Facebook Ads: Blackmail or Business?

facebook ads

I recently read an article relating to Facebook Ads that really got me thinking. In the article the author made a point of saying that Facebook Ads were akin to blackmail. My first thoughts were heck yeah, that’s exactly what they’re doing, blackmailing me.

I work so hard to produce epic content that I know my readers will love. And then I put it out there into the world for all to see. But I don’t just throw it out there randomly. I place it in various social media channels where I know my readers are. With all of my page likes, friends and followers, I’m putting it in front of thousands of people that I know want to see it.

One place in particular that I hope it reaches a lot of people is on my Facebook page. But what happens? I watch the reach number slowly trickling up. I know that so many more people want to see it. But Facebook is holding my amazing content hostage. They know I desperately want to share it with all of my fans, and they know that I might pay for that privilege. That big “Boost Post” button is just sitting there waiting for me to cave and fork over my cash.

Okay, let’s a step back here. Yes, all of these people have expressed a wish to see my content, but there are so many other factors at play. Here are just a few.

I’m not their only content source.

My friends, followers and page likers have also subscribed to hundreds if not thousands of other people and pages. If all of our content was displayed in their newsfeed each post would be visible for seconds before getting lost in the mayhem. Much like Twitter it would become instantaneous.

Reader experience.

Many of Facebook’s criticisms are refuted with the defense of reader experience. Of course this is indeed the major aspect they need to optimize. They don’t just randomly put content in front of viewers. Their complex algorithms depend on so many factors including how much interaction people have with your pages and the type of content you’re posting.

Note: I’m a little skeptical about the user experience defense and I can’t help but wonder if posts with calls-to-action or other obvious advertisement text might be on Facebook’s radar for other reasons. Surely these types of posts are prime contenders for businesses to pay to boost. Good business by Facebook, yes, although if this is the case they don’t disclose it readily.

You can expand reach without Facebook Ads.

Regardless of Facebook’s reasoning for sharing certain posts more or less, the author always has the potential to boost posts by themselves. By doing some research into which types of posts Facebook “likes” you can avoid the “hostage” situations to some extent. More importantly by creating quality, original content, you post something that people hopefully want to share with others. Facebook won’t stop people sharing. In fact it’s the opposite. More shares mean that it’s valuable content which should result in more organic reach by Facebook.

I look at it this way.

Here’s my analogy. You produce a giant wad of flyers for your business. But you have no money to pay someone to deliver them. The post office isn’t going to do it for free. So you leave them on top of the mailbox and hope for the best. If they’re just any old flyer, they stay sitting on the mailbox. But if they’re really engaging and valuable, people in the neighborhood spot them and start sharing them around. Wait, they’re so awesome that even the mailman who’s doing his rounds grabs a bunch and starts delivering them too.

Okay, so a very unrealistic analogy, which is why even the most valuable content sometimes needs an Ad boost. But hopefully it paints a picture. Yes, I get so frustrated when I see a tiny organic reach for what I think to be super valuable content. But I also try to understand that Facebook is a business. They are in the business of user experience, and they are in the business of making money.

How about you? I’d love to hear about your experiences with Facebook Ads or Facebook in general!

Just a side note, if you like a page and you’re not seeing its content, you can change this. Simply go to that page, hover over the like button and under Notifications select “All On”. Try it with mine if you like… hint hint.

Oh, and please share this post with your friends and followers!

I watch the reach number slowly trickling up. I know that so many more people want to see it. But Facebook is holding my amazing content hostage. They know I desperately want to share it with all of my fans, and they know that I might pay for that privilege...

1 Comment

  1. […] I watch the reach number slowly trickling up. I know that so many more people want to see it. But Facebook is holding my amazing content hostage.  […]

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