FBEERFacebook has recently changed the way posts are published in fans’ news feeds.

In order to get exposure for your business Facebook Page, you have to to one of two things:

  1. Increase your Edge Rank by encouraging Likes and Shares, which pushes up the reputation of your page.
  2. Pay for a Promoted Post, which can be incredibly expensive.

Businesses aren’t particularly well-off at the moment, so many are going for the first option. Put up some really great content and hope people share it. A lot. That will pay off, because the business Facebook Page Edge Rank will quickly step up, and other posts will become more visible.

Except it doesn’t work if they can’t see your posts in the first place.

So How Do You Increase Edge Rank For Free?

In order to increase Edge Rank, businesses have to post something really eye-catching and get Likes and Shares upfront to inflate their score. Then, they post the content that’s relevant to their customers, and more of them will see it. Sounds easy enough.

But what kind of content gets lots of clicks? What gets people to care?

Tragedy maybe? Heartbreak? Dying children?

An Example of Unethical Facebook Marketing

On Friday, I was alerted to this grotesque post on an Irish picture frame manufacturer’s business Facebook Page. (I won’t name them because I don’t want to send any customers their way.) It was posted by Condescending Corporate Brand Page.

Facebook post

This is one of many similar posts which the Condescending Corporate Brand Page has shared over the last few months. This one is particularly tasteless. It includes a photo of a young Russian child suffering from cancer, and is worded to tug on the heartstrings. Like if you care, Share if you care more.

Sick and dying children have very little to do with a picture frame manufacturer, of course. But it’s all about the Edge Rank.

Previous posts on the picture frame company’s business Facebook Page attracted less than 20 likes. They’d posted a Photoshopped picture of Jimmy Savile wearing a ‘Peedo’ t-shirt, but that one didn’t do much in terms of viral sharing, so they turned it up to 11 and chose cancer instead of paedophilia for their Friday finale. It did the trick. People Liked and Shared and commented. The Likes were well into the tens of thousands when the company started to get complaints, mainly thanks to Condescending Corporate Brand Page drawing attention to the photo.

The company went though the same naive social media routine: delete the complaints, delete the picture… oh, OK, let’s just delete the entire Page.

And now we’ve deleted ours too.

Why We Closed Our Business Facebook Page

You can blame Facebook for this if you like. After all, they changed the algorithms. They made it harder to be seen. But businesses don’t have to play into their hands.

I write many hundreds of words about social media every week. I understand the concepts of social media marketing, and there is a lot of value for business in social media – we’re testament to that. We use social media marketing every day. This isn’t an attack on social media marketers. It’s an attack on people who have no ethical conscience.

If we continue down this road – encouraging engagement at any cost – social media will no longer be social. It will become a Like and Share frenzy, with every brand looking to garner some extra Edge Rank by piggybacking on emotive subjects.

I don’t think this kind of marketing is ethical, and I honestly think that it will bring Facebook down in the end. I’d rather put my energies into other platforms which offer us the chance to connect with people. I am not prepared to compete by posting controversial or irrelevant posts. So I’ve shut down our business Facebook Page.

This furious competition for Likes and Shares is becoming disrespectful and obscene. This is not a race we want to run any more.

You can find Red Robot Media on Google+, LinkedIn or Twitter.

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Claire Broadley

Technical writer, blogger, and editor at Red Robot Media
Claire Broadley has been a technical author and web content writer at Red Robot since 2010. She contributes to dozens of websites, focusing on consumer technology, online privacy, digital marketing, and small business topics.
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