New Facebook Page Post Reach is Horrible- How Bad is It?

Recently an Ad Age article said Facebook has now admitted that the organic views of fan pages are dropping. Significantly. In fact, Facebook suggests that the best way to “maximize” delivery of your content is to pay them. Fan pages, to them, are not communities of people who like and want content from a brand. They are ways for businesses to advertise more cheaply and effectively through Facebook in a “social context” format.

For small businesses, non profits, and generally anyone who has a fan page that isn’t specifically about selling something, this is bad news. Previously you could assume that people who became a fan of your page had a decent shot at seeing the content they signed up for. Now, only a small percentage of people see the content.

The only way to bypass the Facebook imposed limitations is to post something that your fans engage with so much that their behavior through likes and shares and comments causes the post to propagate beyond the limitations. Of course, it will be seen through those networks, not by the people who have already signed up. So, while it’s great if you have a post that generates huge engagement, the people who do the engaging and see the post through those social feeds may not be your current fans.

I wanted to see just how bad it was. My largest fans page is for my show Peculiar. I currently have 697 fans. (Crossed 700 during this experiment) Before these changes, I would normally see 60-75% of fans through organic views. That is, I’d post something and 65% or so of my fans would see it in their timeline. How bad are the new algorithms?

My page is a fan page for a TV show, with 700 fans. Many of the posts are video links to the show’s Youtube page.

For the experiment I used an event I ran during the holidays. We had the #10daysofPeculiar event on Peculiar’s FB fan page, where we brought back episodes of the show, posting one per day. With other extras posted in the afternoons. Half the videos we posted are not normally available online. I was aware of the new post reach issues, and wanted to help make sure fans didn’t miss the chance to see the episodes. So I boosted a few posts. I only spent $5 per boost, but with under 700 fans, that more than covered them. I selected showing the post to people who like the show and are friends of people who like the show. Here are the results. Number of views per day across all posts:

Screen Shot 2014-01-01 at 11.08.36 AM

Guess which days got “boosted posts” and which days didn’t. You can see more detailed list of each post at the bottom of the post. I spent a total of $25 during the multi day event. Total organic views hit 956 over 12 days while views I paid for hit 7040, (over only 5 days of “boosted posts).

OK, I know, I did this over the holidays. I tried not to be too concerned with the views on Christmas Eve and Christmas. But the huge disparity between “boosted” posts and organic post is revealing. Even so, post engagement via likes and shares wasn’t that different. (That says more about my content than Facebook’s policies.)

The frustrating thing for many fan pages is that their fans have NO IDEA this is happening. Normally, once someone clicks like on your page, they don’t come back. They expect your content to show up in their new feed. If they see less, they just assume that your are posting less.

Then there is the issue of balance, where your are not supposed to post just ads. You need to engage your audience. Ask questions, give them value and content for free. So that when you do advertise or make an “ask” they will be engaged enough to respond. I am not the best at this. But these new algorithms mess that up badly. If you only “boost” posts that have advertisements in them, then the only posts that most fans see are the ones asking for money. Less than 25% see the other engagement posts. So you won’t see the same number of fans response when you sell something, or ask them to do something.

That stinks.

Facebook users probably don’t know, and if they did know… on the surface at least, they would likely think this was a great idea. Less ads, more content I want. They may not realize that this new system is set up to either pepper their feeds with sponsored posts, or reduce the content they want drastically. And Facebook? They are just trying to stay profitable. They have shareholders to think about now. Larger brands with big budgets won’t notice much.

In the mean time, people like me are looking for other ways to reach our fans on a consistent basis.

I am launching an email newsletter for Pup Tent Media, my production company. I will have the content for my various FB pages there (Peculiar, Flawed, and any new ventures…), send it out once a month. At least then, I know people who signed up for the content will see the email, even if they don’t open it. They at least have the chance.

To make sure you never miss the information about Pup Tent Media’s projects, sign up now!

Details of the #10DaysofPeculiar Posts:

Dec 20: Text post received 158 organic views, 6 page likes.

Dec 20: New Event, 19 organic views, 1 like, 11 people from those invited “attending”

Dec 21: New Cover Photo, 3 likes, 6 people saw it.

Dec 21: Video link, boosted post, $5 budget. 26 organic views, 760 paid. 6 likes

Dec 22: Video link, boosted post. $5 budget. 33 organic views, 1110 paid views. 3 likes

Dec 22: Video link, 37 organic views, 3 likes

Dec 23: Video link, boosted post, $5 budget, 34 organic views, 1391 paid views, 7 likes

Dec 23: Video link, 37 organic views, 3 likes.

