profit is pushing stuff out to its network that no one responds to, then it’s time to look at the content strategy, not to get whingy when facebook cuts the size of its free lunch.
        for sole proprietors, facebook is an opportunity to build engaged followers, not a free megaphone to shout over and over to those who’ve expressed a passing interest. heck yes, fb changes the rules – it has investors to keep happy and like every business out there, a constant need to identify and develop revenue streams.
        your math metaphor is too confusing to address.

  2. Sheila Wall Bell

    October 31, 2012 at 9:40 am

    Maybe a must read, but wish I didn’t know it…ignorance can, indeed, be bliss? Now I’m just plain mad.

  3. Jim Duncan

    October 31, 2012 at 9:42 am

    Yet another reason I absolutely loathe Facebook

  4. StacyStateham

    October 31, 2012 at 10:27 am

    “For them, they have to pay $200 per post in order to have a post on the newsfeeds of all of their subscribers”  – Page posts have never shown up in the newsfeeds of All Subscribers.. it has always, and still does to a large extent, depend on the EdgeRank of the page, engagement, etc.    Pages that had low engagement rates prior to the change are getting filtered out even more than they did before.  Pages that have high engagement should be just fine.  If you’re posting quality content that your audience likes, there’s no need to panic.  If you’re posting content that your audience doesn’t like, the problem isn’t Facebook’s algorithm, it’s your content.  Here’s a link to the official Facebook statement on the subject…

  5. Diana Hoyt

    October 31, 2012 at 10:50 am

    Is Mark Zuckerberg TRYING to kill Facebook???? Sure seems like it. I’ll just find another venue. I won’t pay for any of this.

  6. MattsMedia

    November 1, 2012 at 6:10 pm

    Lately I hear a lot of people tell me there is too much “noise” and irrelevant information on Facebook. If there was any adjustments to the News-Feed algorithm it would make the Facebook experience better for the non-business users (eg, the 99% 😉 – no complaints here, I’ll stick to FB ads for business.

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