Baer Facts, Social Media Tools, Facebook

Facebook is Getting More Two-Faced By the Day


In this edition of The Baer Facts, I talk with Kyle Lacy of ExactTarget about two new announcements from Facebook that appear to come from opposite ends of the philosophical spectrum.

Maybe. Or Maybe Not.

Within 96 hours, Facebook made two pronouncements (I like to imagine them being made via scrolls read in a town square, preceded by trumpeter fanfare, but in reality they were simple blog posts). The first change handed down from Mount Hoodie is that Facebook will now use “content quality” as a factor in the algorithm that determines when and how much your Facebook posts are seen by your fans and beyond.

That’s right, Facebook now gets to decide what is “timely and relevant content” (from their blog post), and what is a “low quality post or meme.” Tomorrow on Convince & Convert, author of The Like Economy Brian Carter will have a complete analysis of this announcement, but in short I see this as a slippery slope for Facebook. Look, I’m not personally a fan of memes, as I think they can chip away at brand value. But if a business wants to seek engagement (to play the algorithmic game that Facebook has forced them to play), and do so via memes, is it really Facebook’s sole responsibility to judge content quality? I’ve heard the argument that Google does similar things (especially with Panda and Penguin updates to search rankings), but I view Google search results far differently from an objectivity standpoint than I do Facebook news feed that is populated mostly by things I have ASKED to receive.

Sure, Run a Contest

The second announcement is that Facebook has thrown open the doors on its contest rules, and will now allow promotions to take place within the news feed, repudiating two years of detailed regulations that helped spawn an entire industry around Facebook contest applications. Good friend of Convince & Convert Emeric Ernoult, CEO of Facebook management tool Agorapulse (I’m a big fan), wrote a detailed post on Saturday about the ramifications of this move, and when you should/shouldn’t run contests in the news feed. It’s a must-read. For small businesses looking to give away low-value prizes to current fans, relaxing these promotional regulations is a boon. 

I’m Torn. And Evidently, so is Facebook

So, if you’re scoring at home, I disagree with one of these changes, and agree with the other. But what I simply do not understand is how these changes possibly could come from the same company, within four days?

On one hand, let’s – for the first time – get into the business of regulating content at the individual post level, making our company an arbiter of quality.

But on the other hand, let’s largely remove our longstanding regulations on contests and promotions, and take a laissez faire approach.

Does Facebook want more control, or less? I guess it depends on the day.

Facebook is the Miley Cyrus of social, desperately trying to figure out what it wants to become. (tweet this)

Business Relationship

  • Emeric

    I’m pretty sure Kyle is wearing blue jeans :-)

    Thanks for the mention and the great insights, as usual! I can’t agree more with everything you said…

    • jaybaer

      I’m glad we’re aligned, my friend.

  • dvdj

    Nit for nothing, Jay, but in your credit line, isn’t it bragging to say you are “hype-free” and isn’t bragging a form of hype? Hype is hip. Hype hype hooray!

    • jaybaer

      I could say it’s hype-minimized, but that doesn’t have the same ring to it.

      • dvdj

        Well, as an unrepentant punster myself, I bow to your “Youtility.” Just about perfect. Keep up the great work.

  • JeffreyFriend [SSBC]

    Seems like Kyle had a freudian slip moment when he said what he was wearing “under my dress…my dress…uhhh shirt.” It’s alright man, rock that purple dress…it’s our little secret.

    Seriously though, great point on both updates fellas. Everything under the sun (or dress) will be a contest/giveaway now, but that could actually spawn some very creative new ideas. Just have to weed through the terrible ones is all.

    • jaybaer

      Ha ha! Good to see Kyle lose it a bit.

  • Nancy Cawley Jean

    It’s disturbing to me that Facebook is going to judge what others want to and should see. Using Facebook in the health care industry, what I post is usually timely and relevant for people & their health, but it may be considered pretty boring and therefore “not worthy” by Facebook’s standards. Disturbing is probaby way too mild a word too. Thanks for sharing this important info, Jay.

    • jaybaer

      Disturbing to me, too!

