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Facebook Has Been Sucking The Life Out Of Artist / Fan Communication

Scott-perryBy Scott Perry (@scottperry) of Sperry Media and the New Music Tipsheet.

I've stayed out of this fight for a while, but the noise has gotten so loud that I cannot ignore it. Some people say it's pay to play, some people say you just have to know how to use the algorithm in order to improve your EdgeRank. But regardless of whatever side of the argument you are on, ever since they changed the formula nearly two months ago, FACEBOOK HAS BEEN SUCKING THE LIFE OUT OF ARTIST / FAN COMMUNICATION.

I get it -- the more compelling the content, the more engagement you get, the more your content is organically passed along, so that it opens like a water lily and seen by even more of your fans -- those fans who, by the way, started following you because they wanted regular updates from you in the first place.

EdgeRank was set up to curb spam, to keep fans' feeds free of clutter, to see less of those people you really don't interact with that much.

Which is great if you don't want to see ads from Applebee's and Dorito's dressed up as posts. Agencies hate this, but regular people don't mind.

But since Facebook uses the very same sciences to artists / celebrities that they do for brands, it is KILLING communication and interaction, and is forcing a lot of page managers to openly question their reliance on Facebook for marketing.

It really is a vicious cycle -- post content to garner (almost BEG) for likes in order to increase the number of followers, so you can then pay for ads to boost exposure to the very base of fans you have built. And even when you add 1,000 / 10,000 / 100,000 new followers, are these converting to traffic / commerce on your or your partner sites?

I really do have to wonder if Facebook understands that content drives traffic drives advertising. Look in your latest issue of Rolling Stone or US Weekly, chances are even the artist ads you see are underwritten by Chevy, Mountain Dew or Garnier Fructis.

The artist IS the content, the influencer, and as such, their pages should be under looser standards, so as to keep more naturally compelling content flowing through the feed.

Picture of artist in the studio? Great. Announcing onsale dates for 2013? Awesome. Previewing tomorrow night's video premiere? Keep it coming. Posting more than once every four hours? Pushing it. Schilling your new perfume? No thanks. Every other post asking me to vote / like / comment / share in order to goose EdgeRank? Oh HELL naw -- keep it real, keep it natural.

I like a lot of stuff I see in my feed, but I'm likely to click "Like" maybe 1 out of 50 times. Let me repeat that -- if I see 1000 posts, I might like 50, and of those I like, I may only click Like for one of those 50 posts.

Which is why Twitter could KILL in the coming months, especially if they took a page out of YouTube's current playbook and built a media curation strategy that led to more views & retweets among defined verticals & niches. Turn the MEDIUM into the MEDIA, if you will.

Twitter is already THE go-to source for breaking news, and their user base grows with every event -- Arab Spring, Sandy, the election, you name it. But it can be a lot of information to take in, especially for newbies.

At this point, Twitter should do everything they can to help newbies onboard as easily as possible, and add pop-up hints with every log-in to help the uninitiated find friends, build Lists, master DMs, tag subjects, etc.

Take it a step further and display pictures & link previews directly in the feed, rather than requiring another click for each one.

Suggest pre-made Lists for users to gain direct access to experts in certain fields.

Include an "Add to List" option when adding new people to follow.

Maybe even take it all the way and build a full-blown virtual newsstand curated by in-house humans, which highlights the best of the web as posted to Twitter by its very users. Take the current verticals and double down on editorial -- make the Music page sponsored by Coke. A pets page sponsored by Purina. A celebrity gossip page sponsored by Tide. A fishing page sponsored by Cabela's. A deer hunting page sponsored by Wal-Mart.

Give influencers enhanced pages that really show off the range of each entities' tweets. Hook up the very people that Facebook is burying, and use their content to fuel the feed.

Build a more robust hashtag directory which goes beyond trending topics and helps users find the tag & time for any event going on in the real world (#USCvsUCLA, #AMAs) or on Twitter itself (#askneil, #askkanye, #twihards) -- clients could even pay to be included in this directory.

The current channels as they exist are fine – coverage of the American Music Awards featuring captured tweets from verified sources, all displayed in a straightforward, standard single-row Twitter layout.

But imagine if Twitter channels were built into CHANNELS, into must-view destinations that extend past its current boundaries, popping with headlines & images & tweets laid out in a manner that broke format from the traditional waterfall of text, cutting through the volume and serving up the quality goods, and give fans rich content to retweet and draw in even more new users.

But also keep in mind that these channels should run parallel to your personal feeds, so that editorially-chosen content would ENHANCE the Twitter experience, not REPLACE the Twitter experience, unlike EdgeRank, has unfortunately pre-chosen for us what it believes we should find important on Facebook (that "unfollow" button is always there if we need it, fyi Mr. Zuckerberg).