The Epic EPIC Fail that is Facebook Pages – Marketing Mondays

Posted December 10, 2012 by Julie in Marketing, self-publishing / 2 Comments

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had to work around using Facebook to market these days due to the Pay to Play nature of the business.  It’s like Chicago-style politics came to social marketing, and I’ll tell you what – I’m not interested.

I get it, if you’re Pepsi or Coke or any other billion dollar corporation, this whole deal is just par for the course.  You pay for advertising all the time.  I pay, sometimes.  But if I can find a way to get the word out without paying, of course I like that better.

But this whole thing with Facebook goes beyond that for me.  It’s beyond dirty what they did.  I admit I don’t use it a whole lot – not even the page for my non-fiction business.  But when I did use it, I got results when I ran a clever campaign.  Let’s look at some of those now, shall we?

Every year Simple Schooling runs two major promotions (three if you include Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but I’m not – because those are simply sales, not promotions where I give a whole bunch of stuff away for free).

The first one is in May and that’s a week-long open house.  People get to try out the courses and I give free stuff along the way.  I normally do two things to promote open house:

  • I do an email blast – typically one on the first day, maybe one in the middle of the week, and one on the last day.
  • I do a Facebook blast – ditto for this.  Three or four for a week long promotion.

Here are my results from May 2012 for Facebook:


It’s pretty boring, isn’t it?  I didn’t even put up an image, yet Facebook says that 2,555 people saw this post.  Here’s the second day:


Still pretty good.  It’s normal for people to start to tune you out after the first blast.  They saw it yesterday, they might look at it in the stream, but they don’t need to click or anything.  You’re going for those who missed the day before.

Here’s the final day of open house – I didn’t even mention open house or anything – just a quick post about a freebie I have for the Fourth of July.  (Which has been free for like three years…)


Getting more than 1500 people to take a look at this last day post is impressive, in my opinion.  People have been hearing about it for a week now, so this was a win as far as I was concerned.

Then, on a whim to try and keep some momentum going (normally I ignore the FB page) I posted this little Mark Twain quote for Memorial Day…


Now look, this post says nothing but I still had more than 1100 people take a look at it.  Just a dumb little “have a nice weekend” post.

All this looks pretty good for a little piddly company like Simple Schooling.  I think I had about 2500-2700 followers at this time.  (I have 2900 right now.)  So that first day of Open house really got great results – almost everyone saw the post.  Maybe they didn’t all click or interact, but at least the people who liked my page saw what they signed up for.

Now let’s flash-forward to December 2012.  This campaign is currently going on, actually.  I’m doing The Twelve Days of Freebies, which is something I do every year.  It would be great to compare how effective FB was in last year’s campaign, but I don’t know how many followers I had last Christmas.  It wasn’t a lot, I think I pushed over the 1000 mark in October 2011.  So by Christmas it was maybe 1100.  Growth was slow until this year.

So considering I have almost 3000 people who decided they “like” Simple Schooling, on the First Day of Freebies I had these results:


One thousand people.  Out of 2950.  Saw my post.  One third.  Back in May, before the Pay to Play tactics, I had almost 100%, remember?

WTF?  That’s what I started asking.

But wait, it gets better – remember that on day two of open house I still had 1900 people see the post.  Just watch my opinion of Facebook go down the drain with the number of people who are “allowed” to see my post, according to the new Facebook Rules:


EIGHT-FIVE comments on this one, girls and boys.  EIGHTY-FIVE.  Surely this would be considered a “popular” post, right?  Nope – even though I have almost 3000 people who like my page, only 20% of them are “allowed” to see my post.


And by day seven, we’re down to 10%.  This was a Friday, BTW.  The same day of the week that I sent out that stupid “Happy Memorial Day Mark Twain” post that got 1100 pairs of eyeballs last May.

This is what has become of Facebook.  I have, essentially, lost all faith in them.  I will NEVER Pay to Play (and I have tried, but both times Facebook told me I was not even allowed to pay for more eyeballs.  Not. Even. Allowed.)

I could care less about Facebook these days, I’m not wasting another second on it after this post.  I have an e-mail list with double the number of people on it.  I have a Twitter account that is growing every day (hell, that SS twitter account has 6000+ followers, too).

I have blogs, like this one.  I have other ways to get the word out and Facebook can go to hell.  This is what they’ve done to small businesses all over the freaking world.  Cut us down because they lied to stock-holders about the worth of this company and then lost all kinds of money when they went public.

I’m not an anti-corporation person, and I definitely aspire to be a fat cat rich person, so I’m not against making money either.  But what Facebook did to its users is DIRTY.

And I’m done.

And if Twitter tries this shit, I’m done there too.  I pay for Constant Contact, so I can’t see them trying to extort money out of me, but if they do try, I’m out there as well.

So my best advice on how best to use Facebook for marketing your book is don’t bother.  Build an e-mail list, build a Twitter account.  Join chat forums in your genre.  But whatever you do, don’t rely on Facebook.  Because you can spend a few years building up your fan base on FB and they can take them all away from you.




Until next week…

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2 responses to “The Epic EPIC Fail that is Facebook Pages – Marketing Mondays

  1. Julie, while I commiserate with you, I also think that many self-published authors are being naive about the motivations of Mark Zuckerman and Jeff Bezos. Zuckerman didn’t make FB to provide a tool for people to reach each other, but to make money. Bezos didn’t allow self-publishers to publish for free out of the kindness of his heart, but because he needed cheap content for his new e-reader and to force publishers to adjust their e-book prices in view of the glut of cheap e-books. Now that publishers understand that you cannot ask hardcover prices for an e-book and buckled down to 9.99 and the Kindles are the best selling e-readers out there, Bezos changed the rules at Amazon, making it harder for self-publishers to promote themselves unless they join the KDP Select bandwagon and sell exclusively through Amazon. Is that fair? Well, it’s not unexpected. And it’s simply business.
    FB needed people like us in the past, but it’s become so big that it doesn’t need to cater to us anymore. Is that fair? Perhaps not, but it’s what you can expect from big businesses.

    • Julie

      Martyn, I could give a shit why that little liar Zuckerman did what he did. You’re right, it’s his business, he can do with it as he wants. The problem is, and everyone knew this going in, that Facebook is not the money-making conduit Zuckerman talked it up to be. So what did he do? He totally screwed over all those people who made his little college project hum along.

      And I’ve got zero beef with Bezos, You’re comparing an actual business model (distribution and sales) with one that’s been propped up with hype from the beginning. Zuckerman touted Facebook as a SOCIAL NETWORK, a place to CONNECT, and then he realized that FB ads were never going to deliver his promised money, he got desperate and screwed people out of millions of dollars.

      Amazon has always been a business. Facebook only thinks it is one.

      Like I said, Facebook can go to hell. I could care less if they close all my pages or even my personal account. I get pretty much ZERO from that place right now. It’s a widget in my sidebar, nothing more.

      When you can sign up to see posts by a company or person and then be told by the FB powers that be that, no – in fact, they’re not going to let you see those posts unless that person running the page PAYS them, I call that extortion.

      Zuckerman cannot exist without the people that put FB on the map (what business can exist without customers), and I’ll tell you what – It’s going to be so much fun watching it all go to shit. That disaster that was the FB IPO – you remember the one? Where Zuckerman suckered all those people out of their money?

      “Facebook stock famously lost a lot of its value in the months after its offering, and is currently trading at around $28, compared to an initial offer price of $38.”

      Yeah. Enough said.