    • diablo135

      Yet I keep seeing pics of people’s dinner and inane posts about how their boring day went

  • Ted Sindzinski

    I’ve always been a proponent of Facebook filtering content — after all, people follow _brands_ for many more reasons than to see their ad posts and if every post was shown, every time, many pages would have a lot less fans — but what clearly does not make sense is crushing pages.

    Search like rule tweaks encourage gaming over good content while you have a total double standard in loosening up the all too common fan grab tactic of contests.

  • Cara Posey

    One might consider that they are doing the first (focusing on quality content) to jump on the bandwagon of sorts. From a PR standpoint, it means Facebook wants to be more “valuable” and compete with other platforms, like Google, by providing quality content/results. Let us not forget the whole Facebook Graph search…perhaps there are larger plans here which tie these things together.

    Second, the focus on contests is obviously about money and site use. This gets organizations using Facebook more and increases the utility they see in the platform as well as the money they spend on things like sponsored posts.

    My guess is that both announcements tie into Facebook’s desire to be profitable and to be seen as a competitive search engine or source for information/news.

  • Tracie Rollins

    Kyle is wearing his pjs! I know it :) Jay – are you losing weight? Maybe purple is your color. I think my Facebook feed is about to explode with contests, and am very disappointed with the content valuation judgement precedent.

  • Dave Link

    Like a number of Facebook’s moves in the past twelve months or so, my intuition tells me this is a money grab – albeit a bit more subtle than charging to promote my personal status updates.

    FB is now looking to judge content quality, so I’m sure those with premier partnerships will see a boost in being judged as ‘relevant’ whether they are or not. This can be seen already in the myriad of suggested posts many see in their news feeds that have ZERO to do with their actual interests or connections. More control over what’s deemed relevant = more money spent by bigger corporations to be dubbed relevant. This is the same reason I’m now leery of all the content on sites like Mashable that also have these types of premier partnerships.

    Second, with the removal of FB’s carefully curated contest rules they now – as you mentioned – welcome in a larger swath of small businesses. Likely, these are businesses that couldn’t or wouldn’t pay for a third party contest app in the past. Now that they can promote right on the page they’re more likely to buy social ads to compliment. Small gains in dollars from one business, but huge when you aggregate it out over thousands of small businesses.

    Just my two cents, but it’s definitely a somewhat odd approach to regulate and deregulate simultaneously. :)

    • jaybaer

      Great analysis, Dave. I agree entirely. Especially about small biz, as they are looking to steal $$ share from Google Adwords, it seems.


        so true!

      • Dave Link

        Thank ya, sir!

  • Candyce Edelen

    I agree with Jay, this is a dangerous precedent. Seems to me this is all about revenue. They make more money by opening up contests. They have the potential to also create revenue opportunities down the road for sponsored content as they determine what is “timely and relevant.”

  • charmon stiles

    At first I thought small businesses would like the contest update because it’s ‘free and easy’. But then realized I might have a news feed full of contests from overly excited marketers that are missing out on data collection for remarketing. And really, if I like a page and content why are they deciding if it is quality enough to show in my feed? Sometimes I want stupid memes for a laugh to break up my day. But, then again this is Facebook and they are only 1% done. It might change in a month.

  • gregcooper

    Facebook should absolutely judge what’s good and what’s not. For one, it’s their platform. They should absolutely be able to judge good vs bad on business page. Businesses can ultimately use Facebook for free and get free advertising. If businesses are clogging up servers with ridiculous memes then yes it should be seen as lower quality and seen less. It had nothing to do with the business or marketing.

    • jaybaer

      Interesting. But yet, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Linkedin, Youtube, Vine, MySpace, Tumblr, G+ do not have similar content-judging mechanisms. If it’s such a good idea Greg, why is Facebook so alone in this regard?

      • smerket

        And who has ungodly levels of engagement in that list? Facebook.

      • gregcooper

        Good point…but Facebook has a whole variety of post types from text, photo, video, links.. etc. And you have options of how you want to see your feed (Most popular vs Most Recent)

        You can really control what you see on Pinterest by subscribing to different boards.

        Instagram, YouTube, and Tumblr are very niche and you can’t do much other than photos or short videos

        Twitter – that’s really about the here and now. They don’t have a newsfeed option of showing me the “most popular tweets”. It’s most recent and that’s it.

