In May, the world's largest social network went public in what was one of the most highly-anticipated IPOs in history. But, as Metallica might say, the soothing light at the end of Facebook's tunnel turned out to be a freight train. Thanks to an exorbitant valuation, exchange glitches and growing skepticism about Facebook's ability to make money, shares of Facebook stock, which was priced at $38, were quickly battered to the twenties, and then to the teens.
Facebook can't turn back the hands of time and redo its public debut, but it can convince Wall Street that it is going to make money and lots of it. And that's precisely what it has been focusing on since May.
Unfortunately, the pursuit of more money has created more problems for Facebook. One of the most widely-talked about in marketing circles: recent changes to Edgerank which seem to have reduced -- in some cases significantly -- the number of fans Page posts reach organically. Not surprisingly, many believe that Facebook's algorithm tweaks are not a coincidence but instead an intentional effort designed to encourage Page operators to purchase Promoted Posts.
Conspiracy or not, Facebook wants your money
Is Facebook engaged in an Edgerank conspiracy? If it is, it's obviously not hiding it very well. Call the company's apparent Edgerank adjustments whatever you like, one thing is certain: if you're running a business and using Facebook to reach consumers, Facebook wants what's in your wallet. And no matter how it goes about trying to get your money, tension is a given because marketers previously had the ability to do a lot on the social network without sending a cent to Mark Zuckerberg and company.
The good news: Facebook may be recognizing that there's a little bit too much tension. According to Inside Facebook, the company is in the process of rolling out a new notifications option for Pages. A company spokesperson confirmed the feature and stated that it "will help people keep up with the people and things that they care about most."
Not surprisingly, notifications are not enabled by default and it's not yet known whether users who enable notifications will see all of a Page's posts, or just a higher percentage of its posts.
A red herring?
If notifications effectively serve as a way for circumventing Facebook's Edgerank changes, companies operating Facebook Pages will naturally want to encourage their fans to enable them. That, of course, will require some effort.
But even if notifications take away some of the pain Page operators have been feeling lately, the wise ones will consider that their relationship with Facebook has changed significantly in the past year and that raises more fundamental questions about how Facebook should be used. After all, if reaching consumers on Facebook requires companies spend on Promoted Posts or effectively build an email list without the emails, just how much investment in a Page is worthwhile today?