There's been much wailing and gnashing of teeth over Facebook's recent shift to "Promoted Posts" and professionals seem to be split as to what it means for the future of the platform.
On the other side is Tech Crunch who is almost flat out denying any shifts from Facebook and that this is a monetization of the most effective parts of Facebook through a manipulation of the algorithm.
Then we have the reasonable Dalton Caldwell who pleads for a big picture and reasoned response to all of this.
Yawn. He's obviously less fun than the other two points of view.
So, what's my experience with all this hullaballoo?
It ain't great. I've seen declines across the board in impressions. In fact, I know of one business that had the unenviable honor of starting their campaign during this enormous shift see a 78 percent decrease on their total impressions from the previous year despite seeing 133 percent increase in "Likes."
It hurts just writing that.
Let's repeat that, so you can see just how painful it is.
While the business had 133 percent more "Likes" than it had last year, it reached 78 percent fewer people.
That's what everyone is freaking out about, and that's what has driven Dangerous Minds and virtually every page manager into despondence.
So what is the Tech Crunch article saying?
The Tech Crunch article is stating that very little has changed and that Facebook is maintaining the average of fan interactions at 16 percent across the board, thereby proving that Facebook is blameless and that somehow everyone is overreacting.
To quote Vice President Biden, "MALARKEY!"
While the 16 percent number may have been correct overall, most professional page managers saw that artificially enforced average as a decline on the effectiveness of their page. Hence the drama and somewhat justifiable terror-filled comments from pros.
So what about Caldwell?
Caldwell AND Tech Crunch to a lesser extent, speak a very important truth about the future of brand pages on Facebook and it has everything to do with good content reaching the correct people. While we did see drastic changes in reach that made us poop our digital pants, our excellently curated and presented content blew up.
How much did it blow up?
Engagement was up by 400 percent.
Yeah! Four hundred mother f***ing percent! Enough for me as Chief Content Officer to take a lap around the office to the tune of Fred Mercury's classic "We Are The Champions" with an open champagne bottle, and a gold top hat that we keep in a drawer for just this sort of occasion.
Huh. Fancy that. So, what now?
Facebook has adjusted itself with a new, and dare we say, slightly more effective way of doing things. Yes, it's "Pay for play," but we knew that was coming with the IPO. Money always makes social media more douchey, and Facebook is no exception. At least they are still sparing us the music and Blingee customization of MySpace. Ultimately, reaching more of the right people is better than reaching all of the people, especially if your numbers might have been artificially bloated by sneaky "Like" schemes and far reaching ad campaigns aimed at uninitiated users.
My advice to page managers:
1. Quit the drama, and evolve. We all know how to do this, we've been doing it since Friendster got trounced by MySpace.
2. Don't panic. The engagement numbers and the "Talking About" numbers are ultimately what lead to the POS. Everything else is, as of recently, invalid.
There's a new way of measuring Facebook success and it should be to no one's surprise that it benefits Facebook.