Facebook Is Hiding Posts From You: How You Can Take Back Control Of Your News Feed And Help Small Brands In The Process

by Seth Haber | Founder, CEO

[UPDATE: 1/16/14 : Facebook has made additional changes which make the problems described in this post even worse for page managers.  In our case, a new post is now reaching only 400-600 people out of 16,000+ if we don't pay Facebook to promote it.  They've also removed the setting described in Step 1 below which provided a workaround for the issue.  You can still help resolve the problem by following Steps 2 and 3 below, however our additional suggestion at this point is to visit this page and tell Facebook that you're not receiving updates from our page (and most others that you follow).  It may not do much but if enough of you do it Facebook will have to respond sooner or later.  To go straight to the steps to fix your Facebook feed, just click here]

Depending on how far and wide this post spreads it’s tough to know how many of you reading this are already fans of Trek Light Gear on Facebook and how many are just discovering us for the first time.  One way or the other, I want to make it clear that this Great Facebook Fix isn’t just about us – it’s a way for anyone reading to take back control of your Facebook experience and support the underdog small businesses, brands, bands, artists, and non-profits you love at the same time.  If you’re a fellow business owner or page manager of any kind, I hope you’ll find the knowledge you need to help rescue your Facebook community and bring value back to everyone involved.

It was back in 2008, sitting in my tiny apartment that was Trek Light HQ, that I created the official Facebook page for Trek Light Gear.  We were one of the early adopters of getting an actual brand page on Facebook – even before company pages were supported I had created a Facebook group in 2007 called ‘I’d Rather Be In a Trek Light Hammock’ which had around 400 members before the change. And so began the slow road of building a following online.

As anyone who’s done it can tell you, building a fan page for a small brand on any social network is a huge amount of work.  Community building is something that I came to love, and I spent countless hours doing whatever I could to help our Facebook page grow – contests, giveaways, trivia, you name it – and through it all I also kept things as personal as I could by sharing my own struggles and behind the scenes stories of running a small business all by myself.  I was employing a valuable social media strategy without even knowing I had one (something I’ve written about and now refer to as ‘The Cheers Effect’).  And it worked: Trek Light Gear’s Facebook page started growing and what began as just a few family and friends was eventually 1,000 then 5,000 and now – almost 16,000 people who have used that Like button to express an interest in support of our small business. It definitely didn’t happen overnight.

The Great Facebook Problem

As the size of our Facebook community grew I naturally began investing even more time in nurturing it. I started putting a larger portion of our small advertising budget towards driving people to the Facebook page instead of TrekLightGear.com – Facebook had become a true extension of our site and I knew that people who followed us there would eventually wind up clicking links and visiting our own site anyways.  It had an incredibly positive effect on our growth as a small business and gave me an ability to reach new people exponentially as word of mouth and involvement in the community grew.

But what mattered most to me with Facebook, in the early days and now, was not so much reaching new people but the incredible way it allowed me to communicate with our current audience of fans.  I believe wholeheartedly in developing ongoing relationships with every one of my customers possible, not just selling a product and moving on to the next new customer.  Through Facebook I was able to communicate with thousands of people who had ‘opted-in’ as fans of our business and let them know about a new product, photo contest, sale, or giveaway without needing them to give out their email address or clog their inbox each time.

More importantly, conversations were taking place – people were exchanging tips, tricks and experiences that revolved around our brand. I was able to witness firsthand the evolution of Trek Light Gear from a simple product company to a real lifestyle brand, the product became secondary to the experience and how it brought like minded people together. The community was growing faster than ever,  getting better and better day by day and then…

And then Facebook changed everything.

Facebook decided to begin controlling and filtering what everyone sees in their News Feed. And instantly, the entire community we had built together became crippled.  

Here’s what happened:

Facebook didn’t really tell anyone that it was happening, they just started controlling what you see (and more importantly what you don’t) and business owners like myself started noticing more and more posts going unheard.  Facebook has called this system a number of things over the last couple years (EdgeRank was the most recent name but now seems to be retired) and rather than waste any time explaining it here I recommend you take some time and read all about it.  Facebook contends that it’s a system designed to help people get the content they want to see and filter out the noise. Which is noble in theory and not evil by any means – Google built an entire empire on helping people find the content they need while filtering out the noise.

But, something else happened at the exact same time that Facebook stopped ‘delivering all the mail’ so to speak, which paints a very different picture of their intentions.

There was suddenly a new feature which showed page owners like myself just how few people were now seeing each post.  Then, there suddenly appeared a new option to pay Facebook to ‘promote’ individual posts and get them delivered back to the same people who had always received them in the past.  All of this also just happened to coincide with Facebook going public and needing to create as many new revenue streams as possible – it’s not so hard to understand the reasons for change behind the scenes.

