You created a Facebook page for your campaign or advocacy organization, you built up a decent audience that you are educating about your issue(s) and mobilizing when they are needed, but as time goes by, you seem to be reaching fewer and fewer people. Why is Facebook taking your post out of your audience's newsfeed? Doesn't Facebook understand that your audience wants to know what is happening with the issues you and they care so much about? Apparently not.
Last summer, Beth Becker offered some great advice for dealing with Facebook's newsfeed algorithm over at epolitics.com. Her recommendations focus on ways to maximize engagement (likes, comments and shares) on your page posts. These, along with tips I provided in earlier columns (here and here), are great for campaign organizers who want to get more out of their Facebook wall posts, despite the challenges posed by the newsfeed algorithm.
But I want to call Facebook out for a fundamental flaw in the logic it uses to develop and tweak its algorithm. Last week, a Facebook representative tried to explain to me that the newsfeed algorithm is designed to make the user experience more enjoyable. It is designed to ensure that content delivered to users is the content they are most likely to want to see. The algorithm determines this, in some secret combination with other factors, based on whether a user has interacted with posts from that page before. Again, interaction is defined as clicking on the link, clicking on the post or liking, commenting or sharing the post.
But what if I just want to read the snippets I see in my newsfeed? From a campaign organizer's perspective, getting someone to see a message in a post may be as important as any click. In political campaigns, where name recognition is a key to success, seeing a candidate's name in the newsfeed is valuable, even without the reader clicking on the post. For advocacy campaigns, where good wall posts include phrasing language that helps to spread an essential issue frame into the national conversation, reading posts in the newsfeed without clicking on them is also very valuable.
From the user's perspective, I believe that Facebook is making a flawed assumption when it defines interest in a page's post based only on clicks. Think about what we know regarding the act of liking a page. People click on pages they find interesting (note... they find the page INTERESTING). And while we also know that people rarely return to pages after they like them, they generally think that following a page gets that page's posts into their newsfeed (I base this on the hundreds, if not thousands, of people I have met who were STUNNED to learn that only 2.5% of people who like a page get that page's posts in their newsfeed).
If Facebook truly wants to create a good experience for its users, it should stop using their flawed definition of interest. Interest in a page is a bigger concept than engaging with a page. That Facebook rep told me Facebook would never impose content on a user that the user did not select by their actions. But by eliminating content from our feeds just because we did not click on past posts from that page is imposing by wrongly assuming that lack of clicks equal lack of interest.
I suggest that Facebook feed all liked page posts to our newsfeeds and let US choose to unlike if we are no longer interested. And I don't want to hear that there is a limit to the number of posts we can see. This is the internet, feeds can be huge. Instead, I want to see more tools to help us sort through our newsfeed. In addition to seeing the fire-hose, let us easily view by page type (causes, celebrities, brands, etc.). Let us easily toggle among the newsfeeds for those friends lists we have spent so much time creating. And let us-not the algorithm-decide what we do not want to see.
The bottom line is that I am tired of seeing a notice at the bottom of my newsfeed, after only 19 items, no less, that there are "No more posts to show." I know this is not true (I have 5,000 friends and like hundreds, if not thousands of pages). It's time that Facebook delivered the goods, instead of taking them away.