We’ve been through this with Facebook before, and it’s now more or less immediately obvious to us when it’s happening. The analytics of The Hayride’s site traffic are pretty detailed, and when we see a precipitous drop in that traffic we can usually spot right away what’s happening.
And since July 1, our traffic has taken a dump. We’ve gone from 40,000-50,000 page views per day to struggling to get above 15,000, which is essentially our base-floor readership. And Facebook referrals have dropped from nearly 90 percent of that traffic to less than 50 percent.
Which means the Facebook engagement on Hayride posts has plummeted.
But we have the same number of Facebook followers – between 22,000 and 23,000, depending on whether you measure the number by “likes” or by “followers” – as we’ve had for a long time.
As said above, this has happened before.
It might be explainable by content. In the business we’re in, content is king.
But our content isn’t a problem. Since July 1, we’ve had some very good – and very marketable – posts here on the site.
On July 1, I had a post talking about the passage of the tort reform bill in Louisiana, and how it showed the strategic and tactical development of Louisiana’s legislative leadership. Posts on that subject have generated a good bit of traffic in the past; this one just sat there.
That same day, Jeff Sadow had a post talking about the arrival of Marxist revolutionaries in Shreveport bent on a campaign of intimidation. That’s the kind of post that often picks up national interest. It did OK, but certainly didn’t go viral as it otherwise might have.
Also on July 1, I had a post with video of Tucker Carlson calling out Republican leaders for their failure to confidently engage the Left’s agitators and wreckers and to stand up for the country. That should have gone very viral. It barely moved the needle.
Again on July 1, Sal Perricone posted a piece offering advice to men in the current workplace discussing the value of the Billy Graham/Mike Pence Rule in guarding against allegations of sexual harassment. That’s been a red-hot topic for a long time. It should have been a gigantic traffic magnet. Barely moved the needle.
The next day, I did a story on all the mask mandates popping up around the state and offering some inside information from Hayride sources that these locally-driven mandates are really coming from the governor’s office, owing to the fact he can’t drop a statewide mask mandate because he’ll immediately get slapped down by the state legislature and Attorney General Jeff Landry if he does. That post did OK, but not as well as expected given how hot that subject is particularly with our readership.
Also on July 2, Jeff Sadow covered the tort reform bill’s passage, describing it as a crushing blow to Edwards’ second term. That post did reasonably well, though it looks like the cause was site referrals and organic traffic – meaning that it must have circulated via e-mails and other websites rather than social media.
There were a host of other pieces on the site on July 2, all of which were not only well done but covered topics which have been of interest to our readers: the future of American patriotism, the urgent necessity to squash American economic growth if Joe Biden is to be elected president, the cancellation of July 4th fireworks in Austin, Louisiana’s failure to match the strong national June jobs report numbers, an analysis of Texas’ mask mandate, and a post on Ghislaine Maxwell’s arrest. All of those picked up a little bit of traffic; none popped on Facebook to any significant degree.
The next day was the Friday before the 4th of July; it was understandable that we must struggle to pull a lot of traffic. Nevertheless, I had a post talking about how the NFL ought to take some concrete steps in pursuit of its new social justice agenda rather than just virtue-signaling. That had been in the can for some time and I uncorked it figuring it would circulate everywhere over the weekend of the 4th; it was tailor-made to go viral. It fizzled.
Jeff Sadow’s post on Shreveport’s coming experiment with a Universal Basic Income also fizzled, which shouldn’t have happened.
Even worse, three other posts on the site that day which should have popped, didn’t. There was my post on the New York Times’ ridiculous attack on Louisiana Solicitor General Liz Murrill about the June Medical case at the Supreme Court, a subject that a previous post I’d written a few days earlier had blown up and grabbed a nice amount of traffic, and it went nowhere. I also had a post on a very provocative video Jeff Landry put out warning that the Left is out to get Mount Rushmore; it didn’t move the needle. And in a sure sign something was off, U.S. Rep. Mike Johnson had a very inspirational post paying homage to American history and culture on the occasion of the 4th of July and exhorting folks not to give up on the country. It got very little traction, which is simply not possible.
