So what’s all this buzz about Facebook being kicked to the curb? I wouldn’t kick it quite so quickly without considering the following. Yes, Facebook has made it incredibly challenging for independent businesses to market themselves. Until last year, you could post about anything on Facebook with confidence, knowing your audience will be able to see what you have to say and interact with you on your page. Well, not anymore. Facebook has tightened their policies. They are now tracking all content being posted by businesses and determining for you what your audience wants to see and will see. Facebook ads engineer Philip Zigoris admitted Facebook altered its Edgerank algorithm in regard to advertiser posts: “… We have done this in the past and will continue to make adjustments so that people see the most relevant stories to them, every time they log in.”
Facebook: Battle of the users.
The reason Facebook has changed its algorithm so much is clearly in favor of its users. Karen Cioffi, expert content marketer of Writing and Marketing explained that Facebook wants to make it a more resourceful and enjoyable experience with less bombarding ads and sales-driven posts which is understandable. But being that most companies likely do not have the time and resources to constantly research and monitor their Facebook pages, it has become a fruitless and expensive effort.
Currently you posting something on your page doesn’t necessarily mean all of your audience will see it at any point. Forbes contributor, Elan Dekel recorded their journey of advertising on Facebook. “Once we started posting on our Facebook page, we were shocked, shocked, to see that not all the users that liked our page were seeing our posts. For example, with over 6,000 likes on our page, a typical post would only be seen by fifty to several hundred people. To reiterate, only 1% to 5% of the people that liked our page saw our posts. If we were justifying our expense as analogous to building a database of emails, then it was a database that only allowed you to access a tiny, randomly selected, subset each time it was used.” To confirm Dekel’s surprising and unfortunate encounter with Facebook, a study conducted by Fast Company from earlier this year found that posts from top brands on Twitter and Facebook truly only did reach just 2% of their followers. Engagement was even more measly. A mere 0.07% of followers actually interacted with those posts.
Unpaid vs. Paid
But the bittersweet news is the option to “boost to post” and or advertising on Facebooks homepage. Nate Elliott, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester states “Unpaid posts are out, paid is in, which puts anyone who relies on the social for reach in a difficult position.” Boosting or promoting a post on your Facebook page simply means, paying to reach more of your users. Though the price you pay becomes more and more with every boost, it is often cheaper than other advertising and marketing plans. WiX, a multimedia website covered a piece on Promoting Your Business using paid advertisement: “Page post ads need to have messaging that’s straightforward and leaves little room to the imagination. Their goal is to get the relevant audience to buy or share with other people of similar interests. A creative but sophisticated paid post can become viral and be shared by many people, but if it does not make a sale, then it’s a lot of money wrongly spent…. To really get the most out of Facebook ads, you need to have a vibrant community of fans first. If you are just getting started with Facebook for your business, begin by creating engaging and interesting activity that can expand your fan base.”
Are you keeping up?
Most business owners have tried to understand the Facebook algorithm (which is very difficult to do, as it changes all the time) without really understanding the way postings are working now, chose the option, “boost to post”. But the critical mistake is still not posting the valuable content that Facebook is looking for. Hootsuite, a leading social media planning website advised users as such, “Facebook wants people to see only the best content on their News Feed. Which means that in order for a business to see engagement on their posts, choose content that has been successful on other social media channels or your businesses content marketing platform. Content that has the most retweets, clicks, and traffic will more likely also do well on Facebook.”
Some food for thought before you make any hasty decisions: Facebook is the biggest social media platform in the Western world – over one billion potential customers for you. Facebook also gives you the ability to learn more about your customers than you’ve ever known, which means you will be able to do all of your marketing in all channels – even traditional ones, better than you could before. So when used skillfully, can it still extremely powerful tool? Absolutely yes.