As of today, Facebook’s algorithm has been altered so significantly that Fan Page Reach is down into the single digits, “pay to play” is the new standard for marketers and business owners, text-only updates and photos no longer make the cut as “good” status updates, sponsored stories are set to go away in April (thus eliminating the “friend endorsement” aspect of paid ads), and Facebook has decided to take on Twitter with its new Trending News section and emphasis on sharing article links.
(And to think how disappointed I was when Facebook put the kebosh on someecard sharing.)
Facebook is moving full steam ahead on its plans for change, whether or not we like it. So what’s a small business owner to do? My best recommendation is to review how you have been using Facebook to achieve your social media and business goals up to this point, and reconsider how you intend to use it going forward.
Here are a few points to consider:
- The throttling of a Fan Page’s organic Reach means you can no longer count on the publishing component of your Fan Page to disseminate your message
- Your Fan Page’s About section ranks well in search engine searches, so your Fan Page is an additional search engine result for your business
- As Facebook’s internal search function (slowly) improves, users will be more likely to use it to find businesses in their area
- A budget for paid Facebook promotions is critical for the foreseeable future
It’s clear that there is still value in having a Facebook fan page, and having it fully completed with up-to-date information about your business, your products or services, your contact information (including website address, email address and other social media profiles), and current news about your business. For customers or potential customers actively seeking our your business, your Fan Page still serves a good purpose for them.
For example, if I’m getting hungry and am trying to figure out where to go eat for lunch, I might look up your fan page to see what specials you have that day, or your phone number if I want to call in a To Go order.
At this point, I feel like a Facebook Fan Page has transitioned into more of a static social media billboard of sorts, or secondary website for your brand. It’s available with all the information your customers would need to look up about your business should they actively seek you out, but you can no longer count on it as an outgoing message channel for your brand.
Since you aren’t going to let your Fan Page go dormant, you need to rethink how you intend to use it. Here are a few ideas:
- Pay Facebook for Ads But be careful to spend your ad budget wisely! At this time, unless you are a brand new Fan Page beginning with 0 Fans, I would not pay Facebook to gain new LIKEs. Why spend money to grow your number of Fans, only for them to also not see your future news and updates in their News Feeds? Instead, pay to promote very specific things like an in-store event, sale, or new product or service.
- Use Facebook for the Other Functionalities it Provides Install an app on your Fan Page to run a fun, creative photo voting contest or to give away free stuff. Just be sure to gather the entrants’ email addresses when you do so you can grow your email marketing database. Utilize Facebook Events to your advantage. Each Event has its own direct URL, which makes it easy to share your Events via email or on other social networks. You can also invite people to your Event through Facebook.
- Shift Time, Energy and Money to Other Networks We’ve talked before about how you shouldn’t put all your eggs in Facebook’s basket and how a multi-pronged approach to your online marketing is always best. Consider your overall business goals and internal capabilities when making this decision.
The Facebook of today is very different than the Facebook of a couple years ago (or, heck, even a couple months ago). The best thing we can do is to understand the changes, understand what (currently) works best on the platform, and adjust our expectations, strategy and overall online marketing mix going forward.
Have you made the decision to modify your social media strategy due to Facebook’s changes?