MonthFebruary 2018

The Three Percent

Why Facebook Is a Waste of Time—and Money—for Arts Nonprofits

I’d argue Facebook is a waste of time and money for any group or organization where your goal is to grow your following. But let’s hear it from an arts non-profit.

The Center for Artistic Activism discusses their experience with their Facebook group.

We currently have 4,093 “fans” of our page on Facebook.

These 4,093 fans were gained over years of activity and posting. They do not pay for followers, choosing to use their dollars on furthering their goals of artistic activism, rather than enriching one of the largest corporations in the world.

Screenshot of C4AA’s Facebook analytics. Courtesy of Steve Lambert.

This shows how many people (anyone, not exclusively fans of our page) have seen our posts over the past three months. With a few exceptions, you can see most posts don’t reach more than a tenth of the number who have opted to follow our page. In recent weeks, we’ve reached an average of around 3 percent.

3% of their audience is seeing their posts.

People think the Facebook algorithm is complicated, and it does weigh many factors, but reaching audiences through their algorithm is driven by one thing above all others: payment. Facebook’s business model for organizations is to sell your audience back to you.

If you pay Facebook, more of your audience will see your posts. If you don’t pay Facebook, you’re better off screaming into the night. Or posting flyers on a telephone pole.

Do we think that Facebook is turning the internet from an autonomous, social democratic space into an expanding, poorly managed shopping mall featuring a food court of candied garbage and Jumbotrons blasting extreme propaganda that’s built on top of the grave of the free and open web? Yes, yes, yes, and yes.

I love this description of Facebook. It also reminds me of the food court in Tysons Corner mall. For those outside the area, think of the last time you were in an airport. Now turn the televisions up louder, make the seats less comfortable and add a dozen screaming/crying children and you’re off to a good start.

I wrote Show at the top of the stairs in an open loft, wearing headphones to try to block out the cries of the baby. Let me tell you: Headphones are not a replacement for a shut door.
– Austin Kleon

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