The New Facebook Buttons: Promote, Despise, Abandon
  (November 1, 2012)

How many people would click "despise FB" and "abandon FB" if those were offered alongside the new "promote for a fee" button?

Just in case you haven't noticed, your Facebook activity may not be reaching the FB audience you enjoyed a few months ago.

If you want to reach your previous audience, you need to click that little "promote" button and pay the fee.

My friend Richard Metzger of Dangerous Minds alerted me to a remarkable coincidence: shortly after Facebook's May launch of the "promote" option for business accounts, business users noticed an 85% reduction in their FB reach. Facebook: I Wany My Friends Back.

Like many other "stealth" revenue campaigns in social media, the "promote" revenue stream was first introduced as a marketing tool for enterprises and groups: Facebook's tempting 'Promote' button for business (CNET).

It was presented as a way to expand one's reach on FB, to friends of friends, etc. What was not highlighted was the "stealth" reduction in reach to "encourage" use of the "promote" option: Broken on Purpose: Why Getting It Wrong Pays More Than Getting It Right:

Many of us managing Facebook fan pages have noticed something strange over the last year: how our reach has gotten increasingly ineffective. How the messages we post seem to get fewer clicks, how each message is seen by only a fraction of our total “fans.”

It’s no conspiracy. Facebook acknowledged it as recently as last week: messages now reach, on average, just 15 percent of an account’s fans. In a wonderful coincidence, Facebook has rolled out a solution for this problem: Pay them for better access.

As their advertising head, Gokul Rajaram, explained, if you want to speak to the other 80 to 85 percent of people who signed up to hear from you, “sponsoring posts is important.”

In other words, through “Sponsored Stories,” brands, agencies and artists are now charged to reach their own fans--the whole reason for having a page--because those pages have suddenly stopped working.

Facebook is broken, on purpose, in order to extract more money from users.

Does anyone else smell the stench of burning opium in the air? Step right this way, ladies and gentlemen, for free access to exciting new marketing thrills--unlimited reach to a global audience!

Next, encourage them to depend more and more on your product for their marketing and thus financial survival.

Excellent! They're now addicted, and without really noticing the rise of their dependence.

Now reduce their reach. We're sorry to hear you're experiencing withdrawal symptoms; but unfortunately we've run out of the "free" good stuff. We do, however, have a substitute that will fill your need, but there is a modest fee, of course.

Yes, it's the addict-pusher model.

Since few addicts complained or refused the new paid substitute, Facebook is testing the addiction level of personal-account FB users: Facebook’s ‘promote’ button rolls out beyond pages to some personal accounts (9/18/12, Inside Facebook).

Facebook testing promoted user posts in the US.

The "promote" service is being, well, promoted, as a way to spread the word about your garage sale this weekend, for instance. With the promote button, all the friends of your friends in Ningbo, China, will helpfully find out about your garage sale in Phoenix AZ. Just how helpful is that?

And all for only $7, if you have a small audience. The price scales up along with your audience. Richard calculated that promoting all of his site's daily posts would require $672,000 annually. The price of that once-free marketing is now rather stiff.

I have always been skeptical of the entire social media phenomenon. I recounted some of my experiences in How I Friended a Dead Guy and Became a Social Media Zombie (February 22, 2011).

I have also opined that Facebook Is a Utility Which Can't Charge Its Users (July 22, 2010) for the basic reason that Facebook has the same customer satisfaction ratings as hated cable providers and the I.R.S. Users view Facebook as a free utility, and tolerate it because it's free.

I have also commented on the underlying dynamics of social media:

800 Million Channels of Me (February 21, 2011)

Are You Loving Your Servitude Yet? (July 25, 2012)

The Last Refuge of Wall Street: Marketing To Increasingly Insolvent Consumers (December 12, 2011)

What's happening is that Facebook is realizing the advert model of revenue is fatally limited. Adverts just don't generate billions of dollars in profit, even with 1 billion users. So it was inevitable that those using the FB platform to generate revenue in some fashion would be squeezed to "share" their revenues with FB.

Previously "free" distribution would no longer be free, and users would face a stark choice: either start paying for distribution or lose 85% of their audience.

The response depends on the users' level of dependence. Those who are well and truly hooked on the FB platform can either make ineffectual protests and end up paying to reach their former audience, or they can quit: cold turkey, baby.