Dec 24; Video link, 46 organic views, 3 likes

Dec 24, Text post, 95 organic videos, 4 likes

Dec 24, Video link, 53 organic views, 3 likes

Dec 25, Text post, 83 organic views, 4 likes

Dec 25, Video link, 31 organic views, 2 likes

Dec 26, Video link, 61 organic views, 4 likes

Dec 27, Video link, 41 organic views, 2 likes

Dec 27, Text post, 50 organic views

dec 28, Video Link, 81 organic views, 5 likes

Dec 28, Video link, 114 organic views, 7 likes, 1 comment

Dec 29, Video link, boosted post, $5 budget, 26 organic, 1935 paid views, 6 likes, 1 comment

Dec 29, Text post, 121 organic views, 4 likes

Dec 30, Video link, 54 organic views, 4 likes

Dec 30, Video link, 42 organic views, 4 likes

Dec 31, Video link, boosted post, $5 budget, 20 organic views, 1844 paid views, 6 likes

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It’s Dead, it Just Doesn’t Know it Yet

model tombstoneThe paid time/donor model for Christian TV broadcasting is dead. It just doesn’t know it yet.

I know there are program producers and stations and networks that will vehemently disagree with me on this. That’s OK. Eventually, no one will be able to deny this. There are some programs that are still working, but others are reworking what they do because of dropping donations. And it will only get “worse” as time passes.

The practice of paying non-profit, education license TV stations for a block of time, and then asking viewers to buy something or give something to your organization so you can continue to afford to make shows and buy time… is dead. Or at least on life support.

I recently described paid time/donor shows as having a limited shelf life (I’m mixing my metaphors.). These aren’t the same as churches producing teaching/worship shows. Those will always be around, because churches will continue to invest their budget into extending their ministry into their community. But the ones without the church backing, that rely only on donations from viewers, on selling things. Those will become less and less viable. Viewers who faithfully watch and support teaching programs with money are shrinking. They are literally dying off. And as the viewing and giving habits of younger audience members begin to have more of an impact on religious stations, things will begin to change.

The model to replace it hasn’t been fully formed yet. I had hoped to get in on the cusp of that new model, but those of us making shows that we are not buying time for are kind of out on the rough seas, looking for a harbor. (I know, I’m mixing my metaphors again. How about we’re in a private room in the maternity ward, hoping to check out of the hospital? No? You know what I mean.)

Today another network, CTN-Lifestyle, will start broadcasting my show, Peculiar. Not in the middle of the night, but during primetime and 3 bonus times. This cost me nothing but the time to email and ask, and then upload the programs. OK, it also cost me the time, effort, and resources to produce the programs.

This brings the number of networks (groups broadcasting the show to more than one market at a time) broadcasting Peculiar to 5. With 3 individual stations either already broadcasting, or about to start. With more in conversation. The amount of money spent by me to buy this air time is $0.00. It is possible to place programming that appeals to a younger audience on religious stations without buying it.

The flip side is that we cannot expect support from viewers who just want to write us a check. So, how can we afford to make more programs? Even at the super micro budget we had for Peculiar, that’s still a chunk to recoup… and then make enough on top of that to afford to make more episodes.

I did have one network give me a little bit of money for the show. Just enough to cover closed captioning. But that is not the norm. I really want to vent about the realities of Christian TV and it’s upside down funding model. I will restrain myself, and simply say that it stinks.

Retail? I wouldn’t bet on it. So far retails sales of my show’s DVD have been slow. It may eventually make back what we spent to create the show, but not any time soon. Unknown actors, unknown show, unknown director… very hard to reach a tipping point in publicity. For profit company broadcasting on non profit stations, so there’s no direct sales through the broadcast. Someone more skilled in marketing of this kind of thing may have better luck.

So, stations won’t buy it (cause most can’t afford to) and retail is sluggish. Netflix and the like aren’t much better. You might… might… get $10,000 for a streaming deal. That might cover your current production costs, but it won’t cover production for the future. So what’s left?

I’m not sure.

I do know that Christian radio stations sell spots… I mean, provide informational announcements for underwriting sponsors. Maybe a TV show can do something similar? Why not? I’ve spoken with one local religious stations about this. It’s possible. But likely that would be a station to station proposition, and not something that larger networks would consider. Not at this point anyway.

I don’t know the answer. But with the current model on life support, and more and more opportunity for new programming to air, we need to figure it out soon.

What do you think?

I Need Your Help

help imageI posted a way that you can help me with my show.

Here’s part of that post:

Peculiar doesn’t ask for money. In fact, pretty much the only way we will see any money for the show is if people buy the DVD. Peculiar is a relatively unknown show with unknown actors and an unknown director. A lot of people don’t even know it exists. People you know don’t know it exists.

That’s how you can help. You can tell them about it.

I will make it super easy for you. Below are some sample posts you can use on twitter, Facebook and send out via email. You can write your own, or just copy and paste these. Send them out to your friends, family and acquaintances.

Why am I asking this? Simple, if we sell enough DVDs, we can make more shows like Peculiar. You can help make sure that happens.

