Guest Post: The New Facebook Buttons: Promote, Despise, Abandon

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Charles Hugh Smith from Of Two Minds

The New Facebook Buttons: Promote, Despise, Abandon

How many people would click "despise FB" and "abandon FB" if those were offered alongside the new "promote for a fee" button?

Just in case you haven't noticed, your Facebook activity may not be reaching the FB audience you enjoyed a few months ago.

If you want to reach your previous audience, you need to click that little "promote" button and pay the fee.

My friend Richard Metzger of Dangerous Minds alerted me to a remarkable coincidence: shortly after Facebook's May launch of the "promote" option for business accounts, business users noticed an 85% reduction in their FB reach. Facebook: I Wany My Friends Back.

Like many other "stealth" revenue campaigns in social media, the "promote" revenue stream was first introduced as a marketing tool for enterprises and groups: Facebook's tempting 'Promote' button for business (CNET).

It was presented as a way to expand one's reach on FB, to friends of friends, etc. What was not highlighted was the "stealth" reduction in reach to "encourage" use of the "promote" option: Broken on Purpose: Why Getting It Wrong Pays More Than Getting It Right:

Many of us managing Facebook fan pages have noticed something strange over the last year: how our reach has gotten increasingly ineffective. How the messages we post seem to get fewer clicks, how each message is seen by only a fraction of our total “fans.”


It’s no conspiracy. Facebook acknowledged it as recently as last week: messages now reach, on average, just 15 percent of an account’s fans. In a wonderful coincidence, Facebook has rolled out a solution for this problem: Pay them for better access.


As their advertising head, Gokul Rajaram, explained, if you want to speak to the other 80 to 85 percent of people who signed up to hear from you, “sponsoring posts is important.”


In other words, through “Sponsored Stories,” brands, agencies and artists are now charged to reach their own fans--the whole reason for having a page--because those pages have suddenly stopped working.


Facebook is broken, on purpose, in order to extract more money from users.

Does anyone else smell the stench of burning opium in the air? Step right this way, ladies and gentlemen, for free access to exciting new marketing thrills--unlimited reach to a global audience!

Next, encourage them to depend more and more on your product for their marketing and thus financial survival.

Excellent! They're now addicted, and without really noticing the rise of their dependence.

Now reduce their reach. We're sorry to hear you're experiencing withdrawal symptoms; but unfortunately we've run out of the "free" good stuff. We do, however, have a substitute that will fill your need, but there is a modest fee, of course.

Yes, it's the addict-pusher model.

Since few addicts complained or refused the new paid substitute, Facebook is testing the addiction level of personal-account FB users: Facebook’s ‘promote’ button rolls out beyond pages to some personal accounts (9/18/12, Inside Facebook).

Facebook testing promoted user posts in the US.

The "promote" service is being, well, promoted, as a way to spread the word about your garage sale this weekend, for instance. With the promote button, all the friends of your friends in Ningbo, China, will helpfully find out about your garage sale in Phoenix AZ. Just how helpful is that?

And all for only $7, if you have a small audience. The price scales up along with your audience. Richard calculated that promoting all of his site's daily posts would require $672,000 annually. The price of that once-free marketing is now rather stiff.

I have always been skeptical of the entire social media phenomenon. I recounted some of my experiences in How I Friended a Dead Guy and Became a Social Media Zombie (February 22, 2011).

I have also opined that Facebook Is a Utility Which Can't Charge Its Users (July 22, 2010) for the basic reason that Facebook has the same customer satisfaction ratings as hated cable providers and the I.R.S. Users view Facebook as a free utility, and tolerate it because it's free.

I have also commented on the underlying dynamics of social media:

800 Million Channels of Me (February 21, 2011)

Are You Loving Your Servitude Yet? (July 25, 2012)

The Last Refuge of Wall Street: Marketing To Increasingly Insolvent Consumers (December 12, 2011)

What's happening is that Facebook is realizing the advert model of revenue is fatally limited. Adverts just don't generate billions of dollars in profit, even with 1 billion users. So it was inevitable that those using the FB platform to generate revenue in some fashion would be squeezed to "share" their revenues with FB.

