Facebook Fan Page is Less Effective if Free

Sep 172012
 

Here’s what Facebook would charge Stephanie Manley to post to fans and friends.

Do you use a Facebook fan page to promote your blog and books? How about Google? Do you depend on Feedburner for free blog feeds?

Free was great, but now it’s over.*

Stephanie Manley of CopyKat Recipes alerted me that Facebook now wants us to pay to promote our posts to viewers. In her case, the cost is $30 per post and $75 per post for fans and their friends. That comes to…let’s see, almost $11,000 annually to send a daily post to her fans! Without payment, only 11.1 percent of her 18,400+ Facebook fans see her Fan page.

That’s not effective at all. But it’s still free.

Facebook says an average of 84 percent of your fans are no longer seeing your posts. They justify it this way. To find out what Facebook is charging you per fan page post, click on the promote button, on the bottom right of your posting window. Surprise!

I emailed another food writer with a huge fan base, David Lebovitz, to get his reaction to this Facebook news. “It leaves a bad taste in my mouth,” he wrote. “Imagine if WordPress was only making part of my posts visible to certain readers. I think it’s a huge mistake on their part but since Facebook is free, I guess that’s the price we pay to use a free service (however losing trust of users generally means it will cost them in the long-run).”

Like the rest of us, Stephanie has to decide what to do. Her mailing list has 20,000 subscribers, so she may move to that and Pinterest for promotion. And like the rest of us, she’s learned something. This Facebook move “proves that if you want to reach out to your audience, you need direct communication,” Stephanie said in an email. “Whether through Twitter, Pinterest, or the old fashioned mailing list, you can’t be dependent upon any one service.”

True. Who knows which free Internet communication platform will start charging next, or go under? Which brings me to Feedburner, Google’s free service to send out emails. Feedburner is going away in October.* You have paying alternatives, such as Feedblitz, MailChimp, or Aweber.

What is the solution? I’d like to shut down my Facebook Fan page and move my readers to my personal (Dianne Jacob) page. But that has a limit of only 5,000 people. Now I have to pay to ask my fans to move.

And I use Feedburner, so I’ll have to investigate another service.*

What about you? What will you do about your Facebook fan page? If you use Feedburner, have you already chosen an alternative?

Please talk amongst yourselves. I’m leaving to teach in Ireland this coming weekend, and then off to Food Blogger Connect in London (see you there if you’re coming!). I’ll check in when I can. I want to read your ideas about these issues and potential workarounds.

***

*Corrections: As people more technical than I have noted in the comments below, only the Feedburner API is going away in October, not the service. Sorry for any confusion. I fell for a post on the subject that turned out to be incorrect.

 

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  87 Responses to “Facebook Fan Page is Less Effective if Free”

  1. This certainly gives me a lot to think about! Really disappointing about Facebook– it’s shocking how few of your followers actually see posts now. I haven’t set up a mailing list yet, but I think it’s one of the better routes moving forward. I think MailChimp is $10/month after you go past 5,000 contacts, which is much less per year than paying for FB ads. I host on Squarespace, and they provide an RSS feed service that’s bundled into my monthly fee already, so I’ll eventually switch my links to that feed instead of Feedburner.

  2. Frankly, I’m more bummed about Feedburner than Facebook – I have a lot of readers who get the posts from Sparkle’s blog emailed to them, and it will suck to lose them. I will be collecting and sending out emails to them before the service ends.

    • I’m really confused about this feedburner deal. What does this mean for my RSS feed or email subscription through feedburner? Logistically, how do I transfer all of my readers? Anyone have any good links for more info? I feel completely lost.

      • I migrated mine to FeedBlitz – they have tools that do that built in. It isn’t free, but it isn’t really expensive either – and they only charge tor email addresses that actually work and not for dups. More powerful than FeedBurner, too, but there is a learning curve.

        See the post I linked to my name in this comment for more on FeedBurner going away and what to do about it.

  3. I can barely understand all this, but it seems outrageous…Enjoy Ireland, home of some of the friendliest folks on the planet.

  4. I am not sure. I am getting very tired of Facebook. I am trying to encourage people to subscribe via email but I had no idea Feedburner was going away. I use Pinterest and Twitter as well as long as they keep free services. Or until I believe that paying for one of them is worth it.
    I thought about making my own Gmail emailing group but it might be too cumbersome.
    At this point, I really don’t have a plan on how to workaround it (except using Pinterest and Twitter heavily) and I would be happy to read everyone’s comments and ideas.

  5. What I really dislike about this is that for almost two years I drove people to my facebook fan page, and now regularly less than 11% of people see my posts. I do use a mailing list I use aweber, I think mailchimp and aweber are fairly alike in services and price. You may want to consider importing your feedburner list into a for pay mailing list.

  6. My biggest surprise is that people are surprised. I never have understood the notion of relying on free services for my business. I pay for web hosting, I pay for my feed subscription (I use Feedblitz) and I’ve paid for newsletter subscription services. I’ve often said ‘Free is free and you get what you pay for.’ and I’ve never been in an environment before where people want to do business without paying for cost of services. For me there is a huge value for paying for services. There is a measure of expectation. If I pay I have a right to that expectation; if I didn’t I would always assume that the services carried a measure of risk and that’s never been a risk I was personally willing to take. Have to wonder? Will Blogger be next?

