Facebook Manipulates Users

FacebookNEWS, ANALYSIS, and OPINION

Facebook has a love-hate relationship with its users, both business and individuals. I’ve written and rewritten this post several times in the last few weeks. Why? Because Facebook continues to change its rules and policies. And does so, rather quietly.

Algorithms

These are the formulas… the filters… which decide which updates (posts) you see as a user. Conversely, which business updates are seen by your followers. In addition, ‘sponsored posts’ go through a similar filtering process, to deciding who sees what.

Facebook updated its algorithms around the beginning of the year and the impact was significant. At any given time, when a person logs in to Facebook, there are about 1500 messages ready to appear in one’s news feed. That firehose of ‘news (updates)’ is diluted to a level that is manageable by you, me or anyone else. What you may not realize is that the number of messages that will cross your news feed is reduced to about 6-7% of the total.

Businesses, in particular, are feeling the pinch. Business entities spend countless hours and effort to develop a following and now only reach 60 to 70 out of 1000 followers. Of course, it’s not just about reducing news feeds to manageable numbers, it’s about generating revenue for Facebook. You can reach more of your followers by BOOSTING YOUR POST. Or, as an individual user, PROMOTING YOU POST.

This isn’t a simple process. Just throwing more money at a given post may or may not get you the result you’re looking at. Achieving vastly improved reach is, in large part, attained by organic sharing of your business or personal update.

This week’s news

It has come to light that Facebook did some data analysis of about 700,000 users. They did so, not just by analyzing user data, but choosing certain updates with a decidedly negative or positive mood, to see what the emotional reaction would be, in response.  It’s likely that in Facebook ‘terms of service’, we authorize some use of our data/actions on Facebook. However, this activity seems to be a stretch.

Months ago, Mark Zuckerberg ripped the United States Federal Government, as it related to NSA data gathering, and called for greater transparency. These Facebook actions smack of the pot calling the kettle, black.

Look to main stream news, as well as online news, in the next few weeks for major league backlash. It just doesn’t feel right, and I suspect both users and businesses are going to take a more skeptical view of Facebook.

Andy Ebon
The Wedding Marketing Authority
The Wedding Marketing Blog

LVWN Brides Panel Part 3: An important question, unasked

TransparencyThis post is the third of a recap series about a meeting of the Las Vegas Wedding Network. Seven brides spoke and answered questions about their wedding planning experience.

As the audience soaked up the question to, and answers from, the panel of 7 brides (no brothers), one could tell what those listening wanted to hear.

Where you getting information, what value did you put on it, and what influenced your decision making?

Some of the discussion points included:

  • All-Inclusive Venues – Brides that selected these where short on time, or overwhelmed by process, so this seemed like a convenient route. But as they moved forward, they opted out on some of the venue-exclusive-vendors, and chose ones that suited them better. They viewed this as an unfortunate excess expenditure.
  • Credibility – Brides talk to brides, who are in the planning process during a similar period. This was both in person (at bridal shows and business showcases) as well as on wedding chat boards. The tipping point here was mostly on the negative. Brides were put off by one business bad mouthing other businesses, and dropped them like a hot rock, when hearing that from other brides. in my opinion, they put good value on reading lots of reviews from former brides and too much value on the opinion of brides-in-process. The latter has not had a complete vendor experience. They don’t know the final result, so it appeared to me that was, at best, incomplete information.
  • Reciprocal Links: Brides put significant value of a businesses that appeared to work together on a regular basis, as shown by link directories on their websites. One bride said her result from working with a cluster wedding vendors, such as these was: “Like having seven wedding planners working together, in concert. They were so comfortable communicating with each other, I didn’t have to give anything a thought.”

Here is the big question that wasn’t asked:

In your planning experience, when it came to Preferred Vendor Lists, Exclusive Vendor Lists, All-Inclusive arrangements, did anyone explain a financial arrangement between venue and vendor?

The issue for me, is an ethical one: Transparency

A venue can represent that they only working with vendors that know their property, its guidelines, and perform well for the client (OK… that sounds pretty good). However, if they are receiving a significant referral fee for this arrangement, they formula changes. Is the bride truly getting access to the wedding vendor, appropriately suited for her wants and desires. Or, is a bride over-limited because the host venue is raking in invisible revenue, without disclosure?

Disclosure and Transparency: Two important words that didn’t come up in the discussion. Wish I had remembered to ask the question. It’s the kind of verbal grenade I love throwing into the middle of a room and watching people squirm in their sites.

I’m not a wedding vendor, these days, so I can do that.

Would love your comments on Transparency and Disclosure, if you have the gumption to speak up in a public forum.

Andy Ebon
The Wedding Marketing Authority