Let’s ignore the conspiracy theories or the reasons behind the change and take a step back for a second:  As it stands today, just about everywhere else in the wide world of the internet the concept of “opt-in” applies – if you want to receive someone’s content you subscribe, follow, etc. If that person’s content starts filling up your Inbox or your Twitter feed and you decide you don’t want to see it anymore, you unsubscribe, unfollow, or use another tool to filter that content aside so you can check it out when you’re ready.

But, Facebook decided to throw that convention out the window and create an algorithm (or more likely several hundred algorithms) to make those decisions for you.  And the scary thing is that almost everyone I’ve spoken with who isn’t a business owner or on the page management side really has no idea it’s happening.

Maybe you’ve noticed recently that some of your friends’ posts don’t wind up in your feed and can’t figure out why.  Maybe you’ve tried switching from ‘Top Stories’ to ‘Recent Posts’ and noticed that you see more posts or different posts than you were seeing before. 

But what about the posts that don’t show up in your News Feed at all no matter what you do? 

That’s where the problem lies.

Even though you’ve liked a page or connected with a friend you may never again get the chance to see a single post that person or page makes unless you visit their page directly.

If you’re reading this thinking ‘I haven’t noticed a problem at all’, that’s the problem right there – you don’t even know the posts are missing until you start digging.

Let me show you proof:

Facebook Reach Issue thumb Facebook Is Hiding Posts From You: How You Can Take Back Control Of Your News Feed And Help Small Brands In The Process

The graph above shows Trek Light Gear’s ‘Total Reach’ over the last few months – Facebook defines Total Reach as “The number of people who saw any activity from your page including posts, posts by other people, Page Like ads, mentions and checkins”.

There are nearly 16,000 people who have liked Trek Light Gear’s page, yet when we post something on our page, or when you post something on our page like a question for the community – no matter how awesome or beneficial it is – on average less than 1,500 people out of 16,000 saw it over the last few months.  And that number is actually skewed quite high because we’ve given into Facebook’s payment model and paid to promote some posts when necessary which also has the effect of driving up the “organic” reach.

For a more accurate idea, here’s a glimpse of our last 5 posts:

Facebook Reach Issue 3 thumb Facebook Is Hiding Posts From You: How You Can Take Back Control Of Your News Feed And Help Small Brands In The Process

That’s an average of only 754 out of ~16,000 people that even had a chance to see Trek Light Gear’s content and interact with it!

To reach our full audience of around 16,000 people Facebook will charge us a minimum of $100 to promote the post.

Without paying Facebook’s advertising fees anything we now post is seen by roughly 5% or less of the people who have requested to see our content.   The community has become a fragment of its former self, even as it grows in number.   The frustration for business owners like myself is not that Facebook is trying to make money – I completely understand that they need a viable business model and that no one should expect to advertise to people for free.  Want to reach thousands of new people with an ad? It shouldn’t come for free and I’ve got no complaints.   When necessary, I’ll happily pay Facebook to be able to advertise to a massive, targeted group of new people – it continues to be one of the best ways for business owners to reach extremely targeted groups of people by interest and geography.

But, it’s the community that is already built and the community that HAS and continues to opt-in to our content that we should be able to reach.

No small business can afford to spend $100+ every time they want a Facebook post to be seen by the people who already requested to see it.   If we as business owners suck at social media and our posts become annoying or boring to you you’ve got the tools to filter us out of your News Feed or just Unlike us forever -  that’s how social media works everywhere else and how most people incorrectly assume it still works on Facebook.  Post good content or lose subscribers, that’s a model we can all live with.

This isn’t just affecting business pages but posts from your friends as well.  Facebook took away your ability to see what you expect to see – without telling you and without telling you how to fix it. That’s what we’re going to change right now.

Fixing this Facebook flaw will help you get the content you want and at the same time will help the small businesses and causes you want to support succeed.

David vs. Goliath?

Right now small brands like Trek Light Gear are at the mercy of Facebook.  Facebook’s community bait and switch is forcing small businesses, artists and more to pay exorbitant amounts of money just to share news with you that you’ve already asked to receive. Small businesses are losing money and profit to stay connected with you as fans.

And while small businesses waste money and lose contact with their community, Facebook is getting rich(er) by making the assumption that you’re not smart enough to opt-in and out of what you want to receive.  They’re telling everyone that it’s better if they control these decisions for you and it’s better if you don’t even know it’s happening.

This is a chance for you to help all the small businesses, bands, artists and non-profits you love and take control of your Facebook experience back.

