Apr 052014

I’m feeling a bit hammered this morning, because I got more than a bit hammered last night (I have a bad habit of throwing caution to the wind on Friday nights). The silver lining to the cloud in my head is that I’ve found it’s best to write about Facebook when I’m already feeling miserable.

Last month I made myself miserable by exploring recent reports that Facebook had begun tweaking the algorithms they use to determine what users will and won’t see in their Facebook news feeds, reducing the reach of Page posts to 1-2% of the people who have liked those Pages. This appears to be a not-so-subtle effort to incentivize Pages to pay Facebook in order to reach more of the users who follow them.

After I published that rant, a reader named Katy sent me a link to a video, and the video is what prompted this addendum. It makes me want to spit. To be more precise, it makes me want to hawk up something nasty from my lungs and spit that, because garden-variety saliva just doesn’t adequately express my combined feelings of disgust and depression. Continue reading »

Mar 222014

Aw hell, here we go again.

The writing has been on the Facebook wall for a while, and I’m not talking about your writing. I’m talking about the invisible writing of Facebook’s programmers, the increasingly demonic sigils inscribed into the backbone of the Facebook monolith that determine what its users will and won’t see in their news feeds.

This isn’t the first time I’ve written on the subject of how Facebook manipulates the selection of content that each user will see, but the story is a continuing one, with a consistent theme. This is just the latest chapter in the company’s efforts to leverage their gargantuan user base for the extraction of more advertising dollars — including money that Facebook Pages can spend to “promote” their posts so that more people will see them.

Honestly, on a day-to-day basis I don’t pay much attention to developments such as the one I’m about to describe. Other people watch Facebook’s moves like a hawk, because they can have a big effect on big bidness. I generally avoid the subject because it makes me queasy. But my fellow metal blogger Angry Metal Guy recently alerted me to a new piece of intelligence that confirmed some of my recent suspicions — and I’m writing about it because misery really does love company. Continue reading »

Dec 192013

For you readers whose first language isn’t English and for you native English speakers who are under the age of… I don’t know, 30?… I’m using the word “sorry” not in the sense of “apologetic”, but in the sense of “inspiring scorn or ridicule”, as in, “what a sorry state of affairs we’re in now”.

It’s been a while since I’ve written about Facebook.  This is because I prefer to stay happy as long as possible. Even after I noticed that the percentage of our site’s Facebook followers who were seeing NCS posts on Facebook was growing smaller and smaller in recent months, I didn’t try to find out why. And then, while I was on vacation recently, I heard from a fellow metal blogger with a poplar site who I respect, asking whether our Facebook page views were dropping. Of course, they were, and they were for his site too.

So I decided to try and find out why. I didn’t do as much research as I have in the past when I noticed such changes (e.g., here) — because I’m trying to stay happy as long as possible — but this article discusses what I found. I guess there’s some kind of lesson here for people in the metal community who rely on FB to stay in touch with their fans. But it’s a lesson that will be meaningful only until the next time Facebook changes its news feed algorithm. In other words, life is still full of pain, and then you die. Continue reading »

Nov 162012

SUMMARY: In this post I’ll review the most recent evidence that over the last two or three months Facebook has intentionally reduced the reach of Facebook Page posts even further — by as much as 40% on average. But I’ll also explain two very recent changes that Facebook has rolled out which, at least for now, will allow users to see all the posts from Pages they want to follow: Page Feed and Notifications. I’ll also explain recent changes that Facebook has made to the Comment feature on Page posts.

Yes, having previously ventured into the gaping maw of Facebook’s machinations, I now find it difficult to get away from them. The rough tongue of the globe’s biggest social media platform has wrapped itself around my torso and won’t let go. I know I shouldn’t care, but I can’t help myself. Chalk it up to morbid fascination. I’m fascinated by books bound with human skin, too.


It all started in May when Facebook rolled out their Promoted Post feature, which offered administrators of FB Pages the glorious opportunity to pay FB so that more than a small fraction of a Page’s fans would see their posts. This led ignorant grunts like me to discover that for at least a year before that, Facebook had been using computer algorithms called “EdgeRank” to pick which which fans would see which Page posts. Some would see them, most would not.

Then, in July, Facebook removed some of the statistics that Page admins could see on their Page Timelines — the stats that quickly showed the percentage of their “likes” who were seeing each post on the Page. This seemed like a fairly blatant attempt to hide from Page admins the most easily understandable evidence about how few fans their posts were reaching.

At about the same time, Facebook began reducing the number of status updates that would automatically load in user’s news feeds — with FB’s algorithms determining which ones would appear higher up in the feed (thereby increasing the chance they would be seen).

