Facebook is Making Some Changes
A Friend In Need
Not too long ago I was approached by a long-time friend, asking what was going on with Facebook lately. "I'm reading that Facebook has introduced a new algorithm that reduces the number of 'fans' that see a 'page' posting," he asked me in an email. "I see the big Facebook pages that I follow doing this sort of thing - i.e. Tourism Whistler, Whistler-Blackcomb, etc. Are they missing something that you know about or maybe it only affects pages with many thousands of followers? Thx."
My friend runs a very successful and popular Facebook page and was definitely showing concerns over whether or not his page was being censored. He noted a considerable drop in post viewers, which directly influences the number of likes, shares, and comments on his content. The researched reply I gave to him was quite lengthy, and afterward as I was discussing the topic with Roy, we agreed that this is information that should be shared.
Trimming the Fat
Since Facebook rolled out their timeline displays, users have had the option to sort how and what information they want in their home feed. Facebook will try and guess what you enjoy reading and show you more of that. Exactly the same way Google will personalize your search results depending on your previous search history, location, and current affairs. You will notice too that you will get different posts depending on how you access your newsfeed (mobile web, mobile app, desktop site, third-party service, etc.), your relationship with those people, how often you interact with them, how often they post, and how often you check your newsfeed. Often times people don't even realize their content is being filtered (which has both its benefits and pitfalls).
What Facebook has done in the past couple months is tweak their algorithm that brings up your own personalized, viewable content. The more people you follow and are friends with, the more refinement your newsfeed will get. The bigger it is, the more it chops.
The reason big companies and organizations are asking users to "Add to Interests" is if you mark topic x on your profile as an interest, you will always get that particular content. Again, Facebook will tailor your content to what it thinks you want, so if you are telling it "I like this thing here!" it is going to make sure you get that content delivered to your newsfeed and not cut out.
My friend linked me to an article titled "Facebook Accused of Changing a Key Algorithm to Hurt Advertisers." An unfortunate article. Unfortunate because the headline is incredibly misleading. Facebook makes almost 90% of its revenue from advertisers; there is no reason they would want to screw themselves out of making money. By cutting down your newsfeed content to be more personalized, they can fill it with more ads from big paying customers (notice on the mobile services, i.e. Facebook iPhone app, you get three or four ads in a row from, say, Chrysler, Coca-Cola, Samsung, etc.), sponsored stories (if one of your friends likes a certain page then you will get an ad from them), and local targeted ads.
To go back to the misleading headline, Facebook is not cutting out advertisers, they are simply displaying less low-paying ads and spammy friends' posts about breakfast and pumping out more high-paying ads. "But why?" is usually the question to come up next. Well, why do magazines fill their pages with advertisements; why television commercials? Facebook is a business. One with around 4,000 employees to pay. They are monetizing because they can. It is a tremendously powerful service that generates incredible results as a whole for users.
Surviving the Facebook Ad-pocalypse
If you are not keen on dropping stack after stack of money into the Facebook machine, there are alternative (and better) ways of getting recognized. What it all comes down to is creating worthwhile content and establishing your brand. If you continue posting quality, considered posts and relevant, non-spamming information on a regular basis, you will have no problem getting post likes and shares. When good content is made, it inherently gathers traction. You'll find as people click the like and share buttons, they in turn will be promoting you to their own friends and followers. This is virality. This is was will drive your page views up. Instead of asking for users to add your page as an interest, why not genuinely interest them?
Make great things. That's all there is to it.