20% text, 100% confusion

Two weeks ago I blogged about Facebook’s new “text in images” guideline and how I found it somewhat confusing.

“Ads and sponsored stories in news feed may not include images made up of more than 20% text, including logos and slogans.”

Recently (January 31, 2013) I saw a Jimmy Kimmel Live sponsored post (read: ad) in my news feed that only added to the confusion.

JKL mobile ads

At first glance, my eyes were telling me the image contained more than 20% text. So how did this image sneak past Facebook’s SPAM checkpoint and make it to my news feed?

Theory: By stretching the image’s height and loading the text in the middle of the image, JKL was able to get past Facebook’s defenses. Once inside, Facebook did all the work by cropping the image to display in the mobile news feed, serving up a text heavy graphic. Brilliant!

With this newfound knowledge, I conducted a test.

groundhog post on facebook

On the left is how the image appeared in mobile news feed thanks to Facebook’s auto-cropping. The text takes up 12.18% of the image, still well below the 20% cutoff. On the right is the full image, the text consuming just 5.75% of the image.

The result of the test?

Yet another rejection letter from Facebook claiming the image violated the “more than 20% text” image guideline.

denial email from facebook

How could this be? If you compare the two images side by side, the groundhog image clearly has less text than the JKL ad. Yet the JKL ad ran in my news feed while the groundhog image was rejected.

comparing facebook images

//stop the blog post… was just directed to a Social Fresh blog post, thanks Annalisa//

Does Your Content Play By Facebook’s New 20 Percent Rule?

Thankfully, the team at Ron Sachs has developed a grid-based template to help content developers determine what percentage of an image contains text. The tool is a 5 x 5 grid with a total of 25 boxes. An image meets the 20% test if text appears in no more than five boxes.

A 5×5 grid? Could it be that easy? No counting pixels in Photoshop?

ad 5x5 grid

I guess the grid explains why the groundhog image was rejected — text appeared in 8 boxes, 3 more than allowed. But it doesn’t explain why the JKL image found its way to my news feed as an ad — text appeared in every box, EVERY BOX???*

I’ve never wanted a perfect Facebook experience… just a fair one.

*Logos and slogans count as text.

5/16

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.

I got my baby back!

After a few days of panic, my four year old has been returned. Unharmed, as if nothing had happened. The only thing that suffered during the ordeal…my nerves. Not knowing what was going on, what was going to happen. Thinking of the worst case scenario, over and over and over…

According to a comment from my new, favorite Facebook employee:

This was a technical issue on our part and is now resolved. These Pages should go back to normal when the fix gets pushed out. Thank you! -Nicci

No, Nicci, thank YOU!

Even better, the Community Page now includes a “Did you mean UWGB?” link that goes to our official page. THAT is a wonderful surprise. Sort of like the kidnapper took my kid for a haircut before returning him. Looking good, son!

official university facebook page is no longer a community page

A huge thanks to the higher ed community for not remaining silent — not waiting for things to get better on their own — tweeting, blogging, attempting to get an answer. Writing on the castle’s wall with the hope that the king would venture out and notice. Did it work? It remains a mystery, but it definitely didn’t hurt.

And Nicci, I dedicate this song to you! I didn’t want to go the Bette Middler “Wind Beneath My Wings” route, so the metaphor gets a little sketchy. I’m Jennifer Love Hewitt, you’re Enrique and the role of “naughty” Facebook is played by Mickey Rourke. Thanks for not only fixing the problem, but for taking the time to leave a comment. I now feel a little less alone… you’re my hero.

It’s official, the UWGB facebook page is no longer official

The UWGB facebook page has been demoted to a “community” page. At one time, community pages were created by facebook when an interest shared on a profile didn’t match* an existing page. It gave your interest a home to link to, so you could connect with others with the same interest. Community pages are not run by a single author, and they don’t generate News Feed stories… basically, they’re the opposite of what our official page used to be.

Good news, facebook has linked our newly demoted page to the “official” page.

Bad news, the official page is yesterday’s community page — a Wikipedia-populated clone produced by facebook. It is lifeless. It hasn’t been nurtured. It growls when humans approach.

Wikipedia-populated? Clone? Sounds a little harsh, maybe you’re just upset.

True, someone just kidnapped** my four year old, upset is where I’ll remain until I get him back. But I speak the truth, they are populated by the very Wikipedia entry that I edit over on Wikipedia.org. And they are clones, facebook has covered most of our potential spellings by creating duplicate pages (pages that I’ve continuously reported as duplicates because they fragment our community — 2,470, 356 and 311 likes for a combined 3,137 people who might prefer our true “official” page but were misguided by facebook’s attempt at creating interest hubs).

So why the rant? Nothing better to blog about?

I’ve filed a “bug report” with facebook. Provided a screenshot. Complained on twitter. So this was the next logical step to form a more structured complaint. And yes, I will post it to my facebook profile.

The sad truth is, unless you know someone at facebook, unless you have a connection… THEY DON’T LISTEN. They don’t have to. It’s a free service. You don’t pay a dime. Don’t like it? Don’t use it. Move on…

Unfortunately, I’ve leached my career on the existence of facebook and other social web hangouts. I don’t need them to function perfectly, just fairly. If the University account is no longer able to generate News Feed stories, I’m in a world of hurt. But if we’re the only University in the UW System to experience the loss of this feature, it’s game over.

So this isn’t so much a rant as it is a plea.

Dear Facebook, I accept your faults. Nobody is perfect. But please spread your faults evenly across the ecosystem. Listen to all of the cries, not just the ones from the big universities, wealthy companies or incredibly famous people. Act as quickly when a “bug” is reported by an insignificant member as you would if it were reported by a valued investor. I guess what I’m saying is, suck evenly for everyone. If you’re going to flip online properties from official pages to community pages, get a bigger spatula and flip everyone at the same time.

As with most facebook issues I experience, I know I’m not alone, I have fellow ranters over on twitter (see above). And I also realize that time heals nearly all facebook complaints. But while I wait, I will vent. I will tweet, I will blog, and I will share my unhappiness. Not because it’s what I want to do, but because it’s the only thing I can do.

*I’m guessing that to facebook, “match” means the exact spelling. Therefore, even though there was a UWGB page in place, they felt the need to create a University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, UW-Green Bay and UWGB page. Wait, what? Never mind.

**If you believe your page is NOT a community page, you can remove the link… unfortunately, the directions facebook provides are flawed. There is no “Fix this” to click. AND upon attempting to remove the link to the new “official” page, your efforts are rewarded by it defaulting back after you click the “Save Changes” button. Helpless and frustrated… the emotions you feel when facebook goes boom.

UPDATE: Decided to like the new “official” page so I could post a link to the correct “official” page…

Also noticed that since the page pulls its content from Wikipedia, and since I edit the Wikipedia page, it actually lists the correct “official” page. Funny, yet sad…

How can you help? (hat tip @lougan)

    Go to facebook.com/uwgreenbay

  1. Click the “Is this wrong?” link in the page label
  2. Select “This is the official page about UWGB”
  3. Click submit.

UPDATE 2: As noted by Deborah in the comments, the “Is this wrong?” link has vanished.

FINAL UPDATE: All better now!