This week's ABC Grandstand segment Sean asks the question that has been brewing in the digital world, has Facebook jumped the shark?  Listen in below.

[audio:|titles=ABC Grandstand discussing – Has Facebook jumped the shark?]

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Pushing back

Over the past few months there has been growing frustration amongst Facebook fan page owners & fans alike.  Facebook Page owners have seen their Facebook reach drop dramatically over the past few months.

Here is some articles highlighting the frustrations:

Even Dallas Mavericks owner and fellow Sports Geek Mark Cuban weighed into the debate just a few hours after our discussion with this tweet.

Response from Facebook

Facebook has responded via their Facebook Studio blog with some key points.

  • While we make changes to news feed occasionally, the fundamental way it works has not changed. We mentioned earlier that news feed works to serve up messages – organic and paid – that people are most likely to interact with.
  • What this means for businesses is that monitoring what types of posts are getting good responses is key, and always has been.
  •  Tools like promoted posts are simple ways to turn those important Page posts into ads.

Sports Geek's 3 things to fix it

Here is 3 points must correct right now to reverse this trend.

Turn off Edgerank

By simply turning off Edgerank (the algorithm that Facebook uses to determine what posts you see in your news feed) fans will see all posts and then will start curating their own feed by unliking pages producing poor content.

Pages who create great content will be rewarded with organic growth as fans will like, comment & share freely.  With Edgerank turned off Facebook page owners can focus on content and won't have to beg for likes and comments to stay relevant with Edgerank algorithm.

Focus advertising on attracting new fans

With Edgerank turned off more people will see posts published by pages and marketing budgets can be directed to attracting new fans not just reaching the fans who have already liked your page.

Additionally Facebook should make is very clear to users that they can opt-out of Facebook inititatives like Sponsored Stories which you can do here.

We have had great success using Facebook ads to grow fan bases and to drive social promotions and  we hope to continue to so in the future but the backlash from Facebook users might make it harder to do.

Address the problem

Much like Fonzie in Happy Days who had inability in saying he was wrong.  Facebook should announce an about face and reconnect Facebook fans with the pages that they like.

Jumping the shark?

Not sure where the phrase “jumping the shark” came from, as explained in our discussion here is Fonzie from Happy Days actually jumping a shark.  Be sure to send a tweet to Henry Winkler @hwinkler4real.

Until next week

Catch the segment live on Saturday mornings (at 7:40am) when Sean Callanan discuss sports digital with Francis Leach on ABC Grandstand. Tune into ABC Grandstand Breakfast Friday through Monday on ABC Grandstand digital radio.

Want to get these clips in podcast form? Subscribe here or Add to iTunes.

Your thoughts?

Do you like this post? 😉  What do you think of this issue facing Facebook? Will brands retreat to Tumblr or even Myspace?

Podcast transcription

Frank: Francis Leach, on ABC Grandstand Digital.

And each Saturday morning at this time I catch up with Sean Callanan, our Digital Sports Guru from Sports Geek HQ to talk Digital Sports and what’s been happening online and in the Twitterverse and beyond. Good day Sean, how you going?

Sean: I’m good thanks, Frank.

Frank: Facebook is really peeving people off at the moment, like really. There’s always someone complaining about Facebook. But right now, it’s maxing in the red it’s fair to say [Laughs]

Sean: It is. And the question we’re raising is, has Facebook ‘jumped the shark’? For people who don’t know, I’ve used that phrase a lot and there’s actually still some people who don’t know what the phrase ‘Jumped the shark’ is…

Frank: Well is it an ex-reference to a Happy Days episode, where – once the coolest show in the world with Fonzie – jumped the shark, because he literally jumps a shark on a motorbike, and that’s where everyone says the critical moment where the show became…

Sean: No he jumped the shark whilst skiing.

Frank: Skiing, oh was it skiing?

Sean: While wearing the black leather jacket, mind you. And he jumped the shark. So it was just the point where the show had done enough, tipped over and gone too far. So there are a lot of people pushing back.

Frank: I’ll have to check out that jump on YouTube at some point today.

Sean: Oh, definitely, I’ll give Josh the link and he can put it up on the page it’s classic TV.

