Revisiting the Facebook reach debate

facebook_logoThe debate around Facebook Pages and their organic reach has been ongoing for years now, but it always spikes again when Facebook themselves cop to the fact that organic reach is changing or that their algorithm has changed in some manner.

The latest development is an apparent admission on Facebook’s part that Pages will now see organic reach drop to “between 1-2%”. For what its worth, previous organic reach was around 6%, and two years ago I remember telling bands I worked with that 10% was probably a sign things were going well – anything more than 10% would be a bonus. So, let’s be clear: Facebook organic reach has never been all that great.

Now though as we drop nearer and nearer to a zero figure, it rightly leaves many wondering why they bother. Just last week, Eat24 announced they were deleting their Facebook Page citing the hopeless reach as a factor.

I certainly sympathise. Let’s be clear: I’ve never been of the view that we all deserved unlimited reach with our Pages. However the ideal always felt like a balance of sorts, with day-to-day posts achieving decent reach (provided they were good) and ‘milestone’ posts (which in the context of bands would mean new single/video/album/tour) getting promoted to ensure maximum reach not just to fans but to broader audiences too. There was logic to this: it ensured a good flow of decent content to fans (which in turn kept them on the site, thereby benefiting Facebook as well) whilst also ensuring that Facebook would see money for promoting those key posts to broader audiences.

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Motorik Beats

cover_43432117102008I found myself jonesing for some Motorik beats having played Neu’s mighty Hallogallo. One quick google search for a playlist of some kind landed me on this brilliant article on The Quietus.

Having read it, I noticed that Spotify was – at the time of compiling the playlist back in 2009 – missing some of the tracks. So, I recompiled it to add in the missing songs here.

Its ace – check it out if you can. Quite funny to read a claim that Bowie used motorik beats only to then have the evidence (which is 100% spot-on) presented to me via the playlist. Ditto Ultravox and The Human League!

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Music vs The Web: Have We Reached Social Media’s Tipping Point?

facebook_logoThis article originally appeared on Drowned In Sound.

Its been a bumper year for Facebook, on paper at least. Recently they announced that year-on-year revenues were up 60%, with advertising revenue up to $1.8bn. Their daily active user count rose 25% to 728 million people. At this point then, you’d think it would be high-fives all round, with Wall Street giving Zuckerberg and co a hearty pat on the back.

And yet, shortly after this announcement, more than $18bn was wiped from Facebook’s stock value. The reason? One, short sentence: “We did see a decrease in daily users specifically among younger teens.”

Herein lies the problem for Facebook – and indeed any tech company looking to take the IPO path: when advertising is your core product, at some point the balance will tip, driving users – usually starting with the younger ones – away.

Put simply: in order to make money, Facebook must serve ads. In order to make more money, Facebook must serve even more ads – almost certainly putting them on a collision with a critical mass point, where people burn out completely on ads and, at the very least, stop clicking on them or, as is the current case among teens, find other services to use.

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Book recommendation: ‘Social Media Is Bullshit’ by BJ Mendelson

Social Media Is BullshitThis week I’ve been really enjoying reading the finely-titled book “Social Media Is Bullshit” by BJ Mendelson. Its a provocative title alright, but really the point of Mendelson’s ire here is not so much social media itself, but more the ecosystem of bullshit that has grown around it: the marketers, analysts and self-styled experts who sell social media as the solution to all our marketing problems. Ultimately, this book is a call for a bit more common sense in marketing and a bit less blind acceptance of stats and reports making often too-good-to-be-true claims. Certainly for me what resonated was the author’s attack on rather vague social media metrics being used as a genuine indicator of success. As various others (most recently Lucy Blair in her MIDEM blog) have pointed out, this is a real problem in the music industry and one that needs addressing ASAP. Radio 1 could be cited as a contributing factor to this problem in my view, purely because any campaign with an eye on their playlist focusses on the stats they know the station wants to see. However I think along the way everyone – myself included – has at some point fallen for the stats game and allowed it to dictate our strategies, and that is not a good thing.

What I like about this book is that it is not just an all-out attack with a wholly negative tone. Through the book Mendelson outlines the problems but crucially then offers solutions based on his own experiences. Reading those is a welcome dose of common sense and whilst the book isn’t perfect (and at some points lost me purely because marketing music is not the same as marketing soap powder or any other product), it certainly gives you grounds to sit and truly re-evaluate your perspective on modern media and what *really* works.

I wouldn’t say this is a book purely for marketing people either; arguably managers and label staff of any type should take a read to get that much-needed dose of perspective. Amid a multitude of blogs telling us these platforms are the future, that’s very welcome indeed.

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Two book recommendations

Screen Shot 2013-10-13 at 10.00.32Its the weekend, so rather than talk shop I figured it would be nice to take a break and instead recommend two music books instead, as both are utterly fantastic.

John Higgs’ “The KLF: Chaos, Magic and the Band Who Burned A Million Pounds” is possibly the best music-related book of the last couple of years. Now admittedly, I’m something of a KLF obsessive (and for those who’ve not heard me spin the yarn, I once faked an entire KLF comeback with my friend DJ Food), but even if you’re so-so on Drummond and Cauty this is still a fine read. The book isn’t a biography of the KLF per se; its more a journey through their career told via their influences. Taking in anything from Situationism to the Illuminatus Trilogy through to the number 23 and Doctor Who, what I love about this book is that it reminds you that now and again pop music can be both incredibly catchy *and* rather subversive at the same time. It doesn’t mythologise the band either, happily admitting that at times the band were guilty of retro-fitting theories around their actions (for example, Drummond cops to never having actually finished the Illuminatus Trilogy – a tome which carries arguably more KLF-related symbolism than anything, including the source of their “Justified Ancients of Mu Mu” title). The faintly comical part for me was the degree to which synchronicity carried so much weight in the book, purely because I then realised there were no small number of synchronicities between myself and the KLF too, as I’ve now worked with various people who also worked with the band back in the day. But I digress – do check the book out, its ace.

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