Facebook: Getting More Two-Faced By the Day

Jay Baer President, Convince & Convert

Posted on September 4th 2013

Facebook: Getting More Two-Faced By the Day

Facebook changes

In this edition of The Baer Facts, I talk with Kyle Lacy of ExactTarget about two new announcements from Facebook that appear to come from opposite ends of the philosophical spectrum.

Maybe. Or Maybe Not.

Within 96 hours, Facebook made two pronouncements (I like to imagine them being made via scrolls read in a town square, preceded by trumpeter fanfare, but in reality they were simple blog posts). The first change handed down from Mount Hoodie is that Facebook will now use “content quality” as a factor in the algorithm that determines when and how much your Facebook posts are seen by your fans and beyond.

That’s right, Facebook now gets to decide what is “timely and relevant content” (from their blog post), and what is a “low quality post or meme.” Tomorrow on Convince & Convert, author of The Like Economy Brian Carter will have a complete analysis of this announcement, but in short I see this as a slippery slope for Facebook. Look, I’m not personally a fan of memes, as I think they can chip away at brand value. But if a business wants to seek engagement (to play the algorithmic game that Facebook has forced them to play), and do so via memes, is it really Facebook’s sole responsibility to judge content quality? I’ve heard the argument that Google does similar things (especially with Panda and Penguin updates to search rankings), but I view Google search results far differently from an objectivity standpoint than I do Facebook news feed that is populated mostly by things I have ASKED to receive.

Sure, Run a Contest

The second announcement is that Facebook has thrown open the doors on its contest rules, and will now allow promotions to take place within the news feed, repudiating two years of detailed regulations that helped spawn an entire industry around Facebook contest applications. Good friend of Convince & Convert Emeric Ernoult, CEO of Facebook management tool Agorapulse (I’m a big fan), wrote a detailed post on Saturday about the ramifications of this move, and when you should/shouldn’t run contests in the news feed. It’s a must-read. For small businesses looking to give away low-value prizes to current fans, relaxing these promotional regulations is a boon. 

I’m Torn. And Evidently, So Is Facebook

So, if you’re scoring at home, I disagree with one of these changes, and agree with the other. But what I simply do not understand is how these changes possibly could come from the same company, within four days?

On one hand, let’s – for the first time – get into the business of regulating content at the individual post level, making our company an arbiter of quality.

But on the other hand, let’s largely remove our longstanding regulations on contests and promotions, and take a laissez faire approach.

Does Facebook want more control, or less? I guess it depends on the day.

Facebook is the Miley Cyrus of social, desperately trying to figure out what it wants to become. (tweet this)


Jay Baer

President, Convince & Convert

I'm a hype-free social media and content marketing strategist, speaker and writer. I'm the author of the New York Times best selling business book, Youtility: Why Smart Marketing is About Help not Hype. I'm the President of Convince & Convert, where we help major companies take their digital marketing from good to outstanding. I'm the host of the Social Pros podcast, and run the popular Convince & Convert blog. 

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Posted on September 5th 2013 at 4:05AM

You are right on both issues. What criteria will Facebook use to judge the quality of content? Nonprofits seem to have more issues withe Facebook than most businesses.Contests, okay. Just make sure you have rules and policies Facebook page managemet has become a full time job (and I already have two :)



Posted on September 9th 2013 at 8:58AM

I don't trust Facebook at all with regards to it's ability to judge the quality or indeed the legitimacy of any content on the network.  Let's face it, it all boils down to how much advertisers are willing to pay to get in front of the maximum number of people and Facebook are continually tweaking their algorithm in favour of advertisers rather than users.

This laissez faire approach is typical of Facebook in my experience. Take for example their guidelines for advertisers, stating that any claims must be substantiated; i'd love to find the medical research which proves that it is possible to drop 6 waist sizes in 1 week.  Their procedure for reporting scam advertisers is a farce and even clear proof of identity theft, misleading and outrageous unsubstatiated claims don't result in the scam adverts being removed and a response by them tantamount to 'meh'.

On a personal level Story Bump is already proving to be an absolute pain as Facebook insists on regurgitating old content and putting it at the top of my feed based on post engagement.  Why would I want to see the same old content that i've already seen come up over and over again? 

It means that it is now actually harder as a user to see what is relevant and timely to us and wastes our time by making it necessary to move around the timeline more to find new content.  Chronologically ordered posts make much more sense but of course, if Facebook can get more money from advertisers for giving them more timeline exposure this way, then again, they win by increasing advertising revenue whilst the user experience continues to suffer.