The Interest List Imbroglio

Alternate Title: When Those Trying To Help Actually Hinder

Over the last week or two, those in the social business sphere have been inundated with a rash of messages, posted on personal profiles and business pages alike, deeming interest lists as the savior to decreased Edgerank and overall interaction. Alas, these posts took the spirit and real value of interest lists and diminished real value with incorrect information which might actually diminish levels of connection, interaction and eventual engagement.

Facebook ListYou’ve probably seen this message, perhaps slightly altered, popping up on pages and personal profiles across Facebook:

“Since Facebook has begun to ask page administrators to pay to promote their pages, only 10% of page fans receive the updates we post here. To receive ALL of our posts, please do the following:

1) Go to our page.
2) Hover your mouse over where it says “LIKED” and click on “Add to Interests Lists”.
3) Commenting or clicking “like” on our page every once in a while will also keep us on your feed.”

There are several issues with these statements, and I’ll touch on each.

First, Facebook has “promoted” the promoted post for a while, but they certainly haven’t come out and said, “Hey, you…page admin – the only way your posts are going to get seen is if you promote them”. And no Facebook authority has piped up on either Edgerank or Interest lists, except to tout the lists as a valuable resource (which they are – I’m not disputing that). In fact, Facebook has been quite silent on the whole algorithm discourse.

Next, I’m not sure who came up with the 10% number. Many colleagues and experts have been testing reach, promotion, post types and within all of that testing, I haven’t seen any nice round number like 10%. Round numbers just don’t occur all that often, unless someone is averaging or generalizing. I don’t think averages or generalized numbers are particularly useful in an industry that has no one-size-fits-all solutions. Social works differently for each adopter, on each platform, and on any given day. With the spooky holiday just around the corner, we might feel justified stating that it often seems to involve “black” magic. To see some interesting information about reach, promotions and numbers/data, I suggest you check out Jon Loomer’s blog posts from the last month or two. Not generalized and he’s quick to point out that the numbers he sees cannot necessarily be repeated for each user.

To continue, while Interest lists are a fantastic resource, they are ABSOLUTELY NOT a guarantee that you’re going to get more post views and/or interaction. Why? Well…

  • Interest lists require an extra step in the action sequence, not once – but twice. First, when someone decides to like your page, they have to make the choice whether or not to add you to an interest list. Then, when they’re viewing their feed, they have to make the call to open/view a list. With the prevailing quick preview and scan manner of viewing content, that second step might actually mean you lose follower views and interaction.
  • Even with an interest list, especially if you simply have one large list, no one’s going to scroll through screen after screen of content. Sure, if you post often, you have a better chance of your content showing up within a few scrolls. But that’s the same with the feed itself. Again, that extra click to open the list is key.
  • Interest lists have no sort options, so it’s simply timing of posts and number of pages in a list that determine where your post shows up.

And lastly, these pleas to help you out because Facebook has let you down are akin to begging. Would you do business with someone who, based on very short and often casual business connection, essentially whined and complained about their inability to be heard? Of course you wouldn’t. So, why would you resort to that kind of behavior yourself?

I’ve often said there’s no easy solution to getting your message heard. As with any other type of marketing, hard work, dedication, trial and error and good old effort play the deciding role in your message, product or service being seen. It’s the same when you’re marketing with social media. You have to spend your time in the trenches, liking and sharing, taking part in discussions, researching great content to share, generating new ideas that create your own content, etc. Time and effort, creating and cultivating good, interested and strong connections – that’s the key. And it’s not a simple, fast, or immediate solution. It’s something you’ll have to put into practice and effect for the long term.

If the interest list was the end all, be all solution, we’d have heard this quite a while back, when interest lists first made their appearance. Sadly, though…this is another of those poorly researched solutions run amok. It’s simply being shared, rather than scrutinized for actual value and merit. As with many memes and top tips, it gets shared with the intent of assisting and aiding, when – in reality, it simply isn’t helpful.