  7. Dianne – this is all news to me…WOW! Thanks for the shocking facts. I am going to have to get in touch with my web guy and see what he recommends about the Feedburner situation. This is going to effect millions of bloggers and tens of millions of readers. It would be so very un-Google like to not somehow capitalize on this, so I don’t think any of us need to totally panic, but it’s definitely food for thought!

  8. Facebook has never been a replacement for RSS or email delivery, because it’s not a good way to distribute content *consistently* to your readers.

    Facebook will show things that you post on your wall based on the amount of user engagement it generates. If you post something, and it gets a lot of likes and comments, it will show up in more people’s news feeds. If it doesn’t get much response, it will show it less. And people who “interact” with your page (view it, like or comment on posts) are probably more likely to see your posts in their news feed. This is exactly the same as what it does for a personal page (have you ever noticed that if you interact with someone on Facebook, you suddenly start seeing a lot more of their posts?).

    One nice thing about this pay-for-play option is that you can get into the news feed of people who like your page AND their friends (something that wouldn’t happen otherwise).

    I think the best thing about Facebook is that it’s a place to build community and generate reader engagement. If you do that well, more of your posts will be shown, and it’ll still be free.

  9. Regarding Feedburner — Google has NOT said that they’re shutting it down!

    What they have said is that they’re shutting down the API and the Feedburner Blog in October (and they’ve already abandoned the Feedburner Twitter account)… but all of that’s different than shutting down the service.

    Feedburner *may* go away sometime in the future, but there are millions of people using it and I’m betting Google would give us ample notice (and hopefully a way to migrate our feeds to another service) before actually shutting it down.

    • THANK YOU for this! I was fairly disappointed to hear that it was “going away.” We’ve been sending updates (monthly at first, now quarterly) via MailChimp since our blog started. However, I somewhat-recently spent a lot of energy encouraging friends, family, and other subscribers to actually subscribe directly to our blog. I would hate to have to try to explain to them all that they have to re-sign up in another format, just 6 months later. :)

    • Thanks Andrews. You were the first to point out my error and I have corrected my post.

  10. Agree with Barbara.

    Also, Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm has had the same effect on Fan Page FB posts for years. They are now offering more ways to pay for promotion (sponsored content as opposed to a Facebook ad).

    Even with only 10% of posts reaching the audience timeline,
    (1) You are still getting something for free.
    (2) People who are good at Facebook (I’m not one of them) still get great engagement on their page without paying for sponsored posts.

    Incidentally, how many people do you think see you tweet? It may show up on everyone’s timeline, but I’d be surprised if the audience is much more than 10%.

    • It’s true – I certainly don’t expect everyone who follows me on Twitter to see every single tweet I write. That’s why I don’t only depend on Twitter – or FB, or G+, or Pinterest, etc. etc. – to promote my work, but I get different types of engagement and conversation from each platform. We’ve all got to have diverse social media portfolios to keep our brands front and center these days.

  11. I think it’s important to know that Facebook fan pages are still free. You can post for no charge and 10-14% of your fans will see the content. It’s actually been this way for quite a while, the issue is just getting more awareness now with the pay to promote feature. You can however post content that is widely shared and commented on which will also get a wider distribution, so paying isn’t your only option. Funny posts, ones with photos, and ones that ask questions are all good candidates for posts that will have more reach.

    The reality is Facebook has a huge audience so it’s worthwhile for it to continue to be part of you bag of tricks, particularly because of the new audiences you can reach when people share and comment. However, it can’t be your only social channel. Pinterest, newsletters, and even Twitter all have their strengths.

    But just to reiterate, Facebook isn’t suddenly charging for all fan pages. You only have to pay additional fees if you want to be sure a specific post gets broader viewing. It may be worth testing on a small budget or you may just want to focus on making your content more naturally sharable.

  12. I have been experimenting with a wide range of posts to see how much traction I get. The best that I have gotten lately was about 30 percent. I don’t think anyone will stop using facebook, for me it will remain one of the tools I use, but I also know not to expect too much out of it. I don’t know if a newer approach might be for your superfans to be invited to friend you in facebook.

  13. Okay, a little troubling but I don’t think it’s going to hurt me anytime soon.

    As for the FeedBurner rumors, I have a feeling that Google will give us plenty of lead time warning before they shut down the actual service instead of just the API. And they’ll probably offer us some way to port over to a Google+ service of some kind.

    So, better start getting familiar with G+

  14. Oh my God, how did I not know that FeedBurner was going away? Thanks for the heads up… I need to go investigate!

  15. Huh. So I update my Hunter Angler Gardener Cook page every day, and I get HUGE levels of interaction there, tons of new “likes” and insane traffic back to the blog itself. And I have not paid to promote anything. So what I am missing?

  16. As Andrew and brhau mentioned, the EdgeRank concept is nothing new — facebook has been only showing your posts to a fraction of your audience for some time. They are just now only being more transparent about it and offering a paid option to increase distribution.

    Look at it from the perspective of someone checking their personal news feed: if you got every update from every friend and every page you’ve “liked”, your feed would be so overwhelmed that you couldn’t possibly pay attention to it all anyway. So in order to make the user experience better, Facebook developed an algorithm for delivering the updates that users are most likely to be interested in. Our task when we post an update to a fan page is to craft something that people will want to like and share.

