FB fans aren’t seeing your posts (and how to fix it)

by Cinda Baxter on June 4, 2012

in Facebook, Social Media

Editor’s Note: Be sure to check out a newer post that includes solutions for both fans and page admins by clicking here.

Isn’t Facebook supposed to be the magical tool that levels the playing field for small business, non-profits, and grass roots movements? Once upon a time, maybe…but not so much now.

Last week, an interesting (and by “interesting” I mean “stunning“) tidbit began appearing at the bottom of status updates posted by page admins, visible only to them—the number of people each post reached, accompanied by the percentage of their total fan base it represented.

The number shown doesn’t represent the number of your fans online at the moment; it’s the abysmally small number Facebook bothered to publish in newsfeeds.

Yeah. You read that correctly. Most of your fans don’t receive your posts. At all. In any way, shape, or form. Facebook is only sharing them with fans who repeatedly return to your page, post on your page, comment on your page, or otherwise engage on your page.

In other words, the minority.

The following day, another tidbit appeared, just to the right of the scary percentage—a “Promote” button. Tap that, and you’re asked to pay for the rest of your fans to see the post.

Uh huh. Read that one correctly too. Pay to post.

Not to advertise—to reach the fans you already have. The ones who thought clicking “like” added you to their newsfeeds.

Out of sheer curiosity, I clicked Promote, then began crunching numbers. If I want a post to reach all 90,600 fans of The 3/50 Project, I need to pony up more than $500.

Per post.

Which simply isn’t going to happen.

So how do we work around the roadblock? There’s a back door solution, but we can’t make it easily visible, since we’re barred from putting “calls to action” in the Cover photo or a pinned post. (The pinned post policy has been changed; thanks to JDavidbeatty for the heads up. You cannot, however, put calls to action in the cover photo—that hasn’t changed.)

Which is why I’m pinning this blog post, once it posts to the Project’s FB page (legit, by Facebook standards).

Click image to view larger version

For Fans: How to keep receiving posts from FB pages you’ve “Liked”

1. Find a page you’ve “liked.”

2. Hover you mouse over the “Liked” button. Which may or may not work.

3. Try clicking the “Liked” button. That also may or may not work.

4. After clicking “Liked,” try hovering over it again. This may or may not work.

(Sensing a theme? Access isn’t consistent…nor intended to be easy, I have a feeling. Please keep trying.)

5. Once you (finally) get a drop down menu, confirm “Show in News Feed” is selected.

In theory, this should put all more posts from the page back in your newsfeed.

Or not.

Hard to know, since the only way to test it is to keep visiting every page you’ve “liked” to compare their posts to your newsfeed.

(Which no one has time to do. We understand.)

Facebook’s new pay-to-post format is obviously intended to increase revenue, now that shareholders are involved. Sadly, it’s also a killer for their most fervent users—non-profits and grass roots movements who have built a significant following. Pages with deep pockets and corporate backing will be able to buy their way into newsfeeds, but those of us without endless cash reserves are already invisible, thanks to this new twist.

And by “new” I mean [fill in your favorite expletive].

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If you feel Facebook needs to roll back this pay-to-post change, please click the Facebook share button below. If enough users push back, there’s at least a slim chance they’ll reconsider, having done so on similar initiatives in the past.


Liza June 4, 2012 at 12:52 pm

I wish your suggestion would work – but, unfortunately, it’s just the inverse of the “hide all by” option next to any given news item. The default is “show,” which is good, and which you can confirm by poking around some of the pages you’ve previously “liked”; but, as you point out, only a small percentage of posts are in fact being shown. Note that it doesn’t say “show all by”! If I find a free/reliable workaround, will comment again, but I’m not holding my breath.

Marcel Brown June 4, 2012 at 1:05 pm

I’m a little confused. I have checked many of the pages that I like and “Show in News Feed” is checked on all of them. Does your tip mean that we should be checking the ones that are not checked, or that the simple act of viewing this status is enough to trigger a change?

Constance Scott June 4, 2012 at 1:18 pm

So frustrating! I also noticed that just before Facebook went “public” my ad cost skyrocketed – suddenly my ad got hits where 3 months up to the sudden clicks there was nothing. I had almost forgottent that I even had an ad with them!

Bethany June 4, 2012 at 1:22 pm

I find it even more disconcerting that when I DID try to share this on my company’s page, the FB servers stopped responding. But my browser loads any other FB-related post I try to load. Am I getting conspiracy theorist-y now? You have to admit, it’s pretty creepy.

Editor’s Note: I’ve been seeing lots of mis-loaded pages, hanging pages, etc. the past week. There was a major FB server outage early last week; makes me wonder if they’re still having troubles.

Diane June 4, 2012 at 1:38 pm

This explains a lot. I wondered why our page said only 268 people had seen the posts when we have over 1500 fans. I guess this explains it. $*@& you, FB!

Floral Cotton June 4, 2012 at 1:43 pm

Too bad you can’t get customers to do this. The best thing you can do is get them to engage with you.

Mark Bignell June 4, 2012 at 1:44 pm

Hasn’t FB made enough billions? This is rediculous to the majority of its users.

