A few weeks ago, we published an article about Facebook‘s recent changes. The main focus was on whether facebook was charging page owners to reach their regular audience, when it was previously free to do so. It seems we may have got a few things wrong.
You may remember that at the time of writing, the Future Astronauts facebook page did not have this option available. A few days after publishing, we noticed that the option had infact become available to us, so we wanted to see if anything did actually change as others had reported.
Each time we added a post to the page, facebook would tell us how many people had seen the update. As you can imagine, depending on the time of day at which the post was created, the number would increase or decrease. The more people that ‘liked’ or commented on each post, the more people we reached.
Many people, especially bands and musicians have been urging their fans to do the ‘workaround’ that we posted earlier, but it seems we were wrong. From what we can gather (and we’re no experts), if only 10% of your fans see your update, this is because only 10% of your fans were online at that time. If it’s ‘liked’ or commented on, more will see it, because of its viral reach. Facebook uses an algorithm called EdgeRank to determine what content to show and when, based on how many “edges” is has. EdgeRank would take quite some time to explain, but this great article does it well.
If you hover over the percentage shown at the bottom of each post, you’ll notice a box appears, telling you how many of the people who ‘like’ your page actually saw the update. This is just an extension of facebook’s page analytics, or “Insights”.
Once you take a look at your page insights, it’s easy to come to the conclusion that the “only 10% will see this post” myth seems to be exactly that, a myth. The promote feature seems to be an extension of the many advertising options facebook employ, allowing your single post to be seen by fans that were offline at the time of posting, and not just a ruse to get you to pay more money.
The answer is still not clear on whether facebook can actually prevent fans of a page from seeing updates though. I know from personal experience that sometimes, a musician that I ‘like’ will post an update that I don’t see in my newsfeed, even though I was online at the time said musician posted it, and I can see it on their facebook page. This is most likely down to how the posts EdgeRank is calculated, which is a double edged sword. Sure, it might prevent you from constantly seeing spammy “buy this” posts, but it can also prevent you from seeing something important.
In conclusion, we’re pretty sure now that the promote feature doesn’t exist to con page owners to reach their entire audience, because they probably wouldn’t have reached them before the promote feature came into play. It’s definitely a good idea to read up on EdgeRank if you’re using Facebook for it’s marketing capabilities, as we have learned since our last post on the matter.
Let us know what you think in the comments below.