Don't fall for the Facebook Interest List rumor

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Don’t fall for the Facebook Interest List rumor

Facebook rumors are nothing new. (Despite what you may have read, Morgan Freeman and Jeff Goldblum are still alive).

But one that’s been spreading like wildfire through the local businesses I follow on Facebook isn’t helping anyone out.

Here’s what I’m talking about:
Facebook-rumor

But I don’t want to pick on my beloved vegan meal kit delivery service (seriously, they’re the best) when even Raven’s Chief Product Officer Jon Henshaw has fallen prey to this rumor.

OK, let’s break this down.

The rumor:

Facebook is forcing Fan Pages to pay to promote their posts, but adding a page to an Interest List will let you see all that page’s content.

What’s right about it:

It’s true that Facebook has rolled out a new method of getting Fan Page posts in front of more fans. It’s called Promoted Posts.

Any one of a brand’s posts can be promoted – for a sliding scale fee normally around $15-$30 – and will thus reach all of a brand’s fans (sometimes even more people than that).

What’s wrong about it:

Even before Promoted Posts, a brand’s posts were pretty much never seen by 100% of its fans. Between all your friends’ posts and the posts of the Fan Pages you like (I don’t know about you, but I’m a fan of a ridiculous 311 pages), you’d have to stay on Facebook non-stop to see all that’s happening.

Facebook “fixes” this by weighing each post according to an algorithm that takes into account factors like what type it is (status update, video, etc.), how recent it was posted and how often you interact with the poster. The algorithm decides whether or not you’ll see it on a given visit.

What’s really wrong about it:

The bad news is that asking fans to create an Interest List won’t solve the problem – or at least not fully.

Interest Lists allow you to group together updates about similar topics, like music, local restaurants, etc. or suscribe to others’ lists devoted to topics you like.

Once you create or subscribe to one, they appear along the left of a user’s news feed verrrry far down of the page like so.

interest-lists

You can’t replace your newsfeed with an Interest List, and adding a brand’s page to an Interest List still doesn’t guarantee you’ll see all their posts. You can click on the Interest List whenever you want to see more of those type posts, but most people aren’t going to remember to do that.

A better alternative:

If you must tell your fans to do something, encourage them to use the drop-down menu just below where they update their status and sort their posts by “Most Recent” instead of Facebook’s default “Top Stories.”

sort-by

This way they’ll see all the most recent posts from friends and fan pages and can go back as far as they want to see older posts.

UPDATE 11/02: Hooray! Facebook is in the midst of rolling out a “Get Notifications” option that should – fingers crossed – actually solve this problem. If the “Get Notifications” box is checked for a page, users will not miss updates from the brand. New advice: wait until the feature is fully rolled out, then post and ask fans to hover over the “Liked” button on your profile and click “Get Notifications.” And you know what? You should definitely promote that post. :)

get-notifications

But more importantly:

  • Beware of digital sharecropping - that is, building your brand presence on rented land like Facebook. We’re all playing by Facebook’s rules, and they’ve proven they can change those at any time. Remember they’re out to make money for themselves, not you. Focus on driving traffic back to your website or blog, where you make the rules and own the content.
  • If you can afford the time and effort, diversify your social media efforts to platforms like Twitter and Pinterest so no one channel can pull the rug out from under you.
  • On Facebook, be more discerning in what you post – make sure each post is so compelling your fans can’t help but comment and share.
  • When you have a really important announcement, try a Promoted Post  - just measure the results so you’ll know whether the money spent was worth it.
  • There’s no Snopes.com for Facebook rumors (though Snopes does have a Facebook category that’s somewhat out of date). Still, promise yourself that you’ll never cut-and-paste statuses about Facebook changes, especially those that ask you to share them, without a complete investigation.

 

Photo by clickclaker on Flickr

Courtney Seiter wrangled a smart, savvy community of Internet marketers as Raven's first Community Manager. She moved on from Raven in January 2014, but her social media and writing advice stands the test of time.

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