Sample Posts:

twitter:

Option 1: Check out this Christian sitcom called @Peculiarshow: http://goo.gl/GfGljo

Option 2: Here’s a new show I really like called @Peculiarshow: http://goo.gl/GfGljo

Option 3: You should buy a DVD of this new show called @Peculiarshow: http://goo.gl/GfGljo

Facebook:

Option1: Check out this Christian sitcom called Peculiar. It’s a show about a college kid whose life is different: http://goo.gl/GfGljo

Option2: This show I like, Peculiar, has a DVD available: http://goo.gl/GfGljo

Option 3: If you’re looking for a way to support independent Christian TV, check out a DVD of Peculiar: http://goo.gl/GfGljo

Email:

Hey, you should check out this new show, Peculiar. It’s a Christian sitcom about a college kid whose life is different. The first 6 episodes are available on DVD. They even come with Bible study questions. It’s an independent show, so they are selling DVDs to raise mony to make more shows like this. Here’s the link: http://goo.gl/GfGljo

That’s it. Just copy and paste those and send them to the people you know. Or write your own. Buy you can be a huge help, just getting the word out.

Thanks!

Scott Link

Peculiar Fundraising Update

cover supportWe have been in the middle of a crowdfunding campaign over at IndieGoGo for new episodes of my show, Peculiar.

We have 19 days left. We are 22% toward our goal. We passed the 2nd donation level… which means we released a 2nd Reveal Video. When we hit certain levels of donations, we reveal a little more about the new episodes. This one exposes a few of the themes for upcoming shows:

And in case you missed it, here is the first level Reveal Video:

So now you are up to date on the campaign! Next Reveal Video will be out when we hit $2000.

We need your help to make this happen. You can do something “Peculiar” and support Independent Christian TV! Even if you decide not to give any cash, you can use the tools on the page, right under the video, to share the campaign with your friends.

Art is Risk

I’m not the first person to ever say that, I know I’ve heard it from lots of different people. Because it’s true.

A few days ago I posted the pilot episode of the show I’m developing. Me and a couple dozen amazing people who volunteered their time worked very hard on it. They trusted I had a clue what I was doing. They trusted that when it was all put together it would make sense. That it would be good, and funny.

Jon Acuff wrote a post on his blog about writing. One thing off his list really jumped at me:

“Fear will never tell you that you should write a book. Quit asking it if you’re ready. The only answer fear ever gives is “no.” (This is true of all endeavors, not just book writing.)

The last week of post work on the pilot, I was really battling fear. Was it good enough? Was it funny? Would anyone watch it? Have I wasted all these people’s time? Who do I think I am to produce a TV show?

Two things got me through that.

A few weeks ago I literally made list of the answers to the question; Who am I to do this? I won’t quote that whole list here, but I will tell you what the first and last reasons are. I suspect they apply to anyone who has a dream:

I am made and loved by God.

I am the one God called to do this.

There’s a lot of personal stuff in between on that list that only applies to me and my specific situation. But every person is made a loved by God. And if God has given you a vision, it’s your vision that you are called to do.

The other things I did was to put the movie Flywheel on my iPad. Those of you who don’t know, Flywheel was Sherwood Pictures first film. It was the one before Facing the Giants, which led to Fireproof, and finally Courageous. Like it or n0t, Sherwood pictures and their films have radically changed the expectations of Christian film. It’s pretty easy for people who want to do video and film work to look at Courageous and think they can’t do anything like that with their gear, talent, budget. You have to remember that Sherwood didn’t start there, they started at Flywheel. Watch Courageous and then watch Flywheel.

Please understand two important things. I’m not saying that excellence isn’t important. And I’m not saying that Flywheel wasn’t an excellent movie. But anyone can watch it and see that the later movies have consistently improved, as they should. Excellence is doing the best you can with the time and resources you have available.

So the second thing I did was try to keep perspective. We spent less than $170 total to shoot a pilot. I borrowed thousands of dollars worth of gear. Amazing people volunteered on the crew and cast. The pilot episode was never going to be the Avengers. And that’s OK. I’m not the first person to say this either; Something that’s 90% of what you want it to be and released will impact 100% more people than something that is 99% what you want and still being tweaked.

Last night was the first time I sat in a room with people who had never seen it, and heard them laugh at the jokes. I did not choose to do that, but someone asked to see it, and before you know it, we were all watching it. I was very nervous. These folks have pretty high standards for comedy and media consumption. And they would be perfectly fine with sitting politely through whatever project I’m working on, but they wouldn’t fake amusement. What if no one laughed? This is a comedy for crying out loud! I probably breathed a sigh heard down the street when we all laughed together while watching. They didn’t laugh at every joke. But they did laugh, and seemed to enjoy the show. I’m sure some people won’t like it. That’s part of the deal. But some people do.

Is the pilot amazing? Yes, in many respects, because I know who made it and how it was made. But we ain’t winning an Emmy. Can it be better? Yes! Future episodes will be better. And funnier.

Art is risk. If God has called you to do it, risk it! It’s so much better than wishing you could/would do it. Courage isn’t doing something without fear. It’s doing something through fear.