Don’t fall for the Facebook Interest List rumor

Written by and published

Facebook rumors are nothing new. (Despite what you may have read, Morgan Freeman and Jeff Goldblum are still alive).

But one that’s been spreading like wildfire through the local businesses I follow on Facebook isn’t helping anyone out.

Here’s what I’m talking about:

But I don’t want to pick on my beloved vegan meal kit delivery service (seriously, they’re the best) when even Raven’s Chief Product Officer Jon Henshaw has fallen prey to this rumor.

OK, let’s break this down.

The rumor:

Facebook is forcing Fan Pages to pay to promote their posts, but adding a page to an Interest List will let you see all that page’s content.

What’s right about it:

It’s true that Facebook has rolled out a new method of getting Fan Page posts in front of more fans. It’s called Promoted Posts.

Any one of a brand’s posts can be promoted – for a sliding scale fee normally around $15-$30 – and will thus reach all of a brand’s fans (sometimes even more people than that).

What’s wrong about it:

Even before Promoted Posts, a brand’s posts were pretty much never seen by 100% of its fans. Between all your friends’ posts and the posts of the Fan Pages you like (I don’t know about you, but I’m a fan of a ridiculous 311 pages), you’d have to stay on Facebook non-stop to see all that’s happening.

Facebook “fixes” this by weighing each post according to an algorithm that takes into account factors like what type it is (status update, video, etc.), how recent it was posted and how often you interact with the poster. The algorithm decides whether or not you’ll see it on a given visit.

What’s really wrong about it:

The bad news is that asking fans to create an Interest List won’t solve the problem – or at least not fully.

Interest Lists allow you to group together updates about similar topics, like music, local restaurants, etc. or suscribe to others’ lists devoted to topics you like.

Once you create or subscribe to one, they appear along the left of a user’s news feed verrrry far down of the page like so.


You can’t replace your newsfeed with an Interest List, and adding a brand’s page to an Interest List still doesn’t guarantee you’ll see all their posts. You can click on the Interest List whenever you want to see more of those type posts, but most people aren’t going to remember to do that.

A better alternative:

If you must tell your fans to do something, encourage them to use the drop-down menu just below where they update their status and sort their posts by “Most Recent” instead of Facebook’s default “Top Stories.”


This way they’ll see all the most recent posts from friends and fan pages and can go back as far as they want to see older posts.

UPDATE 11/02: Hooray! Facebook is in the midst of rolling out a “Get Notifications” option that should – fingers crossed – actually solve this problem. If the “Get Notifications” box is checked for a page, users will not miss updates from the brand. New advice: wait until the feature is fully rolled out, then post and ask fans to hover over the “Liked” button on your profile and click “Get Notifications.” And you know what? You should definitely promote that post. 🙂


But more importantly:

  • Beware of digital sharecropping – that is, building your brand presence on rented land like Facebook. We’re all playing by Facebook’s rules, and they’ve proven they can change those at any time. Remember they’re out to make money for themselves, not you. Focus on driving traffic back to your website or blog, where you make the rules and own the content.
  • If you can afford the time and effort, diversify your social media efforts to platforms like Twitter and Pinterest so no one channel can pull the rug out from under you.
  • On Facebook, be more discerning in what you post – make sure each post is so compelling your fans can’t help but comment and share.
  • When you have a really important announcement, try a Promoted Post  – just measure the results so you’ll know whether the money spent was worth it.
  • There’s no for Facebook rumors (though Snopes does have a Facebook category that’s somewhat out of date). Still, promise yourself that you’ll never cut-and-paste statuses about Facebook changes, especially those that ask you to share them, without a complete investigation.


Photo by clickclaker on Flickr

  • Glenneth

    Absolutely fantastic post Courtney. Thank you so much for clearing all of this up.

    • Courtney Seiter

      Thanks, Glenneth! Spending too much time on Facebook pays off, for once… 😉

  • Hi Courtney, great post. Can you shed any light on who the audience is when a business promotes a single post? I’ve used this option numerous times and, although the numbers (and likes) are there, it doesn’t appear to be local traffic reaching the post.

