There are currently some interesting discussions going on in the Edupreneurs Club, I herewith put away my chef’s hat to share some of my thoughts.
One main topic is Facebook. Like Google, Facebook constantly changes the algorithm that decides which content will be surfaced in your news stream. In case you did not know, just because you like a certain page or are friends with someone does not mean that you will see all of their content shared or posted.
This often leads to a huge gap between the number of fans total and the number of people who actually see a post. Right now this gap seems to have become wider than ever which made some edupreneurs think whether it was at all worthwhile to invest their time and put the effort in updating their page and trying to grow their fans.
My short answer is no, it isn’t. Here is why.
Every minute you don’t spend and create content on your own web estate is essentially wasted, and especially so on Facebook. It is one of the most restrictive environments and because of the ongoing feud between Facebook and Google none of the content (updates, posts, pictures etc) is indexed by Google, hence it is non searchable from outside of Facebook.
Secondly, Facebook is more and more controlling what people see in their news stream. When you publish a post on your blog you can be sure that 100% of the people who visit your site also see the content. And it is indexed by Google and other search engines. If you need to spend time on a social network, pick Google+. But that’s another post.
Having Facebook as a middleman who decides which content in the news stream is relevant and which is not is like having a postman who decides which mail is important and then throws the rest away.
It is of course in Facebook’s own interest to take control over the news stream as the vast majority of users simply could not handle an unfiltered stream. For them it would be like getting all the junk mail available in their region every single day.
We had the same phenomenon about a decade ago when people signed up for every free newsletter just to wake up one day and find their inbox overflowing with spam. This problem only got solved when new services like Gmail came up that allowed users to make a clean cut and start with a fresh email service. It also has a far better spam filter than in the early days of email.
And that’s why email is again (still) the best way to get the attention of your fans, subscribers and hence potential customers. You own this relationship, you type the message, hit send and presto it’s in their inbox.
And coming back to Facebook, don’t forget that there is also the option to mute updates from friends and pages you are subscribed to. I know there is still the notion that you have to like the page of a colleague and have to become friends even if you are not really interested. Out of guilt people accept and then simply switch them off in their news stream. This totally screws up the metrics and shows how irrelevant the number of fans or friends has become over the years.
I also know that there are edupreneurs out there who use their total number of fans and the resulting reach to get speaking gigs or other paid assignments. But you need to be aware that this will only work as long as this idea is accepted by the people who hire based on vanity numbers. It’s like a currency that only works as long as people believe that the piece of paper is really worth what is printed on it.
Our learning curve in education might not be as steep as in other industries, but it will be a matter of months not years until these organizations and universities will eventually learn how to look at vanity numbers that essentially say nothing, and instead start looking at metrics like engagement and outcome when making the decision who to hire for a project.
The moment people lose their faith in social media, follower and fan numbers all this is worth nothing. Your email list, visitors through organic search and fans who have you in their RSS on the other hand won’t go away.
Again, you are playing in Facebook’s sandbox and you have no right of a say in that matter. If Facebook wants to change how people see your posts, it will. And if your strategy is built upon the old way, that’s your problem. So stop wasting your time on Facebook and work on your own web estate, email list and search engine ranking.
Picture via Tumblr