What Facebook don't want small businesses to know...

Posted On: 07/04/2016

By: Scouse Bird

As a small business, social media can be a powerful tool in order to drive traffic to your website and grow your business. So what happens when that social media network turns into a greedy monster?

There was widespread panic last week when (Facebook owned) Instagram announced plans to move to an algorithm based newsfeed rather than chronological - meaning that they would choose what appears on your timeline and you wouldn't even be shown half the content posted by the people you follow. Bad news for businesses who rely on Instagram to self-promote, good news for who? Instagram and Facebook's bank balance.

Facebook moved to algorithms years ago and it's a massive bugbear for anyone who runs a business page and while after a lot of bad press Instagram announced plans to delay any changes to their newsfeed, don't for one second think they'll delay that forever, it's too much of a money spinner.

The way Facebook algorithms work (officially) is that Facebook shows you what it thinks you want to see and doesn't show you half the content that actually gets posted by your friends or pages that you follow. Unofficially, they restrict your reach (how many people your post reaches) unless you cross their palm with silver. So for pages and business owners, while they might have thousands of followers (120,000 for example in my case), something they post may only be seen by a fraction of their 'fans'. If that post happens to contain a link, say to a blog post or shop link then that figure can be as low as double figures. Imagine having 10,000 followers and only 10 people see something you post - how gutted would you be? 

Example:

I could post a picture or straightforward text based post and it'll be shown to 30,000 people. Only a quarter of the followers it should be going out to. If I post a picture or text based post that contains a link, I will be extremely lucky if it's shown to 100 people.

Unless I pay. Page owners will vouch for the fact you're constantly hounded by 'helpful' pop ups along the lines of "Promote your post now for X amount of money." Promote your own posts to your own followers that is. Something which, if you want Facebook to be useful, you just have no choice but to do (and Instagram will likely be going the same way soon).

There is a loophole I've discovered though and Facebook are fuming. I've got no proof that this is an official loophole but I've been trialling it over the last few weeks and the differences are dramatic and like I say, it's got Facebook a little ticked off. So, small business owners, here it is:

If I post a link along the lines of www.thesassybird.com/shop then my impressions (people who see it) are on the floor. If I shorten that link first using google or similar so that it looks like:http://goo.gl/Wubthj then the organic (unpaid) impressions suddenly jump through the roof. Where I may have gotten less than 100 impressions, I've suddenly got over 20,000 before even paying Facebook a penny - still nowhere near the amount I should have but it's a dramatic improvement.

Facebook reach 2

With shortened link ☝️

facebook reach 1

With long link ☝️

So Facebook are fuming how? Tonight they went through all my recent adverts and 'unapproved' any that had the shortened link in (even the ones no longer running) and stated that they didn't meet their ad criteria but gave no reason why. I e-mailed them saying I was stumped and that they were going to have to be more specific as to what exactly it was about the boosted post they objected to and I got an e-mail back stating my URL contained profanity. Unless their eyesight is bad and they think 'goo.gl' looks like boobs, they're lying. Dead hard. There's definitely no profanity in that URL http://goo.gl/Wubthj and if I use the long version then the boosted post is approved no problem (so it's nothing to do with the content on my site) and posted out to the amount of people I pay for... and not a single person more.

Facebook email

So there you go, something about the shortened links obviously (at least for now) bypasses something in their cash cow algorithms, so make hay while the sun shines guys 😘

XOXO

The Sassy Bird

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