Philip Griffith June 4, 2012 at 2:09 pm

Another way to encourage fans to be able to “see” your posts is to have them make a list for your page or pages like yours. They will see more posts that way.

Cinda Baxter June 4, 2012 at 2:38 pm

Hmmm…will play with that a bit to see if it helps. At this point, all options need to be used. Thanks for the tip, Philip.

Is there any reason to believe that adding a page to a list increases the number of posts that appear in the normal newsfeed? As best I can tell, all “Add to list” does is put page posts into a folder in the left column on the newsfeed page—not actually increase the visibility in the newsfeed itself.

Richard Rudy June 4, 2012 at 2:57 pm

Unfortunately facebook isn’t screwing your fan pages any more than your personal pages. It uses a calculation called Edge Rank to determine who to show which posts to. It applies this rank to both an individual (real people) posts and pages posts. The “cheaper” way to show up more in peoples timelines is to post more engaging content. The more people engage with your content (comment/reply etc) the higher your edge rank for them and the more you show up in their feed

Skatie June 4, 2012 at 3:07 pm

So how do we as fan page owners make sure that more fans see our posts without paying facebooks promote fees? I understand that fans can change their settings, but is there anything we can do?

btrandolph June 4, 2012 at 3:17 pm

the algorithm giveth, and it taketh away. AllFacebook reported back in January that the average page is seen by less than 20% of fans (http://allfacebook.com/facebook-page-17_b73948). complaints about edgerank go back to the dawn of fan pages. so now Facebook is providing a way to throw money at the problem – gosh, like a real media company! if you want to buy views the old-fashioned way, make your posts consistently interesting. if your fans that do see the post comment on, then the post will be shown to more fans. Mashable published a nice piece on post timing last fall (http://mashable.com/2011/10/26/time-facebook-posts/), but caution to the whiners – it takes some basic analytics chops and again, content that’s worth seeing.

Marge June 4, 2012 at 3:29 pm

I ran an experiment last week when the Promote option first appeared.

I took a post that was 24 hours old and paid to have it promoted.
At the time I started the campaign it was 24 hours old and 288 fans had seen it.
FB estimated they would reach an additional 1,000 fans for $5.00 so that’s what I opted for and gave them my CC.
Well 48 hours later, at the end of the Promote Campaign Apple reached exactly 198 fans. That’s all… 198 fans for which they charged my CC $4.95.
Truth in advertising? I think not. Will we be paying for Promoted Posts? I think not.

I have shared our findings with our FB fans and they don’t like that they are not being shown pages they fully asked to be shown on their wall. I think this will blow up and back into FB’s face.

Dev Null June 4, 2012 at 3:39 pm

“Isn’t Facebook supposed to be the magical tool that levels the playing field for small business, non-profits, and grass roots movements?”

Noooooo. Facebook is – and always was – supposed to be the magical tool for making Mark Zuckerberg basquillions of dollars. Still seems to be working fine.

Emily @ Relishments June 4, 2012 at 3:43 pm

Has anyone seen an official explanation from Facebook on this? I’d love to see how they explain it. So much for using Facebook to cheaply promote my site!

patricia June 4, 2012 at 3:49 pm

So sorry to dissapoint this article, but its not true what it says.. just check all the pages you like and it will be shown as “show in news feed” but facebook makes it easier to get to the option “promote” so you cannot only promote your page with propaganda on the side of the page, you can also promote by paying facebook to make available your post to all the fans event though they are not connected at the same time.. its just like paying an ad.. but the pages you like will work and show in your feed as usual.. and the more you visit those pages, yes they will appear more often, that yes is true

Editor’s Note: I stand by every word in the post. No assurance was made that selecting “Show in Newsfeed” is a guaranteed fix—just that it might help increase the odds of posts appearing for pages you like.

Lori June 4, 2012 at 3:55 pm

So if I share this with the “share” button to my FB page, will I be in violation of their rules? I didn’t quite understand what you meant about the Pinning thing instead? eek!

Editor’s Note: No, you won’t be in violation; “social sharing” is the backbone of Facebook’s success. You’re safe.

The note about pinning and cover photos refers to FB’s rules about not putting a call to action in either place. In other words, you can’t show a cover photo that says “Please like us” because it’s instructing readers to do something.

Go figure.

Kyle June 4, 2012 at 3:58 pm

How could you not even mention EdgeRank in this post?

Editors Note: The post is about what’s happening, and how to work around it—not the technology used to run the algorithms.

John Shaterian June 4, 2012 at 4:00 pm

create engaging content that people want to see and share… there’s been too many scammers and spammers on FB. Content rules the day and the future for that matter.

Cindy June 4, 2012 at 4:03 pm

It was just a matter of time before Facebook stopped being cool and started being greedy. The entire reason I pay for Facebook advertising is to build our fan base, thereby giving us a ready audience for posting info about products, sales, etc.

Facebook should be sued for misleading businesses and others who already pay for advertising. It was never made clear to those who purchase advertising that the majority of those fans we’ve PAID to obtain are never going to see our posts!

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