The alternative FB hopes they don't choose is to do nothing, accept their reduced reach and audience, and move their social media energy elsewhere. Most personal account holders don't really care about their reach; as long as their inner circle still get their posts and photos, they're happy.

So FB will eventually have to decide if it can profit with a customer base in which 99% don't pay anything. They could try squeezing users in more "stealth" ways, for example, making the first 10 friends and first 10 posts a week free, and charging for useage above a low threshold. If it follows this revenue model, it will follow MySpace down the path to hosting tens of millions of zombie users.

Or FB (and Wall Street) could accept that it is fundamentally a low-profit utility and always will be. It could charge individuals $1 a month--a utility fee, in effect-- $10 a month for groups and small enterprises and $100/month for corporations and large organizations. This model would recognize FB is basically offering server space. If users aren't getting $1 a month in value, then why be users at all?

How addicted are we? It's a good question of all social media, especially the (currently) "free" stuff. How many people would click "abandon FB" if that were offered alongside the new "promote" button?

NEW VIDEO: CHS and Gordon Long discuss The Constitution in Peril: the erosion of civil liberties and the emergence of a new Police State (25 minutes, 25 slides)

Resistance, Revolution, Liberation: A Model for Positive Change (print $25)
(Kindle eBook $9.95)

Read the Introduction (2,600 words) and Chapter One (7,600 words) for free.

We are like passengers on the Titanic ten minutes after its fatal encounter with the iceberg: though our financial system seems unsinkable, its reliance on debt and financialization has already doomed it.

We cannot know when the Central State and financial system will destabilize, we only know they will destabilize. We cannot know which of the State’s fast-rising debts and obligations will be renounced; we only know they will be renounced in one fashion or another.

The process of the unsustainable collapsing and a new, more sustainable model emerging is called revolution.

Rather than being powerless, we hold the fundamental building blocks of power. We need neither permission nor political change to liberate ourselves. A powerless individual becomes powerful when he renounces the lies and complicity that enable the doomed Status Quo’s dominance.

If this recession strikes you as different from previous downturns, you might be interested in my book An Unconventional Guide to Investing in Troubled Times (print edition) or Kindle ebook format. You can read the ebook on any computer, smart phone, iPad, etc. Click here for links to Kindle apps and Chapter One. The solution in one word: Localism.

Readers forum:

Order Survival+: Structuring Prosperity for Yourself and the Nation (free bits) (Kindle) or Survival+ The Primer (Kindle) or Weblogs & New Media: Marketing in Crisis (free bits) (Kindle) or from your local bookseller.

Of Two Minds Kindle edition: Of Two Minds blog-Kindle

"This guy is THE leading visionary on reality. He routinely discusses things which no one else has talked about, yet, turn out to be quite relevant months later."
--Walt Howard, commenting about CHS on another blog.

NOTE: gifts/contributions are acknowledged in the order received. Your name and email remain confidential and will not be given to any other individual, company or agency.

  Thank you, Daniel S. ($20), for your much-appreciated generous contribution to this site--I am greatly honored by your support and readership.  

Or send him coins, stamps or quatloos via mail--please request P.O. Box address.

Subscribers ($5/mo) and contributors of $50 or more this year will receive a weekly email of exclusive (though not necessarily coherent) musings and amusings.

At readers' request, there is also a $10/month option.

What subscribers are saying about the Musings (Musings samples here):

The "unsubscribe" link is for when you find the usual drivel here insufferable.

Your readership is greatly appreciated with or without a donation.
For more on this subject and a wide array of other topics, please visit my weblog.


All content, HTML coding, format design, design elements and images copyright © 2012 Charles Hugh Smith, All rights reserved in all media, unless otherwise credited or noted.

I would be honored if you linked this essay to your site, or printed a copy for your own use.

Terms of Service:
All content on this blog is provided by Trewe LLC for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. The owner will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information. These terms and conditions of use are subject to change at anytime and without notice.



Making your Amazon purchases
through this Search Box helps
at no cost to you:

Add to your reader:


My Big Island Girl
Thrill the players to bits:
buy it via CD Baby or (99 cents)

Instrumentals by my friend
and mentor Coconut Charlie:

Crash Course
Secret Asian Man
Third Stone
Tonic Float

Survival+   blog  fiction/novels   articles  my hidden history   books/films   what's for dinner   home   email me