The agony of using Facebook to follow blogs

facebook-rageWe just got yet another email from a dedicated Offbeat Empire reader helpfully informing us that despite "Liking" one of our pages on Facebook (and even selecting "Show in news feed" under our Page's "Like" dropdown menu), they're not seeing our new posts in their news feed.

Every single blog post we publish is linked on the sites' respective Facebook pages, but we all know Facebook has its own ideas about what to show you in your news feed. It's always been this way — on Offbeat Bride, despite having 23,000 followers, none of our posts have ever been seen by more than 6,000 or so (and most are only seen by a couple thousand). There's nothing scammy about it, it's just Facebook trying to be helpful and not overwhelming you with too much information.

There are a couple of ways that may help you see more of our posts on Facebook, which I'll get to in a minute. Ultimately the moral of the story is this: if you don't want to miss a post, Facebook just isn't a great way to follow blogs. I'll talk more about that later, but first, let's talk about the hacks you can use to try to see more of our posts on Facebook:

Turn on notifications for Offbeat Bride posts

get-facebook-page-notifications
When you choose to get notifications, you'll get a message in Facebook's "globe menu" each time we post something. This might be a little aggressive (we post 5 times a day, most days) but it's a for sure way not to miss a post. We'll use Offbeat Bride as the example for how to set this up:

  1. Go to http://facebook.com/offbeatbride
  2. Click Liked
  3. Click to check Get Notifications

More info.

Use Facebook's Page Feed page

I have this page bookmarked: facebook.com/pages/feed. That's a stream just for Facebook Pages you've "Liked," and unless you've "Liked" a bazillion Pages, you'll probably see our Page links in that feed. It usually works for me, but then again I don't have that many pages "Liked" (at this point, I only use Facebook for work — I abandoned it as a personal network a couple years ago).

Engage with our posts

Facebook shows you more of the stuff you've told it you're interested in — this means clicking links, liking stuff, and sharing it. If you click, like, and share our posts, Facebook will likely show you more. (…Maybe.) If you want to be really thorough, go to our respective Facebook pages and click and like some links over there. Then see if you see more posts from us in your news feed in the future.

Create a list

You can create a list, using the method shown in this video:

Other tricks?

If anyone else has awesome methods they've worked out on how to see more posts from their favorite Facebook Pages, feel free to share them in the comments. Honestly, from a publisher perspective, I'm so sick of trying to work around Facebook's inconsistent and frustrating algorithms that I don't have a whole ton of patience for troubleshooting.

Non-Facebook ways to follow posts

The methods above will hopefully increase the likelihood that you'll see our posts on Facebook… but ultimately it's just not a tool really designed to be used as a feed reader. If you really want every post to find its way to you, your best bet is following us via RSS — either by subscribing to our email newsletters, or using an RSS reader. (Given the impending death of Google Reader, my best suggestion for RSS readers is Feedly. It's what I'm using now.)

Here are the easy subscription links:

There are other ways to follow us, too. You can follow each site via Twitter, of course. Some folks are finding our feeds via WordPress.com. We're working on Tumblr syndication, but haven't had time to get that working quite right. UPDATE: Follow us on Tumblr.

Ultimately, my goal is to make it really easy for readers to follow our blogs easily and awesomely. I wish Facebook made that easier, but sadly it just doesn't… and I don't think it's fair to ask y'all to create lists and visit special Facebook pages to follow the blogs. Sadly, if you REALLY want to keep up with us, Facebook just might not be your best feed tool.

That said, if you have clever hacks for how you see the Page feeds you want to see on Facebook, by all means leave a comment. If there are any great hacks, I'll edit this post to add 'em, cuz I know tens of thousands of you follow us on Facebook and I totally want it to work for y'all… but I'm keenly aware that most of the time it just doesn't.

  1. I haven't had any trouble seeing the posts. I'm operating under the theory that Facebook shows you posts from pages you're highly-engaged with. So my advice would be to "Like" posts when you see them.
    Is that a reasonable request or something you should have to do to see the content that you want? Well… there are many different opinions on this out there. ;)

    2 agree
    • I'm all for encouraging folks to "Like" more of our posts, since more Likes on a post means Facebook showing the post to more people. I'll add that to the post.

