Marketing advice blogs, marketers in general and industry experts are always claiming you need to be active on your social channels in order to be successful. Of particular note is how you need to remain vigilant on the biggest platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ at all times. If you’re going to be active on only one of those three platforms, it should definitely be Facebook, right?
At least, that’s how it always was in the past. However, a recent update to the way Facebook operates may change all that. According to a post from Facebook officials, published on November 14, 2014, business and fan page content may be much less effective than it was in the past: “Beginning in January 2015, people will see less [pages] content in their News Feeds.” That is, of course unless you dole out money for Facebook’s paid advertising model.
What’s the short and skinny, you ask? It means the red numbers in your Facebook page’s update email — the kind you don’t want to see — will be getting a little bigger. That’s unfortunate because one of the best, and biggest, benefits of using Facebook for business has always been that it’s free. Sure, a payment-based model has existed for some time now, but it was never required to operate on the platform for the most part.
The implications of these changes are pretty wide, even though it may not initially seem that way. Facebook has long been a staple of online marketing for business. Now that posts will only meet a majority of users if there’s cash involved, that’s going to change the entire system, especially for small businesses.
Are the New Changes Really That Bad?
The changes are happening because Facebook polled users about what they like to see in their feed. One of the things they found from this poll is that generally users “like” a business page or profile, but would rather not see future updates from said page(s). This, along with several other complaints from Facebook users, has led developers to change the way the platform operates.
In turn, content posted by businesses will appear less often in a user’s news feed. In addition, developers made it easier for users to unfollow or unsubscribe from a business’s updates, while maintaining their original “like.” So, out of those 1,000 new “likes” your page just acquired, there may only be 100 to 200 people who are actually going to receive your future content updates. We don’t have any real statistics to show at this point, but it’s likely not going to get better from here on out, only worse.
By January 2015, advertisements, status updates, promotions or any content posted from a business page will primarily become lost in the space between planes — the space between visible and barely visible online content. There’s a much bigger chance that it will get lost in the fold now. While that may seem a bit dramatic to some, it’s exactly how this is all going to play out. Unless your business has the money lying around to back and promote your content, it’s pretty much going to be pointless to continue updating your Facebook page as often.
Can You Make Some Lemonade Out of Lemons Here?
To offer a couple positives about this whole situation, Facebook promotion is a lot cheaper than paying a marketing team or group of PR professionals to outright promote your business. In other words, it’s likely that it will still be a viable DIY marketing option, it’s just going to cost quite a bit more.
The related news in that regard is that each piece of promoted content or social post will be that much more effective and powerful.
In addition, page admins will be able to choose between “post now or post later” options, allowing them to schedule posts for a future date and time. Target audience options will also change so that businesses will now be able to tailor their content for a niche demographic based on age, gender, location and interests.
While this may not have direct influence on the way the promotional content will now work, it goes to show that Facebook developers are also trying to improve the experience for business owners along with its casual user base. Features and support for business owners will only continue to improve over time, just as they have in the past, even if getting your content in front of your audience is going to be more difficult.
Should I Deactivate My Facebook Business or Fan Page?
While it’s certainly going to cost more in the long run, and you should revisit your posting schedule and promotional strategies, there’s no reason to deactivate your page just yet. By all means, cut down on the quantity of your social posts and advertising through Facebook, but don’t stem the flow entirely. However, if you want to continue making an impact on Facebook, in addition to any other channels you currently use, you’ll need to make room in your budget for it. Consider it. Plan for it. Then pay for it.
If anything, this just serves as proof that the ideal marketing plan involves utilizing multiple social networks, platforms and channels. If you’re not already active on other platforms such as Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter or even Snapchat, then now’s the time to start.
To answer the initial question: Yes, Facebook is still worth using for business. That said, the way you use it and the amount you use it should be starting to change substantially.