facebook rant

Stop Complaining About Facebook and Read This (Part 1)

Posted 6 December, 2014 in Blogging Tips / 18 Comments

Okay. I told myself that once #BookBlogWriMo was over, I would go back to posting weekly tutorials, best practice posts, and informational articles once a week for Bumblings Blog Tips. And even yesterday, that was still the plan.

But I feel like I need to get this out, and I feel like it counts as a blogging tip because I feel strongly that it’s blogging advice most people could use.

Stop Complaining About Facebook SO Much

I try to bite my tongue. When someone goes on a rant full of misguided information, I try to clarify without sounding like a bitch. But it’s gotten to the point where this post needed to be written, because too many people have the wrong idea.

I’m going to be breaking this rant up into multiple parts so I don’t get too rant-y at any given moment. But let’s get a few things straight up front:

  • Facebook is a business that needs to make money to stay afloat.
  • Facebook is not purposely trying to alienate small businesses and blogs.
  • Facebook success takes work, which is not the same thing as time.
  • Algorithm updates won’t hurt you if you’re actually doing Facebook right.
  • The majority of Likes from giveaways are useless to you.
  • If you hate it so much, you don’t have to use it.

Today, I’m going to talk about the first point.

Facebook is a Business

Because most social networks start out as a free service with no advertising, people tend to view them as a utility. As something they have a right to use as they’d like. You have a right to freedom of speech. You don’t have a right to Likes. (Tweet this)

So complain about ads on social media all you want. But realize that the alternative to these ads is a social network that costs money for you to use. That would be the other way to pay employees and cover overhead costs.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have ads in my News Feed (which can easily be ignored or scrolled past) than pay money to go on Facebook.

And especially from the standpoint of a Facebook page manager, we have the tendency to think of ourselves as Facebook’s customers. But anyone who is not advertising on Facebook is not a Facebook customer. They’re the product Facebook is selling. (Tweet this)

And from a business standpoint, Facebook is not even that profitable for a business of its size. Wall Street regularly scoffs and turns up its nose at it. The most recent earnings report stated $3.2 billion in revenue, which may seem like a lot (because it’s a lot).

But let’s break that down. That money needs to cover:

  • The massive server use required to prevent the website going down. For a website & app that probably has millions of users on it at a time, this cost is probably astronomical.
  • Keeping the rent paid and the lights on in their several offices. And think about the square footage in their Menlo Park headquarters alone, which takes up almost a whole city block.
  • Paying employees so they keep showing up to work. Facebook has almost 8,000 employees, most of which are engineers. Engineers are highly paid. If Facebook wants good engineers to build a good network, they have to pay high salaries.
  • Hundreds of other expenses.

And before you say something like, “Well what if Zuckerberg didn’t keep so much money for himself?” take a look at this. His salary is $1 and the rest of his income comes from stock options. He also donates most of it to charity. So that’s not the problem.

Facebook Needs to Do What it Takes (Tweet This)

A few years ago, Facebook was in trouble. Other social networks like Twitter and Tumblr were gaining on them. Users were spending less and less time on Facebook. Facebook’s livelihood as a business depends on users spending time on it. It doesn’t matter that literally everyone and their mother has a Facebook account. Not unless they’re logging in to those accounts.

When people aren’t logging in, they’re not seeing or clicking on ads. So Facebook isn’t making money. Like I said before, Facebook needs to make money. Just like every other business in the world.

That was when they started using algorithms to determine what to show people in the News Feed.

The algorithms are NOT designed to penalize pages who don’t advertised (Tweet this). They’re designed to keep users interested so they stay on Facebook.

When you hear about a certain type of Facebook post being penalized with a new algo update, Mark Zuckerberg is not sitting behind a computer, twiddling and laughing his fingers like Mr. Burns from The Simpsons, whispering “Excellent. Now they’ll have to pay to boost posts.”

He has bigger things to worry about.

Here’s what goes into a Facebook algorithm update:

  • An engagement report shows people at Facebook that, say, text posts with links in them, aren’t frequently clicked, liked, shared, or commented on. Even though they have high reach.
  • Instead, the data shows that those types of posts are scrolled past and ignored.
  • If these are a popular type of post, that means that users are less engaged with their News Feed, and are more likely to leave the site.
  • Facebook people say, “We need to keep users on the site. It seems they don’t like text posts with links in them, so let’s update the algorithm to show less of them.”
  • The algorithm update is rolled out, and engagement from Facebook users goes up.
  • Facebook moves on to start identifying more ways to keep users happy.

See? The point of Facebook algorithm is to keep users happy and on Facebook. Nothing else. (Tweet this)

No conspiracy theories. No evil plots. Just keeping users (which doesn’t necessarily mean page managers) happy.

Writing this has gotten me pretty riled up, so I’m going to call it quits.  That wraps up today’s portion of my rant. But there’s more coming, and I promise to try to keep it just as educational as it is rant-y.

Are you as bothered as me by people constantly complaining about Facebook? Share your woes.

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18 Responses to “Stop Complaining About Facebook and Read This (Part 1)”

  1. Personally, Facebook annoys me for the UI and stuff. But it has nothing to do with my blog or the algo or anything, it’s a personal dislike. I like all the arguments you put forward in Facebook’s defense and they all make perfectly logical sense, and it’s what any company trying to get a profit would do. So, great post on that!

    I have one question on the Tweet this links throughout your post. What plug-in did you use for that? This option is seriously awesome for post promotion!

