by John Eberhard

I have recently learned about some changes that Facebook has made to their system, that I found frankly shocking. I first learned about these changes from an article by Tony Rockliff.

The shocking data is that Facebook has changed their Edgerank algorithm system so that with a fan page, when you post something, it will not appear in the news feeds of all of your fans but only to 15-20% of your fans. So you spend time and money building up your fans (and it is not easy to develop a large number of fans for a fan page) and now your posts only go to a small percentage of them.

The list of people that do see your posts are determined by which ones interact with your posts: like them, comments on them, share them, etc.

So how do you get your posts to go out to all the people who have liked your page? You guessed it. You now have to pay what is called a "Promoted Posts" fee to Facebook.

I’ve read several articles about this and none of the other authors expressed the actual outrage that I feel over this. You work hard to develop this list of "fans" who have liked your page, with the idea that that is a list you now own, i.e. you can send out communications to that list any time you want. Much like an opt-in email list.

But now Facebook is pulling the rug out from under you, telling you that the list that you’ve worked hard to develop doesn’t fully belong to you. You can send to the whole list, sure, but you have to pay them each time you post. Apparently the fee is as little as $15, but increases depending on the size of your fan base. One author was saying that based on the size of his company’s list, he would have to pay $2,000 each time for a "Promoted Post."

Deanna Sandmann of SIM Partners states:

"Facebook openly acknowledges that only approximately 15% – 20% of a fan page’s overall fan base will be exposed to the page’s posts in their news feed. And it’s no secret that Facebook recommends paying to promote posts on Facebook in order to reach the other 85%. Gokul Rajaram, head of advertising at Facebook, said the following in an earlier interview with the Ad Exchanger.

“You get anywhere from 15 percent to 20 percent of your fans, that you reach organically,” said Rajaram. “In order to reach the remaining 80 to 85 percent, sponsoring posts is important.”

"It makes sense that Facebook is looking for ways to further monetize their platform. However, the recent algorithm update has many marketers up in arms over the fact that they cannot reach fans that have opted in to receive their updates, without paying the price to advertise to them. According to an article by Dangerous Minds in order to reach 100% of their 50,000 plus fans, now that Facebook has turned down the reach of fan pages, it could cost them $672,000 per year."

Adam Justice of Social Media Sun states:

"Some businesses believe that EdgeRank is a ploy by Facebook to limit each Page’s access to their fans so they will invest more money in Facebook’s new advertising products. Whether by design or by coincidence, brands on Facebook now have to try harder to spark engagement with their fans. I have heard several opinions regarding the changes Facebook has made to their algorithm recently, and they’re as varied as the results people are getting."

"Facebook marketing coach John Loomer thinks that Facebook provides phenomenal reach, and blames inflated expectations for the dissent among PPC professionals. An average post reaches 16 percent of your fans, but John has set a benchmark that promoted posts will allow you to generally reach 35 percent (we’ll hold this as our promoted reach). In a recent guest post, John referred to Facebook fans as a moving target. Users aren’t using the platform 24/7, and aren’t guaranteed to login every day."

"Overall, the reach of an average page has decreased since EdgeRank. Since some brands have already paid for the fans on their page, they feel like they’re being charged twice to complete a single objective: reach their fans."

I have been unable to find out specifically if this change to the Edgerank algorithm also affects posts from a personal Facebook profile. It appears from what I’ve read that that it does.

I can’t help feel that these changes compromise social media marketing efforts on Facebook to some degree. I don’t begrudge any company the right to make money but this seems overly money motivated, though Facebook says the purpose is to make the content of your feed more relevant.

I will keep you informed of developments.

In the meantime I have been piloting a new method of reaching LinkedIn connections that has shown a lot of promise.