The Seas of Change at Facebook

Thursday, June 19, 2014
So I’m fixin’ to stand up here—and I might start rocking the Facebook boat.

Back around the first of the year, Facebook changed the news feed, or what the average Facebook user would see on his or her wall. To be honest, I see the word “algorithms,” and my eyes glaze over. And besides, it appeared that the changes would affect Pages—I’m a one-profile-only user—so I kind of ignored all the hullabaloo about the announcement.

But after a while (granted, it took about six months, give or take a couple weeks), I began to take notice. Mostly, I noticed that the lovely posts from authors that I used to see on a fairly regular basis had sort of dropped off the face of …well, Facebook. But it wasn’t my author friends that I follow, who post status updates here and there. It was authors who had Pages that I had liked, authors who posted snippets through their Pages.

Which made sense, once I took a closer look at the Facebook changes. Because Facebook had decided that “text only” status updates on Pages aren’t “liked” much. At least, that’s what the algorithms said. So Facebook decided to drop those updates from the basic news feed.

Now, updates with share links, or a link jazzed up with a photo or video, well, that’s different. People will "like" that, so theoretically, Facebook would plop that update into the news feed. But here’s where the boat begins to tip for me. Because I don’t see many author Pages anymore, share links or not. In fact, there are only two Pages that show up in my feed—and they’re both authors where I regularly click through to read the blog. The rest of the authors—the ones I don’t click on so much—are posting still. They’re just not showing up on my news feed.

And so I’m wondering. I wonder if others have noticed a change in what they see on their news feed.

I wonder if authors with a Page have noticed the changes. And if you’re one of the authors, if you’ve changed the way you post to accommodate the changes?

Mostly, I wonder if Facebook is making a push for businesses (including authors) to pay to boost their updates.

Maybe it’s time writers noticed what’s going on, perhaps give those algorithms a second look. Especially if Facebook is a big part of the marketing strategy.

Or maybe I need to sit down and quit rocking the boat.

You tell me.

~Cathy C. Hall


Sioux Roslawski said...

I am not even on Facebook (really) so I can't even comment on what's going on.

(I hear a Marvin Gaye song in the background.)

Suzanne Pitner said...

I'm on Facebook, and I'm going to rock the boat even more. Hang on.

I've noticed the same things, Cathy. I have to purposely go out and look for people's posts to read them. Instead of the posts from authors and friends I love, I get ads from Walmart and such. For crying out loud, I don't even get my hubby's posts in my feed! But I get 20 posts a day from people who like to post cute pictures from other websites. Grrr.

I hope Facebook changes the algorithm back to one where we have more control over what we see and don't see. Because personally, I've seen enough cute kitten and beautiful horse photos to last for a while. Not that they aren't fun and fabulous, but I get so many of them that my eyes glaze over when they cross my feed. What I really want are the posts that tell me what's going on in everyone's lives. Call me old-fashioned, but that's my opinion.

Donna Volkenannt said...

I'm chiming in because you are so wise and I always like reading what you have to say about writing and other topics--but I'm not sure my opinion holds much sway.

I don't post on Facebook as much as I used to. Maybe it's because of the changes so I just backed off and haven't engaged as often as I used to. What I enjoy reading most is what's going on with my friends and family but not necessarily all the photos or links that are posted on Facebook pages.

Anonymous said...

Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha! *wiping eyes* YOU? Sit down and stop rocking the boat? I doubt it, as in addition to your many other talents you're a great boat rocker, particularly because your oars are both in the water. Mostly. :)

Ditto to both you and the lovely Suzanne. I actually have two FB pages (as if one wasn't enough), one intended to be my "personal" page and the other my "author" page. The trouble is, I don't have time for both. The author page went up in response to a social media workshop I took last year. I mention it just to say that I can't offer insight into the author page (which operates a bit differently than the personal page) because I just haven't been on it that much. With regard to the personal page, you are 100% correct. I have to hunt down people to see their posts because FB won't show me, thanks to those stinky algorithms you mentioned. Very. Frustrating.

I have noticed that the more frequently one posts, the more likely it is that friends will see it. For instance, C. Hope Clark posts links (I don't know how many. A ton. More than a ton) and I get all of them. She has pretty much taken over my newsfeed, actually, her and my cousin Laurie who posts a lot, too. Everyone else? Pfft. Fuhgeddabout it.

Shall we revolt? Since you're the one rocking the boat here, I vote you to be in charge. :)

Meg said...

Keep rocking the boat. I don't even post on my FB author page anymore because they want you to pay for clicks, basically. Even my personal FB page has a very skimpy feed now because of their silly algorithms. I'm thinking about ditching FB completely and going to Google+. Or something. (sigh)

Kathy Lawton Purc said...

I've experienced the same result of FB changes and notice that fewer people that I know use FB and those left use it far less frequently. The time is ripe for a replacement. FB is not too big to fail.

Cathy C. Hall said...

