This Is the Story of How Facebook Alienated a Perfectly Good Dance Label…

Facebook’s decision to charge labels for sending updates to their subscribers is alienating indie labels.  Now, many of these labels are increasingly turning their backs on the social media giant.

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“Indie labels have relied on social media for the past five years,” says My Favorite Robot Records owner, Jared Simms.

“The deal was that Facebook provided the interface and we provided the content – but in the middle of the game they changed the rules.”

Not coincidentally, Facebook’s decision to limit the reach of posts came around the same time as the company went public, when, no doubt, the focus shifted towards satisfying shareholders. Suddenly, My Favorite Robot’s updates only reached around 15% or fewer of its page subscribers.

“Indie labels like us were left scrambling,” says Simms.

The label has around 15,000 fans on the site, but sometimes only 1,000 of them will receive the posts, says Simms: “We have to buy advertising to ‘open up the window’ for the rest of the fans to see it.”

This is what Facebook calls “boosting” the post, and it can cost anything from $50 to hundreds of dollars, depending on how many subscribers a label has.  Simms puts out a record every two weeks, so he ends up having to spend $200-$300 a month in order to get the message out on Facebook.  To put it in perspective – it’s about the same as what he spends on his professional PR company.

For a small dance label such as My Favorite Robot, this is a significant expense, considering the limited revenue it makes from record sales.

“I can imagine them [Facebook] reasoning ‘where else are they going to go?’,” sighs Simms.

Though the cost weighs heavily on the label’s bottom line, Simms currently feels like it’s something he has to do for his artists, in order to do everything in his power to help them reach as many people as possible.

As a result, however, he’s been focusing on developing his own mailing list for the past six months.  The added bonus is, of course, that there is no intermediary that dictates how he can interact with the fans.  “We’ve stopped adding fans to our Facebook page,” he explains.  “Instead we’re going back to a grassroots level – it’s like we’ve come full circle.”

His primary goal is to get closer to the fans that are supporting the label, and Facebook, it turns out, is not fulfilling its promise of doing so.

Simms believes that it’s only a matter of time before someone else will come up with a new innovative idea that will take the place of the social media giant, as far as labels are concerned.  He concludes: “If Facebook pisses off enough people – from the business point of view – people just aren’t going to hang around.”

29 Responses

  1. Cifty Fent

    “The deal was that Facebook provided the interface and we provided the content – but in the middle of the game they changed the rules.”

    >> What /deal/? Or was this simply your interpretatation; misconstrued as a deal?

    “His primary goal is to get closer to the fans that are supporting the label, and Facebook, it turns out, is not fulfilling its promise of doing so.”

    >> How did you get Facebook to explicitely promise supporting your label?

    • Helienne

      I don’t know if you’re familiar with it, but it’s called figuratively speaking – as is the expression ‘changing the rules in the middle of the game’. Of course they’re not literally in the middle of playing a game.

    • Visitor

      two words… WORD PRESS

      A wordpress blog is so much better for social engagement than facebook – but, it takes work to create content that fans want.

  2. Yves Villeneuve

    It is my very recent experience, Facebook won’t allow any post to go viral. They go as far to delete the posts if seen attracting too many engagements. Now won’t allow me to make similar posts at all.

    • GGG

      Bahaha, like any of your posts have had that much interaction….yea right.

      Or if they did, my initial suspicion that you were buying ‘likes’ is correct.

  3. mjqc

    Facebook wants visitors to have engaging user experiences so that they come back. Create correctly targeted, interesting posts that your fan community enjoys and you’ll reach more people. I’ve had posts on an artist page with 14,000 fans reach 105,000 users via shares. I’ve also had posts on the same page only reach 4,000 people. It’s all about how interesting your community thinks each post is.

    I’d also argue that record label pages will never do as well in terms of likes and engagement as a band’s page will because people have deeper emotional connections to specific bands as opposed to rosters of bands.

    • Yves Villeneuve

      Based on your stats, I would have to question the effectiveness of making Facebook posts thereby resulting in more Page Likes. Does not appear worthwhile and likely a waste of effort. Due to your information, I’m changing my approach and only posting very sparsely.

      From research on the web, some experts are saying Post Reach is capped at 16% of Page Likes.

      I also strongly suspect Facebook employees frequently engage in the comments section of Facebook(edgerank)-related blogs to mislead readers with false stats.

