Why We’re Backing Away From Facebook
Opinion Editorial written by Jason J. Baker — We appear to see stagnant growth and rigor within the seaplane industry, but watch a large social media firework being fired, almost every day. A natural question which (eventually) gets asked is, what substantial or measurable impact this online popularity contest actually has on Water Flying and how it affects publishers and online news platforms. Here’s some observations.
Facebook’s Perverse Pay To Play Game
Largely unknown to the general convenience user, Facebook has spent the last 4-5 years implementing changes to its algorithms and in the process has drilled into a revenue pipe worth nearly 2 billion dollars per quarter, tendency climbing. By monetizing every little hashtag, word, video or picture shared on its network, Facebook actually succeeds in shaping and determining whats “News” and what isn’t.
In short, Facebook differentiates between private users (consumers) and businesses (advertisers) as well as news or content creators (publishers). Now, Facebook employs a myriad of little, completely autonomous tricks to make sure the consumers focus is on paid content, before all else. To keep this aviation centered, I’ll use actual aviation companies to illustrate this.
Lets assume that you “Like” and “Follow” CubCrafters on Facebook to find out when the folks in Washington State roll out a new Seaplane. In my example, CubCrafters is an “organic” (nonpaying) business user, who is not placing ads on Facebook. But in Wichita, Cessna’s Marketing Boss is chewing on the back end of a pencil, trying to think of ways to sell more turbine piston singles. Lets say $1.500 – $15.000 change owners and now (y)our timeline is infused with Cessna’s paid campaign. Instead of CubCrafters newest cool looking Seaplane delivery picture, you instead get to stare at a Caravan. Essentially, your news world just changed to what Facebook deemed of higher priority for you to see. This happens a billion times per day to a billion users.
Facebook knows (from the use- data its users freely provide them with, daily) that you scroll for an average of 12-30 seconds in the morning during your quick “whats news” check, so Cessna’s ad will be shown as one of the ones you must “engage” with (even if you scroll right by it) during that visit.
The ad will be there for ever as long Cessna purchased a spot in your timeline. Cessna gets told that 6 million users in the US engaged with their ad and Facebook will tell them that X consumers clicked on the link. Facebook tracks exactly when you are online, what you look at and how/ if you react. Logically (and quite easily from a technical perspective) your timeline never looks exactly the same and the ads are shown according to your use profile.
I recently saw Christmas greetings from a company which I have followed for at least 5 years. It’s the middle of February, folks! In other words, my timeline on Facebook was filled with crap which others paid for, or which Facebook deemed more important for me to engage with, than the material I actually chose and selected to see. The consumer is fooled and digital media outlets and content creators around the globe are suffering from low reach and terrible user engagement.
Society Depends On Facebook!
More and more content creators and writers are waking up and listen carefully to the music. With one fake news campaign chasing the next on Facebook; and company after company falling victim to this perverted social media popularity contest, aviation is headed for disaster. Converting like pushers and high speed scroll- trolls into aviators is quite a task! Social media now actively shapes reality in such a way, that a nearly starved boy in India can lay on a sand-hill on a construction site with a towel and a Coca Cola and make his 3.500 Facebook friends believe he’s in the Bahamas! Can you spell NUTS?
As writers and editors, we make our living with writing in such a way, that our readers wish to engage with our content. By and large this is accomplished by spending time and effort on making sure not to write bullshit articles, by providing factual and sometimes inconvenient news and exposing our growing audience to other than copied and pasted work, stolen from others. I pay attention to my limited (at times hybrid) use of the English language and willingly accept being dinged or corrected by my colleagues and flying-peers for the words I type. What I am not willing to do is to feed trolls and deal with annoying comments from people with severe reading and comprehension issues. We all choose how we spend our time.
Facebook Is Encouraging Trolling
Most dominantly, Facebook fails our business objective by giving page administrators insufficient tools to park and disable trolls and users suffering from mental issues. A page administrator MUST at all times have the ability to keep the advertising platform on social media clean and clear of trolls and ill-thinking users. We have our own set of behavior rules on our website and the netiquette we ask our users to maintain is valid for our Facebook, Twitter and any other social media pages.
Yet, we are not seeing Facebook actually benefiting the business, but instead making our life harder by enabling trolls to leave comments we can’t edit or delete. This deducts from our readers experience. Now, Facebook may have community standards of its own, and yes, it’s Facebook’s platform and monetization game, but it’s OUR public presence. We control it and if we can’t, it goes away.
Try Sharing This On Facebook!
I current run a total of 10 Facebook Pages and 5 Groups. The most successful one if our completely organic Seaplane Magazine Facebook Page. With the help of countless people who have shared our articles, we slowly but surely morphed up to 1.800 followers on the page. We reach less than 5% of these followers organically. The more likes and shares an article sees, the more “engagements” we see, but the clicks on the actual articles are lacking.
Back in the early days, Facebook provided between 12-15% sometimes up to 20% of our daily traffic on the page from articles we shared. This number has consistently declined with a sharp decrease in reach after Facebook rolled out new rules and algorithms for publishers and news early last year. Numbers have changed. Our website reaches MORE people in MORE countries than ever before, however, these days only 4-5% of our daily traffic comes to us from Facebook.
Facebook Goes On Autopilot, Like Twitter
Spending an average of 2 hour and 9 minutes per day (Facebook tells every user their use time!) on Facebook is incomprehensible from a business perspective. Nearly all to promote this website and its content. My private use is very limited and most time is spent on messenger, hunting for content or responding and following up with particularly forgetful peeps.
The ROI is miserable, whereas traffic from Google News and Direct/ Referral is in a constant rate climb and far and wide above. The lousiest engagement we see on our 277 “Followers” Twitter Page which is on autopilot and generates an engagement rate of 1.7%. Out of nearly 6.000 engagements over a month, we gain an average of 2 clicks per day. You’d call that idiotic, but other than setting the platform up, there has never been a time expense. Putting things on autopilot and monitoring loosely is the best option.
For publishers, most of social media is a complete flop, because on these platforms money dictates what our customers get to see. Facebook wants publishers to pay them for the use of their ginormous reach. Except the path chosen to close the sale is dirty, unfair and out of touch with the realities of today’s online news world.
Lets not talk about the price paid by people who loose all dignity and privacy at the hands of tech nerds. The buck would have to stop with each individual publisher. Like everything in aviation, it takes at least 69 years, or freezing rain in the Sahara desert to get the various aviation writers and matadors to sit down and talk about this shared misery. Until that happens, I am not willing to play the game.
Jason Baker works as a freelance writer, marketing & advertising consultant and translator. He holds a commercial pilot certificate (SEL/SES/MEL), instrument rating as well as advanced & instrument ground instructor certificates. Jason is the owner & managing editor of Seaplanemagazine.com. For more information about consulting services offered, click on Consulting & Services. Advertising spots for 2019 are being offered now. If your company wishes to appear here in 2019, the time to get in touch is now.