If you’ve read Wild Beauty for any time, you’ve noticed that I change things around – adding this, or redesigning that. It wouldn’t surprise you that I’m trying to build an audience – or maybe a tribe – of intelligent beauty lovers on the Internet. I love my subject, and I’d like it to come to as many people who’d enjoy it as possible.
I’ve used a lot of tools to help my readers keep up on the latest goings on here, hopefully in the most convenient way for them.
One of those tools is Facebook. Which promised to be a great resource – all I have to do is find people who like Wild Beauty and my posts will appear in their feeds, ready to be clicked at their pleasure. It worked that way for a while, and over the last few years, I was advertising my page to small sub-groups to like my page. Yay! Now I can grow my audience! Right?
Only not quite. Over the last year or so, Facebook has been drastically changing the way they serve a page’s posts. They’ve been emphasizing posts from your fellow FB users that you click “like” on for a while (which is why your needy, new-mommy cousin gets even more of your feedspace than ever). But now they’re turning up the “get clicks or die” strategy for page owners – which includes bloggers, small businesses, and giant retail chains alike.
Facebook has been steadily decreasing the serving of posts to page followers over the past several months, decreasing the organic (unpaid) reach of pages to followers to less than half of before. Here’s a chart from Ogilvy’s Social research team, shared with AdAge:
What’s especially discouraging about this graph is that pages with less that 500,000 likes should look at the gray line. If you’re wondering why no one is clicking on your posts, it may not just be your tag line they’re ignoring – it’s also likely that almost no one saw it. Facebook has stated that serving is based on viewer interaction (get those cat photos ready!), but I know that pages whose posts I and many others have repeatedly liked – such as the ever-entertaining Cult of Aphrodite, with its steady stream of vintage photos – have disappeared from my feed.
In larger marketing circles, Facebook has admitted that brands should look towards the day when their organic, unpaid reach to their fans is zero, and that paying to gain fans is now just a way to increase advertising effectiveness, not to gain any organic reach. And maybe if I was selling $800 handbags, I would get that and plan my marketing budget accordingly. But for those of us who are putting our content out there for free to gain an audience, there’s no value to that strategy.
It’s their space, and their network, so in some ways I shouldn’t complain: big ad spends will push out cool indie stuff in almost any mass arena. But there is one thing that I wish Facebook’s advertising team would get into their algorithmic heads: that bloggers, vintage stores sharing photo archives, even George Takei – these are people sharing entertainment content for free, which enlivens and individualizes the user experience. I doubt that Cult of Aphrodite will be paying Facebook so that I can “like” their posts anytime soon – they’ve got a real-life business to run. And that’s too bad – their photos always make me smile, whether I click “like” or not. They make me glad I logged in when everybody else is complaining about their boss or the TSA.
So what can we do?
For one thing, don’t count on Facebook “liking” to keep you updated on the blogs you follow. You can go to the pages you follow and click “get notifications” (it’s within the page like button), which will give you more updates, but that may only hold for so long. Also, if one of your friend’s posts does show up in your feed, consider liking and/or sharing it to help expand their reach. If Facebook is truly expanding reach based on interest, that may help, though requiring bloggers to repeatedly cross-post to sidestep their algorithms could cause problems of its own.
After the demise of Google Reader, I’ve migrated most of my favorite blogs to Feedly, which allows easy organization of all your chosen blogs’ content so you can read what’s drawing you in on any given day. There are a lot of fashion and beauty bloggers at Bloglovin, which may be less customizable than Feedly, but is more visually oriented and perfect for scanning OOTD posts. My site can be subscribed to Feedly through the green heart on my social media icons, and through Bloglovin through the link on the sidebar.
In addition, I’m adding a newsletter feature to Wild Beauty. This is currently planned to be a monthly update, with the most popular posts from me, plus a few standouts from other blogs I’ve come across in my travels. Will I be selling to you? If you consider a book recommendation with an affiliate link that I can earn 50 cents on, then that is certainly a possibility. But I won’t be cramming your inbox with news: while coming up with the newsletter idea, I decided that even if Wild Beauty grows to behemoth proportions, updates will go out once a week, MAX, because if you really wanted to spend that much time with me, I have all this other stuff on Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram to peruse. (Or you could email me and invite me out to lunch ;-).) I’m also keeping the old RSS feeds the way they are for now, so if you’ve subscribed that way, you’ll still get articles delivered straight away.
The pop ups? I’ve wondered why I’m seeing them everywhere, and now I know: with Facebook taking away organic reach, the only way for publishers to have real say in our relationships with readers is keep our own space for them. That’s as true for micro-publishers like Wild Beauty as it is for megasites like Refinery 29. With the effort I put into writing the site and expanding my social networks, it makes sense to do so on a platform that won’t be pulled out from under me. I’ll be testing options to make the pop ups as useful without being super annoying, and no, they won’t be chasing you after you leave the site (if I was willing to do that, I’d be in another business altogether ;-)!)
So that’s my Facebook story, what yours?