    • Polaske

      I agree 100%. I recently spoke with a marketer who makes all of his money bulding audiences on facebook pages. I asked him if he was worried about having to pay to reach your page audiences. He said he will never pay, and his posts will reach more people now. Why? Becasue he said the best content now reaches more people.

  4. Henry Chatfield

    This definitely supports the idea of having a page that you own is the way to go. Facebook could just come out and make more changes tomorrow, or even fade away in popularity. And all the work done to build up a follower base will be ill-fated.

    Personally I think the best approach is to have a blog on your own website to share thoughts and connect to fans with Twitter to announce updates. You own it, which means, most importantly, you have complete control.

    I’m not saying Facebook should be ignored, but you shouldn’t put all your eggs in Mark’s basket…sorry…bad pun.

    • Yourmothersanus

      Wrong. Facebook recently purchased the entire internet for $100B and now they will not allow engagement via any medium above 5%. Otherwise they will send the Facebook Police round to arrest you.

  5. Faza (TCM)

    This just goes to show what some folks (myself included) have been harping on about for a while now: if you don’t own the real-estate, you’re left hanging on the goodwill of strangers – in the wonderful world of the web, the former term can equally well be rendered as ‘douchebags’.

    Using Facebook as a primary means of engagement has two problems: what we’re seeing here and the fact that it dilutes engagement. Facebook updates from a label (provided they actually reach a fan) are mixed in with the kind of trivial and disposable tripe that normally gets circulated on Facebook – which makes it easy for the fan to treat them in much the same way.

    Facebook makes life convenient for the fan, but – paradoxically – I don’t think we, as creators seeking fan engagement, should be pandering to that. An experience that requires minimal engagement is greatly diminished – if engaging with your favourite kind of music is essentially the same experience as looking at lolcats, it is unsurprising that it isn’t going to feel special.

    Lastly, I have to point out that even if you don’t bother with Facebook much (or at all), it doesn’t mean that your updates won’t appear there – your fans are quite likely to post them of their own accord.

  6. GL

    This is a new, yet generally accepted cost of doing business, and depending on your (as an artist or label) business model and cashflow can be prohibitive, though I haven’t seen anyone come at it like this.

    Edgerank, which is what Facebook employs to create each user’s personal stream is based on a few factors, one of which being if said user actually engages with a post or other user. They did this to make a more scalable and relevant info stream for each individual user.

    In the end, it is obviously beneficial to “boost” and break through to more latent friends, however if you’re not engaging properly and are relying on this to get more breadth, it’s also time to start thinking about your overall social media and posting strategy.

    People can like, and then follow or unfollow, and user behaviors and there it’s up to you to keep them there.

    From a label standpoint, you’re paying for PR which is hopefully attached to a decent marketing plan, and leveraging the socials of potential online press outlets. That’s one piece.

    Then you have your own actual socials, then there are those of the artists. That’s a decent three pronged attack and most labels and artists I know see this cost akin to what you would pay for adspace in traditional media.

    Facebook is only one part of an social media strategy, depending on the demos you’re trying to hit it might not be the strongest. Your best bet is to check your Facebook Insights and see what’s actually engaging, when and how. You’ll see if your money is well spent. If not then it’s time to regroup.


    • GGG

      The point is, when someone likes your FANPAGE, you shouldn’t have to pay to get them to see your shit. It’s fucking stupid and a ripoff.

      • GL

        I think the point is if they’re not paying attention to your FANPAGE or posts, they don’t really care that much in the first place…If you have to pay to access them and they’re still not coming back you’re doing something wrong.

        Whether that’s not making a product they care about or, making promoting it effectively.

        Promoted posts can end up seeming like spam if overused, it’s moving from permission marketing to interruption marketing, at leats on the FB platform…

        • GGG

          There are two different points. It’s one thing to have boring/stupid/inane content people don’t care about. It’s another thing to not even have posts show up in people’s newsfeeds, which is the issue. How do you know if 1,000 people will interact with some status if only 400 see it?

          • Yves Villeneuve

            I agree with what you are saying.

            There is another option that might be impossible to implement however. Boost a post that asks your fan base to allow notifications from your page. Every time you post, they receive a notification. Keep in mind, FB might not allow this type of promoted posts while this type of request could alienate many fans.

