I’ve been using the Facebook “Notes” application for about a year and a half to import notes from my various blogs into my Facebook profile and pages. As Facebook has grown in popularity, I’ve found more people reading my ramblings through that channel than those who end up clicking through a Google search or (gasp) actually subscribe to the blog or get the feed.
Effective today, I’ve imported my last Facebook note, and I’m glad to be done with them. The divorce is on two grounds: First, Facebook broke the Notes import function pretty badly about a week ago, without warning or feedback, and more important, using Notes fragments your audience.
I’ll address them in order of importance. As I’ve discovered the changing demographics of my blog readership, the increasing fragmentation of my readership bothers me. More people were commenting on my notes than leaving comments in the blog. I don’t rely on advertising or product sales on my blog, so the different sets of eyeballs don’t affect my (meager) writing income. But it is nice to separate my writing vehicle from its promotion and advertising. Facebook is about distribution; WordPress is about creation. Two functions now cleanly divided. Not to dissuade people from hitting “Like” or leaving comments on the meta-posts about blog entries that will show up, but I feel better knowing that discussion is being channeled away from Facebook. Tip of the propeller beanie to Amanda Blum who was the first person I heard suggest that making people click away from your blog was a Bad Idea if you used your blog to build brand awareness. And yes, we cover this topic a bit in Professional WordPress, and yes, I’ve just made a note for the 2nd edition to rewrite that section.
I’m now using RSS Graffiti to announce new blog entries as posts on my wall and the walls of my affiliated pages. Much simpler: I blog, it shouts to the world. You want to read it, you click through to my content (giving me much better analytics and audience assessment, thanks again, Amanda). No more notes, no more copying content into Facebook. Which brings me to the second point.
If you’re going to change functionality of an application, let people know. Facebook can message users of an application; send us all notes using Notes if you want. If you’re going to possibly change the way a feed is imported, validated, or subjected to privacy restrictions (which I’m guessing is part of the root cause), then carefully explain what to change or how to avoid the non-sensical error messages. Otherwise, people will just resort to posting updates about their blogs, and not the actual content — which is likely a good thing, anyway, as Facebook has been quite squirrelly about what rights they can assert over content uploaded to their service. Net net, using the RSS Graffiti application means your content stays put, your blog posts are announced to your intended audiences, and it works reliably without having to check in every few days. The only downside (for Facebook): people are clicking away from your site, and even I know (now) that’s a bad idea.