Previously "free" distribution would no longer be free, and users would face a stark choice: either start paying for distribution or lose 85% of their audience.

The response depends on the users' level of dependence. Those who are well and truly hooked on the FB platform can either make ineffectual protests and end up paying to reach their former audience, or they can quit: cold turkey, baby.

The alternative FB hopes they don't choose is to do nothing, accept their reduced reach and audience, and move their social media energy elsewhere. Most personal account holders don't really care about their reach; as long as their inner circle still get their posts and photos, they're happy.

So FB will eventually have to decide if it can profit with a customer base in which 99% don't pay anything. They could try squeezing users in more "stealth" ways, for example, making the first 10 friends and first 10 posts a week free, and charging for useage above a low threshold. If it follows this revenue model, it will follow MySpace down the path to hosting tens of millions of zombie users.

Or FB (and Wall Street) could accept that it is fundamentally a low-profit utility and always will be. It could charge individuals $1 a month--a utility fee, in effect-- $10 a month for groups and small enterprises and $100/month for corporations and large organizations. This model would recognize FB is basically offering server space. If users aren't getting $1 a month in value, then why be users at all?

How addicted are we? It's a good question of all social media, especially the (currently) "free" stuff. How many people would click "abandon FB" if that were offered alongside the new "promote" button?

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SheepDog-One's picture

Theyre all heading down the dead end road now it seems, even youtube, crappy as it is, wants to toy with charging a user fee. I'll go cold turkey from it all, no problem.

Hacked Economy's picture

Reminds me of how eBay began its own descent from greatness a few years ago.  It was a fantastic place to do business until they got greedy and changed their fee platforms.  And when Meg Whitman stepped down to be replaced by the new CEO, the fees increased even more and drove literally thousands (in eBay's own admission) of sellers away.  When TPTB get greedy and ask for more, innovation and participation from the masses suffer.

Kinda like taxes...

redpill's picture

Live by the whim of trivial internet diversion, and die by it as well. Eventually the fickle and drooling throng of people, who are inexplicably interested in not only whether their friend is buying pet food today but is also voyeuristically anxious to share all the personal details of their own life despite the myopic stupidity and time waste of both, will stumble across the next social media "phenomenon" and will drop Facebook faster than Honey Boo Boo can crush a Twinkie and a glass of Red Bull.

It's very difficult to monetize something that is largely worthless to begin with, in this case the almost infinitely irrelevent and incredibly unremarkable details of random peoples' day to day existence.

Drachma's picture

IMO, it is infinitely relevant to the data-mining central planners. FB is not social media, it's not about connectivity, it's about social surveillance and social programming. If you see it from that perspective it is a very successful model. Who cares if it turns a profit, it will be supported through and through in one incarnation or another.

Zap Powerz's picture


You nailed it. What a shitty country full of shitty stupid people we live in. 

catacl1sm's picture

I upped you just for the epic Honey Boo Boo reference. You should write.

JuliaS's picture

FB user base is the slightly aged MySpace generation - the internetboomers. They are the first large wave of self-absorbed computer literate individuals. They are also the last generaiton with spending power far exceeding their cumulative intelligence. The top priority of the marketers becomes tracking of that invaluable pool of consumers until they are either dead or milked dry.

As the group ages and migrates to new pastures, new types of online entertainment becomes fashionable. In a few decades they'll be flooding social networks like MyDentures, ColostomyBook and posting bowel movement updates to "Shitter".

redpill's picture

Don't forget KneePinterest and ReplacementHipster.


mootsman's picture

I use it to stalk ex-girlfriends...ex-girlfriend...this one girl I went to highschool with that sat beside me in ap physics...

