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Facebook for Bands: Surviving Declining Fan Reach – Together

Updated: 27 August, 2023 Created: 27 August, 2023 By:Andrzej Category: Blog
A radical shift is needed in the way bands – especially in our dark independent scene – approach Facebook band promotion. In short: we need to help each other, there is no other way.

We need to quickly understand, that bands competing with one another is the most dumb thing we can do.


Because in fact we are competing with the whole world of huge corpos spending billions, advertisers, marketers, politicians, spammers, scammers, crappy musicians from other scenes, popstars, influencers, celebrities and other assholes.

This is who we really are up against as a scene. To face this on your own is stupid and bound to fail.

The solution would require you – the musician – to stop being selfish and to realise that cooperation will benefit all of us.

I would go further: in the current state of Facebook algorithm, cooperation between bands is the only possible way forward.

And by saying “way forward” I am really putting a positive spin on it. What I really think is that all we can do is cling to the Facebook-Bandcamp model for a little longer, that’s all.

What we really have to do is to break free from the Facebook/Bandcamp model, but this is beyond what this post is about.

This post is about adapting to Facebook giving you access to less and less of your fans.

Will you be able to afford paying to reach your fans once your organic/unpaid reach becomes almost zero? Maybe you do pay to reach your fans already?

How much of your hard-earned (and taxed on average at 23% by corporations) Bandcamp revenues will you have to give to Facebook just in order to let your fans know you still exist?

Let me elaborate on the problem of declining fan reach that makes your unpaid communication with fans less and less effective.

Downsizing, Facebook style

For many years it has been the most common topic in the social media marketers’ discussions – organic reach going constantly down and what to do about it.

Organic means not paid for. It is how many of your band’s page fans see your post when you post something without paying for promoted post. It was around 16% years ago, now it is below 4%.

It has gotten roughly four times worse in about eight years timespan.

Just like your favourite burger or sweet bar are getting smaller and smaller – same downsizing principle applies to social media.

It is just number of people you reach that gets smaller, not the weight of the product. The burger folks make your burger smaller to make more money. Facebook makes your audience smaller to make more money.

Same concept.

So out of every thousand fans you have, on average less that 40 will see your post. By the way, people used to say it is bad when it was 160 fans out of a thousand.

It is four times less now.

And it is not Facebook’s last word, you can bet on that. In fairness, Facebook is not the worst: Twitter is way, way worse. Twitter is so bad, that everybody just automates posting there and forgets about it.

But don’t get too cheerful: this is precisely the direction Facebook is going too.

Facebook is also trying to zero in on what is the worst possible deal you are willing to accept without leaving their platform.

It is so obvious that even Facebook itself recently felt the need to come up with an explanation, almost quoting my memme from eight years ago, proving how accurate it was:

“Can’t reach as many of them” – more accurate would be “can’t reach almost any of them”.

They also say a very revealing thing: that when you log in to Facebook, you have 1500 posts that could be displayed to you.

Facebook has to choose what you will see. Obviously, it will not be what you would really like to see. They will show you what makes them most money.

Remember: as a user you need to be just happy enough so you stay and keep scrolling, but not a tiny bit more than that. This is when Facebook makes most money.

Anything above this bare minimum that keeps you scrolling is a waste, is something that could be sold but it was not.

Attention of users is the commodity Facebook sells, not gives away free.

So most of what you see will be ads or sponsored posts but some interesting things have to be stuck in between these ads too. Otherwise people will stop looking at their news feed.

These interesting things must be top-notch, so they make up for sponsored crap the user has to scroll through to earn his “reward”.

Facebook knows exactly how much crap they can push on users without them quitting. They have been testing this for years, on literally billions of people. They know the magic crap to non-crap formula inside out.

Now imagine your band posting about your new album being out on Bandcamp is one of those 1500 posts waiting to be shown. What are the chances you will get through to your fans?

What are the odds Facebook will decide that this is what people should see?

The odds are extremely low.

They will give you your handful of people they think are enough for you to stay, and keep displaying ads to all other people who like your band’s page.

And – of course – they will give you an option to reach more of your fans if you pay.

This is precisely why years ago I realised that mailing list and good own website is the only way to go. I knew the reach is going to get worse and worse everywhere, not only on Facebook.

It turns out I was spot on. I just did not realise how bad it is going to get.

