How Facebook Is Silencing 57% of Your Fans

UPDATE: Facebook has now introduced an update for all mobile apps that includes a share button for posts from others in your news feed. Late to the game, but the problem described below is no longer a problem

Imagine that your team is in the Big Game. It’s all on the line. The Championship is up for grabs.

You have the hometown advantage for this game, which in your sport is huge.

And then you find out that over half or your fans in the stands that day will not be allowed to cheer for you.

Whether you realize it or not, that’s what happens every day to your Facebook brand page.

Recent studies show that as much as 57% of all Facebook users use FB primarily through a mobile device. While any of those who are “fans” of your page can (potentially) see your updates in their news feeds, they can’t spread them any further. They have no way to stand up and cheer for your great content. Why?

Because Facebook mobile makes it very hard to share.

That fact is simply stunning to me. How many years now has Facebook had mobile apps out there? And still no share button on posts. And I can’t believe that more marketers aren’t raising holy hell about it.

Yes, the latest iOS version does have the ability to share a link, but do you know where to do that? Neither did I, until I happened to stumble upon it:

Facebook iPhone Share Button

…and only after opening the link from the original post. You can’t reshare the post itself, just the linked material. And then you have to be someone who recognizes that icon as meaning “share this.” Clicking the icon gives this:

And if the post has no link to an outside site? No can do? Want to share that great viral meme photo? You’re out of luck. You can’t share it. You can’t even copy and paste it into a new post (at least not on the iOS version).

A “social network” where up to 57% of your users can’t share? Isn’t sharing great stuff at the heart of what a social network does? I can’t think of any app for any other social network that doesn’t allow sharing among users, can you?

Say you’re on your iPhone (or Android – I don’t want to start any wars!) and you browse through your Facebook app looking to kill a few minutes while you’re waiting for an appointment. You come across a great contest from one of your favorite brand pages, something you just know you and your friends could totally dominate and take away that lifetime supply of whatever-that-brand-makes. But you’re stuck in this doctor’s waiting room, and the Facebook post has no share link, or it’s so hidden you don’t know where it is.

By the time you get home, something else new and shiny has come up on Facebook, and the contest post is forever forgotten.

And that business will never know the opportunity they just lost.

Why No Share Button on Facebook Mobile Is So Bad

Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook

Sharing? That’s for kindergarteners. Stop whining and click the ads! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Let’s just put aside for the moment the frustration this causes the average Facebook user. I couldn’t possibly number the times that I have been disappointed that I couldn’t share something cool or meaningful with my friends because I was trapped on mobile.

The real sin of no-sharing mobile is for marketers who rely on fans to spread the good word about their great stuff. The reason that social media can be such a powerhouse for marketing (when done well) is the remarkable ability to turn average people into your “fans” (Facebook even calls them that!), and then enlist them to become your brand evangelists.

You put out the great content; your fans make it go viral and spread your message and your name far and wide.

Except on Facebook as much as 57% of your fan base is silenced. Your message hits their eyes and goes no further.

Sure someone could could click through to the linked site (if there is one) and share from there. Well, maybe. In all too many cases, if there is a Facebook button on the site, it doesn’t play well with mobile. Either it’s just a “recommend” or “like” button (which give you no opportunity to tell your friends why you’re sharing this with them), or even if it’s a “share” button, the share box doesn’t render correctly. Just this morning I tried to share on mobile from a site, and after I’d typed in a lengthy comment, discovered that now “post” button was visible anywhere on my mobile screen.

Why Is There Still No Share Button on Facebook Mobile?

Beats me.

I can think of only two possible reasons (and a third one from a Google+ friend):

  1. Technical Difficulty Theory. Maybe for some reason we don’t know sharing is really, really hard to implement on Facebook’s mobile platform. Really difficult…after three+ years of development by one of the wealthiest companies on earth? I don’t buy it.
  2. Whacko Conspiracy Theory! Facebook doesn’t want people sharing, because they desperately need to monetize their mobile presence, and they want to force brands to have to buy mobile ads in order to extend their reach to the mobile audience.
  3. Programmed Consumption Theory.  +John Taylor on Google+ added that it might be that Facebook really does see mobile as a consumption-only outlet, and they are the network TV programming execs. They know best what you should see and not see. When your friend Likes something, if the boys up in the executive suite (AKA Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm) decides it would be good for you to see that, you will. Or not.
Have I left out any possible reasons?
Update: +Margie Hearron on Google+ shared with me that there is a third-party app for Android phones that allows sharing of posts with full attribution to the original poster. See her post with an invite link.
What do you think? Am I overblowing this as a problem for marketers? Does the lack of a post sharing button on Facebook mobile bother you?
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How Facebook Is Silencing 57% of Your Fans by

Mark is Director of Digital Outreach for Virante Inc. Mark helps businesses build strategies to increase brand influence and attract natural links and social signals. He has a special reputation as an expert on Google+ and Google Authorship. A former teacher, Mark has worked directly in Internet marketing since 2005, but has been involved in social media and online community formation since the mid 1990s. When not helping Virante clients improve their online presence, Mark participates in competitive storytelling, plays with a Dixieland street band, and (surprise) spends more time on the web.

Comments

  1. Interesting post Mark, I reckon that the first reason you expose does not make that much sense also, I’m not sure about the second which sounds a little too much for me but I cannot find any reasonable explanation… So maybe. :(
    Obviously a lot of people complain about it (http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=240833529299007) but they don’t look to care that much in FB.

  2. That irritates me on two levels: one being able to actually spread and attribute other people’s work and two being able to remotely promote my page. My sense is that the Mobile app is meant to be a means of consumption of information but because ads don’t appear on the mobile app, ultimately, facebook wants to drive you to the web-browswer version.

  3. Excellent article and so glad I read it. I thought I was crazy and that I just couldn’t figure out how to share from FB on my iphone. I kept meaning to look it up.

  4. Seriously? With everything else goin on in th world I’m supposed to be upset that I can’t SHARE on my iPad? Here’s th truth to it – by th time it gets to me, there are already thousands of SHARES. And for each one of them, there are probably dozens more that have been hijacked by saving pics and links and then creating a post with the information. No, it’s not copy and paste, but it’s th next best thing. Then there are those that just outright steal th post and offer no credit to original authors of information. Truth be known, probably 90% or better th latter of th two. If I find something that is truly “share-worthy” I will take th time to do it from my laptop. If it is time sensitive and I miss th window of opportunity – oh well. It wasn’t meant to be. For now, I enjoy th extintion of ads on Facebook Mobile. Finally, a place where I get, for th most part, only what I want to get.

  5. maybe they would lose too much from their “Boost Post”

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