3 Reasons why Facebook is No Good for Provocative Artists
by Paul Roustan – January 10, 2014
My entire life I was late to the party. This rang true when I finally joined Facebook back in early 2011.
After finishing my first DVD, I realized,
“Hey! I just made this product from scratch, there is no reason I can’t learn to market it!”
So during my days at home wrangling my duties as daddy day care, I began relentlessly educating myself on the many ways to market my work.
This, no doubt, is when I discovered the value of social marketing. The thought crossed my mind,
“Boy, I really should have joined Facebook three years ago. But, I suppose it’s better late than never.”
At the same time, I learned of Google’s brand new stab at Social, Google+. What perfect timing for me to also dive into this new space before it barely even begun.
THREE YEARS LATER
I sit permanently blocked from Facebook, yet high in following and engagement at Google+.
What WHAT?! That’s right!
Over the past two years my work conflicted with Facebook’s Terms of Service. After several flagged images, blocked profiles, temporary bans, my business page which had accumulated over 4000 likes is now permanently gone forever.
As a result of my experiences there, I have deemed Facebook unworthy of hosting the work of provocative artists for these reasons:
1- Compromising the Integrity of the artwork.
I wish I could say I understand, and it was inevitable, but I don’t and it was not. I did everything in my power to abide by the terms, and try to make all parties content. This included:
– Limiting my page to 18+ viewers only (despite its misrepresentation of maturity).
– Blocking the page’s visibility in nudity discouraged regions like the Middle East, hoping this would reduce flagging, which it did.
– Self Censoring my work and redirecting traffic to my uncensored website (this was the only true value of facebook, generating curiosity and clicks)
I was not happy to do any of these things, but in order to play the game I had to do them.
Self censoring was the most heartbreaking of all considering the imagery continued to be regularly flagged by some mysterious anti-nudity nut.
But the real bummer was not the player, but the game. I had no way to appeal these unfair decisions to remove my harmless, censored images.
You’d think Facebook would see the pictures and reinstate them immediately because they contained no visible nudity. But no. And I still to this day, am unable to find a direct Facebook contact to dispute this issue.
Screenshots of some of the flagged imagery. Notice there is no visible nudity.
2- The Confounded Boost/Promote Feature on Business Pages and Edge Rank
Back when I started my Facebook business page, it was great! People liked the page, and my posts appeared in their streams. it was the perfect harmony of ‘opt-in to see’, almost as good as a mailing list newsletter.
Unfortunately, at some point in 2012, Facebook decided to limit visibility of page posts to those that personal profiles were most interactive with aka edge rank.
This means that YOU, the viewer, would physically need to like, comment, or share a post from a page you voluntarily followed in order to continue seeing the page’s posts on your stream.
Since a large majority of viewers prefer to lurk, these posts start losing visibility and in some cases never show up in streams.
While I continued to have strong relative engagement on my posts, my views were noticeably diminishing and continued to worsen all up until my final hours.
Now, I get the idea behind a business trying to make a buck. And that’s fine. Facebook went public, and now has to please its stock holders. Whatever.
But, in regards to artists on Facebook, specifically the ones that started up a business page to promote their artwork. This is an issue. A lot of artists operate on a shoe string budget and don’t have the money to invest on this gated social network. And ultimately, It continues to be disheartening to think that an artist needs to pay to show posts to people who voluntarily ‘followed’ to see posts from that page.
With this said, I have tried the Promote/Boost button a few times. The cool thing about Facebook Business Page posts is that they come with a slew of analytics including organic views, clicks, promoted views, etc. It used to have viral views but they removed this feature and combined it with organic for some odd reason.
Unfortunately, all this did was show me the ineffective result of boosting my post. It got many many many more views, exactly what I had paid for, but little to no extra engagement. I thought this was strange, might I suggest questionable?
Each of my posts would average at least 1000 views, and 100 likes with varying comments and shares based on the post.
With a boost added , I might generate an extra 2000-5000 views, but the post would only add between 4-15 likes on average. Something never smelled right about that. I have my theories about where those questionable views actually came from, but I’ll let you determine your own before I get all conspiracy theorist on you. Ultimately, I discontinued use of the sketchy boost feature.
3. Facebook, the gated network that protects while abusing your privacy.
Three years ago, Facebook business pages were a solid way to promote your work as an artist. However, business pages never had the same abilities that profiles did in regards to tagging. Regardless, I still preferred the business page over the profile in regards to promoting my work.
The biggest issue I had with tagging was in my collaborations with other artists on Facebook. If I wanted to tag them in the pictures I was posting, Facebook often would not let me even though they had both ‘liked’ my page, and followed my personal ‘profile’.
Had I operated under a profile, I would have easily tagged them into the images.
The same could be said on the collaborator’s end. Often times, they could not tag to my page, but opted to tag my profile which showed nothing except posts, imagery and an about section trying to redirect that traffic to my page.
In this short attention span world, this is a bad thing for effective branding and marketing.
i.e. No one wants to click twice to get some where, NO ONE!
I get this is to protect people from spam, but let’s get real. Every profile has tag settings that can be adjusted per user taste. And Facebook, let’s not talk about spam when you drill the valuable sponsored posts that business pages are forced to pay for onto everyones streams.
We all know how Facebook protects a user’s security with its dubious ways of gathering information off phones, from apps, and such, having users unknowingly opt in.
Why does anyone still use Facebook?
Did you notice that posts from outside Facebook are less attractive than posts from within Facebook? A video link from youtube is far less likely to be viewed than a video uploaded directly to Facebook. Anyone managing a business is forced to use both networks and spend the time uploading to each. The only advantage to uploading a video in Facebook for Facebook is to get the maximum views the post deserves. But come on Facebook, I know you compete with these other businesses, but Youtube has no qualms about having a Facebook share button. How about a little decent reciprocity?
Facebook wants you to stay in Facebook, and do everything you do online within Facebook. There are subtle penalties if you try and do otherwise.
This strategic gated bio-dome of a network is a turn off because the world wide web is far grander than what lies within Facebook borders.
Thankfully, I was involuntarily removed from Facebook by Facebook. Really, it’s something I wanted to do for a while, but I was caught deep in its nasty spell.
So what then?!
Well, now I have two options:
Start from scratch on the dwindling Facebook network, or continue to market my work on the other platforms, Google+, The New Myspace, Youtube, Tumblr, 500px and a number of other networks. All of these networks have either a tolerance for nudity in artwork or a far better way of handling provocative artists.
For example, I am thriving on Google+, after building a following and a personal thumbs up to post my work from Vic Gundotra himself at Google. Just the fact that I was able to communicate with someone so high up in the google ranks is a huge step in the right direction versus Facebook’s inability to communicate with its users.
Hello Mr. Zuckerberg. My name is Paul Roustan, nice to meet you.
Youtube, one of the most popular networks now has settings that allow you to age restrict your own videos.
And, Tumblr has no issues with nudity whatsoever.
I’ll opt for the places that actually want my business.
And Now For Something Fun!