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Facebook. A name so nice they monetize your content twice.

As if it weren't enough Facebook cashes in on all your status updates and kitten pictures with its shitty ads, now they're making brands, bands, artists and content creators pay for their reach. Facebook's ad business rakes in 2.3 billion in the fourth quarter of last year. Call it hubris, call it the usual Silicon Valley arrogance, but people are starting to wise up. And by "People," I mean both ad agencies, and artists.

Start with the former. This article which explains the frustration succinctly.

One point of frustration is Facebook’s ongoing squeezing of traffic to organic brand content. A digital agency exec described a recent meeting with Facebook that turned contentious. In what was meant to be a routine meeting, the exec said the Facebook rep told him the brands the agency works with would now have to pay Facebook for the same amount of reach they once enjoyed automatically. That position and Facebook’s perceived attitude have led to some disillusionment on Madison Avenue, where many bought into the dream peddled by Facebook that brands could set up shop on the platform as “publishers” and amass big audiences on their own.

The word "publisher," is so sexy isn't it? As if you work at Penguin, or are a distinguished author. But if you worked at Penguin or were a distinguished author, you would be making money. You wouldn't allow your content to be monetized via advertising (the way regular folks have to) and you certainly wouldn't then have to pay to reach an audience you built, the way anyone with a page now has to. I cannot stress enough how outrageous that last point is. For every smarmy brand out there who buy or bully to get a bunch of likes there are plenty of small businesses, and content creators who have built their audiences the old-fashioned way: through a lot of time and hard work. To then penalize them by holding their audience hostage because Facebook has decided it isn't making enough money in the ad space is not only stupid its incredibly shortsighted. As evidenced from the quote above, it's backfiring, too. If I pay your blackmail rate this year, who is to say you won't raise it again next year or next month?

I guess GM was right when they left Facebook back in 2012.

Now you can argue business is business and big brands that have amassed fans should treat it the same way as any other media space, with rising costs, blah blah blah, but you know what? It's too arbitrary and too underhanded to be anything other than a money grab. It's not like Netflix raising prices to then presumably create a better service, develop new content or hopefully, please God, license movies we actually want to see. Facebook's service has been mediocre for a few years now. The extra revenue it hopes to get isn't going to make Facebook better. It'll only hurt the smaller businesses and individuals with pages who can't afford the ransom money.

This back and forth exchange between an artist and Kevin Carr at the Music Biz conference only emphasizes that point.

So are you going to do anything for those artists who are now not able to reach those fans that they spent so much time and money building? Do you have a program for artists and labels to help promote them as a make good, for making them pay to reach their fans?
Kevin Carr, Facebook: Sure. I really think it comes down to – because there are artists and there are actors and there are brands that are reaching a ton of their fans though. So not everyone has had that happen –
Artist: — right, the big ones –
Carr: — I think –
Artist: — but, if you have 30 million fans, you have to spend tens of thousands of dollars to reach those fans.
Carr: It’s, it’s not a matter of — we’re not trying to punish anyone. And it’s not like we’re trying to turn on a money machine. It really comes down to authentic content, reaching the person.

LOL, Facebook. The people who brought us poke are now deciding what is authentic.

The artist in the audience continues the same line of questioning. And Kevin Carr and Gino Sesto continue n the same vain. Saying that, Facebook is a free platform, and although artists (and brands) with pages have spent a long time accumulating a fan base, it doesn't matter.

Sesto: ....The problem is that the platform has become mature, and they’re not trying to be like Twitter and just have it to be an open firehose. So they’re trying to curate the content a little bit for the people. I don’t know exactly how the algorithm works, but I have to assume that if someone is interacting with the artist a bunch of times, they’re probably going to see posts.

Artist: Yeah but to get to 30 million fans, that takes a lot of time and money, and then to have to pay tens of thousands of dollars to reach those fans. That’s kind of tough. So there’s nothing, there’s no artist program, there’s nothing that Facebook is going to do to work with those artists?

Carr: I totally empathize, I totally understand and I’ve talked to other folks that have had the same experience. I don’t have a program that is going to give out organic reach. It really comes down to what I was saying before, is that the authentic voice reaching the person that wants to see that.

So...they don't know how the algorithm works, they know a lot of people are frustrated with now having to pay for their content. And they don't give a rat's ass. Because Organic! Authentic! Algorithms we don't understand! Facebook!

By the way, like us on Facebook. Maybe we'll increase our authentic reach organically and such.

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Dabitch's picture

heh. Our organic authentic reach on Facebook is a chore I never spent much energy on. To be Facebook's unpaid worker bee, posting our stuff to a page there, just never attracted me. To top it off, their API would change suddenly and one would have to fix any modules here that was connected to theirs.

Now the newspapers have handed over the comments to be handled by facebook, too many sites are too invested in the sticky mess that is Zuckerbergs walled garden. Don't get me wrong, it drives traffic, for sure, but I can never know from exactly where because how facebook is walled off. A young woman in France or a Creative Director in New York could be sharing and discussing out articles on Facebook and all I see is a generic URL and won't know which it is.

As for brands spending time on there getting fans where they are online, will they be making the same mistake on Tumblr and countless other social places now?