Facebook's Like Affair With Brands Is Over

This post by Will Oremus originally appeared on Slate on 3/24/14.

Facebook is ending the free ride, wrote Valleywag’s Sam Biddle in a post that has been greeted with widespread alarm. No, it’s not forcing ordinary users to pay for its service or to share pictures of their babies. Rather, the claim is that it’s deliberately bringing an end to the era of free advertising for businesses via their Facebook pages.

Citing an anonymous source, Biddle reports that Facebook is in the process of slashing brands’ “organic page reach” to just 1 or 2 percent. That means only a tiny fraction of the people who have liked a business on Facebook will see each of its posts in their news feed, unless that company pays Facebook for wider promotion. The organic-reach squeeze would affect “all brands,” Biddle writes, from corporate behemoths like Nike to local merchants like New York’s Pies ‘n’ Thighs restaurant. He casts this as a cruel bait-and-switch on Facebook’s part:

Facebook pulled the best practical joke of the Internet age: the company convinced countless celebrities, bands, and “brands” that its service was the best way to reach people with eyeballs and money. Maybe it is! But now that companies have taken the bait, Facebook is holding the whole operation hostage.

That’s one way of looking at it.

Here’s another one: People don’t really like seeing a bunch of ads in their news feed.

 

Read the full post on Slate.

 

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