            Another thing, I am currently boosting a post and Facebook estimated a minimum of 4900 reach for $5. With a CTR of 11.4%, 44 paid post likes and $4.53 spent, my paid reach is only 400 fans. What kind of CTR does one need to attain a paid reach of 4900??? Facebook has obviously internally set a minimum price for each page engagement(click) unless a CTR of 11.4% is completely inadequate, but I doubt it.

          • GG

            I would not be surprised if they count that side scroll bar as reach to make their numbers look better for more money. So for simplicity sake, let’s say a boosted post will reach 10 people. Each time a person likes that page, 100 people will “see” “Person X liked Page X” in the live scroll feed. So they can claim a page reach of 1000 people.

            I’m being very cynical here, but I wouldn’t put it past them to do that or a similar bullshit method. Either way, even if a lot of fanpage likes are questionable/non-responsive, it’s not fair to punish the page creator and/or the actual fans by not letting people see posts.

            So for once, Yves, we are in agreement haha. May history never forget this moment.

          • Helienne

            That you guys agree, for once, puts a smile on my face. And you’ve both put some really interesting, valid points across, as well. I hadn’t even thought about if they count the scroll bar on the site – really good point.

            I appreciate the discussion – that’s what this is all about.

  7. beecee

    Just a few thoughts on this:

    While FB implemented this pay for post view thing in a very half-assed way, the way that most tech companies seem to implement changes, I also don’t see why a business should not be expected to pay advertising costs when using someone else’s platform? Instead of paying for an ad in a magazine that might never get noticed by a potential fan, or putting an ad on P4k, for a small fee you get to send out a post about a new release (advertisment) to people that you know like your label/music and want to engage with your brand. How is that so terrible and cruel?

    What sucks is that a lot of fans of a page will not really ever know that they are missing posts, which i guess then puts the pressure back on the business to keep paying so that posts are seen. But once again, how is that different from an ad in some magazine of yesteryear or a blog of today?

    • GGG

      Because the people are already engaged in your brand by actively ‘liking’ your page. If you want to buy and boost ADS, like you can, and target those, that should aboslutely not be free. It’s ads. Your fanpage posts are not ads, though. They are fanpage posts.

      It’s not wrong for Facebook to make you pay to use their platform, it’s just incredibly douchey.

      • beecee

        They should just have a business class version of Facebook where you can pay some nominal fee or something and then anyone that likes your page can see your posts. Maybe make up some neat extra tools or something.

        • GGG

          If they wanted to add that, and make it clear for new businesses joining, that’d be totally cool with me. Older pages should be grandfathered in, though.

  8. hippydog

    Quote “The label has around 15,000 fans on the site, but sometimes only 1,000 of them will receive the posts”

    OK. A little bit of urban myth happening here..


    Facebook started limiting the reach of posts.. main reason is EVERYTHING including fanpages, groups, posts from friends etc etc, ALL now end up in the “Wall”.. so what happens is a post can very easily fall down to the point it will not be seen (people now not only miss posts from companies, but they also miss content from friends if they dont scroll down or constantly log in)

    Facebook wanted to monetize the wall because most people ignore the little ads on the side, and the side adds were not incorporated with mobile market.. (which is becoming increasingly more important)..

    Heres the thing.. That streaming content has become a firehose.. so facebook limits the amount that shows up on a persons wall DEPENDING ON HOW MUCH THEY INTERACT WITH THAT PERSON OR PAGE..

    for example.. you have an uncle Ed who constantly posts cat pictures on facebook.. if you only have a few friends or “page likes” you will most likely see all those pictures.. but if you have 200 friends and NEVER comment or ‘like’ one of uncle ed’s pictures, after a bit facebook will stop showing them to you.. Makes sense? kinda?


    You go to uncle Eds profile and switch ON ‘notifications’ or actually interact with some of the posts..

    Same thing happens with a business page.. but , unlike uncle Ed, a business can purchase a guarenteed post push, so that even people who have NEVER interacted with your page will most likely see your post..

    I’m not saying its right or wrong..

    Im just saying that in most cases, the “fans” that many business’s “thought” they had, never saw the content they were spamming out in the first place.. They simply just never bothered to ‘unlike’ the page..

    Whats really happening is now companies are getting the REAL info on how many people they are reaching, and it shocks them..

    “what happened to my 15000 fans!!?? ”

    dude.. you never had them in the first place.. what you had was 15000 people hitting “like” and then promptly ignoring you from that point on..