Facebook Has to Change to Survive

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Why Facebook has to change or die

Happy Birthday Facebook!

It’s been quite a ride. We’ve been through a lot together. From the days of simple venting to the happiest days of posting newborn pictures to share with your friends, you’ve been there for us.

The ride hasn’t been without its ups and downs. Leaked messages, the poking debacle, the Facebook photo app and starring as the villain in your very own movie have all made you one of the most talked about social media networks.

Even with the hard times, you’ve still been a way to reconnect with friends from high school and relive the glory days (even when you didn’t want to.) In the past, you were also an amazing way to help bloggers connect with their community and promote their posts.

Five years ago Facebook, you were a strong metric for bloggers. A blog wasn’t powerful unless its fan page numbers were in the thousands. If the fan count was higher than a minor celebrities than that blog was master and commander of the blog world.

Yet, somewhere along the way things have started to change. Now there’s talk of Facebook disappearing within the next few years, following the same path of Myspace and AOL Instant Messenger.

What’s going on, Facebook? It’s a simple answer: You try too hard. You make using Facebook for more than posting cat memes difficult.  You don’t respond when we cry out for help.

Here are a few tips we think might help you survive in the age of new social media networks.

1. Step Away From the Algorithms

We know that algorithms are a necessary evil but you’ve taken them to a whole new level.  Your computers are convinced they know what we want to see and they are so, so wrong.  Today we can’t even find posts from our spouses or significant others because the algorithm of a machine (and a room full of programmers that know nothing about us) have told our account that we don’t want to see those posts. Yes, there are days that we don’t feel like talking to our spouses, but let us be the judge of that, not you.

Your bimonthly or sometimes weekly changes are going to be the death of you, because they are going to be the death of us.  This summer, the big thing was photos. The algorithm decided to favor photos so we all switched over to sharing as many photos and graphics as we could.  A few weeks later, you decided to show mostly status posts with no photos or links.  We posted status updates and resorted to putting links in the comments which annoyed our fans but was really the only way to get shown in their News Feeds. Now, a few weeks later, it’s all about links to get shown.  Maybe. Heads are spinning trying to keep up and you know what? It’s just easier at this point to go to the other social media networks that don’t rely on algorithms so heavily.

Hiding the posts of bloggers and small businesses from our fans- the people who actually have come to our page and Liked us because they want to see us in their News Feed- is driving people away.   Yes, it might be too much for anyone to see in one day. Give them a way to search or define what they want to see for themselves. Twitter is successful because it doesn’t limit you. Take a hint and ditch the crazy complicated algorithms.

2. Get the Photo Piracy Under Control

You’ve stopped showing photos, which is kind of a blessing.  Photos aren’t being shown as much but people are still stealing images and reposting.  Piracy has become a huge problem.

Food and recipe bloggers are being ripped off right and left by Pages that show the stolen picture and then post full recipes right on the page.  Creative and DIY bloggers are suffering too.

And it’s not because it hasn’t been brought to your attention.  Many people have reported their copyright being violated by pages that are made to spread the recipes and DIY ideas. Yet Facebook does nothing. There’s a form to fill out and that’s all.  You don’t take down the posts which violate copyright law.  You don’t reply to us.  You do nothing. There is no human to contact about this issue, just a form to fill out that will never get a response. You can’t police everything but you can at least act like you care.

3. Find a Better Way to Monetize

We know it’s a free service and there has to be a way to monetize it but honestly the boosting posts option isn’t working.  When you do pay to boost a post many times it will be approve only to find out hours later that the boosted post was canceled because it didn’t meet certain criteria or standards.

You don’t make it easy. Boosting a post correctly to fit your requirements has become like trying to write a captcha properly.  Too many rules and guidelines, and no easy way to tell if your photo has less than 20% text making it acceptable.  If you actually give in to boost a Post, it pops up in News Feeds that are totally irrelevant.

A die hard Republican that regularly posts political rants does not want sponsored posts for the Affordable Healthcare Act popping up in their feed. We can’t see what our spouse is doing but we can see that there’s a dentist 2 hours away that is offering free teeth cleaning for one day only!

There has got to be another way.  For example, many of us would be open to paying a small fee for a premium membership like LinkedIn. Especially if we can avoid the rumored auto play commercials.  But now there’s auto play videos gearing us up for the rumored auto play commercials. Oh joy.

4. Turn Off Auto Play Videos

Once again Facebook, you’ve over thinking things. Somewhere along the way, you decided that it’s too hard to press one button to play a video. Do you realize how many people you are waking up?  Sleeping people everywhere are being awakened when their roommate pauses a millisecond too long over a video in their stream only to have the video come blaring from their phone speakers.

We can’t even sneak in a little Facebook action discretely anymore.  You are making us a nuisance when we open your app in a public place. It’s one thing to read quietly on your phone, with no one knowing your secret.  It’s quite another to have the music from My Little Pony blaring across the restaurant because the video our daughters Liked while playing on our iPhone started to auto play. Just say no, or at least let us turn the auto play off in our settings. Take the same hint for Instagram since you own it.

5. Let us Be Social

Social media is amazing because it’s free.  It’s open access and there aren’t controls blocking you from meeting and connecting with other people.  You can tweet right at a celebrity without having to even see their bouncer. Social media is transforming our generation. Facebook is one of the platforms that started that change.  If Facebook wants to still be in the game in 5 years, I suggest you take a look at what you’re doing to prevent social interaction on your social media platform.

Maybe you could add more options besides Like. We don’t really Like when our best friend posts that she caught the measles and prayers are requested, but that’s the only way we can give her quiet support without commenting.  I know you probably can’t put up a Dislike button, what with cyberbullying making the news so often, but could you make an “I Hear Ya” button?

Let us talk to people who Like us. Let our reach be truly organic, not forced.  You charge us to advertise to get fans, then charge us to show our posts to fans, then show us to people who will never be our fans after we pay you.  Stop squashing our posts and we’ll keep creating content for your service, and keep entertaining and interacting with them.

Happy Birthday, Facebook.  Let’s have another happy ten years together! Eat your cake today and then tomorrow maybe look at changing a few things up so you’ll be around.

Bobbie Byrd

Bobbie is a clumsy yet faithful wife and mother. When she's not burning dinner or cleaning up paint spill she runs Blog Elevated Conference and Community.