Almost from it’s inception, Facebook urged individual businesses (big and small) to create Facebook pages from which they might engage with their customer base by adding status updates and other unpaid messages. They even offered this tip the same time last year, “A rhythm of posts in the days before a big event can help keep your business top-of-mind to customers,” to help kick off the holiday shopping season.
As of mid-January, the social network will intensify its efforts to filter out unpaid promotional material in user news feeds that business have posted as status updates. The change will make it potentially more difficult for small business owners to reach fans of their Facebook pages with posts that are not paid for.
This shift is likely to have many small business owners, who have spent long hours developing their Facebook page by posting regular updating and racking up “likes,” on the edge of their seats and most likely a bit miffed. Those same businesses likely are using Facebook’s “free” social marketing to post marketing pitches. According to Facebook, they will soon suffer “a significant decrease in distribution.”
According to Webs, a digital services division of Vistaprint, more than 80% of small businesses use social media as a tool for promotion and they cite Facebook as their top marketing tool, followed by LinkedIn and Twitter. The top reasons business owners indicated for constructing a Facebook page were customer acquisition, building a network of followers, and increasing brand awareness.
Facebook feels “empathy”
Dan Levy, Facebook’s vice president of small business, says he feels their pain, saying he has “a lot of empathy” for business owners who “are feeling this evolution” towards better paid-advertising options on the site. Prempting this statement with the fact that Facebook’s paid-advertising options have become more effective recently and that companies should view Facebook as a tool to “help them grow their business, not a niche social solution to getting more reach or to make a post go viral.”
Isn’t that what the small businesses, as a majority, have been doing all along?
It just seems like a few years back that many of small business owners discovered that Facebook offered many possibilities for marketing purposes, leading them to adapt a social media marketing plan. However, the changes (the new ones and those that have already come to pass) have significantly changed the way Facebook marketing is conducted.
Why the push towards paid advertising?
Steven Jacobs of Street Fight, a Colorado based media and events firm, says it’s likely to aggravate an “already tense relationship between small businesses and social platforms over audience ownership.” Once upon a time businesses used to own their relationships outright through email or other in-house marketing channels. “But Yelp and now Facebook are trying to peddle a third model,” he says, “renting, in which a business can build a community but never own an audience on a platform.”
Facebook overs promoted posts, an option that has businesses paying anywhere from $5 to several thousands of dollars to have their posts viewed by a wider user pool. It looks like that Facebook is very much now a “pay to play marketing channel” for businesses. Forget the days of organic traffic from a good posts or photo – time to dig into your pocket to make Facebook worth your while.
How to win at the Facebook Fatigue.
The fatigue, or the unlikelihood of your posts reaching reaching your target audience can only be overcome by creativity and new ideas. (and some cha-ching from your bank account) It’s not easy to stand out from such a large social network crowd and make your posts seen on the newsfeed of your viewers.
If you plan on making your audience’s news feed you will need to:
Make certain that the content that you are pushing out is not only interesting but is enough to grab the attention of the viewer. Don’t just share for the sake of sharing, but make it relative to your business. Your users will not only appreciate it on a higher level but your brand won’t get lost in silly YouTube videos of cute kitties.
focus on higher quality
Facebook has stated they are moving toward promoting a higher quality of content, especially links and images. Make certain that you are following the latest Facebook dimensions and for goodness sake either post an original image (one that you have created yourself) or purchase an image from photodune.com, istockphoto.com, or any other royalty free image source. If you have swiped an image from Google images, that does not mean it’s free to use!
Play by the rules
Facebook is like anything else in this business world, either play by their rules or go elsewhere. It’s really that simple. Facebook is now asking that you pay to reach your audience and it’s up to you to follow these rules or turn to other social networks for your promotion needs.
The big question here is, what will you do? And are you prepared for this transition?