Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Are you missing our content on Facebook?

(and what to do if you are...)

Originally published October 30, 2012

The use of social media to relay important, at times vital, information has risen exponentially over the past couple of years.  In fact, it has reached the point where social media has, in many cases, overtaken traditional forms of media in terms of providing the initial "break" in breaking news and important detailed follow up to those same stories.  There are many examples of this trend that are easy to spot for those who utilize social media (particularly Facebook and Twitter) on a regular basis for things other than personal communication with friends, colleagues, etc.

One area where this is highly evident is in weather coverage - so much so that the firehose of information, particularly during severe and large-scale events, when properly filtered, can fill in the gaping holes in traditional media coverage that many never knew existed.  At MemphisWeather.net, we are keen to the use of social media in not only distributing pertinent weather information to our friends and followers, but in gathering the information from a wide variety of sources - local, regional, and national.  We pride ourselves in  having the latest information at our fingertips and relaying that information back to you in a timely, succinct, and direct (but non-threatening) way.

At the mercy of the platform

As social media evolves, we evolve with it.  We expect evolution to take place and you expect that we will accept and embrace change so that we can continue to meet our mission to provide you with the information you need. One example of this is the recent addition of Google+ to our social media toolkit, in certain instances.  One downside to using other's platforms to distribute the information, however, is that we are at the mercy of the platform when they make changes.  We aren't big enough or rich enough to (at this point) develop our own platform that we control, so we must either accept change to the platform we use, or choose not to use it.

It has come to our attention through monitoring our social media metrics and the posts of other entities like ourselves, as well as announcements by the company itself, that one of our heavily-used platforms, Facebook, has made some changes to the way they show the posts of Facebook Fan Pages (like MemphisWeather.net).  Facebook uses a proprietary algorithm called EdgeRank to determine what posts you see in your News Feed.


There are several factors that go into EdgeRank which determines whether you see the posts of certain pages and how many you see.  The changes, we believe, are revenue-driven and are negatively impacting our followers. How?  By not showing our posts in your News Feed, whether you know it or not, with the hope that WE will pay Facebook to show OUR content to YOU - when YOU are the one that requested to see it by liking our page in the first place!

We currently have well over 5,000 "likes" on our Fan Page.  However, a quick glance at our metrics indicates that only about 10% of you (roughly 500 without doing a detailed analysis) are actually seeing each post we make.  Why is this?  EdgeRank.  You see, just because you Like a page apparently does NOT mean it will show up in your News Feed.

Facebook has started "offering" owners of Fan Pages like MemphisWeather.net the chance to pay Facebook to put our posts in front of more of our followers.  To us, it sounds a little strange for us to pay to put our information in front of the people who requested it in the first place!  These "Promoted Posts" are supposedly bumped up in the EdgeRank algorithm, allowing more of our followers to see that particular post.  We believe Promoted Posts and the unwritten "10% rule" are designed to create revenue for Facebook.

Now, let me be clear that I am not against a company having revenue - heck, we are one and without it, there would likely be no MemphisWeather.net (or at least it would be scaled way back)!  However, this seems to be pushing the envelope a bit.  Our stance is that if you Like our page, you must be willing to see our posts, or you would un-like us or hide us from your News Feed.  It's not up to Facebook to decide that you don't want to see our posts!  So if you think you aren't seeing all (or any) of our posts and you have Liked our page, you have a few options.

So, what to do about it...

1. Get notified!  Not sure how we missed this before... But just like getting Facebook notifications when someone comments or likes a post after you have, or when someone engages your post, picture, etc., you can get a Facebook notification when we post to our page! Just go to our Fan page, click the "Liked" button, then click "Get Notifications" (see example below).  (NOTE: This appears to work for all of our posts EXCEPT links we post, i.e., radar update with a link to the radar.)

2. Like, comment, and interact. One of the key factors in determining whether you see content in your News Feed is engagement: the amount of clicks, likes, comments, shares, etc. generated by a piece of content (what we post).  Thus, the more you like, comment, or share our content, the more likely you will see more of our content in your Feed.

3. Create an Interest List. Most people are probably not familiar with Interest Lists, but they are the sure-fire way to see ALL of our content.  After you create the list with whoever (and whatever) you want in it you simply click on the list (desktop or Facebook's mobile app) and you will see all content from those in that list. These are like Friends lists, only Fan Pages like ours cannot be part of a Friends list.  More on How to Create an Interest List.

4. Follow us on Twitter. I know, you hate Twitter (event though you've never tried it) or have sworn to never open that can of worms.  However, for information sharing and digesting, there is NO BETTER social platform (currently) than Twitter.  You get everything posted by an account (like @memphisweather1, which is ours) and can create lists to organize it.  Twitter doesn't filter it based on what it THINKS you want to see.  Quick and easy to setup and ALL content from those you want to follow. Here's our account on Twitter.

5. Monitor our Twitter feed via our Facebook page tab. OK, so you STILL refuse to join Twitter.  There's one last alternative for those of you accessing Facebook from a PC.  On our Facebook page, in the apps section (see below) you will see "Twitter Feed." Click the icon. Voila!  You can follow our posts to Twitter, which means everything we post, sequentially, and auto-updating, all without joining Twitter.  Keep that page open in a browser tab and you're all set. (Keep in mind there is no interaction with us on that tab, but you can flip back to our main Facebook page to post something to us if you wish.)

We are not about to do anything drastic!

With well over 5,000 of you "liking" us on Facebook, we are not about to jump off a cliff, drop the platform, and leave potentially thousands of you without our severe weather nowcasting or daily weather updates.  And we know some of you just don't DO Twitter (although we don't know why).  Just take notice that if you really do want to see our information on Facebook, YOU have to do something to fix that.  We will NOT be paying Facebook to show you our posts.  That just seems, well, ridiculous (unless we're trying to get you to buy our app, which you can do here [subtle plug]).

Thank you kindly for reading and for following us on Facebook!  We truly appreciate all of the positive feedback we receive.  It literally keeps us going when the hours draw on and there are still more storms headed in our direction!  Let us know what you think by commenting below, or drop us a line on one of our social media feeds.

Erik Proseus
Owner, Cirrus Weather Solutions
Meteorologist, MemphisWeather.net

Visit MemphisWeather.net on the web or m.memphisweather.net on your mobile phone.
Download our iPhone or Android apps,  now with StormWatch+!
Nowcasting services available on our Facebook page and Twitter feed.

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