Did Facebook Tinker with Pages Algorithm to Generate More Money?

by Jordan Richardson on November 14, 2012

Facebook is raising some eyebrows in the business community after an update to an algorithm changed the way company pages can communicate with followers. Facebook changed the algorithm in September and faced the immediate ire of advertisers, with accusations flying that Facebook had altered things on purpose in an effort to bilk more money out of their pages apparatus.

In its pages, the social networking company uses EdgeRank to gauge how users are interacting with brands on specific pages. The September update apparently filtered the living daylights out of brand posts, sending out fewer posts to followers and thus diminishing advertising reach.

According to accusations at the time, “The change resulted in many pages losing 40-50 percent (or more) of their organic reach.”

Facebook claimed that it had changed the formula to cut down on spam posts, something that it constantly fights against on its many pages.

The accusation that Facebook had altered the game to generate more cash from advertisers and page owners was refuted by Josh Constine at TechCrunch about a week ago. Essentially Facebook’s pages always only reached a small percentage of “fans” or followers with each post. The launch of “Promoted Posts” didn’t change that and had no impact on page reach.

In the launch of this system, Facebook “made it easier” to report spam on pages. Pages that were reported for spam more often showed up less often, as is generally the case. With those pages showing up less often in news feeds, the complaints started rolling in.

Facebook apparently filters around 85 percent of its content, which means that a lot of it simply never hits the average news feed. That may be news to users that are used to have their feeds cluttered with “information” from every avenue under the sun, but the social networker never claimed to offer 100 percent visibility to every brand.

As for the payment issues, Facebook says that it isn’t forcing people to pay for reach. If content is “great,” a debatable notion of course, the page reach will be impacted by it and it will get more reach on its own.

With TechCrunch’s data from March 2012, there were 42 million pages on the social networking site. 300,000 of those tried “Promoted Pages,” while a few more tried “Sponsored Stories.” The total percentage of Facebook pages actually paying for any reach is essentially minuscule. Not only that, TechCrunch has the data to prove that page reach has remained relatively stable.

As thirsty as Facebook has been for revenue as of late, it doesn’t look like the tinkering of the EdgeRank algorithm had much, if anything, to do with generating more revenue. Imagine that.

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Written by: Jordan Richardson. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSSTwitterFacebook, or YouTube.

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