Mallie Hart
After a long career as a graphic artist, web designer and ghost writer, Mallie found her true calling when personal social media embarked on the path leading to social business. While she still gets busy with graphics, most of her creative energy is now directed to unique social media content creation, curation and cultivation. Her dual love of graphic design and social media requires her to research, write about and promote a wide variety of topics while staying true to brand integrity. A research junkie - she majored in medieval history, Mallie enjoys the opportunity to find an interesting angle on just about any type of business or industry niche. When she’s not busy with The Media Barista, Mallie has been known to devour books (several per week), careen over rocks and roots on her bicycle and seek out the newest, edgiest music; all while drinking a lot of coffee.
Mallie Hart

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  1. Jen Walker says:

    Great post for explaining the whys about why not to bed your clients to add you to an interest list. It is unfortunate that the message about adding businesses to interest lists has been passed on and on throughout Facebook. I hope people will remember that the more steps you ask your clients to take to see you, the less clients will see you!

  2. Randy Bowden says:

    Awesome post Mallie. You lay it out crystal. I have become numb with so many on Facebook seeking vail attempts at gaming the system. As an old school marketer I believe, do good and creative work with a product/service that is needed and the results are a reward. In today’s easy access to claim “marketing authority” in the social space, novice or unskilled efforts shine, are should i say dull. Even the misinformed big brands can be found making some spamming mistakes. GoodJob!

    • Mallie Hart says:

      Gaming of the system has become all to easy, Randy. I agree with you that each marketer must do the work and find the approach that resonates with their audience.

  3. Mallie Hart says:

    Thanks for commenting, Jen. So many people "get it". But so many don't. It's a conundrum.

  4. Almost word for word each post regarding Lists was the same. No link to where their data came from or "here's what I'm seeing with lists." Sadly, my gut says those that parrot really are not interested in reality, but in notoriety. Excellent post and details Mallie.

    • Mallie Hart says:

      The spread of these kinds of messages is malicious only in the lack of verification and validity. You nailed it, Nancy!

  5. marthagiffen says:

    Here's where the rubber meets the road for me. . . people need to STOP fretting so much over what Facebook is doing and spend more time marketing in other ways. Why spend so much time on a site that is obviously not working in the best interest of the small biz owner? Reality check: Those Facebook fan pages are NOT where you want your customers to congregate. Lead them to web real estate you own. Your site.

    • Mallie Hart says:

      You're correct, Martha. Or, if Facebook is where you want to be, take the time to make the posts there work for you. Create graphic and textual content that really resonates and that your fans will seek out if it doesn't come to them directly.

  6. " You have to spend your time in the trenches, liking and sharing, taking part in discussions, researching great content to share, generating new ideas that create your own content, etc."
    Makes me wonder how many times it has to be said, it takes, time, effort and work. I don't know why so many think that they are going to get "over" with a magic pill.

    Great post Mallie, thanks for explaining in an easy to understand manner, and for reiterating the fact that there is no fast, magic pill. Well done…

    • Mallie Hart says:

      Thanks, Gerry. I've always said that social media success involves marathon training and marathon execution. It's time and pain, soreness and elation…all rolled into one!

  7. Jon Loomer says:

    Great stuff, Mallie! Glad to see I'm not alone in my frustration. Unfortunately, this response to Facebook and Reach is becoming mainstream and now includes high profile Pages. I'm so tired of the whining. Stop chasing shiny objects, looking for the next best way to beat the algorithm. Just post great stuff.

    Like you did! And thanks for the link.

    • Mallie Hart says:

      Wow. Thanks, Jon. I've been following your thoughts on this for a long time, so was happy to tie you in. Maybe if enough of us keep chiming in the naysayers and whiners will hop to it!

  8. Great article, Mallie! Thank you for making this crystal clear!

  9. SAVVE Support Solutions says:

    Thanks for this post Mallie! I am so tired of seeing those posts! I use the interest lists to organize pages but I don't depend on them for my stats.

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