    Here are some tips on how to optimize your posts for the EdgeRank algorithm: http://mashable.com/2012/08/30/improve-facebook-edgerank/

  17. I don’t think Feedburner service is going away, just the API. I have a contact at Google and I emailed her about it the other day and she said she had only heard about Google shutting down the Feeburner API

  18. Certainly an interesting business model. But why not? Mark is a very smart guy and his job is to maximize shareholder value. He does not do anything different than Google does with their paid keywords. For vendors, it all comes down to how much marketing budget to plan and how to distribute it. Of course it sucks for very small vendors who do not get their bang back. It might be tough for some vendors, but the people who are really hurt by this are all the non profit enthusiasts and activists. For large vendors, $10k/yr are peanuts in a marketing budget. The immediate effect will be, that messaging will become less cluttered. The secondary effect will be that people will actively check their favorite fan pages instead of passively digesting a messaging stream which again might be good for some. FB is in new territorry and it is always easier to lower pricing than increasing it. So, I believe this strategy will be successful for FB. @TechStefan http://stefanbrunner.com

  19. I have never loved FB as a vehicle for spreading love for my blog or my recipes. Admittedly, I personally see Facebook as more of a “time suck” than other forms of social media so I probably don’t put the effort in to make it more successful for me!

    I just started using mailchimp and I have been loving it so far! I currently use it to organize my newsletters for local farmers markets that I coordinate but I am getting bold and considering doing something to tie in my cooking blog as well! We shall see…

    Without much effort on my part, pinterest seems to be a major source of traffic for me. That is giving me more incentive to take better photos. :-)

  20. A few months ago I went to a workshop about optimizing your Facebook newsfeed where the instructor told us that Facebook has a very complex and highly, top-secret algorithm for determining which of your posts your fans will actually see (similar to SEO with Google). Apparently Facebook give more weight to posts that you’ve pinned or highlighted, posts with pictures and/or external links, and posts with @tagging to other Facebook pages, while penalizing posts created by a third party application (like Twitter, Instagram, Networked Blogs).

    I’ve seen some pages display a post something like this:

    “Please Share: Due to Facebook’s new policy, only about 10% of people that “Like” this Page will see our updates. In order to see all posts and notifications (not just what Facebook decides you should see), go to my page and just click/hover over the ‘Liked’ button (beneath the cover photo) & activate the ‘show in news feed’ option. This will allow you to see all of my posts. You can apply the same action to any page you want to continue to keep updated on.”

    I’ve done this for most of the pages that I like (that’s why I liked them in the first place – so I could see their posts!) but I can’t say for sure how effective it really is. It also doesn’t work between pages. You have to be signed in to your personal account in order for the option to display.

    I’ve posted the message on my own page though, just in case. Unfortunately, only about 10% of my fans will ever see it :-(

    As an aside, I don’t have a ‘Promote” button showing for any of my posts, but I have just a few hundred fans. That makes me think Facebook is only targeting the bigger fish in the pond, at least for now. Regardless, I think it’s time to re-think my social media strategy.

  21. Dianne, that’s crazy, thank you so much for the notice! I was wondering why things had gotten a lot quieter on FB lately but chalked it up to coincidence. And thank you a million times over for the heads up about FeedBurner, I’m in the middle is transferring all my subscribers over and starting fresh with them- but I think I’ll pause and do some more research first! I agree that Google probably would have given us a lot more notice if they were actually shutting down FeedBurner, but the fact that they’re closing the API is interesting.

  22. Great information, as usual :-)

  23. I noticed this summer that my fan pages became “community pages.” Just swallowed it because I won’t pay. Happily, it’s not my business. If it was, I’d be checking all my free options!

  24. I don’t understand how the FeedBurner API being deprecated is equivalent to “Feedburner is going away in October”. Even the article that links to doesn’t say it’s going away.

    Could you link to something that backs up that statement?

  25. This is not new. Your facebook fan page is still free. And you should always be driving people to your newsletter list.

    With the current number of fans on my page, it would cost me $200/post if I paid Facebook to promote my posts. I’m not upset and this is why:

    Facebook has had this algorithm for years – and for years only about 10% of your fans saw your posts. Similarly, Facebook Fan Page admins had the ability to promote their posts for several years. It’s just now that ability to promote individual posts is clearer and more visible.

    Facebook weighs a user’s previous engagement with a brand when its algorithm determines who sees what (and it’s been this way for years). Which is why those who do not actively engage with fans or post engaging content may not see the results from Facebook they want. The more engaged your fans are, the more likely they are to see your posts in the future (or to see them regularly) – regardless of whether or not you promote your post through Facebook ads.

    Instead of being upset, why not take a look in your admin panel to determine what your most engaging month was? What were you doing differently? On the bottom of your page’s status updates you’ll see a note that says “XXX people saw this post.” Click on that and you’ll also how viral it was, and how many people saw your most popular update. For me, my most popular post was seen by 770K – and that helps me to determine my Facebook strategy.

    Regarding Feedburner, I dropped Feedburner Email Subscriptions in favor of sending out blog updates via MailChimp last year. I used to do a weekly newsletter plus RSS by email via Feedburner.