Thanks for the feedback, y'all! I suspected that it wasn't just Pages, but profiles as well that were being affected. What I'm seeing (as Suzanne and others pointed out) are all the link shares--and yes, like Lisa, I have one or two people who dominate my news feed.

Meg, I've read (on a couple marketing blogs) that Google+ does a better job for authors. I think it's worth looking into because Facebook's changes may finally tip us all out of the boat. And what's left?

Oh, yeah. Puppies and horses and inspiring quotes. (Not that there's anything wrong with that. I've just seen enough. Um...not counting my own puppy, of course. That's totally different. ;-)

Meg said...

I've seen a few authors drifting over to Google+. I have an account but I haven't used it. Looks pretty easy to set up "circles" so you can choose who sees a particular post, but that's all I know so far.

Oh, and I’m still trying to figure out how to leave a comment here without linking to my old, defunct blog.

Margo Dill said...

I also think it's different if you are checking it on your phone or if you are checking it on an actual computer. The actual computer is easier for you to control yourself. You can also on the computer click that you want REAL TIME updates on your news feed which will post everything being posted at that minute, supposedly. . .Anyway, I use both my profile and my author page and promote myself both ways and try to mix up personal (less personal on author page) and business. I try to write a catchy headline or two and give some information that might make others laugh and or respond to. It's a crapshoot really. But one thing I read recently is to like your own post and comment on it--maybe even put the link in the comment--and you may get more views that way until the FB Gods figure out you are also doing that. .. :)

HistorySleuth said...

It's not your imagination. They said at the beginning of the year you will only see 7% (or something like that) in your feed. I had to go to everyone's pages I liked or already friended and select "get notifications," it's just stupid.

Cathy C. Hall said...

Hmmmm...I think I need to do a post on Google+, see how that's working for writers...

Margo, I've noticed that I usually don't get your Page post, just updates from your personal page, so I think it's a good idea to cross-promote. But you shouldn't have to, really, not when someone's liked your page. I mean, that's the point of the Pages, right?

Every once in a while, I'll think, wait. Whatever happened to so-and-so? What's annoying is that there's no rhyme or reason to it--I'll get status updates from an author where I've NEVER liked or clicked through--nothing! And yet, other authors, where I've clicked through to read a blog post, have also disappeared. It's crazy--

Cindy, I applaud your persistence (and I didn't know that about getting notifications) but again, how many people know to do that? And what's more, how many WILL?

BECKY said...

Good stuff, Ms. Cathy C! I've never liked Facebook, and probably decided to "join" it too late in the game. I keep taking time away from it, and even threaten to completely close it, and then a couple of people will say NO! I do admit, though, that it helped A LOT when my book first came out. School chums from my grade school and high school bought it, either directly from me or online and I was so amazed! These wonderful women were classmates of mine....acquaintances really. They showed excitement and support for me way more than so many "friends" have yet to do! So, I do have to thank Facebook for that. As far as the new way it looks or works...I really haven't noticed. But here's a fairly new aggravation: It won't let me post anything on my own author page!! I keep getting an error message and just too lazy and/or don't care to try to straighten it out. I've always loved blogging and will stay with it much more than FB. Thanks for another great post.

Linda O'Connell said...

I get more ads than anything. Don't mind the cute kittens and horses, but some of MY favorites are disappearing. Facebook's shaking things up may cause some to bail.

Lynn said...

I don't get on FB that much, so I can't really give an opinion. This post makes me NOT want to have an Author's Page though! Ha.

Joanne Roberts said...

I have an account, but I don't really use it much for business or pleasure.

The changes you are seeing seem to be linked to the ones Tara Lazar, of the Writing for Kids While Raising Them blog, posted about awhile back. She mentioned some numerical statistics. Something like, if a person has x-number of followers, their posts are only sent to a small percentage of them. I suggest you check out her research if you are interested in keeping Facebook as an integral part of your author strategy.

Hope it helps. Thanks for making us aware of the changes.

Karen Cioffi said...

Cathy, I've had the same FB page for years and I do post to it regularly. But, I'm sure I'm not visible to most others. It really is all about money, unless you're a heavy-hitter.

sally said...

I don't use my page ever. But I've noticed what I put on my profile doesn't get even half the likes it used to get. It dropped off overnight. Really was noticeable. And I also realized, at the same time, that I was seeing posts by people I didn't know and I wasn't seeing posts by people I wanted to see things from.

Google plus is much better for authors because Google uses those posts when they decide how much weight to give you blog posts in searches. If you do a blog on banana bread and you post that to Google plus it has more weight than if you just did the blog but never posted it to Google plus. Whereas if you post to Facebook, Google doesn't even know it. Because Facebook posts aren't searchable.

Some people put so much time into Facebook and not only are they not reaching people who are searching for banana bread, they aren't even reaching 80% (probably) of their Facebook friends.

I'm going to be blogging again in a month or so--as soon as the conference stuff settles and I'm caught up on my work. And when I blog again, I'm going to move over to Google pluse entirely, I think. I'll just put up the automatic posts on Facebook. I won't have to worry about my friends feeling spammed. They won't be seeing my posts. :)

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