Businesses — as well as groups like nonprofits and celebrities like Takei — join the social network by creating pages, and they speak to customers and fans by posting to those pages, which users may follow by clicking “like.” A typical page post is only shown to around 15 percent of the people who follow the page; Facebook filters it from the news feeds of the rest based, it says, on relevance. Paying to get around this blockade with so-called “promoted posts” is a key, entry-level form of Facebook advertising, used to rope mom-and-pop merchants into doing business with the social network.
Or at least that’s how it’s supposed to work. Sometimes the system backfires: Many small businesses feel extorted by Facebook, particularly after the company recently made it easier to see when a post is filtered and to buy an ad. Publishers who see their Facebook fan base grow while reach remains stagnant can’t help but wonder if Facebook is simply trying to sell more ads. At the same time, as more businesses join Facebook, the social network has a duty to users to make sure promotional business spam doesn’t flood news feeds.
It’s a complex and wonky issue, one that Facebook might reasonably expect might fade away into confusing arguments involving talk of algorithms, analytics, reach, and viral lift. Except it’s not going to fade away with Sulu from Star Trek beaming his detailed analysis of the situation into people’s Kindles, iPhones and iPads this holiday season along with cute animal pictures. — Wired Business | Wired.com.