    When I realized that 3/4 of my RSS subscribers subscribed by email, I realized I needed to give them a more user-friendly and branded experience than what Feedburner’s lackluster email service provided. As a result, my list has become stickier with fewer unsubscribes than with Feedburner, and it is more profitable since I can insert product placements and ads into the MailChimp templates that I could not do with feedburner. It costs me $240/month, and it’s worth every penny.

  26. I had a feeling when Facebook seemed to drop off dramatically that it was going to come to charging for posts. Barbara is right, when it’s free you get what you pay for and I’m sure they’ll get a lot of people willing to promote their really good posts.

    I recently switched from aWeber to MailChimp and I like them both and the cost is roughly the same. I find MailChimp just a tad more intuitive but not enough to wave banners about.

    At the end of the day it’s up to me to build a blog that is worthy of people engaging with. I’m new-ish and learning from you all.

  27. As far as I know, the Facebook Fan Page is still free. You just need to choose whether you want to pay to promote your page or not. And the “promote” option is available only if you have more than 400 “likes” for your page.
    Here’s an interesting article on “promoted” FB posts vs “engaging” posts on FB.

  28. Interesting discussion. I don’t really think anything has changed for me – I find it difficult to understand the complicated algorithims that allow people to see or not see my posts – I just know I have a hard time getting any traction on my Page whereas my Twitter following regularly and continually grows.

    What I think we all need to realize is that FB is now a public company – they have a bottom line to grow and shareholders to keep happy. So you can expect to see them charge in any way they can to generate revenue streams. That’s just reality.

    I think it remains an important part of a social media strategy but has to be evaluated and prioritized for each of us against the other tools we’re using and the traction we can get for comparable effort.

    My head is spinning …. Happy Tuesday to all and good luck in Ireland Diane.

  29. Dianne:

    I think it would be good for you to edit your post to say that Feedburner itself isn’t shutting down. This information was posted on another blog and it caused all sorts of confusion and panic. While I’m not a huge fan of Google, they aren’t shutting down the service right now and I can’t imagine that they would do it without notifying their customers. I’m going to guess that when (and if) Feedburner changes, it might change to a fee-based service like the others.

    About the Facebook thing: I will admit that the thing I don’t like about it is that it feels like a bait and switch. That said, I will admit that I don’t really care all that much. I don’t do all that much on my Facebook page other than post notifications for blog posts or book tour dates. But, I figure that it’s one of many information avenues–my blog being the most important–so it doesn’t bother me if it doesn’t “reach” all of the people who have liked it.

  30. Companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter and soon probably Pinterest will continue to monetize their free services. I see it as good and bad. Good in that it will hopefully weed out all the junk companies post because it’s free. Bad in that many have relied on this service and do a great job of promoting great content and can’t afford to pay.

    Ultimately, as much as I hate to admit it, it’s perfectly OK for Facebook to do this. It isn’t much different than advertising on your blog. They need to make money and need to use their greatest asset – their members and brands – to do it. Just like us as bloggers monetize our traffic.

  31. Company the sole buy generic viagra in australia right to sell.

    Dianne, I think some may have said this, but it is the Feedburner API going away, not Feedburner. Those are just rumors spun out of the API being deprecated.

    The Facebook Fan Pages are still free, and they’ve had the pay to promote for quite a while. My reach is still the same it was as before the changes, they are just reporting it in a different fashion now. Make sure you tell your viewers to add your page to their “news feed” to ensure they get your updates.

  32. The fact that Facebook doesn’t share to all your fans is the way it has always been. If Facebook shared all the fan pages a user liked there would be no room left on their wall for personal posts. In any case the value of Facebook is not so much on the short term traffic generated, but in the SEO value created by the sharing and buzz that results from the post. In addition to links, Google also watches Facebook shares and if your page is shared a lot it is like getting lots of links in. That generates long term search traffic. That’s the real value and anyone that stops as a result of this is making a big mistake.

    As far as Feedburner goes, it is not going away!! This nasty roomer was started by bloggers that didn’t know the definition of API. API is used programmers to allow apps/programs to communicate directly. Since the API was rarely used Google decided to shut it down. It has no effect on 99.9% of Feedburner users (me included). https://developers.google.com/feedburner/

  33. The only way I can dance at this sockhop of social media is to put stuff out there, stuff I like and care about and want to share, and blow it a kiss and go back and put more stuff out there. Paying attention to the nuts and bolts of webworld, maximizing and strategizing and analyzing, creates a cocktail of anxiety, doubt, and gloom, the drinking of which would send me right to bed (or to buy boxed sets of Downton Abbey and Good Wife and watch straight through). I will not be paying to shout out Fan Page posts. I’ll just keep putting things up there when I can for which ever cohort gets to see them (is it a prize or a punishment, being selected for the 10% that sees them without pay?) I have a newsletter, which I do on Constant Contact, $20 a month I think, which means I don’t go through Feedburner, I think. As a 20th Century Being With Tech Issues, I like paid services. My blog is WordPress, and I will probably be upgrading it to a paid level within the next 6 months. when I get around to hiring a brilliant professional person to improve it in many ways I have in mind. But my issue is not anything outside myself like paying for FB or Feedburner: it is time management. Focus, do the work, put it out there. It’s Me vs. Me — and mostly I come out ahead.

