It may still be news to some people that Facebook curates what is displayed on a user’s feed. I think most people have some awareness of this, but I’m still surprised when people are surprised. The implications of curation are important for businesses to consider.

Why Curate?

The kid in the picture is trying to catch a snowflake on their tongue. It doesn’t matter which snowflake they catch. Any will do. They just want to catch one. That’s a good thing.

What if every snowflake that was falling landed on that kid? They’d be a goner. One snowflake weighs almost nothing. A snowstorm dumps TONS of snow across a large area. All that snow falling on one person would most certainly be fatal.

Think of those snowflakes as posts made by your friends, family, businesses you like etc. If Facebook wasn’t busy curating what you see, you would be overwhelmed by hundreds or thousands of posts each and every day. Facebook doesn’t want you to be overwhelmed, so they curate what you see.

One outcome of this curation is that posts from businesses mostly get filtered out. Unless you’re a huge fan of a company and demonstrate that by visiting a company’s Facebook page, liking and following them, liking, commenting, and sharing their posts etc., you probably won’t see much from that company in your feed. For businesses, Facebook’s curation is a curse. On the flipside, nobody would use Facebook if curation didn’t exist, so it’s a necessary evil.

What This Means for Businesses

Here’s the simple explanation:

Facebook’s Curation = Business’ Paying For Exposure

If you pay for advertising you can reach everyone who likes your page plus a whole bunch of other people who have similar interests to your business’ product or service. Without paying, you’re not going to reach many people. Even people who like your business won’t hear from you. Definitely not good.

Another troubling aspect of Facebook curation for individual users is that their posts may not be seen by all of their friends. This is especially a challenge since you may have a significant life event transpire and people won’t know about it. Getting engaged, married, new job, or having a death in the family are all important events but Facebook won’t necessarily put that news about you in everyone’s feed. Even if they do, people might still miss it.

How To Get Around This

Here are my suggestions on how to communicate something really important to people you know, either personally or in business.

a) Never rely soley on social media to communicate something important.

b) Use a combination of email, website, and social media platforms to get the message out.

c) If it’s really important, call.

d) If it’s not urgent but important, send a personalized letter, postcard, or greeting card.

I love online marketing. Love it though I may, I recognize its strengths and its shortcomings. One shortcoming is trying to reach people on a consistent basis. Even email to customers can get ignored or filtered out of sight. All online marketing has to deal with curation on some level. It’s a part of the ecosystem so you have to learn to deal with it.