How to Fix Your Facebook News Feed

There are a few different ways to remedy this problem and I’ll detail each one below.  These steps should be done in combination with each other for the best results (better explained below) and if you want to absolutely know about every post a page or a friend puts out then the 3rd step is the only way to guarantee you’ll never miss another update from a brand/band/artist/cause/friend you love.

I’ll show you how to take back control of your News Feed using our page as an example, but you can apply these steps to any page you like or friend you’re connected to on Facebook.

1.) Fix the Hidden News Feed Setting:

  • Open the Trek Light Gear Facebook Page
  • Hover your mouse over the button that says ‘Liked’ near the top and you’ll see the following menu:
    _
    Hover 1 thumb Facebook Is Hiding Posts From You: How You Can Take Back Control Of Your News Feed And Help Small Brands In The Process
    (If you’re on a Friend’s page instead of a brand page, hover your cursor over the ‘Friends’ button and you’ll see a similar menu)
  • First, make sure ‘Show in News Feed’ is checked (it should be)
  • Next, click on ‘Settings…’ and the following menu will open:
    _
    Hover 2 thumb Facebook Is Hiding Posts From You: How You Can Take Back Control Of Your News Feed And Help Small Brands In The Process
  • This is the magic setting you’ve probably never seen before.   Chances are it’s set to ‘Most Updates’ – go ahead and change that to ‘All Updates’.  In a perfect world this would tell Facebook you want to see all the updates from our page and the problem would be solved.  However, from many reports online Facebook is still ignoring your desire to receive updates and even this setting won’t get all of a page’s updates to show up in your feed.  So, until that changes my best advice is to proceed with the next two options if you really want to fix this issue.UPDATE 1/16/14:  It looks like Facebook has now removed this feature for most users.  I no longer see this option and neither do many of the fans I’ve spoken with.  Facebook is making it clear that they’re continuing to make it harder and harder to connect with people who have liked your page without paying extra for each post.  I still highly recommend following Step 2 below to help fix the issue, but as of today (1/16/14) the only guaranteed way to make sure you receive content from a page you like is by following STEP 3. I will update this post again if more information becomes available.

2.) Interact With As Much Content As Possible:

Facebook’s algorithms are constantly changing, but one thing is pretty clear: they want to show you content they think you’ll like.  If you believe Facebook’s side of the story, the entire system is designed to prevent you from having to see content you don’t want to see (by assuming that they know more than you do about what you like).  By interacting with posts, you’re telling Facebook’s algorithms that you like the content.

As it is, it’s a broken system at best and results in a catch-22– if Facebook isn’t showing you content from a page, you’re never likely to interact with any of that page’s posts and the pattern of not receiving that page’s content will continue.  So, to fix the problem it requires a manual approach of teaching Facebook what you want to see:

  • Visit Trek Light Gear’s Facebook Page
  • Click ‘Like’ on any posts you like, the more the better.  You don’t need to Like things at random, just check out our content and Like what you like, it’s that simple. It also helps to Like posts containing all the different forms of content – pictures, links, videos, etc.
  • Sharing and Commenting is even more powerful.  Facebook knows that it’s easy to click Like on posts without much thought, but it’s the content that you really like that you’ll Share on your page or comment on.  If you see something worth sharing, share it.  And don’t forget to comment on posts you like, any brand page like ours loves to hear from you.
  • Post Your Own Content!  Most brand pages like ours allow you to post directly on our wall.  Share a photo, a story, ask a question, or just say hello and introduce yourself – it’s what community is all about.

This is the reality of what Facebook has become and you need to apply this lesson to everything you see in your News Feed going forward.

REMEMBER, this applies to posts from your friends as well and not just brand pages.  From now on, under the new Facebook model, if you see a post you like, you need to actually click Like or Share or Comment and not just think about how much you like it and move on – if you don’t, the chance of seeing another post you like from that person/page just went down considerably.

3.) Enable Notifications

This is the ONLY current way to ensure that you’re at least notified of all the content that a page or a friend posts. Depending on how you feel about notifications, this option may not make sense if you’re following a page or a friend that puts out a TON of updates but that’s not the case for many brand pages and especially not with a community like Trek Light Gear’s.  At most you might get one notification a day from us and that’s when we’ve really got a lot to say.

Here’s how to make sure you never miss an update again:

  • Visit Trek Light Gear’s Facebook Page
  • Hover your mouse over the button that says ‘Liked’ and you’ll see the following menu again:

    _

    Facebook Notifications thumb Facebook Is Hiding Posts From You: How You Can Take Back Control Of Your News Feed And Help Small Brands In The Process

    (If you’re trying to enable notifications for a friend instead of a page you’ll want to hover over the button that says ‘Friends’  and you’ll see a similar menu)

     

  • Click the top option that says ‘Get Notifications’ and make sure it’s checked

That’s it. From now on when we (or your favorite page/friend) posts an update the trusty globe icon at the top of your Facebook page will light up red and let you know.