    • Amen to all THAT, Nancie! Thanks for the perspective.

    • Yes, can I get an Amen! I share your same sentiment, Nancie. I would much rather concentrate on producing quality writing for the right readers (even if it’s only 10 percent). Social media is totally overwhelming to me and where does it end? I often find myself buried in traffic stats, likes, RT’s and pins which take away from where it all began for me years ago, which was as a writer and a cook.

  34. I only get the pay to promote screen if I want to advertise on FB’s sidebar… maybe I don’t have enough fans yet! As for Feedburner, I’m not rushing to switch–I figure if they were shutting down, they would have made an announcement by now–after all, the news about the developer API going away has been around for a LONG time. While it would be nice if they’d provide some info, I suspect they’re developing some new and improved version and don’t want developers working on tools for an old version of the product.

  35. After reading your post today I sent a message to them suggesting that they charge a monthly fee on a sliding scale based on followers, instead of charging per post. I would be happy to pay $25 a month for all my followers to see all my posts. If you have feedback for them, here’s the link: http://www.facebook.com/help/contact/?id=354963731183415

  36. Someone sent me this link and said”
    “It’s not quite true. If you want to push a particular status update, and really promote something specific, then you can pay to have FB really push it. This article explains.”

    I can’t access the link now, so I don’t know what it says exactly, but hopefully it will shed light on the matter:
    http://facecrooks.com/Scam-Watch/is-facebook-now-charging-page-owners-to-interact-with-their-fans.html

  37. Im looking forward to discussing these issues and more at fbc12. See you there

  38. Hi Dianne and all,

    Great post Dianne and also great reading everyone’s comments. As Dianne knows, I am a bit of an outlier in the blogging world, so the news about FB “free” services, becoming monetized for better ‘play’ is no surprise. This is a very common business model, creating levels of service beyond the standard free once the demand is high. Most of us have ‘fan’ pages and know FB is embedded in the culture. My goal has been to grow Bijouxs.com, yet control the content and design, with private ads and using a paid newsletter service, I am still working on all these things of course:) but understanding that there are traffic tradeoffs. I imagine we will see quite a bit of this ‘pay for more play’ as the internet biz model evolves.

  39. Interesting discussion. I agree with Barbara, it’s best to go with a paid service. That said, blogging is my hobby and I want to keep my expenses to the minimum even if this means less traffic. I’m sticking with feedburner while it lasts.

  40. Like other people have said, Feedburner is not shutting down in October. The Feedburner API is being shut down. That means that if you created software that talks to Feedburner via the API, your software will stop working in October. It’s an honest mistake, but could you please correct your post to reflect this information? A client contacted me because she was concerned about this and I’d like to prevent the further spread of bad information. If Feedburner ever does shut down, Google will give you plenty of advance notice, like they did when they shut down Google Video.

  41. This is really helpful information. Thank you! I was on the fence about whether to even bother building out a facebook page for my blog, and this seals the deal. Much appreciated!

  42. WOW, that is very good to know. Thanks you for bringing that to my attention…. shish.

  43. Thanks Dianne. I’ve been wondering why my posts are seen by such a small portion of my followers. Now I know. I agree with David, really leaves a bad taste in my mouth. .
    When I clicked on the drop down to promote and saw the price tag, I was not sure what the heck they were doing. Now I know. I guess we should have all figured it would come to this, especially after they went public and had such as bad IPO, and now the big pressure to make money. I get that. But really Facebook?

    Moving everyone to a personal page could be a solution but not a good one. There is no where to connect more personally with family and friends about more personal subjects.

    I need to start a new page for my new health coaching business. Now I’ll have to re-think that and consider other options. Steph, not a bad idea on a subscription, but then again it’s just another added cost for bloggers, especially where most bloggers don’t make enough to even cover the costs. For the bigger bloggers, probably not as much of an issue. A lot to think about. I know social media is critical and yes, fun, but I’m beginning to feel like my life is run by it.

    Thanks everyone for all of your comments and insight. It’s helpful.

    On Feedburner, I had problems with my feeds so moved to FeedBlitz awhile ago. yes it costs, and the costs scale as you grow, but it’s better.

  44. I haven’t been paying anything on my facebook fan page, but haven’t ever done much with it either. If nobody is actually getting posts on it, then there won’t be much point in posting at all. Maybe time to say forget it?

  45. The issue is that many of us were using Facebook for a variety of reasons, but those with a Like page have been cultivating folks and followers, who I presumed were following along to see what I (and others) were posting. When I found out that only 15% or so were seeing them, I was disappointed because unlike our personal FB pages, I think when folks sign up for something, they expect to receive it – whether it’s free or not.

    (I initially signed up for Facebook because instead of doing link round-ups on my site every once in a while, I could share posts from other blogs (and mine) and news sources much more easily.)

    I’m perfectly fine with paying for things, and would happily pay an annual fee to use a service, as I do with my newsletter, Akismet, and so forth. But as Stephanie mentioned, one has to decide if it’s worth $11,000 annually for followers to receive notifications that they signed up for, or not.

