3 Reasons Why Training Facebook Fans to 'Get Notifications' and 'All Updates' is Damaging

Posted on October 6th 2013

3 Reasons Why Training Facebook Fans to 'Get Notifications' and 'All Updates' is Damaging


Late last night, I spotted a message from one of the industry's biggest social media marketers, Mari Smith, in my email inbox. In it, was a link to lengthy post that she had written on Facebook about how the site's EdgeRank algorithm measures a Page's content, and decides whether or not fans will see it. There was some useful insight there, but what intrigued me most was an emphasised pointer from Mari which reads:

 "IMPORTANT TIP: Train your fans to 1) select Get Notifications, 2) select Show in News Feed, and 3) select All Updates. [SEE SCREENSHOT in the comments below]."

And here is that screenshot:


The result of a fan following this request is that they will receive a notification every time you post on your Page and  that all of your Page's posts will appear in their News Feed.

Although I've been aware of this strategy for a long time, I have not used it myself, nor have I recommended it to the readers of my book, or any of my clients. I replied to Mari's post, thanking her for the EdgeRank information, but questioning the usefulness of asking fans to "Get Notifications., and requesting some clarification behind her enthusiasm for it. My comment has no reply to date (not truly unsurprising given the amount of replies that each of her posts generates). I'm a bit sad about that ,as I am a big fan of Mari, and enjoy discussing all manner of social media marketing issues.

From my own point of view, there are several reasons why I don't recommend Page owners asking their fans to "Get Notifications" and "All updates", including: 

1. It's pushy and can breed resentment 

 I see social media marketing as a way for brands to build strong and long-lasting relationships with their customers with a "slow and steady wins the race" filled with great content, enthusiasm, and selflessness. That said, however big your audience on Facebook, only a very small fraction will care to be notified of and exposed to every update that your Page makes.

Facebook users visit the site primarily to stay in touch with their friends and family. If they listened to the dozens of Pages who told them to "Get Notifications," their News Feed and notifications would soon be over-run, and they will quickly see certain Pages as becoming spammy, no matter how honest the Page's intentions. If they then go on to resent a Page's activity and start to hide or ignore it when it appears, then that cannot be a good thing.

2. Most fans will ignore it

Without paid promotion, the average Facebook post naturally reaches the News Feed of only a moderate percentage of your total fans at any one time - let's say 10-20%. We can knock off a good few percentage points for people who won't be online to see your post when it is published, and several more for people who will simply ignore it. We're then left with two types of people: those who will read the status but ignore the request, and the remainder who will read the status and take action. Considering how much time and money marketers spend on getting even a small percentage of an audience to perform an action (like entering their email address or clicking a link), the chances of a time-pressed Facebook fan clicking through to your Page and switching on "Get Notifications" and "All updates" is incredibly slim. Better would be to encourage real engagement through posting irresistible and imaginative content.

3. It makes no sense to mobile users

The latest figures show that there are a staggering 469 million daily active mobile users of Facebook worldwide. That number is approaching half of the 1.2 billion total Facebook members. If your "Get Notifications" request reaches the display of a fan of your Page viewing on their mobile device, even if they did want to opt in, they can't. The instructions work only for Facebook users on desktops, so all a mobile user sees a useless message spamming their News Feed. Will said fan remember your prompt and carry it out when they next sit down in front of their home computer? Very unlikely.


Don't get me wrong, I am all for discovering ways that Facebook Page owners can use to extend the reach of their content, but I am a strong advocate of generating this reach - in the main - as organically as possible. If someone is a dedicated and engaged fan of a brand on Facebook, chances are that they will see plenty of that brand's content in their News Feed naturally. And if they want to check to see if they have missed anything, they will either make the effort to visit the Page manually or  discover for themselves a way - like turning on "Get Notifications"  and "All updates" - to make sure they never miss that Page's content.

I am also not saying that Mari's "train your fans to Get Notifications" advice should never  be used by Page owners, but I do  feel that encouraging the strategy enthusiastically without balancing it out with some of the potential pitfalls like those I have listed above, could be seen as somewhat frivolous considering her position and influence within the social media marketing field.

Are you a fan of using the "Get Notifications" strategy?  What are your experiences, good or bad, when using it as a way to increase reach? Let me know in the comments below!


Andrew Macarthy

Hi, I'm Andrew Macarthy. I am a social media consultant and author of the #1 Amazon Web Marketing Bestseller for Kindle and paperback, 500 Social Media Marketing Tips.

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Avtar Ram Singh
Posted on October 7th 2013 at 2:35AM

Good stuff Andrew - and I'm with you completely on this. I think this would probably be one of the ways to "game" the system as such. The default settings are in place for a reason, and an organic edgerank is what a page should aim for - not train their fans to go on opt-in to get all their updates.

To be fair - a couple of pages such as retail stores that post only about the latest promotions and sales that they have would be ones that fans would actually choose to see all posts from because they don't want to miss out on a single opportunity. Then again - they'll probably do this during the time they're looking to buy a specific product or what not.

But your #1 point here is my main reason for agreeing with you - fans will resent pages who do that.

Posted on October 7th 2013 at 3:48AM

Thanks Andrew. I completely agree with you that I want to follow pages that have engaging and interesting content, and if I really want to see all their posts I will make the effort to make sure I do.

There is no point in spamming people with instructions, when you could connect with so many more people with a bit of thought and effort put into your post.

Your point about the mobile users is also a massive one. I think it is always best to make sure any post will look good and make sense to mobile users first and foremost.

Thanks again.

Posted on October 7th 2013 at 1:03PM

Hi Kurt, and thanks! I agree, the number of people using mobiles to access social media now is way to hard to ignore, and I would much rather use a post to try and engage people on all platforms, rather than isolate a large number of them in order to target a dwindling (although still huge) proportion.

