Posts Tagged ‘facebook’

Facebook Promoted Posts for Profiles: WTF


In the tech world, Facebook comes in for quite a bit of stick, its business model as an ad supported platform is fundamentally flawed, its mobile strategy is essentially flawed and let’s not get into outrage over privacy issues and so on…

But the reality is that in the mainstream, non tech world, Facebook is still, by some considerable margin the king of social networks.  I’m sure I’m not unusual when I say that the vast majority of my non tech friends use Facebook as their only social network.  However, all that might be about to change.

In May Facebook announced promoted posts to pages (pay so that more of your userbase will see your updates) and as this rolled out to all pages they also tweaked Edgerank so that even less of your (page) updates will be seen by your Facebook community. Coincidence? But even that could be considered to be fair game, hey it’s a business, they have to make money, if you want to use it as a marketing channel for your own business you have to accept it won’t be free etc.

However, they’re now rolling out the promoted post options to people’s personal accounts.  So as an individual I can pay to have more of my friends/connections see one of my updates.  And this is where I believe Facebook may start to lose the very audience that is essentially loyal to Facebook and up until now haven’t been concerned with, or even aware of, most of the other contentious issues.

As the screenshot above shows, there is so much room for promoted posts on profiles to fail.  Aside from the risk of an insensitive ‘hey you want to promote that post about how depressed you are?’ situation, how will users feel when their feeds are cluttered up with paid for ‘look at ME type posts’.  It truly feels like a desperate attempt to bleed every last cent out of the platform.  There is another issue too, on Facebook’s sign up page it’s very clear with its message:

“It’s free and always will be.”

Clearly if some users are able to pay in order to obtain more prominence within the network then you can’t really claim it’s free.

For now it seems that promoted posts to profiles is only available for some people.  Facebook announced it a couple of weeks ago by saying that it’s ‘testing promoted posts for people in the US‘ but it’s definitely appearing as an option on UK profiles too (in response to a tweet I sent out earlier today, 10 UK based people with whom I’m connected had been randomly offered the opportunity to promote a post).

Perhaps they are genuinely only testing it and will withdraw it but if not, this could be the point in history that Facebook starts to lose appeal to its core user base.  And that’s the point from which is is very difficult to return.

What a difference six months makes…

Poor neglected blog.  It’s been six long months since I’ve posted.  Except it feels like about six minutes.

Anyway, so much has happened.  Many interesting developments in my own life and about a zillion fascinating things in tech land.

But tonight in particular I was reminded how quickly things can change out there in computer land.  Six months ago I did a blog post titled, ‘Where were you when?‘, it sort of related to the historical UK election and hung parliament but also to the increasing importance of location based services (having just come back from sxsw where that was all anybody was discussing).  And for six months now, on and off in training gigs, I’ve been using a quote  I scribbled down at sxsw (and apologies to whoever said it, I didn’t make a note of the name):

“Your current location (and location habits) will further enhance the delivery of your digital experiences.  Content will become increasingly aware of its surroundings and configure itself accordingly”

What a difference six months makes indeed. Google launched Google Places, which allows you to search specific for specific venues (hotels, restaurants, shops etc) by location, Facebook launched Facebook Places, a mobile app that effectively mimicked Foursquare and Gowalla by letting you share your physical location with your friends by checking into places.  And tonight they weighed in with another major, location, based development: Facebook Deals, effectively letting businesses offer deals to customers who ‘check-in’ to their venue using the Facebook app.  So again, not a new idea but what makes it so important of course it that when a heavyweight like Facebook do something, it has the potential to change everything.  For even small businesses who have a physical rather than online sales operation, this is a chance to turn ‘friends’ into actual cash sales.  This round-up by The Next Web tells you all you need to know about today’s Facebook announcements.

Here’s to the next six months.