  46. I want to expand on my previous comment why I contend dropping Facebook would be a very bad idea for bloggers. A study done by an SEO company in 2011 showed that Facebook shares actually had more impact on your page’s search position on Google, than links to that page. Here is the results of that study: http://www.seomoz.org/blog/facebook-twitters-influence-google-search-rankings

    So while your posting may only reach 17% of your followers, that group is likely to “like” and “share” that page creating SEO momentum immediately. This results in that page moving up in Google’s listings even with very little links in. Also a little known fact is that if you share a page from your blog on your Fan Page, even if your follower clicks “like/share” from within their wall, that like or share counts against the page on your blog and you will see the number of likes and shares increase by that amount on the page. So your followers didn’t even have to go to the page to give you the like/share for that page and get you SEO credit. Compare that to how many links in a page gets and how long it takes to get them and it is clear how valuable your Fan page can be from an SEO standpoint by increasing likes and shares. Ask any of the top bloggers how important SEO is and they will all tell you that search beats every other traffic source by a huge margin. So this is important to anyone that wants their blog to be successful on the net. But if traffic is not your aim, then don’t bother.

    It is interesting to note in the article that while Twitter shares did have an effect on SEO, they were nowhere near as effective as Facebook Shares or Likes. I know most foodies prefer Twitter to Facebook, but from an SEO standpoint, you can’t beat Facebook.

    As far as the Feedburner rumor I agree with other posters. Dianne you really need to edit the article so people don’t drop Feedburner for a paid service when they don’t need to. Not everyone appears to be reading the comments that they are dropping the API not the complete service.

    • Thanks Rick. I always look forward to your point of view on matters such as this, because obviously I do not have your level of knowledge.

      I added an update to the post explaining that Feedburner is not going away. I don’t think I can edit the post directly or the comments will not make sense. Apologies to all for this mistake.

  47. […] Dianne wrote a post on both of these matters […]

  48. Thank you for featuring my post about Feedburner. One little note, it is not being entirely shut down in October, just the API that some 3rd party apps use. However, a few months ago Google let the domain for the Japanese Feedburner expire, which meant the service shut down without warning for those users. They’ve closed the Twitter and support sites. I think the writing is on the wall, but it won’t quit working in October for most folks, just those using the API. I invite you to read the post about free alternatives for the RSS feed portion, and other alternatives for free email.

  49. We took a look at the data of where recipes are being shared online and found two surprising things:

    1. Sharing of recipes at Facebook has been in a decline since March 2011.
    2. Over 90% of recipe sharing is happening at Pinterest (just under 5% is happening at Facebook.)

    So that kind of puts this in perspective, doesn’t it? If 5% or less of the sharing (and presumably social media traffic) is at Facebook, then it only deserves about 5% of your attention for social media (when it comes to promoting your blog). I don’t know about you, but our traffic from Pinterest is literally about 100x our traffic from Facebook and Twitter combined.

    http://www.feastie.com/blog/surprising-facts-about-sharing-recipes-online

    • I don’t necessarily use Facebook to share recipes, I use it for interaction. Pinterest is great for sharing things that are supported by photos (such as recipes) but people don’t use it to comment, etc.

      Driving traffic directly to your site is just one aspect of social media, but (in my opinion) should not be the driving force of why people use social media. Sure, we all want visitors to our sites, but most recipe sites have very high bounce rates and I’m not sure how many of those visitors return. (There are ways to measure that, I think, but I’ve never done it.)

      As Rick mentioned, if you have a 100% recipe site, then search engine traffic is really important. But since my site is not necessarily only about recipes, I tend to focus on having people come back to my site – and social media is bascially another way to keep in touch with my readers, but in different ways than my blog.

  50. Certainly an interesting business model. But why not? Mark is a very smart guy and his job is to maximize shareholder value. He does not do anything different than Google does with their paid keywords. For vendors, it all comes down to how much marketing budget to plan and how to distribute it. Of course it sucks for very small vendors who do not get their bang back. It might be tough for some vendors, but the people who are really hurt by this are all the non profit enthusiasts and activists. For large vendors, $10k/yr are peanuts in a marketing budget. The immediate effect will be, that messaging will become less cluttered. The secondary effect will be that people will actively check their favorite fan pages instead of passively digesting a messaging stream which again might be good for some. FB is in new territory and it is always easier to lower pricing than increasing it. So, I believe this strategy will be successful for FB. @TechStefan

  51. I sense from some of the comments that whether to use Google and Facebook’s services are somehow up for debate. I would argue that Google and Facebook are the gatekeepers of the net much like the publishers are the gatekeepers of the cookbook industry. Both industries have their “rules” and you can choose to abide by them or not. But if you don’t abide by them, you aren’t likely to be as successful. If you don’t use Facebook or Feedburner (and hundreds of other services on the net) you won’t be as successful. It is just a simple fact, much like you won’t get a book deal if you don’t do a book proposal. You can like the rules or not but they are what they are. Also this isn’t a debate about which service is best. Pinterest is better than Facebook is better than Twitter etc. I would argue that they all are important to a certain extent and everything enhances each other. For example Google looks at Pinterest as well as Facebook to determine search rankings, so if you don’t do both, you won’t rank as high. This is simply the realities of the net, like it or not. This is an extremely complex issue that I think is often vastly over simplified, much to the determent of the people that are trying to actually make a go of it on the net.

