Tagaudience

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.

You are not the intended audience

You are not the intended audience.

Now that the world is universal, we are becoming unintended audiences for everything. We see all sorts of messages and posts on our social mediums. It exposes us to things we’d never dreamt of before. There are vast differences of opinion on the international communication medium.

And we are not always the intended audiences.

This is a good point that’s worth repeating. I’m a straight white man. The strength and acceptance are not for me. I don’t need them. They are for those who need the support.

It could be someone telling others he or she is gay. It could be someone coming to grips with depression or anxiety. It could be someone joining or leaving a church. These are personal choices. These are personal experiences. We share because it’s liberating to share a truth. But also because of the best thing the Internet ever did for us.

Remind us we are not alone.

No matter how alienated I felt growing up, I knew there were other people out there who were like me. No matter how much I feel alienated, I know I am not alone. That’s a powerful message. And an even more powerful feeling.

You Are Not Alone.

So next time you see someone coming out they’re not doing it for you. They’re doing it for them. And if that helps you, great. But if not, then ignore it and go on about your day. You are not the intended audience.

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