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Facebook's Denying the Obvious

November 6, 2012

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Healthcare marketing on Facebook can be tricky for many reasons. HIPAA, for one thing, is a legal aspect that must always be on the forefront of any healthcare marketing agency’s mind, and then there’s the constantly evolving atmosphere of Facebook. One week Facebook might look like Pinterest, the next week it might look like Twitter, and the whole time Facebook positions itself to recapture some investors’ money. Page owners from here to Indonesia are beginning to notice a Facebook shift that might cost healthcare marketing agencies a bit more budget than originally accounted for.


Denying the Obvious

Facebook held it’s Initial Public Offering (IPO) on May 18, 2012. It was one of the most anticipated IPO’s of the year, perhaps in history. However, due to numerous issues from computer malfunctions to initial prices to accusations of insider information, the stock plummeted and has yet to regain much speed. As of November 5th, even Facebook top employees are dumping their Facebook stock.


In the meantime, Facebook has been making a variety of admitted-to and not-admitted-to changes to their platform. In search of new revenue, Facebook unveiled Promoted Posts back in May, an innovative form of advertising that really doesn’t look like advertising. Promoted Posts allow healthcare marketing agencies to simply Reach more Fans and Friends of Fans by paying a small fee. It’s easy, which is part of the draw. And, from our experience here at Quaintise, it works quite well if used properly.


But here’s where things start to get a bit sticky. While Facebook denies everything that comes next, many marketing firms and Page owners have noticed a dramatic shift in Facebook’s EdgeRank Algorithm. Every major Facebook blogger and social media marketing guru has recently been buzzing about a drop in overall Fan Reach. And by buzzing we mean venting with more than a hint of negativity.


Could Facebook be limiting unadvertised brand posts in order to increase advertising revenue on Promoted Posts? While Facebook continues to deny the obvious, Page owners around the globe are crying fowl play. But, what if the EdgeRank Algorithm change is for the betterment of Facebook, and thus can be seen as a positive for brands?


On The Good Side…

According to ARS Technica, Facebook is making some changes to the algorithm to increase the positive user experience for individuals.


While the number of brand "likes" by a single user may not outweigh their number of friends, brands have become far more regular posters than individuals, and they have a much broader reach. As of May, the average Facebook user had 229 friends and only 17 percent posted a status update once or more per day, according to one study; as of August, the average Facebook brand/fan page had 40,000 fans and averaged one post per day,according to another.


As we speak, Facebook is working to improve the user experience that has become overwhelmed with brand pages and product posts. An average user’s News Feed is bombarded with brand posts every hour, every day, as brands fight to Reach more Fans and increase EdgeRank to bee seen over their competition. However, the natural progression and increase in brand posts has driven many Facebook users to grow tired of the constant stream of business posts. This is Facebook’s solution, so it says.


As the EdgeRank Algorithm changes to improve the user experience in Facebook, brands will have to get creative with posts and stay on top of their Insights. Are posted images receiving less engagement and limited Reach? Rumors point to yes. Are text-only status updates generating a greater response and greater Reach? Rumors point to yes.


Finally, in order to improve the user experience while increasing revenue, Facebook is testing a News Feed, where only brand page posts will be seen, and users can choose between seeing a Friends-Only News Feed, or a Brand Page News Feed.


In the end, healthcare marketing agencies in Los Angeles and across the globe will have to keep a close eye on the changes that Facebook is making. They’ll have to get creative with posts, and perhaps get creative with their marketing budgets as well.