Posted on October 7th 2013 at 4:45AM

Aha -- I had already responded to Andrew's post on his own site... pasting my comment here:

Hi Andrew -- thanks for the mention. :) Here's the deal: as with pretty much ALL Facebook strategies, absolutely no one-size-fits all. Every Page owner must test out what works for him/her.

As for signing up to get notifications, ever since Facebook launched this feature, I believe most Facebook users (who tried out the setting) have quickly gotten wise to it. I know I have. I signed up for a bunch of Page notifications... and quickly nixed it. It was simply too much to have Pages pushing their content into my otherwise rather personal stream of notifications. Now, I choose to have no more than about 5 Page notifications... and those have to be ones I genuinely resonate with.

I have heard from many of my own fans that my Page is the only one for which they have notifications enabled. I'm honored and flattered, of course. However, I'm confident this is because my posting strategy is a) an average of one post per day and b) always a piece of relevant, quality content. I feel that I've "earned the right" to have fans sign up for notifications... *IF* they so choose.

Regards your point #3, true enough in terms of having to enable the feature via desktop. However, because Page notifications are part of regular notifications, it totally makes sense on mobile. For the Pages I have enabled notifications, I actually love to often be the first to like/comment because I've seen the notification via mobile. I think the key distinction is that Facebook users ought to enable notifications only for the 3-6 Pages they genuinely love and from which they consistently receive value.

But yes, I would agree that it is not the right strategy for most pages simply because most pages don't have a really solid content strategy.

Joel Pinto
Posted on October 7th 2013 at 8:39AM

It's definitely true, Andrew

Page owners shouldn't be asking people to do this kind of things to receive notifications about their activity. It should be a decision that everyone makes based on their willingness and preferences, no other way.

Asking for this kind of interaction is like forcing someone to show affection to you, and that's simply not right.

Sharing it :-D

Posted on October 7th 2013 at 12:59PM

Thank you, Joel :) Your last point certainly rings true.It is more likely to put people off than endear them to you.

Posted on October 7th 2013 at 12:33PM

Brilliant!  Well done!  Resentment and Ignoring...two psychological factors that most social media strategists, gurus, and marketers are not paying attention to when they give advice.

Both are killers for marketing and business in general.  The personal does affect the professional...it may take longer...but it will be worth it.


Posted on October 7th 2013 at 1:01PM

Thanks, Jay! I agree with you... biding your time and not being so forward with requests like "get notifications" might mean it takes longer to foster relationships, but they are much more likely to be genuine and subsisting,

Posted on October 7th 2013 at 5:30PM

Wish I could agree with you on this one, Andrew, but I don't. It seems right--we don't want to be rude or pushy on social media. But the bottom line is that calls-to-action in social media work. The data is not on your side. I would cite numerous references from Zarrella's recent Science of Marketing. Social media is a competitive marketplace. When people like your page, I see nothing wrong with offering them information to insure they get all your info.

When I have clients that are trying to sell goods and services on Facebook, I recommend this strategy, especially given recent changes to EdgeRank that can exclude content on pages that people have already liked. The trick is to keep the eyeballs, not just get them.

Fans will ignore bad content. Fans ignore your stuff if there's no call-to-action. The key is finding the right combo of promotion to utility. This idea is in the "throw out the baby with the bathwater" category to me. I see your point, but I wouldn't give this advice to clients. 

Posted on October 7th 2013 at 6:40PM

Hi Chris, 

I agree with you that this strategy can be useful for some, like retailers, as you mention. However, my opinion remains that it is not as effective a technique as a brand would wish, for the reasons I cited, particularly in how it overlooks mobile users.

And as Mari Smith mentioned in reply to the post on my website, for the mass of brands on Facebook who do not have a sound social media strategy, by encouraging this strategy to be used in a "willy nilly" fashion without the caveats, it could be do more harm than good, particulalry if it is implemented with priority over posting content that is valuable, insightful, helpful, etc. That's not to say call-to-actions aren't a good thing.. I totally agree that they are, but perhaps not always in this instance.

That said, I do take your point, and it is something in hindsight I would have liked to expand and clarify on in the original piece :)


Posted on October 7th 2013 at 7:04PM

Amazing post Andrew. I am agree with the points which you have described in this article about "get notifications" & "Show in news feed" option and I strongly support to last point that is talking about mobile users, because most of the users prefer mobile to access their Facebook profiles.

Moataz Mahmoud
Posted on November 28th 2013 at 12:48AM

I agree with you. This affects the brand and also it can be considered as a turn off for users on this page.

I wonder is there a way as a page owner to stop sending the users notifications from your side as an owner? can you pick to send notifications every time i do like 5 updates on the page instead of sending a notification to users with every update?


Can Sinan Artuç
Posted on December 8th 2013 at 10:48PM


I agree with you about 'training' but I am totally disagree with Facebook. I can give real example: My wife has legal bridal magazine website and has Facebook page. She has this business. She is paying more than 2000 usd per month for Facebook advertisement. After Facebook's obligation to show updates, our Facebook advertisement budget is 99 usd per month now because we begin to loose money on Facebook side. If people doesn't click our articles' link, it means we loose page visits and it effects advertisers directly. People use social media because of freedom but this is not freedom. If someone becomes fan of page, s/he can also unsubscribe. When someone likes your page, Facebook sets only the important updates by default. If Facebook user can select this setting after getting bored or disturbed, this can be fair. I agree that Facebook is giant but this world has seen a lot of giants during its lifetime. I know a lot of business men and women cancelled their page advertisement on Facebook and increased their Adwords budget. Who will loose, we will see...