It also became evident at that time what Page admins would get by paying FB to promote posts: FB would not necessarily deliver the posts into the news feeds of more users; they would instead push them higher up the feed for users selected via FB’s algorithms (i.e., not 100% of a Page’s fans), thus increasing the likelihood that those selected users would actually see the posts. Continue reading »

Oct 222012

This is the latest in a series of increasingly depressing articles we’ve published about Facebook’s manipulation of Page posts in an effort to “monetize” their business. For more detailed background about changes that have come to light earlier this year, go here, here, and here.

The latest development: It strongly appears that in late September 2012, Facebook again changed the complex “EdgeRank” computer algorithm that it uses to decide what appears in its users’ news feeds so as to reduce the reach of so-called “organic” posts, i.e., un-paid posts, while it continues to push Page sponsors to pay Facebook in order to reach readers. If you’re a FB Page admin like me and you’ve noticed a dramatic recent decline in the number of FB users who see your posts, now we know why.

In this article, we’ll summarize the evidence of this change (with all sources listed at the end) and also discuss some ways of circumventing Facebook’s strategy, including one that’s increasingly being suggested around the web — use of Facebook’s “Interest Lists” feature.

This article may prove to be of general interest, but as usual, we’re writing from a narrow perspective: We’re addressing these issues as a non-profit metal blog whose mission is to spread the word about underground music made largely by broke-ass bands, distributed by largely broke-ass labels, and loved by largely broke-ass fans.

We use Facebook for much the same reason that our constituents do — to interact with the community of metal and to publicize what we’re doing. Making money isn’t in our mission statement, and although many metal bands and labels do use Facebook in an effort to generate sales of music, merch, and show tickets, it’s not like they’re raking in the big stacks. Which is why anything Facebook does that pushes metal-oriented Pages to pay for reaching their fans is particularly damaging to our (broke-ass) community. Continue reading »

Oct 052012

Yes, I’m afraid it’s time for another rant about Facebook. The pressure was building, and I needed to vent for fear that otherwise I’d have an attack of explosive diarrhea.

The last time I had to resort to this kind of diarrhea remedy was in June, when the subject was an exploration of the algorithms that Facebook uses to determine who gets to see Page posts and the rollout of Facebook’s Promoted Posts feature. In a nutshell, if you’re the admin of a Facebook Page and you add a Page post, Facebook doesn’t deliver your post to the news feeds of all your Page fans. At one point, Facebook reported that on average only 16% of your fans will see any given post.

Facebook does give you the option of paying them to expand the distribution of your posts. That’s the Promoted Posts feature. We’ve used that feature only for certain posts at the NCS FB Page — when we want to spread the word about a song premiere or new album stream here at the site — and, unsurprisingly, it definitely does work. The stats we get from FB show that our posts reach a much larger percentage of our FB fans, as well as FB Friends of our fans, though the reach is still not 100%.

But we’re not a business, we get no revenue from anyone for running NCS, and so there’s a limit to how much money we’re willing to spend to spread our content around the FB community. Impecunious metal bands aren’t any more likely to fatten up Facebook’s bank account in order to reach more of their fans either.

But it turns out that with Promoted Posts, Facebook was only getting warmed up. On Wednesday of this week Facebook rolled out a new “test” in the U.S. (they’ve been doing it longer than that in other countries). Now, even individuals get the awesome opportunity to pay FB in order to increase the visibility of shit like your wedding photos, pics of your newborn brat, where your band is playing next weekend, and big news like what you ate for breakfast. Wheeeeeee!!! Continue reading »

Jul 042012

SUMMARY: Within the last day or two, Facebook has removed the statistics previously reported to Page Admins showing the percentage of Page fans who see their posts. Also, Facebook also made two other changes which reveal that until quite recently, Facebook has been both under-reporting and over-reporting the number of people who “see” Facebook Page posts.

DETAILS: About three weeks ago I wrote an article on this site called “The New Facebook: Fact, Fiction, and Unanswered Questions”.  Wouldn’t you know it — that article has become one of the most-read posts we’ve ever published at NO CLEAN SINGING, despite the fact that we’re a blog devoted almost entirely to extreme metal. Go figure.

The focus of the article was on Facebook’s new “Promoted Posts” feature, which allows administrators of FB Pages to pay Facebook for the privilege of getting their Page posts in front of more of the people who like the Page.  That new policy focused attention on something that had been true for a long time but was unknown to many FB Page admins, i.e., that only a small percentage of our fans are actually seeing what we post on Facebook — and that this happens in large part because Facebook is deciding who ought to see what posts.

That fact became painfully evident because of a new “Page Insights” feature that Facebook rolled out in late May, timed to coincide with the Promoted Posts service. This Page Insights feature included lots of bells and whistles, but the simplest one was a line at the bottom of each Page post that was visible to the Page administrator (in the case of NCS, that would be me), but not to fans of the Page or anyone else who sees a Page post. It showed two statistics: (1) the number of unique people who saw the post — which Facebook calls “people reached”, and (2) the percentage of people who like your Page who saw the post.

