Facebook decreases reach… grab your torch and pitchforks.

Lots of uproar over Facebook’s latest retuning of EdgeRank, spawning many theories and arguments.

A time to revolt! Or a time to reflect?

Instead of killing the ogre, try to understand what motivates the ogre. What does the ogre like? Hint: Learn from your experiences (both personal and professional), not from what the mob of angry villagers is chanting.

Part of what makes the social web kingdom so magical is the existence of ogres, unicorns and OPRAH. We must learn to live with them, adapt the harness bridle to accommodate the horn, giggle at the ALL-CAPS tweet… pay attention, learn, and move on to the next challenge.

Today’s outcry is over reach. Tomorrow it will be over loss of page likes and an increase in spam comments — or maybe follows from fake accounts that are more Roomba than Cinderella. The system evolves, changes are implemented, people gather and grumble. But getting back to today’s gripe…

Two things that we’ve done to grow our reach:

  1. Increase the number of people liking our page.
  2. Post often. The exact opposite of what the experts say we should be doing.

Organic page reach has doubled over the past year

Increase page likes – While reach includes people who haven’t liked your page, the more people you have in the pool, the greater the chance of splashing those around the pool.

Post often – Oversharing has been part of our strategy from the beginning. To show activity, share successes, highlight events. And now thanks to timeline, to archive what we’ve done in an easy to browse environment. By making it rain content, the pool remains full. Frequency is our friend, not our foe.

But this isn’t only about reach. Once your content is in front of them, is it connecting with them?

Stop worrying about pleasing an algorithm. Start worrying about pleasing your core audience (the people you are still reaching). What is your goal, to game a system so you can reach more people, or to make the people you reach smile, think and share?

While others become upset with Facebook and talk about abandoning the network (or at least not giving it their all), take advantage of their hesitation, and strengthen your efforts on the network.

Facebook isn’t asking us to buy the cow, they’re just asking us to feed it on occasion. Facebook ads work. Play with them. Learn from them. Grow with them. Keep the California cow happy.

Frequency and reach over a week on Facebook

So, what does the ogre like? I think Facebook wants brands to be more human. To act less like marketing machines. To smile, to laugh, to cry, to become more connected with the people who like them. I feel this gives nonprofit organizations a huge advantage. And I think that selling a product that lists hopes and dreams as ingredients is also a real advantage — we’re extremely lucky to work in higher ed social web. And remember, if you don’t like how the Facebook fairy tale is going today, simply wait until tomorrow for a new chapter to be revealed.

An open letter to facebook

dear facebook
Dear Facebook,

Thank you.

Thank you for making an algorithm designed with artificial intelligence so that irritating brands can’t game it. Thank you for serving up what people want, real conversations about real things, not brands pitching self-serving nonsense. Thank you for forcing those of us with brand pages to rethink our content… and our purpose on your network. Thank you for attempting to force brands to become more human, more interesting, more compelling, more friendly, more caring, more conversational, more real, more of what they should be. If your brand can’t find stories to tell, then your brand page shouldn’t exist.

And… thank you for evolving at a rate that forces brands to hire people like me to keep up on your improvements. Every challenge you create makes my job more rewarding.

Thank you.