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Friday, December 12, 2014

LOOK! CUTE CAT PICTURES! AND FACEBOOK




Please Like me.  Now.
This post is not about a cat.  But my cat Blanca has the power to attract your instant attention, to suck you in, to make you hit Like and Comment “How adorable!” on Facebook.  In the mysterious promotional algorithm of Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook, that makes Blanca a winner and the person who posts pictures of her a promo genius.  Blanca thus joins the ranks of semi-naked guys, cute toddlers squeezing puppies and sunsets from exotic locales in fostering the all-important INTERACTION on Facebook.


I had no problem eliciting Interaction (I thought) until I established my Author Page on FB.  I had noted Pippa’s frequent “arrghh!” moments about not receiving posts from people she was Following, but being a FB newbie, I didn’t understand what that meant.  Then I set up my Author Page, which as FB is very quick to tell you, you should have if you are posting stuff about a professional endeavor (like writing/selling books).  I got a bunch of Likes right away.  I thought I was doing well.

But I noticed I was posting and no one was responding.  No Likes.  No Comments. The helpful information about traffic on my Page that FB is happy to provide told me my posts were only “reaching” a tiny fraction of the people who were Following my Page.  Wha …?  But, of course, I could pay to Boost my posts, if I wanted to.

How could this be?  My personal profile posts go out to all my Friends, except, apparently, the ones who have actively stopped Liking anything I post.  But the Evil FB Gnomes had decided within a couple of weeks who will see my posts and who will not?  And those who have Liked/Followed my Page had no real say in whether they receive my posts or not?

After about a week of genuine confusion (Was I doing something wrong in posting? Was my computer screwing up?), I found the answer in a fellow Golden Heart sister’s FB post.  She had resorted to the “cute toddler” ploy, using a pic of her grandson dressed as a garden gnome to get everyone’s attention.  Then she recommended her readers just sign up for her newsletter to ensure they got the information they need about her books.

I asked her what was going on.  She says you must have virtually instant interaction with your Page posts from a certain number of people to “convince” FB to send it out to others.  She says the magic numbers are ten people within 30 minutes!  (Of course, you will not find these actual numbers anywhere in the FB rules or Best Practices.  FB merely says you must have Interaction to ensure your spot in the competitive News Feed.  Yeah, like we couldn’t stand to lose a few of those “suggested posts”.)  The ten people wouldn’t be so hard to get, maybe, but within 30 minutes?  I’m sure I’m not the only one with friends scattered all across the country (and the world).  Everyone is supposed to be hanging around their phones/iPads/computers just waiting for me to post?  Or must I also leap into the Boiling Cauldron of Despair that is Twitter to tweet to everyone that I’m posting on FB so check your FB NOW, ’kay?

Now maybe my friend has it wrong.  Maybe you just need some interaction. Still, it’s clear from the constant offers to Boost my posts that the fewer “reaches” I get, the more FB benefits.  FB hopes I get desperate and cave to its offers in the end, paying to get the Gnomes to do what they are there to do in the first place—show my posts to the people who are Following my Page.  Unfortunately, I don’t have the deep pockets of the corporate world that FB is trying to exploit to keep its juggernaut rolling.

I’ve often said my sales skills are so bad I couldn’t sell Girl Scout cookies in a high school cafeteria, so I knew promotion would be the hardest part of being successful at my writing.  But seriously, must it really be that difficult to do something that should be so simple?

The FB Page duplicates some of my personal profile AND it duplicates some of my website.  Still, I set it up to communicate easily with readers, if and when they should come, something that is not so easy to do with either of the other two formats.  Now I need a newsletter, too?  Jeez!  And as a reader, I would feel overwhelmed by the constant bombardment to Look Here!  Read This!  Keep Up with Me!  (I generally don’t interact as a “fan” with any of my writing idols.  I don’t have time.)  

Is it too much to ask to be able to focus on a few of the most efficient ways to reach readers?  And to have Facebook cooperate in that effort, rather than constrict it every way possible in a not-very-well concealed campaign to extort cash from its professional users?


PING PONG

--Congrats to Pippa on her EPIC Award for Gethyon!  What a great early Christmas present and a terrific way to end a fabulous year!

-- I've been hearing great things about Fortune's Pawn for a long time, Laurie.  Guess it's time to read it, huh?
 
Cheers, Donna



4 comments:

  1. Thanks Donna!

    Yep, I dunno about the 30 minutes thing. But I know I have to post pretty frequently to my page if I want to reach at least half my followers. And FB are clamping down on pure promo posts more than ever. I spent one day posting every couple of hours, resharing blog posts from a week of blog tours, plus some fun scifi posts, pretty pictures, geek t-shirts and reviews. That got me up to two thirds of my followers reached, but maintaining that? A lot of effort. That's where the community of the SFR Brigade fanpage works better - several admins in several time zones posting a wider variety of content that often invites more interaction. I see less and less value in using FB for any kind of promotion (I certainly can't justify paying out for boosts), so although I jeep persisting with my page, it's more for my publisher's group, the Brigade group, and the friends I gave there that I have no connection to on other platforms. FYI you can link FB to Twitter so that posts to your page automatically tweet (which will help a little) but then you need to bear in mind the 140 character limit and judicious use of hashtags in your FB post.

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  2. FB is certainly making it harder for us to use it as a promotion tool, Pippa. They want us to PAY, which, as you point out, we little guys can't afford to do. As the old dino I am, I resent having to constantly switch technologies to keep up with the latest thing just to reach my readers. And all of this is happening just as the old PR structures of the legacy publishers are breaking down. Who has a publicity person to help them nowadays? Only the richest and most successful authors. I hesitate to use group forums/pages for self-promotion because I don't like to be bombarded with that kind of stuff from others. My Page is just for my readers--at least they signed up to hear from me!

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    Replies
    1. Problem is, FB isn't even letting those who want to see them actually see them! I ran a little experiment the last few days, and I have to post every two hours or so to keep my page reach up.

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  3. Totally agree that FB can be very frustrating at times, Donna...actually MOST times. IMHO they are algorithming (I made that up) themselves right out of the future of social media because so many people are fed up with their "pay or be buried" tactics. I'm convinced a new socmed site will rise in the next year or two, but in the meantime--yeah, we're stuck with FB as King. (Some swear by Twitter and almost totally forego FB, but as we're seen in a few convos with the Brigade that went viral on Twitter it's almost impossible to carry out a conversation thread with multiple parties via Twitter, so they quickly migrated to a FB group.) Since inception the Brigade has attempted to start a blog, a web site and a member forum as alternatives, and each one has been for all intents and purposes ignored, except the blog which has had the advantage of some very special attention lately to raise its visibility.

    Even so, yup--peeps seem to steer right back to FB after their brief side trips. FB is habit and it's "where everyone is," so it's very hard to break away from the status quo.

    I can tell you there are things going on behind the scenes that may (or may not) provide a viable alternative for the SFR crowd. But getting there is taking time and resources. Stay tuned. :)

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