Crafty Pint / 04.10.12
Anyone involved in the craft beer world will be aware of how important the internet has been and continues to be in making this the most exciting time in beer’s long history. Whether it’s bringing brewers from across the world together to share ideas, offering a wealth of insights for budding brewers, fostering debate or allowing people to share their thoughts and passions with like-minded souls across the globe, it’s been a force for good in many, many ways.
At The Crafty Pint, it is our primary means of spreading the word about Australia’s vibrant craft beer scene and its social networks help us to do so. So it’s highly frustrating when one of those social networks, one seemingly designed to bring people together, keeps changing the ground under our feet in a way that is only ever to our detriment.
The chances are, this won’t be the first time those of you who use Facebook will have read some comment about recent changes to the site this week, such as The Yeastie Boys rather succinct response. But that doesn’t mean we plan to stay silent. Pretty much overnight, we noticed the number of people seeing the posts we put up to let you know when a new story, feature, event or beer has been added to the site had dropped to around a quarter of previous levels. In other words, of the almost 1,500 people who “Like” The Crafty Pint’s Facebook page – presumably because they are interested in what we do and want to be kept abreast of what’s going on in the craft beer world – only 120 or so are seeing posts in their Timeline. That’s less than 10 per cent.
We’re not completely aware of how this has happened, but we’re pretty certain as to why.
In recent months, we’ve variously been asked if we want to “Highlight” and then “Promote” our posts. The former was a cost-free option, which soon disappeared, that seemed to be asking: “Do you want people to see this post?” when clearly we wouldn’t have posted it in the first place it we didn’t; the latter wants us to pay every time we pop something on Facebook in return for Facebook showing said post to people who’ve indicated they would like to see if in the first place. In other words: “We’d like you to start paying for something we used to do for free and we will stop people seeing your posts until you do so.”
Initially, when we chose not to pay for the honour of seeing our posts “Promoted”, they were still seen by a few hundred people. As of the past week, stage three of the “Highlight-Promote-Stitch Up” plan has kicked in and that figure has dropped dramatically.
Now, we know that Facebook has performed disastrously since its stock market debut and is on a cash grab as it reels from the massive overvaluation of its business model. We also know that it has been relentlessly tweaked to the constant annoyance of its users for years. But, having steadily built up a following of people with a common interest to whom we provide a service for free, it sticks in the craw that we are now being asked to pay to share our hard work – asked to pay to reach the people who want to be reached. It’s not that we’re opposed to paying Facebook in principle as we’ve used their ads service in the past for a specific event. But why should we be practically forced to turn all of our posts into an advert rather than have them seen by those who want to see them?
However, having spoken to a few people who know how these things work, it appears that if our posts are “Liked” or “Shared” by more people then Facebook’s algorithms (or something) are likely to pop them into more of our fans' Timelines. Whether this is true or not we’re not sure, but it has to be worth a try.
So, if you’re on Facebook and “Like” our page, please feel free to “Like” or “Share” any story or post that tickles your fancy. We know that’s the whole idea anyway, but given these most recent changes, perhaps set your bar lower and click your approval on more of them. That way, there’s a chance our efforts to spread the good word won’t be hampered by bean counters trying to rectify their foolish investments. While you’re at it, consider doing the same for any post from any craft brewer or craft beer venue you see. After all, the chances are they’re in the same position we’re in and we may as well try and circumvent the money grab as best we can.
Anyway, rant over. Back to proper beer news tomorrow. Oh, and we promise we’ll never go down the (technically illegal) route of relentlessly offering free stuff in return for “Likes” as it drives us up the wall when beer companies clog our Timeline with such guff, usually resulting in us “Unliking” them pretty sharpish.