  • This is interesting. I keep my news feed on Most Recent all the time, and I’m FB fairly often, but since I’ve created the Interest List I’ve seen posts on that list that are not showing up in my news feed. I do agree with you that this separate list definitely adds another thing to remember to check on FB which leaves me wondering how much longer I can be tied to this insanity. If it wasn’t for family and friends (and the occasional awesome sale announcement) I would be rethinking FB.

    • Courtney Seiter

      I hear you on that! I did a few (anecdotal, of course) experiments to make sure that adding a page to an Interest List doesn’t ensure you see all their content. It didn’t work that way for me, although that’s not saying Facebook might factor that into the Edgerank algorithm. So it might make a bit of a difference, though I couldn’t say it seemed like much of one.

  • Nick Armstrong

    “Beware of digital sharecropping” — the most important advice ever given to any business considering social marketing.

    Although one -does- have to wonder if Facebook may have intentionally crippled their own system, even if just a little.

    A simple adjustment to edgerank calculations (lifetime viability of a post from 4 hours to 3 hours) would cause huge shifts. Vertical integration is regulated for a reason, and Facebook has a huge profit motive to gimp their own system.

    Mark Z says he’s for open sharing of information; I get that, but then why not give businesses a freebie to use the promotion system to see how it works before dedicating money to it?

    Promoted posts, in my opinion, are buggy and subject to hitting crowds who don’t remember that you exist – which to a business is probably a laggard market who may not have a high ROI.

    A lot more research needs to be done on this and it’s not just as simple as “let’s diversify or switch platforms” — the onus is put on Facebook to prove the ROI of promoted posts in a transparent way.

    • RavenCourtney

      Wholeheartedly agree with all of this, Nick – particularly your assessment of promoted posts. I thought the Observer’s “Broken on Purpose” piece did a good job of summing up the bait-and-switch we’re all feeling with Facebook lately:

  • Great explanation. We are increasingly frustrated with changes to Facebook’s strategy and spending more time on LinkedIn and Twitter instead.

    If their objective is to drive all but the largest companies away from Facebook, they are succeeding

    • RavenCourtney

      Well said. And don’t forget Google+! As authorship continues to surge in importance, G+ could become more of a factor.

  • Scott Thomas

    Thanks for the excellent post. I also wonder about viewing Facebook on a desktop vs. mobile, since there seems to be some differences. One example – if I hide a post on my desktop, it’s not hidden thereafter on my mobile device.

    • RavenCourtney

      Interesting; I didn’t consider mobile much in this post and probably should have – I’m not even sure you CAN visit an Interest List from mobile, so that’s another reason this is a bad idea.

  • Terra L. Fletcher

    Thanks for clearing up those misconceptions! Content is King. If it’s irresistible, it will get shared.

    • RavenCourtney

      That’s the only philosophy you can’t possibly lose with, Terra!

  • Best post ever, THANK YOU for stopping me from propagating the interest list rumor. Thanks also for your Get Notifications correct, and for linking to the marketingland post, very responsible of you. FYI, I found this blog by searching “facebook interest lists”, for which it ranks highly. Yay you!

    • RavenCourtney

      Awesome; maybe the word is getting out and we can shut this one down. 😉 Facebook is generally not great about telling people when a new feature is fully rolled out, but I plan to keep an eye on this one. I’ve also read that they’re testing out a view that will show just Pages as opposed to friends and Pages. Always tinkering!

  • Crazy that even marketing professionals fell prey to this! I wrote a post lambasting one of the biggest progenitors of this latest crop here:, though to be fair, both Oglivy’s social division and EdgeRankChecker saw EdgeRank algorithm changes

    I’m not sold on notifications as the way to do this though; I already get a bit boggled when I see more than a few notifications — imagine a few hundred a day! With the new “all” link, really just an older algorithm (here: ), we can see how little/much EdgeRank really affects our feed.

