Image via Agora Pulse.
Using a Change.org petition last week, Illuminate Me singer Christopher Murray made a dramatic call for social networking justice.
Facebook has raised its rates on bands and small business’s promoting themselves through their website several times over the last few years, asking to pay even more money to simply reach the audience the band or small business has already acquired. It’s getting to a point where it’s blatant greed and is unjustifiable.
This isn’t the first call out made by a musician in favor of better visibility for less pay, but it has been making its rounds around my own Facebook feed a lot recently 1 and I’d like to address a few things Murray has either ignored or not bothered looking up.
First, let’s talk about what “boosting” a Facebook post does.
When you make a post on a Facebook page for your band, brand, or business, it is then shot out into the network for your fans to see, but not all of them will see it. That is an impossibility. Facebook is a website made up of algorithms. Users make friends and “like” pages, each with their own set of daily updates. All of these updates are aggregated into feeds the user sees when they login. They will scroll, click, and comment on these updates, but only so many. That’s a reality most seem to disregard before making sweeping generalizations.
You see, your entire userbase could theoretically see every post you make, but that would require each and every one of them to scroll for varying amounts of time (in some cases, possibly hours) before seeing your latest update. This theoretical possibility is dependent on a number of variables. Those include the time you made your post, the time the user is browsing, how many interactions the post already has, how many friends the user has, and how many other pages they like and are subscribed to. The likelyhood of your post getting 100% visibility to all of those “fans” of your page is exponentially minute.
To contend with this, Facebook (a business) has provided a service to “tweak” their algorithms in your favor.2 Offering up a sum of your hard earned cash will “force” your post into the eyes of a number of users that like your page, proportional with the payment selection you made.
While this may not seem ideal, this is actually a really nice option. Consider a similiar situation on Twitter. Until recently, Twitter had no option for sponsoring a post, meaning anyone who wasn’t using an app with timeline sync would probably not see your post if it was made hours before they logged on. That’s how time works. Things get pushed out of sight and replaced with new things. Facebook let’s you alter the course of time, so to speak, and push your content further than coincidence allows.3
Murray says in his Change.org statement that he needs to pay Facebook “150 dollars” to reach all 25,000 likes on his band’s page. He also implies that artists with bigger fanbases have paid up to $2000 to reach everyone they want to with a post. I don’t see how that’s in any way unreasonable. If your content is worth pushing to everyone you possibly can, paying a company that provides a platform for you to do so is totally reasonable. Call Facebook evil all you like, it’s your choice to promote yourself there. It’s their world, an you’re just living in it. If you can do better for less elsewhere, nobody is stopping you from doing so.
This is what I personally love about our Twitter or Instagram, and have since been using more heavily to communicate with our fans. Neither sites charge you to reach all of your followers. (which hopefully won’t change, since Facebook owns Instagram) I understand the platforms are built differently, but why can’t Facebook do the same as Twitter/Instagram?
Like I mentioned before, Facebook is built on algorithms. It’s a completely different beast than either Twitter or Instagram. Neither charge you to reach all of you followers, because neither of them have the framework set up to do that. It’s ridiculous to compare the three in terms of reach when each serve completely different purposes.
If Facebook were to do the same as Twitter/Instagram, the effect would be as I previously described. Your post would get lost in the shuffle of time and content from the hundreds of competing brands in the timelines of your customers and fans. Good luck with that.
But, my brand’s reach was better before Facebook charged to boost posts
Yea, I bet that’s true. You know what else was true? Facebook was a completely different platform and company at that point in time. This was pre-IPO Facebook. Pre-Filter the junk out and prioritize what you actually like to read Facebook. Facebook has changed over time for specific reasons as a business. If you think running and promoting your band on a touring budget is difficult, imagine pleasing investors and users at the same time with billions of dollars on the line.4
Christopher, look, I know selling records is hard. You want to make your band your full-time job and live comfortably doing what you’re good at. Spending the little cash you’ve made on show guarantees and t-shirts on social media updates seems like it’s a waste of resources, but trust me. It’s not.
I’ve been on both ends of this thing. I’ve worked with bands, labels, and publishers who want alternative music to be heard on a larger scale. I’ve worked with million dollar gaming brands who have done the same on a scale my musical clients could only wish to acheive. I’ve paid for campaigns and I’ve written copy for campaigns that have brought either success to a brand are almost total losses.
Through all of this I’ve learned one thing. It’s not about what you pay for the content you’re boosting. It’s about the content you’re paying to boost. Spend the time ensuring the post you’re boosting is informative and of the highest possible quality before you spend your cash. Do this and watch your brand grow.
- Maybe this was his plan all along. Nothing says visibility like going toe-to-toe with the social network. ↩
- You can read more by searching for keywords like “Facebook,” “sponsored posts,” and “paid reach.” Or you can read this. ↩
- They also have some killer insight tools that tell you exactly who is seeing what and how. That’s some invaluable information if you know how to use it. ↩
- Although, I’m sure being super rich is a nice perk, but hey. Hard work pays of for those have the persistence. ↩