StychoKiller's picture

"They only get restraining orders to prove how much they luv you!"  :>D

takeaction's picture

My company is on Facebook, and we have thousands of likes.  I have tried to send these people "Screaming Deals" to see if anybody is paying attention.  Even "1 Day Only 50% OFF" to our Facebook followers.  It does not work.  PERIOD.  Facebook is for people that have limited "Real" friends.  Photos of Kittens, and Dinner people had last night will generate tons of comments, where as you post something of true importance like Benghazi cover up, or some true economic facts........crickets.  If you are here on ZH, I would wager that your time on Faceplant is limited.  I am convinced after trying to monetize that piece of shit site for my own company for the past year, it will fail, and the site will end up like myspace.  I honestly do not think you can monetize the thing like Zuck dreams.  It won't work. 

BurningFuld's picture

You are quite correct. Conditioning is a wonderful thing. Think about the last time YOU paid attention to an ad on the internet. I spend an hour on my computer every morning surfing news, cars, weather, zerohedge, all kinds of crap. (Not Zerohedge) And I can honestly say I have not "seen" or paid attention to an ad that I can remember. I mean none, zero zilch. I run a small business and am approached by companies all the time to run internet ads. From my own experience I do not think there is any value to it at all.

odatruf's picture

My business is on FB too, and we've had some, but limited, success with promotions. I've paid maybe $100 to place ads since the start of the year and I try pretty hard to track where new customers come from. So far the results of the ads are positive in that they pay for themselves, but barely. We do post regular information pieces on our FB page for our followers/likers, but I would not pay to have those messages get through to that full list.

And, off topic slightly, I am 100% certain there are not 1 billion facebook users. There may be that many accounts, but in my own circle of connections, I know of several accounts that are duplicates (one is my niece's cat and another is a friend's infant). And I have two friends who died in the past two years and both still have active FB pages - mostly people post remembrances on them, but they are counted as part of that 1 billion. Plus, before there were pages that you liked in order to follow, businesses set up alternate accounts that you had to friend in order to connect with.  I still have many such "friends" myself even after those businesses went and set up pages.  And, I do play one FB war / battle game. On it, there are dozens and dozens of other players who set up second and more accounts in order to cheat.  That's clearly against FB and even this game's terms of service, but they never seem to be caught.

Oh well, that's my 2 bits.

mkkby's picture

You've made $100 in a year, and you call that success?

Cash Is King's picture

I'd like to hear more about your marketing, Facebook fails etc. if you care to take it offsite.

semperfi's picture

FB, YT, etc are going to have to PAY ME to motivate me to use their crap, cuz I couldn't care less. I've maybe watched a grand total of 5 YT clips in my life, and 3 of those were on shooting & cleaning pistols.  And I created a FB account just to let it collect dust, which I'm going to purge, if I ever get motivated to log on to it. 

Tango in the Blight's picture

YouTube has some good documentaries and lectures on it. I watch it instead of watching TV.

Also just about every music video ever made is on there and there are complete concerts and audiobooks on it.

Of course there's endless crap on it as well but I just ignore that.

Facebook can go to hell for all I care but it would be sad if YouTube went away.

mkkby's picture

After I cancelled cable, comcast offered it to me for free.  I said free is too expensive for watching commercials and reruns - pay me $100 per hour and I'll accept your billboard.

Same for FB.  In the beginning I went there to browse, and since you can't without signing up, I left and never returned.  Sheepls never learn.

Mr.Bigfoot's picture

Charging for all this mindless crap would be a good excuse to get off it once and for all.

mkkby's picture

If Obama is around for another 4 years, you can be sure there will be some social networking or internet subsidy for the permanantly unemployed.  Just friend the democratic party and it's paid for out of everyone else's taxes.

Marco's picture

Youtube at least has an excuse, their server/bandwidth costs per active user are orders of magnitude larger than Facebook's should be (of course I have no idea just how badly Facebook's software runs). It might never be able to generate profit with advertising alone. Facebook should be able to generate profit easily on advertising revenue, what Facebook obviously can't do like that is justify their current stock price ... but that's not what the current stock owners want to hear.

Facebook doesn't need to be a billion dollar business, it doesn't need utility fees ... the advertising peanuts are more than enough. If they try to make it more than it can be ... well, someone else will just pick up the peanuts.

LawsofPhysics's picture

What faceplant fails to realize is that productive, employed people with true purchasing power do not waste fucking time on the internet.  Oh damn, gotta run.