    Another point about Feedburner that needs to be mentioned is that the benefits go beyond the obvious when it comes to search. If you are using Feedburner Google knows about your new posting within minutes and can list your page in search within very short order. This is why they do Feedburner for free in the first place, so they have first knowledge of new postings and can have the freshest listings of the search engines. As a blogger if you switch you will lose this advantage. That is why I very much doubt they will ever shut it down because they would lose visibility of millions of websites and that would hurt their search quality. They probably shut down the Japanese domain simply because the service wasn’t popular in Japan, so I would suggest that it’s a huge leap to suggest it means the service is going away. When we put a new page up I can usually find it on Google within an hour and it is 100% because of Feedburner. So like I suggested about Facebook’s search benefits, if you don’t want search traffic from your posting right away, don’t do Feedburner because it will take awhile for Google to find it. It’s that simple. Also Google can gauge the interest in the posting using Feedburner’s data to help them decide how well it should rank out of the gate. So if it is a hot posting and you don’t use Feedburner they may never know that and not rank your page as highly. All this data can use is why they give it for free.

    I totally agree with David’s comments on the benefits of Facebook going far beyond being a simple content notification service. We use Facebook to develop an ever growing community, to help people with their problems, to launch new content, develop and enhance the brand, to keep them interested over the long haul etc etc. There are many benefits to all of these services that often go much beyond the obvious and people need to dig much deeper before they judge whether to drop or add a service.

  52. Hi Dianne,

    Just a heads up – many of us found out this morning that our Feedburner subscribers have dropped down to zero. Luckily I was able to save my e-mail subscriber info using this info: http://www.thecreativityexchange.com/2012/09/feedburner-users-save-a-copy-of-your-email-subscriber-information.html but I don’t know if I can retrieve/move my RSS subscribers.

    Not sure what is going on there, but there ARE some issues affecting us bloggers, so it appears to not just be the API.

    • I wrote about FeedBurner probably going away and the alternative I was already moving to back in July. The handwriting had already been on the wall and I wrote that post (linked to this comment from my name) the day @FeedBurner “signed off” of Twitter.

      I caution bloggers away from MailChimp because their rules about monetizing and affiliate links are not clear. One blogger saw not only his latest newsletter blocked but EVERY LINK in EVERY previous newsletter broken intentionally by MailChimp because he supposedly broke one of their rules. No notice – no nothing. Just all his subscribers gone and all previous links stop working. I had warned about MailChimp’s position on affiliate links before and questioned whether they just meant not to have them in a newsletter or not on your blog or exactly what they meant.

      In his case when he wrote about it on his blog, MailChimp claimed it was because Yahoo! mail got hacked, but I don’t know what that had to do with him – and regardless – that points out a major drawback to using them.

      AWeber has always been solid, but you have to monitor your lists or you’ll be paying for addresses that don’t work. And using ONLY email to connect with your audience may be problematic because what percentage don’t make it through spam filters and how many get so much email that they filter newsletters and rarely see them?

      The other challenge is – as Dianne wrote, “Who knows which free Internet communication platform will start charging next, or go under?” – so my thought is we need to use something that has multiple alternatives of reaching your audience and let them choose which one they want to use.

      FeedBlitz is my choice because it integrates email and social media – but it does have a learning curve which we can reduce by sharing tips and writing how-tos. If most of us use it then it will become more familar to readers and they will be more likely to subscribe.

  53. A little late to the discussion, but I’d like to chime in about Facebook. I saw that “promote” button go up months ago, read up about it, and ignored it. While some of my “likers” have expressed concern over not seeing my posts in their news feed as often, for the most part I haven’t seen that much of a decrease. Perhaps, like Andrew had mentioned earlier, this is because of the interaction level: I post fairly frequently on my Facebook page, as it’s the hub of my social media connections, and try to interact with my readers on that page as much as possible. We have great discussions in the comment threads, they post photos, etc. I try to use my page as a place not just for me to share my own links, but to encourage my readers to share their knowledge with me, too. This is one of the biggest reasons I prefer Facebook over Twitter: it’s far more personal and allows me to build a community, not just build traffi (Twitter just feels like a giant RSS feed to me). However, I’ve never felt the need to pay to promote my page or my site, and I’m definitely not in a position to start doing so now.

    But just out of curiosity, I checked to see how much I would be charged if I wanted to promote something on my page. I am floored at the price. To reach the majority of my 18K+ followers, I’d have to pay $75.00/post! YIKES! Again, not something I’m willing or able to pay, but wow… you’d have to be pretty proud of that post to pay that much, just to have an extra thousand folks read it.

    As for Feedburner… ACK. I need to start researching options ASAP. I didn’t realize October started in late September (my Feedburner is pretty much DOA today).

  54. Sorry, I’m not still fully awake. The point I wanted to make was that through regular interaction on Facebook, I’ve found that the amount of “likers” or subscribers, etc. will grow on its own. The viral nature of internet postings and the whole “sharing” function on Facebook allows you to grow your audience with very little extra effort. And you have the added bonus of getting to know your readers, which I’ve always found to be quite fun. Anyway, what I’m trying to say (in a very poorly worded fashion), is that paying on Facebook isn’t necessary. There’s a lot you can do for free that will grow your audience and allow you to reach new readers, if that is your goal.

