Facebook, Libraries, and Post Promotions

If your library has a Facebook page and uses it for outreach, you need to read this article from the Dangerous Minds website. There really isn’t a good quote to pull out the meaning, so take a moment to go and read it. The basics revolve around Facebook monetizing page promotion while simultaneously throttling the amount of people who can see a post from a Facebook page. In short, if you want your page posts to reach your entire audience, you have to pay.

The free ride is over.

I can’t really fault Facebook for making a change like this; their investors want dividends and what drives that is revenue. The amount of things you can do with Facebook for free still makes it valuable for other purposes like keeping in touch with far away family members and friends. It does, however, feel slightly at odds with the ‘power to share’ sentiment from Mark Zuckerberg’s IPO letter seemed to be aiming towards. It reframes it into “I want you to share but only a limited audience will see it unless you pay up” which really doesn’t seem as much of a lofty world-changing dream anymore. 

The basic promise to ensure that all of your followers see a post brings up the old sentiment as to whether that is effective or not. I watch the “Skip this ad in X seconds” counter in the bottom corner of a YouTube video more than the moving pictures of the ads that are attached to the video. I couldn’t tell you what the last couple of companies were because, frankly, I don’t care. It’ll probably be true for the promoted Facebook post at the top of my news feed, especially if it is something that one of my friends or family has “liked”.

Given that some pages have a very local element to them (for example, pretty much every library that has a Facebook page), I’m figuring that promoted posts will end up missing the mark by inserting themselves into feeds of people who aren’t local. The New York Public Library has roughly 70,000 likes, but how many of them are local? Judging from my 45 friends who like the NYPL, it seems to be about 50/50. Is it worthwhile to pay to promote a post when it’s not going the audience you want it to reach (constituents)? What if some of those likes are pushing it into a higher promotion post cost bracket? Given the number of times I’ve seen pleas for people to ‘like’ their libraries page, I think this is a possibility.

Personally, I’m hoping that Facebook considers cutting a price break for non-profits and education related institutions. It’s one thing to charge corporations like Coca Cola and Comcast for post promotion, it’s another when you’re charging the local library. Alternatively, now would be the time to find other online outreach platforms.  

6 thoughts on “Facebook, Libraries, and Post Promotions

  1. I’ll admit it. I was wrong about Facebook.

    Some of the family members on my friends list have been posting the memes forever about how FB is going to start charging a fee. I always told them they were nuts, and sent them urban legend stories about it.

    Turns out they were right, sort of.

    The article you linked to caught my attention in a big way, because I’d vaguely noticed that I wasn’t seeing some things in my feed that I expected to see: sweepstakes on Amazon, posts from some friends, special offers, that sort of thing. Then George Takei posted that he wouldn’t be posting as much. I noticed the “Promote” link, but never went so far as to see how much it would cost. I guess I figured it would be a dollar or something, and nothing I post is really worth that much.

    But if the only people posting are those who can pay to sponsor (so their stuff isn’t bottlenecked), who will they be posting to? Others who can pay to sponsor. Who are probably not their customers.

    I was taking a Facebook break for a month to get away from the politics. When I get back, I think I will inform everyone that I’m deactivating my account. I’ve struggled through all the stupid little “upgrades” that pissed me and everyone else off, but there’s no reason for me to stick around if I won’t even see the things I sign on to see.

    Thanks, Andy. I can always count on you to post interesting and provocative topics. That’s why I recommend your blog all the time (through word of mouth!).

  2. Reblogged this on I'm Not a Librarian and commented:
    As someone who loved to mix social media with the assumed dusty and ancient world of archiving and libraries, this article really hits home. It’s amazing how, in every way, big companies shut little companies out. If anything, this is a cyber version of what is going on in our country.

  3. I’ve made the personal move to G+ and haven’t looked back. I did have to re-up my FB account to manage a number of pages, however. Personally I can use whatever social platform I like. For an organization, are we not stuck where our users are? FB may be bothering people, but it still hasn’t hit that tipping point where people are leaving in droves. As long as our audience is on FB than we need to be there too, as annoying as that is.

  4. Pingback: Facebook, Libraries, and Post Promotions | Libraries Provide Vital Services and Deserve Funding | Scoop.it

  5. This is downright nasty and underhanded of Facebook to do this. The millions of small business and not-for-profit organizations around the world can’t afford to pay exorbitant charges to ensure that everybody who likes them sees their posts.

  6. Another problem I have is that FB puts a very high value on visual posts with high entertainment quotient and shows them to more people. I try to be entertaining, but we often have unsexy posts with important info that FB refuses to show to our subscribers. It’s forcing me to less meaty and helpful.

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