The tweaks are subtle but the impact could very well be huge.
The first is a matter of sharing. Sharing is one of the key components of Facebook – it’s a huge part of what makes social media social. If you see a link or a picture you like, sharing it to your page helps spread the word, share the wealth, and introduce your network to the amazing stuff you can find on Facebook. And Facebook has been set up to give credit where it is due, citing at the top of the post where it came from
But times have changed.
If you share a link from a Facebook Page to your own profile today, that “via” text is gone. The link gets shared so you can still promote the outside content a page found, but the page that posted it doesn’t get the credit like it used to.
It’s a small, subtle tweak that has a huge impact on how Pages are promoted on Facebook.
Content is king. It’s what makes a page stand out among the rest. It’s what drives a page’s audience to keep coming back for more. It’s the difference between 100 likes and 10,000 likes. But where a page used to be able to rely on good content and word of mouth alone to build an audience, today it’s very different.
You see, Facebook doesn’t make money off of success driven by viral and good content. They make money on advertisements. With a few bucks, you can make any page and its content look like it’s the best on the web by paying for impressions, clicks, likes, even using services that’ll sell you page fans for pennies a pop.
Where good posts used to show up in feeds all of the time, now pages have to pay to promote their content to make sure the people who have already opted into their messaging can see it – let alone expand to new audiences. Yes, you have to pay to find a new audience then pay again to make sure you keep them.
Sharing content was a way around that – if 100 of your page’s fans shared your content with their networks and that little “via” link was at the top, that’s free advertising to new eyes. But not anymore.
Now if someone shares a link off of your page there’s no citation, no point of reference, no credit given for where they found it and who inspired them to pass it along. It’s taking a huge chunk of the social aspect out of the equation.
But Facebook has to make money somehow. And businesses and entities using pages have been the focus for their income for quite some time.
Another minor tweak is less about the social and more about how people create and share pages either personally or professionally.
I do this digital media stuff for a living. Websites, social profiles, Facebook pages, these things get created all of the time by folks just like me — from agencies to their interns to fans to businesses to personas and more. There was a time you could create a page and then start inviting people to it where they’d get a notification that simply said “Jason Kenney has invited you to like the page Jason Kenney Is Awesome.”
Now, if you create a page and invite people to like it, they’ll get the notification that “Jason Kenney has invited you to like his page Jason Kenney Is Awesome.”
Again, subtle tweak, but the impact could matter.
Above the board, individuals working for agencies and businesses create pages on behalf of others all of the time. And often they may then be asked to help promote the page among their networks. There is a difference between me inviting you to a page that belongs to a company compared to a page I created for a company. I may have no further relationship with the company (though if I’m still an admin of the page I probably do) but that I created the page for the company is really neither here nor there, at least when it comes to a simple invite. Heck, in some cases an agency may have a non-disclosure agreement with a client, which means this change severely handicaps the ability of an agency or it’s employees of inviting their networks to a client’s page. Sure, this pulls back the curtain and creates a lot more disclosure on pages, but in simple every day use it’s a nuance that isn’t entirely necessary.
Below the board, though, maybe it is. Because Facebook used to not reveal who was behind a Facebook page. People could anonymously create Facebook pages all of the time and then invite everyone saying “look at this amazing page I just found” and laugh to themselves for being amazing keyboard cowboys. Not any more. If I create a page “Jason’s Not Awesome” and invite you to like it, you know I’m behind a page that’s full of filthy lies.
Small tweak that changes how people promote the pages they help create. And not nearly as big a deal as the citation changes – but something that does have an impact.
Social media is all about talking and sharing ideas. Part of sharing ideas, and part of what is at the core of Web 2.0 all the way back to the dawn of blogging, is giving credit where it is due, citing your sources, sharing the love, and expanding the world people see online. Facebook, in an effort to make a bit more money, is stripping a chunk of social out of social media — and it’s going to force a greater investment by content providers to make sure their voice is heard.