Is it possible to make Facebook your friend? Or are they always out to get you?

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How often do you hear people saying that Facebook is doing something mean and miserable in order to force you to advertise with them? To force you to pay money to reach your followers? (“My followers! How dare you keep me from my followers!”)

I’d be rich if I had a dollar for every time I’ve seen that on a Facebook post. Which seems ironic, but there you are. I’ve given up trying to explain anything different because the poster is normally so wedded to this view that nothing is going to part them from it. And it’s often because they tried to use Facebook and it didn’t work for them so rather than consider that their efforts might not have been well implemented, they blame Facebook. It’s more comfortable to do that, for some.

The reality is that Facebook is a system. You have to understand the system to have a hope of any success. Facebook lets you (me, us) use it for free up to a point and after that they’re a commercial business, making shed loads of cash. That we can use it for free is a gift. Back in the day when I began working in marketing there were no free ways to communicate. Advertising, sales promotion and direct mail all cost money. The closest thing to free was publicity, but to have consistent success you needed to hire a publicist.

Now we have social media. It’s a pain because it’s never switched off. Gone are the days when you sent the ad to the newspaper (on a motorbike messenger) and then did nothing more as you waited 3 or 4 days for it to appear. But the upside is that whilst social media is constant and unrelenting in demanding your time, it’s also brilliant because we can build our tribe, find our readers, build relationships with them and sell more books. All for free. As long as we understand how the system works. Each social platform is a different system and Facebook is the most complex. It’s also the biggest and most successful. With more than 2 billion accounts, it’s twice as big as Instagram (which they also own) and Twitter has around 330 million active monthly users.

Facebook is the primary social media platform to use. Without a doubt. Is it intentionally constricting your posts so you can’t reach your followers unless you advertise? Nope. The algorithm picks the bestest posts that they think your followers want to see, based on what that individual has engaged with to date. If your posts aren’t getting picked, then the cold, hard truth is that they weren’t good enough. Sorry, I can’t soften the blow. As more and more people flood into Facebook and each individual follows more and more brands and individuals, then that competition to be the post that’s picked gets tougher and tougher. If you understand the system you can have a better idea of what to do to change so you can be that bestest post. If you don’t you are floundering in the deep end with no water wings. And that’s really uncomfortable.

In short: Facebook is not out to get you. It’s a commercial business that allows us to use it for free up to a point (which is wonderful), but you need to know and understand its rules and systems if you want to be successful. Otherwise it’s all too easy to fall prey to the latest conspiracy theory or fake news about why your posts are dying in a ditch.

Sara Hood has more than 30 years experience in marketing and communications with global brand as well as the creative industries. Her day job is in the music industry where she handles social media and the website for an international professional association and runs Record Store Day for the recorded music retail sector. She published her first fiction in 2017.

She’s presenting How to make Facebook your friend, without mortgaging your home, RWA OWL in October 2018. Registrations now open. $55 for members and $88 for non-members. Bookings can be made here.



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