    • I missed the short-lived “all” link – it’s pretty telling the way Facebook shut it down so quickly. There’s money to be made from withholding posts if brands will pay for that reach.

  • Jen Machajewski

    Create piece. Thank you. I consider myself pretty knowledgeable about Facebook but even I fell for this one. I’m glad to hear of the ‘notifications’ fix. Also, I have website that has been completely ignored because I focus on Facebook – good advice to not put all my eggs in one basket. Thanks!

  • The best tip is ” diversify your social media”, a good Truth for Web Marketing! And the Content is King, I write in an Italian-Chinese website so I know how I have to select the most interesting news from the social media 🙂

  • For the last few weeks I haven’t seen my news feed pictures on my fan page , today I logged on and my news feed has an error message “There are no more posts to show right now.”
    As of right now, I don’t see any postings from any of my liked pages.
    Question , is anyone experiencing the same problem? Can anyone help? Thanks !!

    • Ron

      I’ve got the same problem, it’s almost a week, please, will someone answer us?

    • Michelle

      Same problem for me and no answers anywhere


    As a Page, I Like other pages that are of specific interest and related to my page itself.

    For people me (as opposed to personal profilers) the option to hover over the ‘Liked’ button – or any other method that I am aware of – to get the latest notifications of the Pages I like does not appear.

    Therefore unless there is a two-way interaction between those Pages the updates of one does not now appear in the newsfeed of the other. Consequently, a very useful functionality of FB for me as a Page to keep up to date with other similar Pages has been lost – unless the Page pays to promote their posts.

  • Mark

    This is a lawsuit waiting to happen.
    I paid big money to up my likes. Never was a told that Facebook would not share my posts after someone LIKED me. That was supposed to be the whole point to paying for ads to increase likes. Now I have to pay again. Misleading to say the least.

    • Good information and also great news. Their are options for sharing for example on your own timeline, on a friends timeline, in a group and on your own page.


    Oh how I wish FB had an “Are you sure?” pop up before allowing cut & paste ‘news’ forwards.

    • RavenCourtney

      Wouldn’t that be handy!

  • Thanks so much for the great article!

  • Nishith

    Hello… I am a football freak so it’s obvious that I have liked loads of soccer related pages… But i don’t like flooding my news feed with football related posts as my friends’ activities somehow gets hidden… So I had added all those pages to an interest list, and unchecked the option “show in news feed” for all included pages… But since the last week or so I am not able to view any posts in that list, it says “There are no more posts to show at the moment” … I tried a few things n I saw that this doesn’t happen when I select the “show in news feed” option…. So the Interest List basically doesnt serve the purpose of preventing the news feed from being flooded… Please help…thankyou

  • Nishith Shetty

    Hello… I am a football freak so it’s obvious that I have liked loads of soccer related pages… But i don’t like flooding my news feed with football related posts as my friends’ activities somehow gets hidden… So I had added all those pages to an interest list, and unchecked the option “show in news feed” for all included pages… But since the last week or so I am not able to view any posts in that list, it says “There are no more posts to show at the moment” … I tried a few things n I saw that this doesn’t happen when I select the “show in news feed” option…. So the Interest List basically doesnt serve the purpose of preventing the news feed from being flooded… Please help…thankyou

    • RavenCourtney

      Hi Nishith! Have you tried adding your Interest List into your Favorites you can reference it quickly? You can do this by scrolling down your newsfeed to find Interests on the left sidebar and editing the options there. If you can’t see anything in the feed after that, you may have found a bug. 🙁

      • Nishith Shetty

        I doesn’t work.. 🙁
        just out of curiosity, why is that social media list with a green box?

  • Los Ultimo Guerrero

    Might want to edit/update this article,

    Since December 1st our own page post reach has dropped from about the 1k mark down to about 20!!!

    So the adding to interest list rumors may have a lot more credence than it’s being given.