It’s that second statistic which made it so obvious to Page admins that their posts were reaching only a small minority of the people who liked their page. It was like an ever-present reminder that if you wanted more people to see your Page posts, you would need to pay FB — and if you did knuckle under and pay, it would also show you how much bang you were getting for your buck in the form of a higher percentage of people reached.

All of this led to a massive bitch fest directed against Facebook. Well, guess what? All that bitching had an effect! Yes, Facebook responded to the barrage of criticism: In the last day or two they removed the statistic that tells Page admins what percentage of their fans see Page posts. But that’s not all . . . Continue reading »

Jun 112012

Facebook’s recent rollout of Promoted Posts and Pages Insights has stirred up a storm of controversy among members of the Facebook community, including the little corner of it occupied by metal bands, their fans, independent labels, and blogs like this one. The development that generated the most intense feelings of betrayal was the revelation that Facebook shares Page posts with only a small fraction of fans who have “liked” the page, and that Facebook will deliver page posts more widely only if you pay them to do it.

Much has been written about these changes — and much of it has been wrong.

Last week I wrote an article on NCS about these changes, and I got some things wrong, too. I spent hours this weekend surfing the web, trying to separate fact from fiction, instead of listening to metal. That was a really piss-poor tradeoff. I’ve learned some things, but even after some fairly intensive research, I still haven’t found the answers to some important questions. That in itself is worrisome, not so much because I’m a mediocre researcher (though I am), but because Facebook hasn’t been entirely open and above-board in what it’s been doing.

But, I do seem to have learned more than a lot of people who’ve unwittingly been spreading misinformation on Facebook band Pages during the last week. So, what I plan to do in this post is separate fact from fiction (expressly citing the sources of my information) and clearly identify the questions that I still haven’t been able to answer definitively.

I’ll also report on the results of our own experiment with Facebook’s new Promoted Posts feature — the one that lets you access more of the people who have already liked your Page by paying for it.

This is a long post, even by NCS standards, so here’s an “Executive Summary”: I’m still fuckin’ pissed off, and you should be, too. Continue reading »

Jun 072012

Really, I swear, this isn’t going to become a regular feature, despite the fact that this is the fourth time I’ve done one of these posts in the last week. And the proof is that I’m not using the same name for this post as I did for the last ones. I’m calling it something different. You can see that.

Anyway, here are some things I saw and heard yesterday and last night, and at the end of the post I’ll have an update on our experiment in paying to promote our Facebook posts. Here’s a disgusting hint: It works.

I saw an announcement by Century Media that Swedish death metal icons Grave (in their leather finery up above) will release their 10th studio album, Endless Procession Of Souls, on August 27th in Europe and on August 28th in North America.  I’m already beginning to get the stench of rotting corpsemeat up inside my nose. I’ll probably stop bathing soon, just to get myself fully attuned to the reek by August. We previously reported that Grave will be touring NorthAm with Dark Funeral (and some band named Morbid Angel) this September and October.

And speaking of grisly old-school Swedish death metal, I received through the ether an electronic copy of a new EP from Mexico’s Zombiefication called Reaper’s Consecration. I’ve only listened to two of the five tracks so far, but it is a fucking brain assassin, and the EP includes this sweet cover art designd by the band’s vocalist Mr. Hitch: Continue reading »

Jun 062012

Maybe this is old news to people better informed than I am, but I just discovered some very disturbing developments at Facebook. What I found is ironic. Last weekend, I used screen shots of Facebook posts by metal bands as a snapshot of the kinds of difficulties that underground bands face in attempting to continue creating music and performing. Now, it turns out that Facebook is restricting the ability of metal bands — and labels and blogs like ours — to market themselves and stay in touch with their fans through Facebook.

How long has this been going on? I haven’t yet found the answer to that question. But one thing is quite clear: When a band or a label or a blog like ours adds a post on Facebook, most of our fans who have “liked” us do not receive those posts. Here’s what I know:

NCS has a Facebook page. I add a Facebook post every time we add a post on this site, as one way of telling people we’ve done something new and ridiculous on this site (or new and awesome, in the case of posts created by the other writers). At this writing, we have 1,476 Facebook “likes” — a number that’s pitifully inadequate considering the amazing quality of our content, but still better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.

As the “Admin” of our Facebook page, I started noticing recently a set of statistics at the bottom of each one of our FB posts showing the number of “people reached” by each of those posts, and the percentage of all the people who “like” our page who saw the post. Since then, I’ve been looking at those stats, and the percentage has never been as high as 50%, and it’s usually less than a third of all the people who have “liked” us.

I assumed that when I added a post, it would show up in the news stream for every person on FB who had “liked” our page. When I saw those “people reached” statistics, I assumed that FB had implemented some kind of algorithm to  calculate how many of those people had logged in to FB and perused their news stream.  WRONG. Continue reading »