        Myspace – really? who the hell uses myspace now?

        G+ – well that’s the google machine. I’m sure they will come out with something, if there’s not already something.

        But like smerket said, Facebook has ungodly levels of engagement, and that’s the most used tool for businesses and individuals. And with all the research showing that staying up to date on sales, contest, and business happenings are a couple of the main reasons that users connect with business pages. Most people aren’t connecting with businesses to see ridiculous memes or LIKE THIS POST IF YOU THINK BEATING PUPPIES SHOULD BE ILLEGAL. COMMENT IF YOU THINK THESE PEOPLE SHOULD BE CHARGED.

  • QuentinWeber

    Great video! I am a bit of two minds about Facebooks shift allowing social actions as a mechanism for voting. I have always felt business use promotions as a shortcut to getting more likes and not other more important business goals. I am a big fan of Agorapulse and will continue to use for my clients as it gives much greater insight.
    I think Kyle is wearing the lower half of a promotional chicken suit. If you slow the video down just before the final credit rolls you can see him leaning over to grab the top half. I assume he is off on his next mission giving out fried chicken coupons.

    • jaybaer

      Quentin, you win! Send me your address ([email protected]) and a signed book is on the way! Chicken suit!

      • QuentinWeber

        Thanks Jay!

  • Jono Smith

    I had 8 posts within the space of an hour today in my FB News Feed letting me know that the “The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted to authorize President Obama to conduct a limited U.S. military operation in Syria.” Perhaps this new algorithm will help with this duplicative content?

    • SativaBella

      They seem to be moving that direction, of consolidating similar updates together. I’ve seen many people post about the same subject, or share the same link and they get grouped together in the same box, with their avatar’s on the left to let me know who and how many people shared this same post.

  • Dave Link

    In all honesty, I’ve never used the Top Stories feature for my news feed. I’ve found that when I do, I see so much duplicated or out of date content that it really detracts from using the feed at all. For me, chronology has always been the most common sense approach to viewing a feed like Facebook or Twitter.

  • Michael Tracy

    Great post Jay. Businesses need to embrace or embrace more co-marketing methods, so they are not heavily reliant on memes. Several studies have shown, customers, especially millennials want to co-market with businesses. With the explosion of social + mobile, participation marketing needs to take a role & a bigger role in a businesses marketing efforts.

    • Raymond Babcock

      did you wash your hands before you wrote this

  • Kinex Midea

    Great info! Very simple and easy…nobody can explain as interesting as this. I appreciate your time and effort on making things simple and easily understandable.

  • Ray

    Kyle has on sport shorts on under the camera!

  • Graciousstore

    Facebook disgusts me daily simply by the fact that it has lost its “mission statement”. How can Facebook decide what content your fans can see or not based on the quality of the content. Facebook was originally designed for friends and families to interact so they can choose any “crappy thing” to share among themselves without anyone deciding what is of high or low quality,

    Google can arguably decide what content is of high or low quality by the virtue of the fact that it was originally designed as a search engine, so it can decide what surfers can and cannot see based on what it considers high or low quality

    • Raymond Babcock

      i do not care about face book

  • Kent Whitt

    Thanks for printing some common sense! FB has that power now “Oh I read it so it must be true”. Amazing!

  • Scott Clark

    Facebook will fall under it’s own weight. Anyone remember MySpace? Sure, it’s still there, but it was for all purposes, a passing fancy like Facebook. People will get bored with it, and move on to something else. I have an account for onl;y being able to comment on websites such as this, otherwise, it’s an empty folder.

    • Raymond Babcock

      i comment with tweeter account when you have to jump through hoops i quit


    How about FaceBook is a POS chock full of losers who have no clue what the internet or the www really is!

    All the while generating income for another group of liberal leech poser doo gooders while making goobs of advert money off all the aforementioned looser users reality TeeVee lifestyles.

  • Diane Burton

    facebook posts on my work computer don’t always transfer to my home computer. i rarely go there anymore. they have become social police…

  • komotion

    I don’t see what is so hard to understand here. Facebook has places more control over the people and have lessened regulation over companies. They have essentially sold out-which they did a loong time ago.