Almost exactly a year ago, I wrote about how Facebook’s evolution was beginning to hurt small businesses and today, that claim is even more accurate. Companies spend a lot of time and money to build up as many “likes” as they can, with the understanding that the larger the audience they have, the more their content will be seen. This week, however, we have learned that Facebook will no longer allow business pages to enjoy the same level of free promotion they once did.
In a sales deck sent out to partners last month and obtained by Ad Age, Facebook plainly states:
“We expect organic distribution of an individual page’s posts to gradually decline over time as we continually work to make sure people have a meaningful experience on the site.”
When I wrote about this a year ago, Facebook’s Advertising Director for Product Development, Gokul Rajaram, said that pages can expect their posts to be seen by about 15% – 20% of their fan base, and if they want to target the large remainder that they must purchase a sponsored post. He played it off that this recent algorithm change was to give users a less spammy experience, and to give them more interesting content in their news feed. This was clearly a deceitful way of saying “Businesses must pay up”.
Today, the percentage of organic “seen” rates is realistically now at 1% – 2%. This is a massive blow to every business that has spent time and money growing their audience on Facebook over the years. The reach is simply no longer there without spending money on sponsored posts.
As Facebook’s shareholders gain a stronger grip on the social media site’s business model, it is no surprise that the value for the user is quickly evaporating. It’s the standard “get subscribers in for free, begin charging them when numbers are high” model of pretty much every social media platform. Sure, it’s still free for personal profiles to post their pregnancy pics and their engagement ring selfies, and their friends will most likely see their posts, but for small businesses, Facebook marketing is pretty much dead.
Investing time and money in a website has and will always make much more sense for small businesses. You own it, you control it and you can change it. There is no larger entity pulling the strings on your website that has the ability to one day change everything on you and greatly discount your investment.
Facebook’s recent changes just add more value to your website. Get your customers there, encourage them to sign up for your email newsletter and downgrade Facebook to a very minor part or your internet marketing strategy.