He smiles when our eyes meet. “How have you been?” my friend asks. “Are you still making videos?”
I frown, since we both have each other on Facebook. “Yes,” I answer. “Have you not seen my blogposts or YouTube links in your newsfeed?”
He shakes his head. “I haven’t seen any of your videos in a while! I thought you quit YouTube. I did like your new profile picture though, that one I saw.”
The above conversation I had in march 2014. After months of wondering why my views had dropped, and questioning whether or not my work sucked, I finally realised that maybe I wasn’t to blame. Facebook was conspiring against content creators who link to sources outside of Facebook. A quick google search proved me right.
“So you saw my profile picture?” I asked my friend.
“Yes, and those pictures of your night out, a few weeks ago.”
”Strange,” I reply. “Just wondering, my last blogposts you did see in your timeline.. Did you give them a like by any chance?”
“No,” my friend says awkwardly. “I rarely like anyones stuff on Facebook. I always give your videos a thumbs up on youtube though, when I see them.”
Everything started to make sense now. My friend didn’t like my posts on Facebook, but did like them outside of Facebook. Something I’ve heard many of my followers do, if they ‘like’ anything at all. At least that they watched my videos, before my views dropped, I knew.
After this short meeting with my friend in a local supermarket, I went home and instantly messaged some friends I didn’t talk to every month. And: nope, many of them hadn’t seen all or any of my blogposts/YouTube links either. Some had seen one on occasion when many people liked my post, but often not before that.
I started to review all my latest posts from that period, and noticed that the most likes came from people I spoke to on Facebook chat during that time. After communicating with them I found out that apparently theyhave seen most of my recent posts. But the people I didn’t speak often, and who didn’t engage with my posts in the past? Again, nope, nope, nope.
After more research I found out Facebook changed their algorithm between august and december 2013. Just a few months after promoted posts were introduced. (What a coincidence.) For those who don’t know what an algorithm is: it’s a formula for solving a problem. In Facebook’s case: it’s the formula that decides what you do and do not see on Facebook.
Immediately around that time, my website views dropped drastically, as you can see in the image above. Reviewing my blogposts from that period, and by asking feedback, I came to the conclusion it surely couldn’t have been due to my work suddenly becoming crappy. The fact that Facebook was my main platform to share my blogposts, and that I have many silent followers ‘on Facebook’, are to ‘blame’. But really it’s all Facebook’s fault.
As you can see in my statistics, my website photoandgrime.com, which I mainly use as platform to showcase my youtube videos, had a nice start and was growing. My views when posting blogposts were improving, with an average of 120-300 views within 24 hours whenever posting a blog on Facebook. Until the fatal period Facebook introduced their new algorithm. I contacted other people in the creative fields: artists who mainly spread their work via Facebook, and other small businesses. All told me the same thing: their views had dropped.
Around the algorithm-change time, Facebook started to ask me if I wanted to promote my Facebook posts. In simple words: pay money to actually show my content to the people who follow me voluntarily. With my facebook page having over 1000 likes, and my personal profile over 900 friends of whom I only added about 4% myself (people added me for my work), that was a very bitter pill to swallow. People wanted to see my work, but I needed to pay for all my followers and friends to actually see my content. You can imagine I felt cheated.
I resolved this issue partially by doing something I once vowed I never would do: upload my images to Facebook, with links to the videos. This helped me to drive traffic to my blog and youtube channel, but in return it resulted in my work being stolen more and more, and ending up in places nobody wants to see their images.
It got worse though. A couple of months after the lovely algorithm happened, Facebook changed the way links open in Facebook mobile. When you now click a link in your newsfeed, Facebook no longer opens it in Safari, Chrome, or whatever browser you use. Links are now being opened within Facebook. Why? To make sure that you’re not going anywhere. You have to specifically click ‘open in browser’ to escape Facebook.
And finally: Facebook began their open war against YouTube. They started it by changing the preview images shown of YouTube videos in the Facebook newsfeed. Suddenly those became smaller, and were cropped awfully in a tiny square. Why? To make those posts look less interesting. Next to that, Facebook started to blacklist YouTube links: links to YT videos are now shown lower in the Facebook newsfeed (unless many people like and comment on them), if Facebook shows them at all. Facebook also introduced Facebook video, and then: autoplay videos. Videos now play the moment you hover your cursor over them. Again, to attract your attention, and keep you on Facebook.
The algorithm, the promoted posts, the autoplay videos.. All serve one greater purpose: to defy YouTube, which is owned by Google. Facebook hates Google, and wants to be bigger than them. The first step to that goal is taking over the video market; which is very unfortunate for video content creators like myself. But not only video content creators are feeling the downside of Facebook trying to be the biggest player out there. All sorts of artists and small companies that use sites outside of Facebook have been struggling with the algorithm and fact that Facebook is being an asshat.
Did you know that Facebook owns Whatsapp and Instagram? They also tried to buy Snapchat and Twitter. Luckily, they failed, and hopefully they will continue to fail to buy other major apps we use on our phones. The last thing we need in our lives is that Facebook always knows what we do, and when, and with whom. If they don’t know already..
Back to why Facebook is an asshat. Due to all the changes, I now even started to do something I hate myself for: upload footage of my videos on Facebook, to drive traffic back to my YouTube videos. Considering my YouTube videos are a source of income, this is something I really dislike to do, because Facebook doesn’t pay me for the high quality content I upload on their social media platform.
That I create quality content I know. That it costs me a lot of money to create said content, I know too. But, I enjoy what I do, and I partially get some of the money I invest in my videos back via YouTube advertisements, which is why I keep on creating videos. Facebook however? They are doing their best to *&#! every content creator, artist and small business over. They don’t give a single ball about anybody, as long as they make money.
The only thing content creators as myself can do is either keep bending over and try to bring your content in a variety of ways to the people who follow you on Facebook, or: leave.
Leave Facebook, and never look back. Leave, and find another platform. Leave, and burn all the bridges.
Or: ask your followers, to follow you on different platforms. Platforms that will actually allow creators to showcase all their content to the people who want to see it.
So here I am asking you. If you like my work, and want to support me & follow what I do: Would you be willing to follow me on other platforms?