Just When You Thought Facebook Couldn’t Get Any Weirder

Facebook is so massive, it’s like a whole internet unto itself, with games, photos, chats, groups, and a ridiculous amount of promotion. Because of all that constant activity, it’s not surprising that shady folks have managed to find ways of scamming members of the site.

I have never liked liking things on Facebook except occasional posts from people I know. I especially don’t like liking candythings and sharing things if they are sentimental and sugary sweet. Such posts seem manipulative, as if I am being forced to have an opinion about something I have no opinion about. There are plenty of awww-some moments in real life — I don’t have to go looking for the awww factor on FB.

As it turns out, my instincts were correct. Although many such posts are real, others are scams. For example, I remember once seeing a photo of a young girl with a bald head, wearing a cheerleading uniform. The tagline on the photo said that the girl had chemo, and asked people to like or share to show her she was still beautiful.

The trouble is, that was a scam. The photo was real — the girl’s mother had posted it on Photobucket years before, and she had no idea that the photo was being used by scammers — but it was used simply to gain likes and shares. (This is called “like farming”.) Since Facebook’s algorithms are set to promote the most popular posts, likes and shares on such posts can increase exponentially. Sometimes, once the scammers have built up a page with likes, they switch content and promote a product. Or they sell page on the black market. Or they use it for phishing expeditions or even to spread malware. (Just liking a page can’t spread malware to your computer, but clicking links on the page could.)

Is this a good time to ask you to like my FB page? Probably not. And anyway, I don’t post much of anything except links to this blog, and you’re already here, so you don’t need to see the link there. But, if you insist, you can find my page at https://www.facebook.com/PatBertramAuthor. I promise I won’t scam you.

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Follow Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Why Facebook is Not the Great Promotional Tool It Once Was

Are you one of those authors who joined Facebook, hoping to find fame and fortune, and have only found . . . Facebook?

After my books were accepted for publication, and while I waited for them to become available, I spent a lot of time researching how to promote online. The first unanimous suggestion was to get a website, the second was to maintain a blog, and the third, of course, was to create a presence on social networking sites. I’d already done the first two, so that left the third option. How hard could networking be? Add the maximum number of friends, post status updates and blog links, create discussion groups as a way to get to know other authors. Sounded like fun.

At first, it worked the way it was supposed to — I made a lot of friends, had some great discussions, promoted my online release party via Facebook and MySpace. I even sold some books.

And then . . . nothing. Sure, I still had friends, but sales dropped off, and when my next release party came around, almost no one stopped by. (By then, MySpace was practically defunct — everyone I met on MySpace had migrated to Facebook.)

Many authors have had the same experience as I did. So what happened? Why, after all those articles about how great Facebook was for promotion, didn’t we get the results we hoped for? Because of the ever-changing face of Facebook, that’s why.

When I joined Facebook, it was at the tag end of the free-for-all, where anyone could post anything and all of your “friends” would see it. Events and requests to “like” a page weren’t hidden in your notifications as they are now, but were almost impossible to miss. You pretty much had to respond one way or another. Groups were much more effective than they are now. Group administrators could send a message to everyone in the group, and there were group discussions boards (which is what I used the group messaging for — to announce the weekly discussion).

One by one, all the functional parts of Facebook (those that worked best for promotion, that is) have disappeared, to be replaced by . . . not much of anything, actually. If you post something on your fan page, it shows up in the news feed of only a small percentage of people. They say 10%, but it’s more like 2%. My current reach — the maximum number of people per week who could have seen my posts — is 285. Considering that I post something every day, that means FB shows each post to only about 40 people a day, which is a very small fraction of my 1487 “likes.” If I want more people to see my posts, I can pay to get more views. Bizarre, isn’t it?

I don’t know the statistics for profile views since they aren’t posted on the site, but going by my own feed, not many people at all see anything — just the same few people every day. And now that anyone has the ability to shut off the posts of anyone they want, you could be seeing their posts, and they won’t see anything of yours.

Apparently, Facebook read the same books and articles we did about how to promote on the site, and they are doing everything they can to prevent our promotion efforts from being very effective. (They want to be the only ones making money.)

The first self-published millionaire who subsequently wrote the book about how to make a million via FB, cheated by maxing out multiple accounts — you can only have 5000 friends, so he had more than one account going at the same time. But that should come as no surprise now that he has been outed as having purchased scads of reviews.

So, if you are not getting the results you hoped for by promoting your books on Facebook, don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s not your fault at all. It’s the fault of all those who came first and scammed the system before you had a chance.