Then on Monday, I did a post on Colin Kaepernick’s openly anti-American tweet trashing the 4th of July as a celebration of white supremacy. Kaepernick is a subject we’ve covered a few times and routinely gotten 25-50,000 page views on. This barely did a tenth of that number. Another post on the Baton Rouge mayor’s race went nowhere.
On Tuesday, I had a post on Shreveport’s mask mandate which didn’t pop. Also that day, Johann Batiste had a post about the horrid leadership of New Orleans and their decision to trash the city’s history, which was a sure traffic winner. It moved the needle a little, then died; previous Batiste posts on similar subjects have not only gone viral but stayed that way for more than a week. Among the other posts that day were a pair by Andy Hogue about how “Hamilton” is still finding an audience despite the Left’s having turned on it and the war of words between Houston mayor Sylvester Turner and the Texas GOP over whether the party’s convention could take place in that city. Either could have popped; neither did.
On Wednesday, Conrad Appel had a post on what happens if Joe Biden were to be elected, which was outstanding. It did a little bit of traffic. I generated a bit more with my post about how WalletHub completely trashed Louisiana for the poor taxpayer ROI our state government generates. That was a bit wonky, but it had a super-fiery, attention-grabbing headline and I’ve done decent traffic with such posts in the past and this didn’t move the needle like I would have expected. Nor did Jeff Sadow’s post castigating Louisiana’s political class, and Edwards in particular, for the drop-dead terrible job they’ve done in reacting to the coronavirus. That should have absolutely gone viral. It didn’t. I also did a post about the Washington Post’s NeverTrumper troll Jennifer Rubin claiming President Trump wants to kill your kids because Trump is using the withholding of federal education funds as a motivator to make schools reopen for the fall. Perhaps my headline could have been a bit more descriptive, but that post could have popped anyway and it didn’t.
And yesterday, the site was loaded with content, not that it mattered. Conrad Appel’s post about Edwards’ line-item veto which funded automatic raises for state employees while Louisiana is in an economic crisis did a little bit of traffic, but outside of that it was practically a flat-line on the site. I had a post with analysis of the Ghislaine Maxwell arrest and the juicy connections and implications surrounding it, which would normally pop; nothing. Andy Hogue had an update on the Texas GOP convention situation; nada. Andy also had a great post on the Harper’s letter and the long-overdue phenomenon of establishment liberals finally pushing back on cancel culture; zero. Then Andy had a post about how the Texas Freedom Caucus is leading the way in pushing back against Gregg Abbott’s cowardly COVID shutdowns, which would normally do quite well.
For a week I’ve been trying to figure out how we could have such strong content and see so little coming out of it by way of Facebook engagement. Then I was directed to this…
Facebook Seeking to Advance Racial Justice
We’ve seen a number of businesses come out strong over the past two months, making it clear where they stand about racial injustice. Facebook has just recently done so, and they’ve listed clear steps they’ll be taking.
These steps include:
Improving their policies, products, and programs.
They’ll be investing in people and technology designed to “proactively detect and remove hate speech hand other violating content.” They’ll also be reviewing policies around how to handle violating content, around voter suppression, and around discussions and threats of state use of force. They’ll also be working to amplify Black voices and ensuring there is more diversity on their own teams.
Maybe somebody at Facebook’s content curation team weaponized that directive against us – Lord knows snowflake lefties have accused this site of hate speech from its inception, which has always been ridiculous – or perhaps we’ve just had eight days of bad luck.
But as said above, we’ve been through this before, and the numbers tell us this is a policy change on the part of Facebook.
Well, so be it.
Later this month we’ll be debuting the Hayride 2020 app, which won’t exactly be a social network of its own – but it will be a mechanism by which our readers will be able to get ad-free Hayride content delivered to your mobile device, interact in our Speakeasy insider forum, and take advantage of premium multimedia content like podcast, interactive subscriber calls and other cool stuff. If you’re depending on Facebook to serve as a deliverer of our content, which some 23,000 of you are doing by following us on Facebook, the app will be a far more reliable and, possibly, relevant means of doing that.
Based on the experience we’ve had this month, we’ll say the app can’t come fast enough. We’re sick and tired of being held hostage to Mark Zuckerberg and his band of perpetually-offended snowflake geeks. We’re almost ready to branch out from Facebook and do our own thing for fun and profit.
Oh, and you’re also welcome to follow us on Parler. Look us up at our handle: @TheHayride.