    • Thanks for the comment! I’m part of a Facebook group for bloggers and it feels like at least once a day someone posts about hating Facebook for punishing pages who don’t advertise. It’s utterly untrue and having that outlook will ultimately impact how they use Facebook, and the results that they get. I’m just hoping to help people understand how Facebook works so that they can use it better. Plus, complaining about things that aren’t true, especially so frequently, can be really annoying lol.

      I actually didn’t use a plugin for the Tweet this links, I made them at http://www.clicktotweet.com/basic. But there are some plugins with similar features:

      http://coschedule.com/click-to-tweet
      https://sumome.com/app/highlighter

      I’ve used them both on other blogs and they work well. I just only put tweet links in Bumblings Blog Tips, so I don’t use them frequently enough to make a plugin worth it.

    • Thanks for the comment! Frankly, I think people don’t understand that Facebook became the #1 network for a reason. They know what they’re doing. If your reach is decreasing, that’s a sign to try something new, not abandon ship. It really frustrates me when people say, “I’m going to use Tsu instead because there’s no algorithm.” The algorithms are what keeps you from seeing spam constantly. So yeah, have fun with that. Because spam is bad enough on Facebook, and they’re not offering money for views. LOL.

  2. Yash

    FInally! Someone who understand. Great post! As a software developer, I understand where Facebook is coming from. Who would ever want to work for free? People have no idea how much time we put in developing a software. How many sleepless nights, zombie days and caffeine consumed. There is no such thing as a free lunch.

    • Exactly! I think the problem is that most people think users are the customers of social networks. But the advertisers are. Between the book blogging community, and my day job as a social media marketer, I see so much self-righteousness.

      Most hobby bloggers, like in the book niche, think that they can just randomly do what they feel like on social media and get Likes, comments, views, sales, etc. NO, NO, NO. I spend 10+ per week JUST on collecting data from my company’s social channels, analyzing it, and drawing conclusions. Another 10 on whatever A/B testing and experimenting I’m doing with our social pages. Every post is carefully crafted and optimized for whatever network it’s posted on, and scheduled so that it’s posted at a specific time for maximum visibility.

      So when they complain and complain instead of putting in effort to improve their pages, I probably feel like you do when they think that websites and apps don’t need to be monetized…ever. I just wanna get all HULK SMASH! LOL.

  3. “See? The point of Facebook algorithm is to keep users happy and on Facebook. Nothing else.”

    Except, most people I know hate the algorithms. We’d rather see everything from everyone we follow, and then curate our own feed from there. That’s a big part of why I ended up finally leaving. Clearly, if these algorithms actually are keeping people happy and on FB, then I’m in the minority… but seems like FB could keep even MORE people happy and using their site if they’d let us use it the way we want (and not default back to “Top Stories” every other day).

    And I’ve never bothered creating a page for my blog. I figured if I was frustrated with them as just a regular user, that frustration would skyrocket if I tried using FB for promotion.

    • I don’t love it, but then I go over to Twitter or Tsu and in 30 minutes of scrolling through the feeds, don’t see a single thing I find interesting, even though I’m following the same people that show up in my Facebook feed with very interesting posts, because the algorithm let them through and blocked out the crap and “I’m just sharing this picture of an Amazon gift card for a contest entry.” I don’t get bored nearly as quickly because their algorithm has correctly identified what kinds of posts, and from who, I’m interested in seeing. Clearly, other people are the same way. If the algorithm didn’t work the majority of the time, they would get rid of it.

      Is the algorithm perfect? No. But it’s the lesser of all evils.

  4. I think this a great point you make as sometimes people don’t seem to realize that facebook is a business and they have to make money and they probably have a lot of costs and have to pay for it somehow. I think people sometimes don’t realize the costs and effort that is behind something. I recently had an author ask me if I did blog tours for free, no I don’t, I have bills to pay as well and organizing a blog tour is a lot of time and effort.
    I really enjoyed these posts about facebook and hope lots of people read them and stop complaining and start thinking about why facebook does these things.

    • Exactly! I think the root of the problem is that users of social networks consider themselves the customer, and the customer is supposed to be the most important thing. Customers are important, but if you aren’t paying someone, you’re not a customer. In the case of social networks, advertisers are the customers that need to be kept happy. I hope you’ll tune in to my future posts about Facebook!

    • Love this post! My question is this: If links are not good for the algorithm, how do you share your blog posts? That is what my FB page is mostly filled with so I am wondering how I can use FB to get my content out there but not get caught in the algorithm trap!

      • Link’s aren’t bad for the algorithm – that’s the misconception. Facebook once said that photos with links in the captions performed better than link shares (the difference is just in the post format), and then everyone completely stopped regular link shares. The thing is, the strategy Facebook has *always* rewarded the most in terms of the algorithm, is sharing a variety of post types. A mix of text posts, photos (some can have links in the caption), video, and link posts.

        But the tendency with a lot of bloggers is to take social media tips to the extreme, until it ends up doing them more harm than good. :/

        I’ve found the best Facebook strategy to be this: don’t care about the algorithm. Focus on giving your audience high-quality, interesting, and entertaining Facebook posts. That’s what the algorithms are designed to reward.

        • Awesome! Thanks so much for the reply! I notice a lot of my posts are links because they are links to my blog posts or books on sale! But, you make a great point-if the stuff I post is good, then thats all that matters!

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