Facebook, you are not a friend of the Entrepreneur

A typical image I use for my website articles.

If there is one common aspect in the stories of all entrepreneurs, it is this — the gall and the gumption of early entrepreneurs to do things with zero spends. You read that right, all entrepreneurs, at least sometime in their life, have replaced spending money with footwork. That was at the center of every exquisite concept, every great idea. They had it way, way more difficult than any entrepreneur has in 2017, but even so, the path is not quite that well lit for an entrepreneur, even in 2017.

This article is more of a personal experience and an opinion that I have gauged out of it. You are welcome to read it, comment on it, even dissect and criticise it. But if you do not accept it, I will leave it up to you.

In early 2017, I started this blog on WordPress that exclusively spoke about Indian horror films. I am an avid horror films fan, so I could dedicate hours of free time for the project. I have a personal soft spot towards Indian Horror Films. I genuinely want to introduce this genre of cinema to not just the foreign audience but also the new generation of Indian film lovers.

I played it safe. Because of previous experiences, I booked my domain name on WordPress and hosted it on WordPress too. From the point of view of a man who’s doing this in his spare time, that’s expensive stuff. I wanted to build the most secure, most stable horror portal that I could afford. Things started out well and I learnt up a bit about digital marketing. I learnt about Facebook groups, I learnt about Facebook pages and I learnt about how to promote my properties on Facebook.

As I ventured further, I saw that several Facebook groups exclusively spoke about horror films. I am a content writer by profession and decided to share my posts — comprising of news, reviews and lists related to Horror Films on these groups.

The traffic began skyrocketing — from a one-man-one-blog point of view. What used to get me 20–30 visits a day shot up to 300 visits. One of my articles about Stephen King’s upcoming project got me 1000 visits in one day. This was all from Facebook. I was happy. I literally started research about how I could monetize this traffic.

And then, one day, I started getting a message that an error occurred while posting and I was put through CAPTCHA hell.

On one hand, the group members were liking my posts, some of them even initiated a conversation, on the other hand, Big Mama Facebook was frowning down upon me conversing with strangers on her portal. Why?

I had no idea why. I was posting horror related news articles, exclusive interviews and lists to groups that were exclusively about horror films. I really didn’t and still don’t have any idea why Facebook banned me thrice in a month from posting things on groups.

One fine day, one of the people I interviewed got some traction because he was in a reality show down here in India. On a lark, I shared the interview I had with him — and Facebook immediately banned me from posting anything else on groups. Clarification — the guy has directed a horror film that is up for release sometime this month.

I thought Facebook would have banned me because the online noise about this guy was so much, they didn’t want to spend time on that particular keyword. Now, after that ban, I once again am banned because I posted an exclusive interview of the main lead of one of the most anticipated horror based web series in India.

I am sure, many bloggers would wonder why Facebook is doing that. Quite frankly, I have no answers. Some bloggers — the ones born with a silver spoon in their mouth — would be wondering why I am not going Facebook’s way of boosting that post.

For them, I have two answers. One, I work in the media on my day job. My company’s job is to promote entertainment material on Facebook. I have seen the profiles of the people who like posts with Facebook boosts and cried tears of confusion. A major percentage of these likes seem to be just dead accounts.

How a technology behemoth spends time on ensuring that a horror based blog doesn’t post spam on a horror based group and doesn’t have time to check how many dead accounts form part of their Boosts is beyond my comprehension.

My second answer to them is. Why should I pay? I have had Facebook campaigns, and they charge me 2 rupees per Like. And 8 out of every 10 likes are from a dead account. Why would I take that Like? Why would I not spend person-hours and diligently build a following for myself by posting on genre-relevant groups? Because I am not lazy. Because I do not have venture capitalists asking me how much money they want me to burn. Because venture capitalists don’t understand what a hobby blog is. Because I refuse to spend that kind of money when the results are opaque at best and angering at worst.

My experience has been frustrating, and I have even thought of shutting down my blog — because though it is a hobby blog, I intend to interact with more and more people and make it well known name in the horror genre.

So, I wonder whether this article is a footnote in the adventure that this has been for me, or the mid-scene, after which the film propels into the good news.

And yes, if you would like to see what my site is about, please visit www.saamri.com