Promoting American Dirt: when a boost goes bust.

Hating social media in 2018 is about as edgy and anti-establishment as making fun of malls in the late 1990s: no one admits to actually liking either one of these communal-commercial spaces, but just about everyone uses them.  (Or, at least, they used malls twenty years ago.)  I have no doubt that if I were a more skilled or enthusiastic devotee of social media, I would rapidly grow my readership.  But I refuse to use Twitter, have posted on Instagram less than a dozen times, don’t have a YouTube account (though I’m a voracious anonymous viewer), and consign my Facebook usage to caption promos of my posts on the American Dirt Facebook page.  All things considered, I’d love a greater viewership.  But I’m pretty happy that I’ve achieved what I have, given my infrequent posts and a visibility only slightly greater than the ivory-billed woodpecker.

So it’s no surprise that I don’t monetize my blog articles, and certainly don’t make a point of giving money to Facebook to promote them.  Once in a blue moon, however (if a blue moon is equal to “one year”), I’ll shell out $20 or so to “boost” the post, letting Facebook expand that post’s visibility to a demographic that I can target.  So, this year, I chose a recent article on Heider Park in the tiny seaside town of Mendocino, California.  This article seemed perfect because it was a bit more contentious than usual, it featured a prominent part of the most populous state (and one that I’ve rarely covered), and the photos turned out pretty well.  I accepted a charge of $20 to my credit card and awaited the visible results of Facebook working its magic through the boost.

But the next day, I got this screen.

Facebook boost not approved

That’s right: Facebook thwarted my effort to boost because I am “not authorized to run ads related to politics and issues of national importance”.  Little did I know that an unremarkable, minimally invested  park in a hamlet of less than 1,000 people would be an issue “of national importance”, but I probably do underestimate the importance of anywhere in California.

I probed a bit further, and there’s a two-factor authentication process to help confirm “who’s responsible for the content”.  Translation: looking out for foreign influence.  Well, no matter what the intent, I don’t like having to go through any sort of political litmus test, so I decided to pass on using the Facebook boost and probably will continue to reject boosting options for the foreseeable future.  But at least this means I’m keeping my tradition of a minimally promoted blog…

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8 thoughts on “Promoting American Dirt: when a boost goes bust.

  1. matt frendewey

    I had a client, veteran-nonprofit, that was blocked from boosting posts suddenly, unless I sent Facebook a picture of my license or someone representing the nonprofit, etc. The client declined, seeing as how poorly they protect the data on the platform they built, nobody felt comfortable sending a scanned image of their government ID.

    Reply
    1. AmericanDirt

      And who can blame them?! Even more strange: after making this post, I received no notifications–nothing that informed me you had responded to these comments. I only found out by overtly checking my profile page this evening. That has never happened before.

      Reply
  2. Josiah

    I can understand them wanting to verify content and users but facebook creeps me out these days. And you’re just waiting for the next information leak to occur

    Reply
  3. Pete W

    Tks for sharing Eric. I can’t imagine explaining half of social media technology to my deceased parents, let alone monitoring, privacy, etc. I was shunned on a lesser scale. I was admitted to a closed group and my first post was not deemed “of significant interest and consistent with the mission of the site.”

    Reply
      1. Chris B

        At the macro level, it’s a lawyered-up response to old generous policy (relative open access to the platform) being taken advantage of by those with malign intent (2016’s Russian trolls and bots).

        See also the former Nordstrom and LLBean “no questions asked” return merchandise policies. Different field entirely but similar tightening of policy.

        Reply
        1. AmericanDirt

          Agreed, and I have no doubt the highly skilled analysts at FB have performed the cost/benefit analysis that determined the potential loss from customers (like me) turned off by this hurdle is offset by increased security. Frankly, people like me are a comparative drop in the bucket.

          Reply

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