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.