Be aware that enabling notifications doesn’t mean that the page’s posts will show up in your News Feed any more or less  – for that to happen you need to follow Steps 1 and 2. What this does is one thing only – it ensures that at the very least you’ll get a notification each time the page adds a new post.  You can always ignore or overlook the notification which is why this problem is best solved with the combination of all 3 steps above in a way that works best for you.

4.) Tell Facebook You Want Your News Feed Back

I recently discovered this page in Facebook’s support center which reads “If stories from Pages aren’t showing up in your News Feed, you’ve come to the right place. Please use this form to tell us more.”  It’s important to show strength in numbers around this issue or Facebook will continue to ignore the problem.  Take a quick second to use this form to tell Facebook that you want to see posts from Trek Light Gear and all the other pages you’ve requested updates from – it’s your News Feed and Facebook needs to hear that you’re capable of choosing what you want to see and what you don’t.

Conclusion

I’m writing this post as I’ve written just about everything else on this blog – as both a business owner and a plain ol’ citizen of planet Earth.  My goal as a business owner is to fix the community we worked so hard to build and to make sure that the nearly 16,000 people who like Trek Light Gear on Facebook actually get to see the updates we share and be part of the conversation again.

But, I’m also writing this because I use Facebook on a personal level to follow brands, pages, and people that I love – and I’m tired of missing out on announcements and news simply because Facebook decided not to show it to me.  And I know that many of my friends and family are dealing with the same issue and need help understanding what’s going on.

At Trek Light Gear we use social media to share things that any fan of our company would benefit from – from ways to win free gear to new product announcements and exclusive discounts for our community of active supporters. When our community really thrives though it becomes less about us and more about the exchange of knowledge and the discussion that takes place.  That can only happen again when we’re able to re-connect with the missing 95% of our community.

The best thing you can do whether you’re a business owner or just a casual user of Facebook is to help this post go viral – share this post with your Facebook friends and spread the word.  If you post it on your page you can almost guarantee that it will help someone you know with a small business or a local non-profit to grow their online community and achieve their dream faster.

Social media outlets like Facebook can be nothing more than a way to share pictures of your lunch or to read about what a terrible day your old neighbor is having.  But, when used properly social media can provide invaluable ways of getting the news you want, whether it’s from friends, family or a business, non-profit or cause you believe in.  It’s up to you to make sure that Facebook isn’t censoring what you see and preventing you from keeping connected with the people and pages you want.

Facebook isn’t doing this to be evil – they’re just trying to implement a system where the people who actively interact with content continue to get that content and the people who don’t will no longer receive it.  The problem is that no one knows that it’s no longer okay to just passively view the content in your feed.  Some people just don’t like to be that person that clicks ‘Like’ on everything and some people like to remain anonymous.  But the bottom line is that anything you don’t interact with is telling Facebook you don’t want to see it anymore.  People have asked for years for an ‘unlike’ button on Facebook – the reality is that Facebook has turned the act of not clicking Like into an Unlike, a down vote for ever receiving more of that content,  and that’s a massive fail until users understand exactly how this system works.

If you stumbled across this page not as a fan of Trek Light Gear but because someone shared this post with you, I hope it’s helped you take control of your Facebook feed once again.  Feel free to stay awhile and check out our amazing lightweight hammocks and compact backpacks or to find out how we’re making the world a better place by giving back with every sale  we make.  I believe life is better in a hammock and that Facebook is better when it builds community, supports the small brands needing to get their voices heard, and helps you get more of  the information you want and less of what you don’t.

{UPDATE: The business community is catching on. There’s a lot of anger, but no real solutions: http://www.businessinsider.com/facebook-screws-social-media-marketers-2013-12}

Have something to share?  Know of any ways I missed to fix this problem? Leave me a comment and let’s talk about it below.

pf button both Facebook Is Hiding Posts From You: How You Can Take Back Control Of Your News Feed And Help Small Brands In The Process
  • Life was good back when

    All of the sites that I like only show up on the Pages and People newsfeed. I don’t know how to have them show up on the most recent or current. Don’t have a computer, only an iphone. Any suggestions?

  • http://www.treklightgear.com/ Seth Haber | Trek Light Gear

    I wish I did! Facebook continues to make even more changes since this post was written that prevent pages like ours from showing up in News Feeds. We have over 16K fans and on average less than 300 people now see any of our posts.

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