A recent change to the Facebook algorithm for News Feeds has significantly disadvantaged small business owners who have used the platform for marketing. Business pages have seen their organic reach plummet to about 3-5 percent of their fan base for each post. In other words, for every 100 fans of a page, less than five would see the post unless the business paid to boost the post. This has led many business owners and marketers to question whether or not it’s time to abandon Facebook marketing. The answer to this question is nuanced and depends greatly on the company doing the marketing. This post will examine both the reasons why a business should continue Facebook marketing; when business owners should search for greener pastures for social media marketing; and what alternatives they can consider.
Pro – Why You Should Continue to Use Facebook for Marketing
There are plenty of reasons why some business owners should continue to use Facebook for marketing. Facebook still has the largest social media network with a lot of members in the U.S. who check their pages often. According to a recent report, there were on average, 179 million Americans checking into Facebook at least once a month. Keep in mind, there are 317 million people in America in total, and that includes children under 13 (who can’t use Facebook) and people over 65 (who probably shouldn’t). Simply put, Facebook is still the best place to reach the lion’s share of American consumers.
Second, business owners need to remember that consumers are still coming to Facebook to find information on a business. Even if a company’s posts aren’t showing up in News Feeds organically, business owners still want to have something posted for when people come to the page on their own. Going to a Facebook page and seeing the last posts was weeks or months ago looks bad for a business. Additionally, people are still using Facebook for customer service issues and it’s necessary that marketers continue to monitor the channel. In other words, businesses need to keep posting to their Facebook just to let visitors know the business is still in operation and to help people coming to the Facebook page for customer service requests.
For businesses who are deciding whether or not they want to double down and start paying more to promote their content on Facebook, there are two key questions: 1) How much budget can the company afford and would that money be better spent on other advertising methods? 2) Who is the target demographic and is Facebook really the best way to reach these people?
Con – When Should a Business Pull Back on Their Facebook Marketing
For most small business owners, Facebook’s recent changes may be a good reason for them to pull back on Facebook. The money issue is the obvious reason. The new algorithm makes it all but necessary for a business to boost a post in order for it to have any reach and Facebook has also changed the boosting guidelines so that the minimum stating boost is $5. This means that for a business that posts everyday, it would cost a minimum $150 a month for the content to be seen by a meaningfully sized audience. Over the course of a year, this means that Facebook marketing could cost a company nearly $2,000 just to get people to see the posts.
Another thing to consider is what will Facebook do next in their attempt to gain revenue. The current situation is a slap in the face to business owners and marketers, who were encouraged by Facebook to use business pages rather than personal pages, and now Facebook disadvantages these business pages in order to squeeze more revenue from small business owners. Business owners who continue to use Facebook as their main avenue for social media marketing may find themselves further disadvantaged when Facebook starts thinking of new ways to get money from business owners (next thing you know they’ll be charging businesses to change their cover photo). Facebook’s new policy is an indication that things will get worse on the platform for small business owners as the publicly-traded company tries to boost its earning, so it may be best for some small businesses to move to different platforms. It would be naive to think that this was the only plan Facebook had in mind to increase its revenue.
In the end, there are still plenty reasons for businesses to use Facebook, but business owners need to weigh the pros and cons of continuing to use Facebook for themselves. Pay to Play may be annoying but it works when it’s something worth paying for. However, one of the benefit of social media marketing for small business is that it’s inexpensive. If it’s going to cost thousands of dollars on top of everything else to market on Facebook, business owners with smaller budgets may need to consider alternatives. Indeed there are alternatives to using Facebook for marketing, each with its own advantage and disadvantages. These alternatives will be discussed in other upcoming article on this blog.