Frank: Henry Winker’s very active in the Twitterverse.

Sean: He is, he is.

Frank: His hash tag isn’t ‘JumpTheShark’ unfortunately.

Sean: Exactly. Well he’s brought in a phrase that everyone uses. So the question is has
Facebook jumped the shark?

Frank: Why this time?

Sean: Well there’s a few things. In the process of Facebook trying to monetise and generate some revenue…

Frank: You’ve got to make some cash…

Sean: They’ve been pushing these ad products, sponsored stories and the like. And that’s fine, that’s their want and they need to make some money. But what a lot of people who are running brand and team and Facebook fan pages are seeing is their Facebook engagement – which is how many people are seeing, and how many people are liking and commenting on their posts – really dropping.

Frank: So give us an example. You’re a footy club and say at the end of the AFL trade period yesterday, you have a shot of, I don’t know, a player coming to your club in the new jumper.

Sean: Yeah it might be Brisbane Lions might be saying ‘Welcome Stefan Martin’ or that kind of thing.

Frank: They put it up on Facebook. How many people should see it, and how many do? If you were following the page.

Sean: Well the thing is if you’re following the page you would think ‘I should see it, I’ve opted in, I’ve liked the page, and I’ve liked it for a reason and I want to see it.’ But Facebook has effectively been gaming the newsfeed to a certain bit in this thing called EdgeRank. And we’ve discussed it before, Facebook tries to curate the list of all of the things you are doing – whether it’s people you know and brands you like – to give you a feedback of ‘Here’s the stuff you really like a lot’. So they are effectively restricting…

Frank: So they’re editing your experience of..?

Sean: Effectively, yes. So you know if we took the Twitter world, if you follow everything and you go to your timeline, every tweet is in that timeline. If you scroll down enough, you’ll see them all. Whereas in Facebook you’re not getting that timeline, you’re getting this EdgeRank thing. So part of their game is Facebook saying ‘If you’re engaging with that page, you’ll see it.’ So if you’re engaged with your footy team a lot, but if you’re just consuming it and letting it go by, there’s a chance that Facebook will say ‘Oh you’re not really interested in that team, because you’re not liking, you’re not commenting and you’re not clicking on it.’ And that may not be the case, you might just be what we call on the Internet a lurker, ‘I’m just looking at it, I like pictures and I want to support the team.’ And so a lot of big pages – and I was just looking at the Grandstand page before – you put up a post and it’s only reaching a couple of thousand. A very small percentage of your fan base, and so there’s a lot of teams, brands, a lot of people very frustrated in that they’re producing this content that is not getting seen by the fan base that they’ve worked very hard to go and get.

Frank: And then the other frustrating thing I do presume from this is that Facebook is now offering you the opportunity to reach those people, at a price?

Sean: At a price.

Frank: Could you say that they’re holding access hostage?

Sean: To a certain degree, and that’s where the pushback is. If they’re effectively saying ‘If you want to reach all of your audience, we will guarantee that audience, but it’ll cost you 75 dollars per post’.

Frank: So they’re gate keeping?

Sean: To a certain degree yeah, and so that’s where the pushback is coming, from brands. And then the other pushback is coming from the fans, that are getting all these ads from brands that are like ‘We don’t have the big passionate fans that sports clubs do, we’re an insurance company’ or ‘We’re a tie company’, you know. ‘We’re just a brand and we’ve got to be on Facebook, because everyone’s on Facebook and we’ve been told how big Facebook is.’ So we’re seeing our friends saying ‘I like insurance company, please…’

Frank: Can you explain that to me because I find that rather frustrating, and it does turn me off using Facebook as much as I used to. People that I know – and I presume wouldn’t usually go about endorsing big corporations and products – are saying ‘I like said health insurance company.’ And I’m going ‘Why do I have to care about that? Why is that turning up in my Facebook feed?’