    • Hi Kimberly: I agree with you that for many of us, social network is mostly about interaction and community builds naturally through that. However what irks me is that when I use a service, such as Twitter, Facebook, Gmail, Pinterest, even if it’s free, for some silly reason (and I’m not being sarastic toward you.. but about FB), I just assume that the recipient that signed up to receive the message will get it.

      I just think it’s poor form not to be completely upfront when people are using your service. Perhaps they did and I didn’t catch it. But it’s not a very good business practice in my opinion.

      • Hi David,

        I completely agree with you about Facebook or any service keeping certain posts away from subscribers and followers. I, myself, subscribe to a lot of different fan pages (yours included!) and it’s been quite irksome to realize how much material I’ve missed unless I take a good chunk of time out of my day to create special lists, etc,, etc. There was once a time that you could see what was posted immediately; now I have a hard time even seeing my own PGEW fan page posts in my own news feed! (Perhaps I don’t interact with myself often enough?)

        I guess what I’ve done as a page operator is to just carry on and keep posting, without giving in to the pressure of having to pay or promote in a way I don’t feel matches up with my own principles. I send periodic reminders to followers to subscribe to my feed via email (which I can’t seem to do anymore d/t Feedburner) and to update their lists on Facebook so they stay connected. It’s not a perfect system, but it seems to work for now. I’ve also been a very persistent pest on the FB Developers side about this issue; not like Zuckerberg is going to change his mind overnight, but maybe the whole “squeaky wheel” thing will eventually make enough noise.

  55. Re Feedburner–all my subscribers appear to be gone too with no access to the Analyze subscriber page; however, under Email Subscriptions > Subscription Management, the full list of subscribers is displayed at the bottom of the page. No one is missing. There is an option there to export to CSV, so I’d recommend doing that just in case the whole list does go away.

  56. The problem with social media is that you don’t have control over it. Anything can change any time without any notification or choice. One thing you have to remember is that Facebook is a social network not a marketing tool.

    Yes, we marketers are smart enough to use it as a marketing tool. So if you are marketing yourself on my stuff and making money then I want a share, it’s like that with Facebook guys. They also want something from helping you reach those fans.

    Anyway, that’s just my 2 cents. All I can say is that adapt or leave those are the only choices you have. Complaining wont solve anything.

    • Facebook is indeed getting their share by collecting massive amounts of personal information about their users, raising questions that invite government interventions. They didn’t pay nearly a billion dollars for Instagram for access to all the pretty pictures of food and sunsets – they did it for the user information. So yes, it’s adapt and accept that that’s happening, or leave. A number of people will probably start using Facebook less as a result. However bringing up the issue may prompt Facebook to review its policies and make changes, as they see appropriate.

  57. Out of curiosity I checked which percentage of our 146K fans saw our 4 postings. The percentage ranged from 25% for the newest, to 37% for the oldest. I suspect that over time the number grows as the people that don’t use Facebook much log in. But it clearly significantly higher than the 16% on average that Facebook quotes at least for us. That leads me to believe their are other factors involved. Maybe if your posts are more engaging to fans, they are shown more and less engaging posts are shown less.

  58. This isn’t surprising to me at all. Facebook is now a public company and has to answer to shareholders. What do shareholders want? Their stocks to go up in value. How does any company do this? Increase revenue. Oh, yeah, FB stock has basically plunged since the initial public offering. Shareholders will not be happy. So, expect FB to add additional fees in the near future.

    Personally, I think it would be better to have a monthly subscription (for businesses) that is priced based on the number of fans you have. This way, all businesses pay something and ALL your posts will then be seen by ALL your fans. I’d be happy to pay a monthly subscription vs. per post.

    Just my 2 cents.

  59. Dianne and Stephanie, take a look at this article. An online marketing website did some tests with a few Facebook promoted posts. The results are… well. Worrying. He provides evidence and wonders if Facebook is using a “bot” to make the “buyer” feel like there were lots of likes. More importantly, the Facebook “activity” did not jive with the website traffic.

    http://econsultancy.com/it/blog/10910-case-study-do-facebook-promoted-posts-work

    Since the introduction of this “scheme” I’ve seen my “posts seen by” numbers drop considerably. When they used to be “seen” by 500-600 Facebookers just a couple of months ago now each posts hits max 200 viewers – and this is for a page with 1,500 likes!!

    The interaction started to go down the drain with the page re-dsign. Other people could not see each other’s posts on my page to reply and converse. But I would say that my Facebook page is pretty much dead now – I don’t get much more than one question a week – when I used to get several a day.

    My point is this. If you are tempted to PROMOTE your facebook posts, read the article above first and decide for yourself if you will be satisfied with the “shady” results.

    Ciao,

    L

    • Thanks for the link, Laura. It’s great to see that someone is already investigating the value of promoted posts. Now I see that we can pay to promote our regular Facebook pages too, in addition to our Fan pages. So much for my plan to shift people over to my private page!

  60. […] to only 15% of your fan base unless you pay them to promote the post to fans. For food journalist Dianne Jacob, that means just to ensure her regular posts get read by all of her fans will now cost her $11,000 […]

  61. […] kinda like the way Dianne thinks that what is best to communicate with our fans is through direct communication like emails, […]

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