Breaking News: Area School Upset with Facebook Promoted Posts

I fully recognize that it’s a nuisance when something you’re used to changes how it looks and functions.  For the purpose of this post, let’s take Facebook as the example. Here is a great look at how Facebook has changed looks over the years.

 

Do you remember getting angry over any/all of these changes?  If you don’t, surely you know someone who was!  For comparison’s sake, let me remind you that cars, telephones, and computers have all changed in drastic ways over their lifetimes.

 

I’ll venture that you don’t spend much time lamenting power steering, push-buttons, or floppy disk drives now.  We adapted, because we had to if we wanted to continue using each of these inventions.

 

Now, let’s take a look at one of the biggest recent functional changes, Facebook’s Promoted Posts,  a tool that started being rolled out in May 2012 for pages, and in October 2012 for narcissists users.  The skinny: Pay us, and we’ll make your posts show up in front of more people (something you got for free before).  Numerous sources (1|2|3|4, for example) have noted a sharp drop-off in the reach that non-promoted posts have since the release of Promoted Posts, with estimates of only 15-20% of the people who like your page actually seeing your posts…straight from the mouth of Facebook’s advertising head.  That number is not statistically insignificant!

 

So how can you keep using Facebook without either paying through the nose for Promoted Posts or without losing out on 80-85% of your potential viewership?  I wish I had a magical solution for you, folks, but I don’t.  Here are some suggestions to make the best of what could be a broken situation:

 

(1) Weed out pesky fake profiles that like your school’s page.  No use in paying for bots to count toward your precious 15-20%.  Facebook claims to be helping on this front, but spending an hour or two weeding them out yourself will likely yield better results.  Please be very careful not to remove any real people!

 

(2) Be sure your page is engaging when people see it.  Easier said than done, I know.  But be sure to know thy user base, friend!   If they like it when they go, they will tend to go back more often or share more of your content.  This change by Facebook may cause users to treat your Facebook page as a “go-to-when-I-feel-like-it” resource more than an “in-line-with-updates-by-my-friends” resource.  Not what you were wishing for, but be sure you hook/re-hook them when they do go (see links in #3).

 

(3) Is reaching 15-20% of Facebook users per post still worthwhile to your school’s mission?  If you’ve read this far, I’m assuming that you can’t just give up on Facebook right now (and I’m betting heavily on the fact that you can’t shell out a lot of money to pay for Promoted Posts) so figuring out how to put out content that your users are more likely to share and interact with is paramount.  To that end, hereand here are some great social media strategy tips.

 

To summarize: We need to learn to play within the playgrounds that exist for us.  As sites like Facebook continue to evolve and go through growing pains, and as schools remain hesitant to spend money on previously “free” tools, there will undoubtedly be changes, both welcome and unwelcome.  Adapting quickly to changes will continue to be an essential skill for schools.  This is not to say that you shouldn’t voice your complaints about changes that don’t suit you and your school well — by all means, speak up!   But don’t expect that every change Facebook makes will be to your school’s benefit.

 

Bottom Line: People have always and will always use tools that are useful to them; it is our job to provide them a place to connect with us.  Foresaking tools because we harbor anger toward their changes won’t fix the problem of how we need to continue strengthening the connection we have to our constituents.

 

Humor/Reverse Inspiration:

Do you agree?  Disagree?  Have you found a magical solution (I’m always game for magical solutions, especially when they involve unicorns)? React in the comments, and be sure you continue the discussion.

 

Thanks to my father for the idea for this blog post.

Joel F. W. Price

Joel F. W. Price

Technology Education Coordinator at Swarthmore College

Joel F. W. Price works at his alma mater, Swarthmore College, as the Technology Education Coordinator. He also spends time providing consulting and strategy for schools, bands, and other small businesses. In the past, he taught in a high school for students who were kicked out of public schools, toured with an acoustic trio, and worked as the webmaster and social media manager at Friends' Central School. In addition to these pursuits, Joel enjoys spending time on photography, playing sports, and cooking/canning. He also maintains a meticulous record and ticket stub of every concert he's attended since 1995 (well over 300). Also check out Joel's Flickr account at http://www.edsocialmedia.com/author/joelfwprice/.

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