I have, at best, a Love/Hate relationship with Facebook. There is so much drivel and ego to hate that it is almost overwhelming. How people can be so self-absorbed as to think that the world needs to know of every meal, or every high-priced purchase, or every moment of their vacation is beyond me. Besides, does the world really need several hundred million more selfies? (And why can't girls clean up their rooms/bathroom counters if they are going to take several hundred pictures with reflections of these messy wastelands? But I digress.)
On the other hand, there are, admittedly, many great stories floating around on Facebook. Last week was a triumph of social media in the cycling world when Specialized realized they were traipsing on a lot of angry emotion by trying to enforce a trademark on one of the most storied words in bike racing - Roubaix - and one poor shop owner who dared to share it. There are also many stories of kind deeds, heroic efforts, simple kindnesses and sometimes of heartbreak and loss that need to be shared. I can forgive a lot of "Here I am sitting by the pool in Hotsy-totsy Land" posts when I run across one discussion of an illness that has struck a mutual friend and they need some love and support from their tribe.
On a similar vein, as part of a brewery (or any business actively trying to spread the word about a product or service), Facebook represents a huge, unavoidable, inarguable source of interaction and interest. We have made a handful of great vendor connections, a bunch of fun bar/restaurant/pub connections and literally several hundred great customer connections. When you look at any social media statistics, Facebook is the lumbering giant in the land. Its total numbers dwarf the number of people actively participating in Twitter, Instagram or any other social media platform. No matter how wonderful THESE words are on our blog, we have more people see ANY Facebook post than will see the blog on a given day.
So, that makes it all the more bothersome that Facebook has recently changed the algorithms that dictate what stories show up on your Facebook timeline. They don't make this stuff clear, but it appears that businesses now have to pay Facebook to promote a post to get it show up in timelines, even when you have previously Liked a page and even if it would have showed up a week or two ago.
What's this mean? First, I can't really begrudge Facebook. They provide the platform free, right? And after Zuckerberg got those first billions, you knew he would want a few more to keep them company, right? So it's natural that they try to "monetize" the relationship and ask businesses to pay. Newspapers and TV stations don't run free advertising for us, so we don't have a good case when Facebook does the same. The problem, of course, is that instead of the interaction being more organic and "normal," the tendency quickly becomes that companies are more corporate and more manipulative because they have a budget and return expectation attached to each post AND it means that the big companies start to take over all of the interaction again. The couple of behemoth beer companies can buy more advertising than every hand-crafted brewery combined, so their message carries the day and it gets harder for interested people to learn about the local companies making great beer in their communities.
My cynical side is resigned to this big-guy-wins process, but I do think we are turning a corner now that won't really be obvious for a few more years. In the meantime, I would urge you to be thoughtful about interacting with the companies you care about so that they keep showing up on your timeline. Make a click, Like a like, add a comment. It takes an effort, but it will help you and your favorite locals fight back the tide of commercialism that will inevitably take over Facebook.
Me? I'm going to have a Network moment or two and look for something to throw out a window (Kids, look it up) and then go back to looking at selfies.