Cosplay PSA: Facebook Algorithm
[NOTE: If you saw this through Facebook, please help with our little experiment and give it some sort of reaction. Trying to get a better idea of reach, and it’ll be the only time we beg for likes Thanks!]
Most of you won’t see this PSA. Not because of nefarious government censorship or that I’m posting it at 3am (at least I hope I didn’t). No, the problem is Facebook and its new algorithm. It’s been killing content creators, and making the system much more pay-to-win.
For background, Facebook has been in the news a lot over the last year. Scandals ranging from the US 2016 elections, helping spread fake news stories, handing customer information to political consultants, tech companies, and even the Chinese government. Consumer confidence has really faltered, and just last week, it was reported that young people are flocking instead to Instagram, Snapchat, and Youtube for their social media platform of choice. Facebook tried to combat this by getting back to their roots, which included a strategy of showing personal friends over business pages. It rates each post by the amount of “engagement” it gets in the form of reactions, comments, and shares.
But this is what is killing cosplayer visibility on the platform. Most cosplayers I know create “business pages” for the dual purpose of showing off their costumes without spamming their friends and family; as well as protecting their private persona from strangers they might not want to share things with. For many of us, we can’t get the scores of reactions we need to be relevant in the algorithm’s eyes. We need clickbait and inflammatory posts, rather than benign pictures of what we’re working on.
Is there a solution? Well, that’s complicated. Facebook sends us notifications requesting that we “boost” our posts by paying for targeted advertising. Pay $3-5 per post on the cheap side to let people who already like our page to see our content on their newsfeed. I understand how this would work for a major business, but then again, most of those businesses have advertising budgets that hobbyist cosplayers do not. The best workaround I’ve found is making sure to both “like” and “follow” a page, as that seems to put more priority on the content. Even better? Mark them as “See First” under the follow options.
I like Facebook. I really do. I’ve had one since college, and it’s a great place for me to share my content in consolidated albums, to plan events, to have the discussions on tips and tricks of the cosplay trade- Things one can’t do (yet) on other popular platforms. But I also find myself using Instagram more lately, as people actually see my work. It's more chaotic and doesn't give the sense of the work behind my project, but at least my followers see it. So here’s hoping that something changes, and until then, let’s all make sure we support one another.