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If you feel like you haven’t been seeing fewer Facebook updates from your favorite bands, you’re not hallucinating. It turns out that, as of this spring, only 15 to 20 percent of an accounts fans will see a given update. Via Dangerous Minds:

When we first noticed the problem, our blog had about 29,000 Facebook “likes.” Our traffic was growing 20% month over month, but our Facebook fans grew at a far faster pace. We were getting hundreds of new ‘likes” every day. Still do. As I write this, our Facebook fans now number over 53,000, not quite double what it was then, but give it another month or so and it will be.

53,000 is a more than respectable number of Facebook fans for a blog that’s only been around for a little over three years. So why is it that our pageviews—our actual inventory, what we sell to advertisers—coming from Facebook shares are off by half to two thirds when the number of new “likes” has risen so dramatically during this same time period?!?!

Thankfully, Facebook has a fix for this problem in the form of the “Sponsored Story” option. Now, all you have to do to reach your fans – the people who have “Liked” your page and asked to be given regular information about you – is pay Facebook a shit ton of money.

As their advertising head, Gokul Rajaram, explained, if you want to speak to the other 80 to 85 percent of people who signed up to hear from you, “sponsoring posts is important.”

In other words, through “Sponsored Stories,” brands, agencies and artists are now charged to reach their own fans—the whole reason for having a page—because those pages have suddenly stopped working.

This is a clear conflict of interest. The worse the platform performs, the more advertisers need to use Sponsored Stories. In a way, it means that Facebook is broken, on purpose, in order to extract more money from users. In the case of Sponsored Stories, it has meant raking in nearly $1M a day.

There is a price list for Sponsored Stories, ranging from $200 for a single post, to 672,000 for a year’s worth of posts, which means that McDonald’s can flood your timeline, but your favorite indie band or not-for-profit is pretty much boned.

Dangerous Minds did a really great, well researched takedown of the Sponsored Story policy. Go read it now.

Updates

Apparently this may or may not be part of a larger pattern of behavior by Facebook. Folks in the gaming community say that Facebook has been making gambling-related fan pages pay £10,000 ($16,000) a month for the mere right to exist, a charge which Facebook representatives have denied. You can read more about that at Calvin Ayre.

Swedish hardcore band The Arson Project have complained about the Sponsored Story in the most ironic way possible, by posting their complaints on their Facebook page. They’ve also posted a potential work-around for their fans

The fan page for guitar maker Travis Bean has done the same.





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