Revisiting the Facebook reach debate

facebook_logoThe debate around Facebook Pages and their organic reach has been ongoing for years now, but it always spikes again when Facebook themselves cop to the fact that organic reach is changing or that their algorithm has changed in some manner.

The latest development is an apparent admission on Facebook’s part that Pages will now see organic reach drop to “between 1-2%”. For what its worth, previous organic reach was around 6%, and two years ago I remember telling bands I worked with that 10% was probably a sign things were going well – anything more than 10% would be a bonus. So, let’s be clear: Facebook organic reach has never been all that great.

Now though as we drop nearer and nearer to a zero figure, it rightly leaves many wondering why they bother. Just last week, Eat24 announced they were deleting their Facebook Page citing the hopeless reach as a factor.

I certainly sympathise. Let’s be clear: I’ve never been of the view that we all deserved unlimited reach with our Pages. However the ideal always felt like a balance of sorts, with day-to-day posts achieving decent reach (provided they were good) and ‘milestone’ posts (which in the context of bands would mean new single/video/album/tour) getting promoted to ensure maximum reach not just to fans but to broader audiences too. There was logic to this: it ensured a good flow of decent content to fans (which in turn kept them on the site, thereby benefiting Facebook as well) whilst also ensuring that Facebook would see money for promoting those key posts to broader audiences.

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Music vs The Web: Have We Reached Social Media’s Tipping Point?

facebook_logoThis article originally appeared on Drowned In Sound.

Its been a bumper year for Facebook, on paper at least. Recently they announced that year-on-year revenues were up 60%, with advertising revenue up to $1.8bn. Their daily active user count rose 25% to 728 million people. At this point then, you’d think it would be high-fives all round, with Wall Street giving Zuckerberg and co a hearty pat on the back.

And yet, shortly after this announcement, more than $18bn was wiped from Facebook’s stock value. The reason? One, short sentence: “We did see a decrease in daily users specifically among younger teens.”

Herein lies the problem for Facebook – and indeed any tech company looking to take the IPO path: when advertising is your core product, at some point the balance will tip, driving users – usually starting with the younger ones – away.

Put simply: in order to make money, Facebook must serve ads. In order to make more money, Facebook must serve even more ads – almost certainly putting them on a collision with a critical mass point, where people burn out completely on ads and, at the very least, stop clicking on them or, as is the current case among teens, find other services to use.

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The near-miss of New MySpace

Screen Shot 2012-12-19 at 21.58.46New MySpace. Twelve months ago I would have snorted in derision at the mere mention of the idea; it seemed a little too ridiculous given the way Old MySpace had gone.

Over time though, with Facebook increasingly battling negative press around Pages, reach, privacy and a host of other problems, MySpace’s purchase and promised rejuvenation courtesy of Justin Timberlake and Specific Media actually started looking viable. Through the same period, a few friends of mine had been asking the same question: “Are we due a dedicated music social network?”. After all, Facebook has never been that well equipped for musicians (ever tried listening to music on an artists page of late?) and coupled with the aforementioned frustrations, it felt like a gap was opening that was ripe for the taking.

Enter MySpace. (Again.)

I was invited to preview the service in the summer. I have to say, based on the demo video I saw (the same one that has since been made public in the first round of PR), I was really impressed. New MySpace looked fantastic. There was a clear focus on design there, and conceptually it felt very much like it could indeed be the dedicated music social network that people had been pining for. Believe me, I was a naysayer previous to this meeting, but based on the video and my conversations with the team there, I was sold.

Having played around with the service for a while now, sadly now I’m not so sure.

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