A Wall Street Journal article entitled “New Facebook Rules Will Sting Entrepreneurs” on new Facebook restrictions on user news feeds apparently due to come into force in January has already caused a stir in some self-publishing and independent publishing circles, including The Passive Voice. The concern is that the restrictions on how on how much can be promoted or advertised via user news feeds will cut self-published authors and small presses off from a highly important promotional platform.
The many kinds of small businesses covered in the WSJ article don’t include authors or small publishers, but it’s hard to see any way that these restrictions wouldn’t apply to them as well. It’s very hard to imagine any author talking about a new book via Facebook without this having some kind of promotional impact that goes out on the news feeds. Will Facebook then push authors to buy actual ads? Will different rules apply for individual creatives?
And particularly, it would be sad to see independent and small publishers punished this way, in one of the few forums where they can stretch their limited marketing budgets. The interest groups on Facebook, for instance, are some of the most vibrant interactive forums going, for genres and preferences of all kinds. Where better for small publishers to talk about their concerns and new projects?
Facebook itself has been eagerly pushing new methods to monetize traffic through its news feeds, so it’s not surprising that it would try to tailor the usage model to deliver the most bucks per bang. Others, meanwhile, are claiming that new regs would benefit the real entrepreneurs willing to take risks by paying for their marketing, and cut down the spam. It’s hard to tell just yet, but there is every reason for concern.