Facebook will change the news feed to decrease the number of blatant promotional messages people see… The move essentially devalues the posts brands push out from their Pages, which may mean more paid advertisement revenue for Facebook.” – Facebook To Companies: No More Free Ride FB – SFGate.
What’s happening? When you ‘like’ something on Facebook it doesn’t mean you want to ‘follow‘ or ‘subscribe‘ anymore – it now essentially triggers the collection of interest meta data so Facebook can show you more relevant ads.
If I owned any Facebook stock, I’d sell immediately. This is not financial advice, just what I would do.
Why? No, no, not for ethical reasons – although those would be valid. My main reason would be that these new policies effectively kill the social aspect of Facebook. If some centrally managed profit-minded master algorithm controls what I see on Facebook, then the experience is no longer social. It’s managed.
Conversely, if I follow an individual or business on Twitter, all their posts are delivered to my home timeline unless its true spam. It’s left up to me to unfollow folks that post stuff I think is junk. People that make noise are naturally tuned-out as others chose to unfollow them.
Today Facebook manages the experience, not the people, so it’s no longer a truly social site. It’s a centrally managed content delivery platform that learns what people like and then delivers the appropriate content including a high percentage of advertisements that look like followed content.
This approach will eventually kill Facebook if the trend continues. When people realize that they are no longer receiving what they want to see, they will leave.
Facebook management is likely attempting to manage this potential exodus by monitoring user activity versus ad levels. But any centrally managed system ultimately fails – just like our managed and manipulated economy. While central management can produce results for a period of time, it ultimately fails because it’s not a natural system that constantly seeks a sustainable balance.
People, on a truly social site, is a natural system of sorts. It’s the human (natural) element constantly seeking balance through selection that leads to a successful social balance. In other words people get what they want because they choose to see it.
Many investors won’t initially see this transformation from Facebook into Facebuck as a problem. They will see the initial spike in profit and cheer. These people are also steeped in the centralist mindset, preferring central management to natural balance via free market virtues.
Eventually they’ll wake up to the reality that something is wrong when people begin to leave Facebuck. They’ll probably blame the way the system is centrally managed, but I suspect they’ll never blame the centralist culture itself. For that awakening they’ll need a stronger signal.
What to do?
- If you’re a social media professional using Facebook as a marketing platform, be prepared to pay more, More, MORE – and immediately begin to diversify your development of channels including reverting back to old-school SEO and email marketing.
- If you’re a Facebook stockholder – be warned. Watch the trends closely for the looming collapse and sell before your investment becomes a statistic.
- If you’re a avid Facebook user, notice how your timeline is changing and how you see fewer posts from friends and pages you follow. Check out Twitter again and up-and-comer Ello.
- If you’re a social media startup entrepreneur looking for an opportunity, see this critical flaw in Facebook’s monetization strategy and don’t replicate it. Choose instead to allow people to self-select and embrace a decentralized, crowd-sourced, content delivery strategy; and choose a monetization strategy that enhances the user experience instead of one that replaces it.
- If you’re Mark Zuckerberg, consider giving users a true ‘follow’ or ‘subscribe’ button. This will allow you to continue on your path while giving users a mechanism for opting-into content they always want to see in their timelines. Then, jump-start an ad network to rival AdSense. This will allow you to monetize the traffic that leaves Facebook and partner more closely with content creators. Instead of alienating bloggers and corporations by forcing them to pay to play – turn on the revenue tap, let the traffic flow, and collect ad revenue as people come and go. Just be sure to build that ad publishing network that can coexist with AdSense, and you’ll have bloggers and content creators lining up to join. The icing on the cake would be to share content publishing best practices with page owners. Revealing this secret sauce would help content creators optimize their campaigns from the start and reduce noise. In other words if people are told that a certain behavior will benefit them, they will do it – just tell them and in practice they will see.
I’m not opposed to Facebook becoming more profitable. I just think most folks can’t see their own centralist bias – and how in the end it destroys. Our cultures pendulum has been swinging toward the centralist side for some time, and we see the resistance and limits to the trend building. I think this is really the core reason companies like Facebook make decisions like these… it’s a cultural trend thing.
At some point they’ll see something is not working and look for a change. The only true change would be to change the paradigm, in this case think decentralist again, and avoid trying to fix the current paradigm.