Stoploss's picture

5 dollar lifetime membership, slip, slipped away...

Don't forget he actually PAID a college to teach him that free now, would result in reward in the future..

Idiots never learn.

CPL's picture

The pub is the new facebook

resurger's picture

nothin beats socializing in real 3D. 

malikai's picture

From days past: "meatspace".

redpill's picture

Plus it has hot bartenders with big tits.

krispkritter's picture

Alcoholics UnAnonymous

DaveyJones's picture

"promote, despise, abandon"

so that's what you do with all those "friend" requests 

DaveyJones's picture

yes, most of my friends are in hell (along with the lower east side)

yogibear's picture

Wall Street is trying to push everyone onto Facebook. Facebook will just take all that private data and sell it to the highest bidders. 

It should be sell yourself out to facebook. For criminals/con artist it's a wealth of info.


fuu's picture

"For criminals/con artist it's a wealth of info."

Do you have any idea how many banksters have facebook and linkedin pages? All those networks, connections, and pictures. It's a visible history of what they read, what they watch, and what they share.

Joe Davola's picture

Facebook's value is not one cent more than what a one time sale of all that data is worth.  Maybe add in the scrap value of their servers and firesale value of the server farm buildings - if they are the owner, not lesee.

blunderdog's picture

There's no such thing as a "one-time sale" of data. 

Data is IP--it lives forever and can't really be "sold."  It can be copied or leased, rented or traded, but the idea of "selling" something you don't actually give up POSSESSION OF is a bit of a non-sequitir.

nowhereman's picture

I noticed that too.  Commercial television, sports networks, team webpages, even economic sites all have that shitty facebook like button.

Even some services offered can only be accessed through facebook. 

I openned an account several years back (2006 I think) because it was the only way to access a site promoting a protest.  As soon as the protest was over I deleted the account.  But I kept getting messages for several months afterwards.

I wonder if FB counts deleated accounts in their user numbers.

When I saw what they were doing with user information it scared me, and I won't go near it.  It just amazes me that other people are so cavalier with their privacy.

catacl1sm's picture

I'm sure the CIA will fund it. They like having easy access to all of that info tha people just give away.

francis_sawyer's picture

Well the good news is that Zuckerberg & friends got to steal some money from chumps for awhile... So they got that going for them...

Race Car Driver's picture

'Some money'?

You make it sound like they pulled a shell game on a lazy street corner when in fact they stole vast piles of digital fiat which in turn bought vast piles of tangible goods and property.

In fact, a handful of idiots at the top of this heist could damn-near fund the entire cost of clean-up and restoration of the damages caused by Sandy the Frankenstorm. That's hardly 'some' money.

francis_sawyer's picture

I was trying to be nice... The jew apologists on this site get their yamulkes all sweaty & itchy when the 'reality' finger gets pointed at them...

Marco's picture

Some hedge funds were probably caught with their pants down, but you just know that in the end the tab will mostly fall on pension funds and banks (which will then need more inflation and/or bailouts). So basically they stole from naive people (people who still have a pension, money in the bank or pay taxes).

Naive people are not chumps who deserve anything coming to them ... that's the moral of the kleptocracy.

blunderdog's picture

I realize this is probably just an excuse to complain about Jews, but if you bought shares of Facebook, you're way too stupid to deserve any of that money in the first place.  Giving money to someone in exchange for a promise of more later is in no way shape or form comparable to being "robbed."

It's a CON, sure, but so is just about everything else that takes place in the world of trading stocks.  Connect the dots and maybe you'll understand why some folks have been complaining about "capitalism" for hundreds of years.

You might as well cry that the "witching voodoo candle" which was supposed to bring you wealth and health doesn't work.

malikai's picture

To be fair, burning opium smells pretty good.

More appropriate would be the smell of burning dung.

Element's picture

Well, it was set up by the tribe. Scamming by distractions and appealing to gross-stupidity is what they do.

Lost Wages's picture

Pretty sure this is still the page to delete your Facebook. Log in. Click. Enjoy!