Facebook Music Test: Proof Fans Are Missing Updates From Their Favorite Artists
In the early days of Facebook, it was an excellent resource for artists looking to market themselves to followers, but as advertising was introduced and the platform became increasingly crowded, it became harder for artists to get their content seen. Here Ronan Mason tests just how bad it's become.
Guest post by Ronan Mason of Muzeroom
Before advertising was introduced, Facebook was a fantastic way of staying in touch with the artists you love. The competition for your news feed was less, and the algorithm wasn’t as fussy with what content it delivered you. Basically, you saw the majority of posts from the artists you followed because there was less noise on the platform. Unfortunately these days, there’s as much as 4.75 billion pieces of content shared daily on Facebook, and so inevitably you are going to see only a fraction of that — even for the pages you follow.
And it’s no secret that artists are struggling to reach their fans, even when they pay to do so. In fact, artists are reaching less than 4% of their followers.
But let’s put aside the artists for this test — what about us the music fans? It wasn’t until recently I asked myself — when was the last time I actually saw a post from an artist I followed? It was less than daily for sure, but how infrequent had it become? So I decided to setup a test.
Firstly I checked to see how many artist pages I liked. You can do this by going to your profile page, clicking ‘more’ under you cover image, then clicking ‘music’. For me it was just below 100. This article informed me the average sized music library contained roughly 105 artists. So I decided to double that and follow 210 artists just to ensure I had a good base to work with.
I then went through and added chart (and therefore active) artists — like Bon Iver, RHCP, and Kanye West. Also catalogue chart artists like 2pac, Led Zeppelin, and Nirvana, who all still have active pages on Facebook (in fact when I worked at Universal Music, I ran the Nirvana page). I also wanted pages of all sizes from Muse (17 million) to Jonah Matranga (8,900). And pages from all genres, from Cannibal Corpse (death metal) to mainstream pop (Beyonce), to alt country (Ryan Adams).
Side note — it was a pain in the ass adding this many artists manually. And I was shocked at how many artists I’ve loved for years whose pages I had forgotten to like — Dr Dre, FNM, NIN, Foo Fighters, and the Beastie Boys to name but a few. Who has time to remember which artists to follow?
Right then, so how long each day should I be on Facebook? This article told me 20 minutes was the average. So I decided to do two sessions a day for 10 minutes each, with at least a 5 hour gap between them to ensure that fresh content was always available.
Every time I spotted a post by an artist I followed, I recorded it as one of the following:
- Organic post (unpaid)
- Sponsored post (paid)
- Other Pages (if another page I followed posted about an artist I followed e.g. Rolling Stone does a post about Nirvana).
The results were shocking, even based off of my already low expectations. On average I saw 2.86 posts per 10 minute session. That actually sounds OK, but when you consider this represents 1.36% of the artists I am following, you start to scratch your head and wonder what you’ve missed out on. Here is a summary:
Organic posts were the winner with 1.14 posts on average per session, followed by paid posts at 0.93, with ‘other pages’ coming in last at 0.79. The ‘session of 0’ metric represented a session that had no posts at all. 4 of my 14 sessions had no organic posts at all!
Again — in total, I was getting an update from 1.36% of the artists I followed each time I used Facebook.
That week my favorite band Metallica posted 5 updates — I saw none of them. And they have an album coming out within the month. Not only am I in the dark, the band have missed an opportunity to get me fired up (although trust me, I’m already pretty fired up!).
One of my favorite kiwi bands ‘The Naked and Famous’ were super active that week, posting 17 updates, with as many as 4 on one particular day. Fair enough too, they have a new record out, a couple of new music videos, are touring, and generally smashing it. I saw only one of these posts, and it was a paid post.
New data surfaced recently that shows Facebook curates 2,000 news stories for the average user every day. The average user only reads 200 of these. The other 90% are not seen. And we know that Facebook prioritizes posts from family and friends.
Is Facebook then the best place to stay in touch with the artists you love? This was a quick and dirty test. But it definitely bought to light that the situation was worse than I had originally thought. What are your experiences?