I spend too much time with stuff I don’t want to see. I want more content that I care about and less Facebook junk!
It’s Like I’m Looking for Needles in a Haystack.
Today’s blog is all about you and trying to help you get the most of what you really want from the time you spend on Facebook. More people make it to my blog posts from Facebook than any other source. Facebook and I have a love/hate relationship. Mostly, they love my money and I hate to give it to them. In fairness though, if it wasn’t for Facebook, you probably wouldn’t know about my blog. Though there are a few loyal and regular followers of my blog, the odds are overwhelming that you got to this article from clicking on what you thought was a regular post in your Facebook news feed. Every week there are people who get tired of seeing these posts and who “unlike” my page because it’s not what they want to keep seeing. Every week there are others who “like” my page because they want to see more posts like that. Needless to say, with over 115,000 of what Facebook calls “fans” of my Facebook page, I average more “Likes” than “Unlikes.” But if you’re like me, you’d like to see less Facebook junk and more things that you really care about.
I hope it’s not my stuff you’re targeting when you move to have less Facebook junk, but even if it is, I’m going to tell you how to reduce it, anyway.
I was a late-comer to Facebook. I didn’t create a Facebook account until early in 2013. At the same time I created a Facebook “Page” that is more like a business page. All Facebook “Pages” are tied to a PERSONAL Facebook account, though you usually don’t know the relationship between the person and the page unless the page is for a person, like a celebrity, or even a writer, like me. So, we don’t know who the person is behind Coca Cola’s page. With celebrities, we might be able to find their personal Facebook wall, but they probably won’t accept a friend request, so we won’t be able to see the “them” that their family and close friends on Facebook see. With me, I have encouraged people from families like mine to follow my Facebook page for access to my writings, intended to help families like mine and kids like mine. I have also welcomed people who like my writings and I accept most friend requests to my personal Facebook wall for those who want to know more about our family and what we’re like. I hope it’s not my stuff you’re targeting when you move to have less Facebook junk, but even if it is, I’m going to tell you how to reduce it, anyway.
People were becoming frustrated and the platform needed to do something to deliver less Facebook junk or people were going to stop spending as much time on Facebook.
I joined Facebook just a few months after they implemented a policy where they reduced the “organic reach” of posts by “Pages” (non-personal Facebook pages, like my author page and Coca Cola’s Facebook page). Before, if you had “liked” the page, there was a 100% chance that their post would show up in your news feed. Business loved this free and highly effective form of advertising. They even got these people to agree to see their every ad by getting them to “like” them on Facebook to get a free coupon or enter a contest. This generated a lot of Facebook junk in people’s newsfeeds. They wouldn’t even take the time to scroll down to see all of the new posts from their friends. People were becoming frustrated and the platform needed to do something to deliver less Facebook junk or people were going to stop spending as much time on Facebook. That’s why they reduced “organic reach” for pages. At that time, it meant that a post from a “Page” like my author page went into the newsfeed of about 12% of “fans” or in real terms, people who had clicked on a button some place where it said they “liked” my page. If the post was popular (which Facebook measured by how many “likes,” “shares,” and “comments” it got), it was sent out into the news feeds of more people. I had one post that was so popular that it went into the newsfeeds of over ½ million people. Posts like that, even at that time, were very rare.
Facebook’s next move was less about serving less Facebook junk and more about profits. (Imagine that, in a free enterprise and capitalistic environment!)
When Facebook reduced the “organic reach” from posts by pages, they were solving two problems. First, they were responding to the demands for less Facebook junk from users. Secondly, they were instigating a much-needed way to make money for their investors. Pages like Coca Cola (or even one like mine) could pay to have their posts show up in the news feeds of more people who had “liked” their pages. This made Facebook profitable for the first time, meaning that the company could continue to exist. Lots of companies became angry because they had been given something for free until they saw how much they needed it, and then they were being charged. Some of them compared Facebook to drug dealers who got them hooked for free only to get tons of money from them, later. Some of the owners of those pages began to pay to reach more people. Some stopped using Facebook. Some just accepted the lower amount of exposure. For my page, I wasn’t making money off it. I was simply using it to get people to articles of mine that I thought would help them with things that my family had experienced. A smaller reach was no skin off my nose. As long as the articles got out to a fairly significant group of people interested in that subject, they were liked and shared enough that they ended up getting out to a large portion of people of similar interests. Facebook’s next move was less about serving less Facebook junk and more about profits. (Imagine that, in a free enterprise and capitalistic environment!)
But, one of the cool things about Facebook is you do have some control over which ads you see, thus showing you less Facebook junk (or at least less of what YOU would call junk).
About a year ago Facebook reduced organic reach from the average 12% to almost nothing. This was to stop giving pages anything for nothing. Pages would now need to pay to have reach beyond one or two percent of their followers. Owners of pages either started advertising, increased their advertising, or stopped putting time into posts for Facebook that directed people to their services, products, aps, or sites. That’s where I faced some serious decisions. While my author page followed business practices for reaching people, it wasn’t a business in the sense that it was trying to sell something. In fact, by endorsing products or selling space on my blog or Facebook page, I would need to do what it took to make money whether or not I believed in what brought in the money. But the reason for my page was to help people who were experiencing the very difficult parts of adoption and struggling children that my family had experienced. In business, I had been more fortunate than I deserved to be. I decided to use my blog as a place to “give back.” In order for it to have the reach it needed, to help the families who needed help, I would need to pay for some advertising. Facebook now regulates the amount of advertised posts that show up in your news feed by how much they charge for advertising. Sorry, just like TV, you’re not going to get away from advertising. But, one of the cool things about Facebook is you do have some control over which ads you see, thus showing you less Facebook junk (or at least less of what YOU would call junk).
