1628 Likes and Why I am Shutting Down My Blog's Facebook Page
At the beginning of this year, I created a public Facebook page for my blog, Schmutzie.com. I did it because I wanted to create a more private personal profile so I could have at least one place online that felt less public, a little more sheltered. It wasn't long, though, before I started to regret that decision, because I realized that privacy on Facebook is harder to maintain than it seems, real engagement is difficult to come by on public pages, and Facebook's treatment of public pages has been undergoing a slow evolution that favours advertising money over content and engagement.
When I started my public page, it was before this year's rounds of Facebook changes that would prove to make me nearly invisible on the platform. I thought I was increasing my ability to share with people by creating a public page where I could connect with those who read my blog and yet still have a more private profile for family and closer friends. The connection I sought, though, was steadily eroded by Facebook's changing treatment of public pages to favour advertisers and businesses who can pay for exposure and all but shut down those of us who cannot pay for the privilege of having those who like our pages see them.
Historically, we were able to use a page's Like button as a de facto subscription button, and clicking it meant that we would be able to keep up with that page's updates in our timelines. Then Facebook started using some mysterious algorithm to decide which updates from which pages we would be able to see in our timelines, which means we stopped seeing content we thought we'd chosen to see. Then, Facebook throttled the number of updates that a page's followers were able to see unless the page owner paid to boost a post's access to traffic.
Over recent weeks, Facebook has chosen to throttle public page traffic even more severely than ever before, which means that even if we've jumped through all the necessary hoops to ensure we see a page's updates in our timelines, we probably won't see them unless the page's owner has also paid to boost their traffic. For instance, posts on my public page for my blog, which had been liked 1650+ times before I sent out warnings that I was shutting it down, were suddenly only being seen by between 50 and 165 people each. This means that only between 3% and 10% of the people who had liked my page were actually being delivered any content from my page organically.
In fact, our ability to see updates from the pages we like and page owners' ability to have their pages seen has been so diminished that the very point of liking public pages or running them without an advertising budget has been pretty much removed. Why like a page if you will never see its updates? Why pour energy into posts on public pages when sometimes less than 5% of those who like the page will even see it in their timelines?
There are ways to organically increase traffic to pages without having to pay to boost posts, such as creating timely and shareable content that is more likely to go viral. If you have a nose for viral content and this has worked for you in the past, this may be a viable option, but I simply do not have the resources to invest what it would cost me in time and creative energy to garner even half of the traffic I would want to see on my public Facebook page.
Even if I were able to create a lot of buzz about my content, that content would still not be seen by most of the people who already like my page but instead by friends and family of the 3% to 10% of likers Facebook lets in for free to share my content. The resulting traffic from those shares becomes less about engagement and real communication with those who already like your page and more about cold-calling extended friends and family groups. This turns people's likes from their old purpose as a page subscription tool into advertising leads they ferry out for free to their friends and family. This has long been an aspect of the function of public pages, but it is a primary function now that we have to pay for boosted posts or depend on viral content.
Now that the Like button primarily acts as an open door to let boosted posts show up like ads in your friends' and family's timelines and not as a subscription tool, how do you feel about pressing that Like button? A little dirty? I thought so.