Biancoshock – Sponsored performance on Facebook
Biancoshock, who earlier this year completed a piece for Memorie Urbane and whom we interviewed, recently had two provocative performances on Facebook using their Sponsored Posts feature. He started from the fact that when paying to promote a post on Facebook, it is shown in News Feed to more people than it would be if unpaid, so the chances that people engage with your post when you pay for it are also bigger.
According to the artist: “The sponsorship of a post is a very hot topic that has created various and different opinions: for the promotion of a brand-event-product can be effective, in the context of art/artists may seem too commercial, not very coherent (specially for those working in urban art, a kind of art really meritocratic).”
Indeed, when publishing a post, its organic (free) reach depends on Facebook’s algorithms, which are constantly changing. As a result, your post is influenced by interactions such as likes, comments etc.: “Now it all depends on whether an algorithm FB [Facebook] judges your content interesting or not, to give space to those, of course, for a fee and to entice you to invest in those to be visible (problem of the collapse of visualization of free post). The sponsored post has guaranteed visibility to override other posts. The policy of FB is clear: if you pay you can be the first and messages/thoughts/products will be the first, the best. If you pay you have only to follow and respect few rules for your post: text not exceeding 20% of the image (depending on their grid) no profanity, no sex, no insults to FB, etc.”
To raise awareness to Facebook’s policy, the artist initiated two performances, as follows.
Adding the dots avoids automatic word scanning
The artist paid a post on Facebook “trying to force their system of censorship and showing that, if you pay, you can say what you want with a certain visibility”. So, as the artist highlights in his performance, for even a very small amount of money, of only 5 EUR, Facebook can approve posts that ridicule the company.
Nothing and something
In his second performance, Fra.Biancoshock promoted a post without a message showing that it can get more visibility when paid compared to a post that may be meaningful, but that is not promoted using Facebook ads: “I’ve paid a post on FB [Facebook] without a message in order to prove that for 24 hours a post that says nothing is more visible than other post[s] that may be interesting.” After 24 hours, there was a clear difference between the two, the paid one was shown almost 5000 times in News Feed and got higher engagement, and the other had less than 200 people seeing the post and very few post likes.
Results after sponsored campaign
NOTHING – post
SOMETHING – post
About Facebook Reach
Facebook defines post reach as “the number of people who have seen your post. Your post counts as reaching someone when it’s shown in News Feed”.
According to our findings, since October 2013, Facebook has been constantly decreasing organic reach on all business pages (and interest/ public figure pages were also affected). Following Ignite’s research in December 2013, showing that Facebook Brand Pages had a 44% decline in organic reach, with values often under 3% related to the number of fans (info), especially for brands with big fan bases (+500,000 likes) as Mashable confirmed (info), in April 2014 Tech Crunch also revealed a decrease in organic reach from 16% in February 2012 to only 6,51% in March 2014 (info).
In June 2014, Facebook offered two reasons for the decline of organic reach: (1) „There is now far more content being made than there is time to absorb it”, and „people are also liking more Pages”; (2) „Rather than showing people all possible content, News Feed is designed to show each person on Facebook the content that’s most relevant to them. Of the 1,500+ stories a person might see whenever they log onto Facebook, News Feed displays approximately 300”. Part of their statement, Facebook linked the decrease in organic reach to their focus on paid media: „Like TV, search, newspapers, radio and virtually every other marketing platform, Facebook is far more effective when businesses use paid media to help meet their goals. Your business won’t always appear on the first page of a search result unless you’re paying to be part of that space. Similarly, paid media on Facebook allows businesses to reach broader audiences more predictably, and with much greater accuracy than organic content”.
On April 21st, 2015, Facebook made a new announcement regarding 3 News Feed updates, among which showing more content posted directly by friends higher up in News Feed. In the same month, Adweek quoted the results of a 5000 Facebook pages study by Locowise showing that from the 2.6% users reached, only 11.83% of them engaged with the page posts and that reach decreases the bigger the page is (more fans result in a lower reach).
Images © Biancoshock