      I think this is part of what irks me so much about Facebook: you have to game the system. For me, I'm like, JUST SHOW ME THE FUCKING POSTS. I don't want to have to work to see the posts from the blogs I follow, which is why RSS is a better fit for people like me.

      12 agree
      • Exactly this this this.

        As a Page-haver, I really do want an actively-engaged audience. I like knowing that I'm not annoying anyone who doesn't want me around. But at the same time, if I put a message out there, I want it to be seen by somebody. (And I don't want to have to pay to ensure that happens, either. -coughcough-)

        As a User, I don't want to have to remind Facebook that, yes, this is the content I was looking for. And at what frequency? I have no idea how often I need to be engaged in order to stay in the loop.

        The heart of the theory is good–if you care about something a Page puts out, you're going to naturally interact with it, anyway. But the problem comes when Facebook's magical algorithm decides I haven't been engaged enough this week so I must never, ever want to see anything from a Page ever again, ever.

        6 agree
  2. Just to let you know, making lists doesn't solve the problem. I made two lists (one for friends and one for pages) in the hopes that I would stop missing posts and it didn't really help. Damn youse, Facebook!

    0 agree
    • Do you look at those lists to look at the posts? Do the lists themselves not show all the posts from those friends?

      0 agree
      • I use the lists to look at posts from everyone and they do not show all of them. For example, my sister-in-law's father passed away and that post was magically missing from my friends list. I even went through an entire day's worth of posts on that list and it was not there. (It was not a post that I was unable to see or anything like that.)

        0 agree
    • As someone who faces this issue a lot for another page on facebook, the best thing i can tell your users is to like/comment/share/at least read the comments. That will influence your algorithm. The FB redesign also has a more prominent view of the "subscribed" feed, and we'll have to see if that is used.

      0 agree
  3. Yeah, Facebook is really annoying like that. I get that they're trying to cut down the noise and focus on what people really care about but they're doing such a BAD job of it that the things it shows me might as well be random!

    Fortunately it DOES show me an OBB post once in a while, and when it does I click over and end up reading half a dozen and catching up. That actually works pretty well – it's not like I need to read every single post the instant it's posted!

    1 agrees
    • Yeah, I generally assume that most people who use Facebook to follow us get enough of what they're looking for to make it feel worth it… but I do pretty regularly hear from folks who are disappointed by not consistently seeing posts and sadly, that's just Facebook. :/

      0 agree
  4. I see almost every post in my news feed. I believe this is because:
    1) I have a comparatively short friends list (90).
    2) I've made use of "acquaintances" and "hide from news feed" for those that don't typically interest me/tend to post way too much to facebook (almost half).
    3) I click on almost every post through facebook (but can't recall liking a single one).
    So, in short, remove/hide all your friends so you can see empire posts!

    0 agree
  5. I know I'm late to the game, but here's my question:

    I have been using Google Reader to follow the Offbeat Empire blogs, but with the Chrome trick of opening the next unread article in the browser (thanks, Ariel for that!). How can I do that if I switch to Feedly? I'd like to still give you the page views.

    0 agree
  6. I have a new agony of following blogs on Facebook: I can't tell which articles are new and which are from the archives. I use feedly (many thanks for this) to follow the sites (and then open them all in their own tabs to actually read the article), but I have Facebook open all the time at work. When I see a link on Facebook, I can't tell if its one that will show up in my feedly that night, or if its an old post that I should read at lunch (or in a meeting, or right then :-) ) so I don't forget. Now that you've been posting the bitly links, I can't see the date published hiding in the link.

    Is there any way on facebook to know the publication date of the article? I doubt it but I'm hoping someone has a nerdy (or non-nerdy) solution that doesn't involve clicking the link and checking the article itself.

    0 agree
    • Other than clicking through to see the publication year, there's no technical way to tell (that I know of). The shortcodes are one downside of using Hootsuite to do all our social media stuff, but it saves me SO much time in so many other ways that I think it's worth it.

      HOWEVER! In general, all the new posts go up between 5-11am PST. The older posts are published between 12-7pm. If you look at when it was posted on Facebook, if it's West Coast morning — it's new. If it's afternoon or evening, it's probably old.

      0 agree
      • That's what I figured, I've seen it with other blogs too. I'll have to watch the times, though I'm on the East coast, I've gotten pretty with West Coast time due to work. Or I'll just keep opening and closing windows :-)

        0 agree

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