Sean: Well that’s because that insurance company is actually paying for it, and effectively paying for your personal endorsements. So as a personal user you can opt out of those ads and say ‘Please, Facebook, don’t use me for an ad.’ And it has been quite effective in the sports base to say ‘We want to grow our fan base, Francis, and you’re a St. Kilda fan’ and you go ‘I’m OK with that’. But what we’re seeing more is that most of sports don’t need that type of growth because they can get it via their website, if they place their properties in the right place and they’re telling everyone what their handle is, those kind of things. But yeah we’re seeing more and more brands. So if a few joined up for a sweepstakes competition with someone ages ago, then someone goes, or my girlfriend asked me ‘Why do you like TRESemmé?’ I can’t explain that, I probably checked it out one time and I put it on there, and it’s probably been filtered out of my feed but they’re doing ads saying I like them. And I put my hand up and say that I did, but that’s the way that they are rolling with the ad network.
The fact that you have to advertise to the fans that you’ve already got is the main beef that a lot of people who are running the pages have. I mean if we looked at whatever advertisers there have been since Don Draper was a little boy, it was advertising to people who aren’t yet your customers. So if they turned off this whole gaming news feed and just said ‘You’re going to get every single thing that gets posted on every single page you’ve liked’. So first of all that would trim down the over-likers, so the people who like everything, like things for competitions and like things because they want to keep, you know, they have the condition FOMO – Fear of Missing Out – so they have to like everything. They will see everything, and eventually they will be overwhelmed and they will start curating their own feed, in the same way that a lot of people do Twitter. ‘These people aren’t providing value, I’ll unfollow’, and so people will unlike. So the brands that don’t produce great content and aren’t engaging with their fan base will be penalised by their fan base themselves, not by Facebook.
Frank: So you get a real sense of where they stand in the market. Have there been any major moves or serious outcries or I guess a very public dressing down of Facebook, from some big football clubs or some big personalities have gone ‘Stop doing this to me’?

Sean: Not so much from the sports base…

Frank: Yet. [Laughs]

Sean: Yet, exactly. There’s definitely some of our… Matt Jaensch and Dave Bertenshaw from The Crows and The Eagles were actually at a conference in New York and it was a big discussion point. Because all these teams have built these big fan bases, in Australia a hundred thousand plus and in the States millions, but then they put out a post and no one sees it and then they get a bill ‘Would you like to promote this post? It’ll only cost you $2,000?’ No one is going to pay $2,000 to promote a post, so the targeting is for big brands that need to and are usually spending money on advertising and are used to it. But the sports aren’t, they’re not expected to pay to do it. So it’s going to be a tough one, for mine the idea does have some merit in that you might want to say ‘This is a sponsored post, I want to show it to all the friends of my fans’, that makes sense. But actually paying to get access to your friends? Because the thing is Facebook offers it organically, if St Kilda sends you a post and you go ‘That’s good’ and you click like, your friends will see that Francis has liked a photo, and go ‘Oh I’m a fan of St. Kilda as well, I’ll like them’ and you get that growth organically, so you get rewarded for good behaviour. Whereas at the moment they’re just saying well you don’t have to be good to be on Facebook, you can just pay to be good. And that makes for a really messy environment.

Frank: And undermines the quality and the integrity of the brand.

Sean: Yeah, and so you’re either paying for it with dollars or you’re selling out a little bit by saying ‘Hey everybody, please like this to keep your engagement up.’ What we try to do when we’re talking to teams is like, yes we know that’s the game of Facebook and we do need the engagement, but we can’t start every post with ‘Did you like the trade today? Press like to tell us that you did. Please share this with your friends to show how much you’re a supporter.’ Because if you do that message two times a day for a hundred days in the off season, when you’re actually, you’ll be a bit like the boy who cried wolf. ‘Oh please, sign up your membership’, what? I can’t just like it. You’re asking them to give and give and give, and then when you’re actually asking to give money for a membership or ticketing and stuff like that, they’ll be all…

Frank: Gived out.

Sean: They’ll be gived out, yeah, there won’t be…‘Can I pay with the like button?’ is what
they’ll be trained to. So there is a definite pushback from brands and sports and I think it will continue.

Frank: Good on you, Sean. Where can people find you online without having to pay?

Sean: They can find me at or ‘SeanCallanan’ on Twitter or and I hope you see my posts.

Frank: There you go, and like them, it won’t cost you anything.

Sean: Yes.

Frank: Sean Callanan, our Digital Sports Guru and our Sports Geek here on Grandstand Breakfast