Facebook ads are targeted so that we feel like we are getting less Facebook junk and advertisers are reaching people most likely to react positively to their ad.
Facebook knows what you like because it knows what you “like.” It knows your opinion because it knows what you “comment.” And Facebook knows what you are committed to because it knows what you “share.” In things like television, advertisers have to throw an ad out there knowing that many of the people who see it really don’t care about the product. Advertisers on Facebook can choose who their ads are shown to so a gun manufacturer doesn’t pay to show his ad to an animal rights activist. Facebook ads are targeted so that we feel like we are getting less Facebook junk and advertisers are reaching people most likely to react positively to their ad. The more positive reactions Facebook can give an advertiser, the more their ad space is worth.
Since posts I make to my Facebook page are shown to almost no one if I don’t advertise, and because it is worth it to me to spend some money trying to help people get through struggles like the ones my family has experienced, I advertise my posts. Shown above is a part of the advertisers’ form I fill out with an explanation of how it works. At the top, I have chosen the country of residence that I want my post advertised to. Below that, I have chosen an age range of people most likely to be interested in a post like this. Then I chose a gender. My Facebook page has a much higher percentage of women followers than men, presumably because women read more about family issues than men do. But, since I am going to target the audience further, I selected “all” genders. Below that, you see where it asks for interests. I have entered the interests of Attachment Disorder and Reactive Attachment Disorder. In fact, I didn’t even need to type the full words before Facebook started giving me suggestions on subjects to choose! Follow that top red line to the right and you’ll see that Facebook has already defined 24,000 people who have expressed an interest in or liked pages relating to these two subjects. The second ellipse down, on the left, shows where I have started to type the word “adoption” with some of the Facebook subject recommendations, below. If I select the word “adoption,” Facebook is telling me (in the lower ellipse on the right) that I will add 13,079,030 people that my ad might be shown to, who have “expressed an interest in or like pages related to adoption.” (Quoted text shown below the lower ellipse on the right.) OK, there are many people who have an interest in adoption who read much of what I write. There is a much higher percentage of people who can relate to Reactive Attachment Disorder who relate to what I write. Also, my budget for running an ad on this post will most likely not be higher than it costs to reach 24,000 people. So, to add the word “adoption” I would only be reducing the number of people that see my ad who are most likely to follow the link in my ad to my blog.
You can have less Facebook junk if you don’t react to ads that you don’t truly have interest in.
So, if you have ever clicked on one of my posts that says “Suggested Post” or “Sponsored Post” at the top, you have followed an ad I placed on Facebook. If you saw that ad it is because Facebook has seen that you have “liked,” “shared,” or “commented” on other posts or pages that typically talk about the subjects I chose for my ad target (in the case for this explanation, Attachment Disorder and Reactive Attachment Disorder, because I decided not to select “adoption”). You are going to see advertising on Facebook because that is how they stay in business and that is how they keep stock holders happy. You can, however, have influence over the type of ads you continue to see. You can have less Facebook junk if you don’t react to ads that you don’t truly have interest in. If you would rather see ads for posts about Reactive Attachment Disorder than some other things, click on these ads, “like” the pages, “like” the posts, “comment” on the posts and “share” the posts on your own timeline. This tells Facebook that since you have to see advertising anyway, this is the type of advertising you prefer to see. On the other hand, if you click on a credit card ad to get entered into a free drawing, or if you click on link to get a “free report,” you are telling Facebook that you prefer those types of ads. Want to see more ads for make-up and cruises? Now you know what to do. Want to see ads for fast food chains? Click away.
You will absolutely not get rid of advertising you see on Facebook, but if you want less Facebook junk, only react to things you really care about.
So now what? First, go to your “likes” folder on Facebook. You’ll probably see tons of stuff you don’t remember “liking.” “Unlike” anything you don’t really care about. That won’t change a lot in the beginning, because Facebook has been watching the kinds of things you react to, so that they can direct ads to you that will be most effective. You will absolutely not get rid of advertising you see on Facebook, but if you want less Facebook junk, only react to things you really care about. If you never react to anything, Facebook will still show you the same amount of ads. If you never like anything, your news feed will get ads that are the most general or most popular (measured by the reactions of others). If on Facebook, you react to things that really do interest you, you will see less ads for scantily clad cartoon characters pushing video games and more ads about things that help you solve problems that you want to address. If you don’t want Facebook knowing what you like, it’s probably too late. If you don’t want them using that information to target advertising to you, stop using their product immediately. But now I have given you the tools you need to face less Facebook junk.
The same tools can be used for your experience with personal walls. You are only seeing a fraction of what your friends post. Facebook is deciding which of these posts to put into your feed based on what they think you like. If you have reacted a lot to posts about Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner, then you’re going to see more posts about that (and the same issues when the current person of mention is not the most popular in the subject). If you click-react to silly cartoons (my weakness), Facebook will show you more things like that when your friends post them. However, Facebook putting posts in your news feed is not subject-specific. If you almost always react (like, comment or share) to posts by specific people, Facebook will consider that in deciding which posts to show you. I hope that this very lengthy article on how Facebook works helps you to have a better experience so that more of your time can be spent seeing what you want to see, with less Facebook junk.