Current Events

Local band struggles against Facebook algorithm

A local friend of mine plays in a band that has depended on Facebook to connect with thier fans. Gregg asked if he could share his thoughts on the latest news feed changes and how it’s impacted his ability to reach his fans and question his dependence upon Facebook to get the word out. Read Gregg’s guest post below.

Much has been written about the changes to Facebook’s algorithm, which has dropped “organic reach” for pages to around 1%. This change has been distressing to Facebook page admins for organizations large and small. The only way the people who like your page are going to see your posts is if you pay Facebook.

I understand the move. Facebook is a public company and has an obligation to maximize revenue for it’s shareholders. In addition, Facebook has thousands of employees to pay and operational costs. As an individual, I get to use Facebook for free, so charging brands and organizations is a logical way to monetize Facebook.

I play in a Bay Area based cover band, and do most of the marketing for the band.  Facebook has been a great way for our band to connect with friends and fans, and to keep them posted on upcoming shows and news.  I’ve noticed the gradual changes in reach, and last summer began experimenting with promoted paid posts. The paid posts have been very successful for the band: we budget a small amount of money (usually $20) and set a very targeted audience. The posts have increased attendance at our shows and appreciation from the venues we play. A win-win.

Once the news  of Facebook algorithm change became public, I decided to no longer post on Facebook unless it was going to be a promoted paid post. I figured it was not worth my time and effort to post something that was only going to be seen by 1% of our fans.
Since then, I receive this email every two days:

Subject:  People who like Spill the Wine have not heard from you in awhile.

Facebook email

Repeatedly receiving the exact same email got me thinking: Why are  they keep sending the same email  to me? Are there other organizations who are not posting as much because they aren’t reaching anyone either?

Some organizations are trying to fight back, as is expressed in this post by a great heavy metal band,  Blackwülf:

Blackwulf Facebook notice

When I think of why I originally joined Facebook, and why I continue to go back, it is for community. I am able to keep in touch with friends from all parts of my life, and follow news and updates from the organizations and people that I am interested in.

I wonder if Facebook has gone too far in it’s attempt to maximize revenue. It is one thing to charge brands with massive budgets and marketing departments to reach its fans, but it is a whole other thing to include small organizations and communities to the same standard. To me, these communities are the lifeblood of Facebook. I wonder if Facebook realizes it has gone too far and are prompting people like me, who post for a cover band, to come back. As we need Facebook, Facebook needs us.

Facebook should look for middle ground. I am happy to occasionally pay to advertise on Facebook, I don’t expect to get the full benefit of having a Facebook page for free. However, our band shouldn’t be treated the same way a brand like Starbucks is. I hope Facebook realizes this and changes it’s organic reach algorithm for small organizations and communities.

Current Events

Automatically Familiar

More from the ever weirder frontier of automated humanity.

The Atlantic has a fascinating piece on how the telemarketing industry has evolved to marry call scripts and recorded snippets of smooth-talking sales people to create what the author calls, “cyborg telemarketing”

avatar uiThe company that made the UI above is called Avatar Technologies. They turn the telemarketer’s sales call into a series of clicks on the buttons above. The company’s catchphrase is, “Outsourcing without the accent” and is geared towards operators of overseas call centers but once you visit their site, it’s clear they are setting out to solve more than just accents. In their words,

Our Avatar software takes the complexity of a sales pitch and reduce it to the simplicity of just pushing buttons. Once the recordings are loaded onto the Avatar soundboard, our Avatars enhanced agents are instantly master salespeople. Our agents only need to be effective listeners. There is no reason to train them on how to sell because our Avatar Software does the selling for them.

It’s sad to see a persuasive pitch parsed into a formula but it’s inevitable when we join man to machine. Witness  spam comment templates that’s have been floating around such as:

Wow, this {article|post|piece of writing|paragraph} is {nice|pleasant|good|fastidious}, my {sister|younger sister} is analyzing {such|these|these kinds of} things {so|thus|therefore} I am going to {tell|inform|let know|convey} her.|{Saved as a favorite|bookmarked!!}, {I really like|I like|I love} {your blog|your site|your web site|your website}!

There’s a whole doc full of this stuff that can be wired up and set loose on all the lonely bloggers out there in hopes of picking up a response like those scary Sentinal bots in The Matrix.Sentinel_V01_03Earlier in the month I posted about the robotic phone greeters in Japan that has been raised to an art form. Later, Google buys Boston Dynamics and I dug into how that company and others looked at nature for inspiration on how to evolve more efficient robots. This appears to be an on-going theme.

When will we tip the scales too far and realize that in the pursuit of efficiency we have lost our humanity?