Over a decade ago, I watched as Facebook intentionally broke organic reach and Lucire’s plummeted 90 per cent overnight. It was clear what Zuckerberg’s grift was: to get us to pay to boost posts.
But there was already, back then, plenty of reasons you shouldn’t: it was buggy as heck. Fast forward to 2014 and Facebook had a bot epidemic, something I found years before the US media became suspicious about it and bots’ contribution to sowing discord among their people. In our more recent investigations, Facebook has given up its fight against bots that plague the platform, admitting that its audience reach figures have no relationship to real populations. I’ve also done some maths on this blog to suggest—since there is not a single objective source for them—that Facebook’s real user base is probably half what it claims (and even less than half by now, given that it says its active user base is over 3 milliard).
A more talented mathematician than me should be able to plot the percentage of suspected bots against Facebook’s claimed totals and my gut says that percentage has risen steadily over the last decade.
Facebook failed to detect bots writing fake status updates—people might call them ‘AIs’ today, but we’re talking nearly a decade ago when I was active in tracking down bot nets and reporting them.
And even though I seldom use Facebook, and use Instagram even less, it’s never hard finding bots on both. Instagram, arguably, is even worse: post a photo, see which spammers comment or like it, and then see if you can find variants of those spammers, which tend to be spambots doing the rounds on the site. Quite often I can uncover dozens just by feeding in a few keywords into the user search, which begs the question: if I can, why doesn’t Instagram? Unless they have something to gain.
And they do: a claim to inflated user numbers, and organic reach so damaged by fake accounts that users have no choice but to pay for reach.
Let’s take a couple of more credible sources. Hootsuite says that as of July 2023, ‘the average engagement rate of an organic Facebook post ranges from 2.58% down to just 1.52%.’ Facebook gives various BS reasons why this is the case, blaming the users and content makers, but we know better: they’ve damaged it.
Ogilvy concurs that organic reach is in the 2 per cent area. Facebook is now a pay-to-play platform, and, like Google which commercializes its first page, not a place where small businesses can thrive in a sustained fashion as well as those with deep pockets.
If reaching youth, Instagram could be too ad-filled—recently we had five ads and suggested site recommendations in a row, with no content from people that the Lucire account actually followed. But it seems there is still a good youth audience there if one can be bothered scrolling. Tiktok is a destination for youth which doesn’t seem to have descended into being as ad-filled, and it looks like that’s where the action is.
Despite the lack of reliable numbers—you really trust Facebook to deliver stats about Facebook(?)—companies like Hootsuite still go about these levels of posting frequency:
Instagram (feed): 3–7 times per week
Facebook: 1–2 times per day
Twitter: 1–5 times per day
LinkedIn: 1–5 times per day
Per day? I say that’s madness.
Linkedin aside, these are dying services and if you’re doing a post a day that’s the upper end of what I’d suggest. Why prop up platforms past their prime, who use algorithms to control what you see and don’t see?
The answer isn’t necessarily the fediverse, either: I’ve seen comparatively little interest in Pixelfed, for instance. On that I am happy to be proved wrong.
Linkedin isn’t getting off scot free. I made a few posts recently but it seems it no longer gives notifications on your own stuff.
On the 25th, I posted a link to JYA Creative and showed off our new symbol. On the 26th, despite plenty of reactions on the first day, Linkedin was incapable of showing me any of them. There’s nothing in my regular feed and when viewing reactions to my own posts, Linkedin wrongly claimed that the most recent was five days before.
It’s the same story with a July 31 post: plenty of reactions on the post itself but nothing in my notifications.
This guarantees a reduction in engagement, which makes me wonder if Linkedin is now using resources trying to deal with its own spambot influx—or whether, like Bing, there are some serious bugs under the surface. It is Microsoft, after all, a firm not really known for precision programming.
Meanwhile, at OnlyKlans:
Is there any point to taking it seriously now?