Why "Add to Interest List" on Facebook isn't a Magic Fix

Back in the day, if you "liked" a Facebook page, all the posts by that page made their way into your news feed. As did all posts by the people you were friends with on Facebook. Ah, but those were the pre-IPO days of Facebook. Now that Facebook's stock generally hovers about $10-$20 below the price at which shares were initially offered and more shares are about to be released, Facebook needs to make money....and letting businesses use the service for free isn't proving to be a great business model. So what does a company who publicly declared "We have no plans to charge for Facebook. It's free and always will be." do when their stock is in the toilet and they need to start making money fast? Well, do what they maybe should have been doing all along--charge businesses to use it.

But businesses who use Facebook probably aren't too keen to start paying to use it, either, so Facebook is going with their already-established revenue model: charging businesses to advertise on the platform. They're just changing that game a bit. It used to be that you could purchase ads on Facebook, which cost money, and/or you could use your page to interact with "fans." The more engaging your posts, as determined by Facebook's super-confusing EdgeRank, the more people would see them. Ah, if only doing business on Facebook were as simple as gaming EdgeRank anymore....

Yep, those days are over. Now the mystery has been taken out of the equation. You want your page's post to be seen by all your fans? You simply pay to promote the post. Click "promote" and a handy price chart shows exactly how much it will cost for increasingly-large tiers of fans to see your post.

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Easy, peasy. But, sadly, not free.

A lot of page admins think that there's a magic, free workaround to this new way of life for businesses on Facebook: the interest list. Pages are advising their "likers" ("fans" was such a simpler term to use when writing about Facebook, wasn't it?) to hover over the wheel icon on the page, add the page to an interest list, and BAM!, those posts will once again be visible in those people's news feeds. Alas, if only it were that simple. And free. But all creating an interest list does is exactly what it sounds like it does: create a list separate from your news feed, which you will then have to check.

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See that "get a special news feed for each topic" part? "Special" doesn't mean special as in magically integrated into your news feed; it means special as in separate. So yes, all the posts by a page will go into that news feed (or I assume all; not sure if lists are subject to the limits encompassed by the promoted post thing for a page) and if you check it, you will see those posts. 

So the bottom line is this: if you manage a Facebook page for a business and want people to see your posts, you're going to have to spend some money--probably a decent amount of money. If you are advising fans to create an interest list for your page's updates, be sure to add the caveat that they'll have to remember to check that interest list regularly for new posts. And of course I wouldn't be a proper Facebook hater if I didn't take this opportunity to point out that THIS is exactly why you should never count on Facebook to replace your website. And that you might want to start looking beyond Facebook to maximize your social media strategy's effectiveness.

UPDATE: Not sure what the timing of this will be, and it doesn't really solve the problem, but Facebook just announced that it will be rolling out "notifications" for page posts.