The huge social media site has turned into “capitalist media”

facebookFacebook should no longer be considered social media, at least not in the traditional sense. Facebook and its little unrelated brothers Twitter and Reddit are known collectively as social media. A place where common people can share their thoughts with other people, organize meetings, protests, etc. In other words socialize.

Now that Facebook has joined the corporate world, they have also in large part become the corporate media. In order to make money for their stock holders they have started to put a price tag on everything, including our speech.

When I first started writing for Forget the Box back in 2010, I used Facebook as a way of sharing my articles with like-minded people. I would get more views, more comments and of course more hate mail. It worked so well that I decided to create my own page dedicated to my writing. I quietly built up a modest following and had a steady stream loyal readers.

After a couple years I decided to go my own way, so I started A place where other amateur writers like me could share their views and opinions. Now that the Facebook page was no longer about me, but a collective of people, I started to advertise our page on Facebook for about $10.00 a week.

My thought was to expose our writers to as many people as possible given our audience mainly came from Facebook at the time. A small investment seemed wise and it was the least I can do for our writers who volunteered their time.

Last summer, one of our writers (Erin Nanasi) introduced me to David Haberman, co-founder of Political Moll and administrator of “I love it when I wake up in the morning and Barack Obama is President”. A Facebook page similar to ours, but with 25 times the audience.

David allowed Erin and I to share our site’s content on his page. At first it was a huge boost to our numbers. After all, 157,000 people could now be exposed to our writer’s articles. Nothing made me happier.

Then, as if all of a sudden Facebook went public and got greedy at the same time. Facebook made a number of changes with their main algorithm soon after going public. Last week we saw the end result of it as they announced they are going to further reduce page reach. Facebook has become a place where page owners are forced to pay money to reach their audience. That might seem fine for pages dedicated to corporations you “like” such as Coca-Cola, Wal-Mart or Subway, but for the little man such as us, it has become next to impossible to reach our fans.

facebookJust to give you an idea of how ridiculous Facebook has become: The bigger your page is, the more expensive it is, that’s normal, but for a small page with 6,000 followers it is still really expensive. In order to expose an article, meme or status update to just 4,000 people, I would have to spend $110 on “I love it when”. The same reach would cost Quiet Mike $43. Again, this goes for just one post. I heard that reaching everyone on your page could cost as much as $30K a week.

Without spending money, every post gets exposure equal to less than 1% of the total followers. It isn’t completely useless, but it’s damn near. Individual people sharing the posts can help, but it would take hundreds of shares to make up for it. And of course people need to be exposed to it in order to share it in the first place.

Facebook pages are made primarily for businesses, I understand that. But they are also used by artists, musicians, writers, non-profit organizations, and everyday people who want to be heard about any particular issue. The only people who can continue to grow their following (and actually reach them) are the ones who can afford it. In other words, the people and companies that are big to start with.

Facebook was arguably one of the first social media sites, but I would argue it has become too big and too greedy to keep that moniker. Sure people can still talk to their friends and let us know about the concert they went to last night, but big deal, I can use any site for that, even email.

I just can’t fathom how you can charge a small fortune to reach only a small portion of people that you might have paid to lure them to you in the first place. Facebook is longer social media, it should be redubbed “capitalist media.” Only the people who can afford it will have a voice. Sounds a lot like Washington doesn’t it?

Anyway, our writers and I are looking elsewhere for an alternative. We are going to start concentrating more Twitter, Google+ and even LinkedIn. In the meantime, if you’re a fan of ours and restricted to Facebook, but would like to have a more intimate relationship with us; you can come and join our newly created “group” where speaking to people is free… for now.

Let us hope that other social media sites don’t go by the Facebook model or social media as we know will cease to exist.


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