Though a free service for users, Facebook charges for display advertising and a number of other types of advertising services, including ‘promoted posts’ which allow the owner of a page — such as a band’s Facebook fan page — to pay to have their post seen by a higher percentage of their existing followers. Because Facebook uses a (highly secret) algorithm to determine what percentage of a page’s followers will see the average post, most bands who have amassed a number of fans cannot reach all of their fans with un-advertised posts. And, since Facebook’s algorithm seems to work in a way that reduces the percentage of followers who will see a typical post as the page’s total follower count grows, Murray’s and other detractors to the internet giant’s business practices claim that the harder they work to attract fans, the more difficult it is to reach them.
In his petition, Murray says that he has paid up to $3,000 in advertising to attract the nearly 25,000 fans the page had at the time the petition went live. Among his chief complaints is that, having already paid substantially to acquire followers, Facebook’s algorithm requires him to pay $150 for each post, in order to ensure that the post will reach all of the followers he already paid to acquire.
“If fans have made the effort to discover a band and like their page, why should bands have to pay to reach them?” — Petition signer Kyra Higgins, U.K.
Reaction in general has been mixed amongst the general public, though musicians seem strongly in favor of Murray’s petition. Not everyone agrees with Murray, though. One Facebook user wrote: “can we also start a petition for my local newspaper? they won’t give me free advertising either! for shame!”
On the petition itself, one signer from New Zealand had the following to say: “I’m signing this because we earnt these fans. And big cunts in suits have no right to keep art from the people who want to see it.” (Louis Hill, Auckland, NZ).
Facebook reported $7.87 billion in revenue and $1.5 billion in net profit for 2013 (the last year readily available), and has a market capitalization of $212 billion as of February 2015. Victor Anthony, a stock market analyst with Topeka Capital Markets predicts Facebook’s annual revenue will reach $12 billion in 2016, and most analysts see promoted posts as a key component of Facebook’s revenue growth strategy.
The petition went live late Thursday night, February 19, 2015 and had accumulated more than 17,000 signers in less than 24 hours — most identifying as musicians via the Change.org commenting system.
Murray’s Petition Reads:
“Facebook has raised its rates on bands and small business’s promoting themselves through their website several times over the last few years, asking to pay even more money to simply reach the audience the band or small business has already acquired. It’s getting to a point where it’s blatant greed and is unjustifiable. Bands like us for example, (especially the unsigned ones) pay Facebook a hefty amount of money for an ad, just to get potential new fans to visit our page. On top of that now, we must pay a LARGE fee to talk to the fans already subscribed to our page. So we’re paying double on a service that we heavily rely on. It’s an exploitation of what bands need the most: communication with their fan base.
On my bands Facebook page for example (nearly 25k likes www.facebook.com/illuminatemeband), I have paid up to 3k in Facebook advertising to get the amount of people connected to it that it has now. (On top of the heavy touring that we do) I need to pay Facebook now 150 dollars if I want one of my posts to reach all of the people that I already paid to get in the first place. I have talked to even bigger acts that rely on communication with their fan base to sell their product, and the price can get up to $2,000 or more.
You need $2,000 dollars from a band that’s barely making ends meet just so they can talk to a fan base they already paid and worked their ass off to get in the first place? Facebook does not seem to care about bands, or even small business’s that also rely on communication with their audience for that matter.
This is what I personally love about our Twitter or Instagram (www.twitter.com/illuminatemefl instagram: @illuminatemefl), and have since been using more heavily to communicate with our fans. Neither sites charge you to reach all of your followers. (which hopefully won’t change, since Facebook owns Instagram) I understand the platforms are built differently, but why can’t Facebook do the same as Twitter/Instagram?
I urge every single musician or small business owner to share this petition around and sign it. If you have a photo of the ridiculous fee that Facebook is making you pay to “boost a post” then please post it as well. I have used social media to promote my bands in the past before, I’ve never had to pay anything let alone this much money just to talk to the people that love our music. Enough is enough, let’s fight back.
We want Facebook to remove having to pay to reach fans and followers. We are not money making machines, we are people.
Facebook it is not your place to put a price on our fans eyes and ears.”
See the petition for yourself: https://www.change.org/p/facebook-we-want-facebook-to-remove-having-to-pay-to-reach-fans-and-followers