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why you shouldn't rely on facebook for marketing suggestions

This is what I saw when I opened Facebook this morning:

Problem? Well, look. While theoretically I sell printed as well as downloadable versions of some of my handouts, they certainly aren't my bread and butter, and they aren't even referenced on my Facebook page, which by the way is clearly listed, in Facebook's own settings, as a service-based business.

There is straight-up no reason why a carefully-constructed, rationally-applied algorithm would generate "start tagging products in your posts" as a recommendation for the TCA Facebook page.

This does not matter, because Facebook does not HAVE a carefully-constructed, rationally-applied algorithm: It has a hot mess.

A couple of weeks ago, Facebook congratulated me on having THIS SAME PAGE up and running for twenty-six thousand years.


And I already told you about the weird redirect from the button that should have taken me straight to my "Meta Business Suite" homepage but instead kept sending me to the Ads Manager for a client's subsidiary page (from which, incidentally, nobody had placed an ad).

I skipped over the part where before the redirect problem ^ got resolved, it switched to sending me to the Ads Manager for a page I haven't managed actively since 2016.

Partly I'm venting, of course –– but I'm also making a point, which I hope you will take to heart:

If you are managing a business, or a nonprofit organization, or anything else that needs a social media presence, you probably have, or feel you should have, a Facebook Page. You are not wrong: If you want to be "legitimate" and active online these days, at least in the Western hemisphere, you probably do need a Facebook Page. But you should not make it your habit to accept uncritically (as too many clients do) whatever defaults Facebook (or "Meta") suggests.

Because, as effective as Meta can be as a marketing tool (and it totally can!), we have repeated day-to-day evidence that its data handling is sloppy, that it misconstrues even the information its own system explicitly asks for, and that its recommendations are often based on assumptions that contradict user input.

In other words: Use it, don't trust it.


Jessica Smith
Jessica Smith
Apr 28, 2022

Are there any SM sites that do make good marketing suggestions?

Replying to

IMO, not really. I think Facebook (or "Meta") is particularly egregious but tbh that's mainly because they are attempting to especially granular, and at the same time wide-ranging, in their recommendations –– and the more recommendations you make, the greater your opportunities for error.

This is essentially a machine learning problem. We joke a lot about "The Algorithm" (cue John Locke on LOST pontificating about "The Island"), but at base the system that generates Meta's recommendations is, like any algorithm, essentially a set of yes/no, either/or questions:

"Is this a business or personal page?" "Business." If it's a Business page, Meta moves to the next question on its list.

In other words: "The Algorithm" is a f***ing flowchart.

The problem is…


Bonus: now available as a video!

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