Why September’s EdgeRank Algorithm Change is Bad for Facebook

Posted by William McAllister

December 5, 2012 at 7:19 AM

In September, Facebook tweaked their EdgeRank algorithm and drastically reduced the reach of posts for businesses’ fans. Businesses that spent years attracting fans to their Facebook page were hit with the option to “promote” their posts to reach their fans for a fee. The real question is, ‘Is Facebook’s new revenue model shortsighted?’

Pay your toll

From a marketing perspective, Facebook was designed to serve as an online “road” for brands to reach and interact with their consumers. However, in September, Mr. Zuckerberg and his gang of engineers essentially built “toll booths” on these “roads” without ever installing any “Road Work Coming Soon” signs.

Not surprisingly, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban wasn’t shy about expressing his dissatisfaction with Facebook’s algorithm change. In a blog post titled “What I Really Think About Facebook,” Cuban alleged that “FB doesn’t seem to want to accept that its best purpose in life is as a huge time suck platform that we use to keep up with friends, interests and stuff…In a perfect FB world every post enters the friends/likes/subscriber’s timeline. If they log in and want to spend the time searching their timeline they see it, if not, not.”

Mark, like some Facebook users, believes Facebook users should naturally see posts from every person and business they either “friended” or “liked.” It shouldn’t be up to Facebook to decide which posts users should see based on paid promotions.

Quick cash

The EdgeRank algorithm change seems to be focused more around Facebook’s stockholders and less around its users. This update poses some interesting questions about the future of Facebook Fan Pages.

  • Will it discourage brands from continuing to build their fan database if they now know they will have to pay to reach them?
  • Will it cause brands to explore other social networking sites where they can reach their audiences for free?
  • Is a “pay-to-play” platform giving big brands even more ability to dominate the market over small businesses?

Mark Cuban has expressed that he will be scaling back his efforts to reach consumers on Facebook. Is he just the first of many to refocus his company’s social media efforts away from Facebook? Maybe it’s just temporary, and Mark is upset by the lack of transparency from the company and their bait-and-switch techniques. Either way, it will be interesting to watch and see if this EdgeRank update will help Facebook win the sprint or the marathon.

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