I am back on Facebook after 5 years of exile and cannot believe my eyes. The crap they pour at me from my newsfeed is astounding. It feels as if someone was deliberately trying to make me dumb.

I guess it was getting worse gradually over years so people did not notice, but for me it was a shock.

I just don’t watch it, there is no point. This stuff can make you braindead.

Anyway, enough of this. You probably realise how dire things are today. If you promote a band on Facebook things I write here about are nothing new to you.

Let us get to why we – independent musicians – should cooperate in order to make the situation a bit better.

Or at least to make it get worse at a slower rate.

How Facebook decides who sees what?

There is plenty of resources if you want to see all the hypotheses on how Facebook’s algorithm works, but there is only a few factors that interests us.

In a nutshell, Facebook assumes that what some people like or interact with, others will like to. The old good social proof of correctness. Same concept that made Google so much better than their competitors (they used links as such proof – and won).

So if your post displayed to these 4% or less of your fans gets liked, commented and shared, Facebook will display it to more people.

It will become this good stuff that gets stuck between the ads as a reward for viewers.

If your post gathers no interaction, they assume it is some boring stuff and wont display it anymore.

You see, they need interesting things in between the ads so the people keep scrolling. It works like these slot machines, they use so called variable-ratio reinforcement schedule, fascinating stuff if you are into psychology.

People do scroll in hope of encountering something of interest exactly the same way gamblers keep pulling that lever even though they do not win every time they pull.

Gamblers loose money, scrollers loose time – that’s the difference. The principle employed to keep folks pulling or scrolling is the same though.

Facebook cannot afford displaying uninteresting things for free, because they already display tons of sponsored posts that are of low quality by nature. They have enough of paid crap to show.

So they won’t show yours, sorry.

How to help each other

Here is where the cooperation part kicks in. It cost you nothing to like, comment and share other bands’ post. You can do this both as your page and with your personal profile – the latter is believed to be way more effective.

Seriously, nobody (apart from U2 fans) listens to one band only. Relationship with music is – like it or not – a polyamoric one.

Help other bands out. Like, share, comment. This will increase their reach. It will not decrease yours or hurt you in any way.

You see, there is just a couple of bands’ posts among these 1500 posts waiting for every person logging into Facebook.

It is the rest of the world we are competing with, not other bands.

If dark independent bands help one another, we will get ahead of everybody else. It is unlikely that our competitors – marketers, spammers, influencers and other scumbags start cooperating in any meaningful way.

We can beat them. And it is “them” who we should beat, not one another. It is bands vs everyone else, not band vs band.

It is so hard to get likes for band’s posts, and this is the partially the reason these posts are doing so miserably bad.

You see, bands’ posts are not particularily hot even for fans. They have enough bands screaming for attention. Promoting music is a hard sell even without Facebook making things more and more difficult.

If we support one another, we can change this, make things better.

Some will abuse it – so be it. Just don’t help those who don’t give back, simple.

As a scene we share a common goal – to promote music and specific culture. And together we have the power to influence the Facebook’s algorithm enough so everybody is better off.

You see there are researches showing that fake likes bought on Fiverr don’t help, only real legitimate users’ interactions have influence on what is displayed.

Facebook is not that stupid to let itself being cheated for a fiver. They would be long gone if they did.

We are the legitimate users, we should start using the power it gives us.

Quality, not quantity…

I always fondly remember this small bunch of folks who helped Halotan Records along the way. Seriously, ten active people are worth more than thousands of those who click like and forgets all about you.

Ten real relationships with ten people who share your point of view – and you can start making a difference.

With just a few such folks who engage with your content you can reach many times more people.

It is hard to get them – and this is why personal relationship with supporters is so important. You won’t have personal relationships by delegating your fan relations to Bandcamp, as if you were afraid of people who want to give you money.

If your band is good and you prove yourself to be worthy someones effort, these people will show up and help you.

In the meantime we can simply help one another, and be such hardcore supporters for one another.

Costs nothing and everybody will be better off.

These days everyone wants to take, and attention is like a drug. It is such a desirable commodity.

It is so hard to give others what we crave so much ourselves.

We do not look after each other like we could because of jealousy. Breaking out of this bad spell and giving instead of taking may be the way forward.

You need others, you wont make it on your own. This may be a cliche, but we have to start being the change we want to see in the world.

And we have to start doing it fast.

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