The State of Facebook Fan Pages: Separating Fact from Fiction

Facebook continues to deal blow after blow to fan page owners. The latest is Facebook’s move coming in 2015 that will significantly decrease distribution of status updates that Facebook deems to be “promotional” in nature. The percent organic Reach for fan pages is already so low that you might be wondering, “Why bother, Facebook? It’s not like you’re showing my fans my stuff as it is.

And, honestly, you’d be very qualified to wonder exactly that.

We can’t make wise decisions for our own businesses unless we can be realistic about the benefits and challenges that come along with each of our chosen marketing tools. So as you head into 2015 and are trying to make sense of how to modify your small business’ overall marketing strategy and delegate your allotted advertising dollars, let’s look at some of the more popular theories floating around and decipher how each does – or doesn’t – apply to your fan page.


Facebook Theories You Should Ignore & Why

  • All you Have to Do is Focus on Good Content Good content has always been the name of the game. However, it doesn’t really matter how *good* your content is if Facebook isn’t going to show it to the vast majority of your fans, right? Even if you can somehow guarantee that you have a way to produce the most mind-blowing content ever imaginable, if you’re only getting 2-5% Reach on average, how can you really justify putting more time, effort, creativity, and money into producing all your mind-blowing content only to get slightly better Reach? Said another way, would that extra time, effort, and money be better spent on a different social media platform, your email newsletter, or your business blog? The answer is likely, “yes”.
  • Admins who Complain about these Changes are the Ones Who Chase Facebook Gimmicks There are plenty of fan pages that have always focused on good content and have never relied on gimmicks, memes, or methods designed to game the system (Link in comments, anyone?). These pages had years of successful organic Reach before Facebook purposely cut that Reach. To be frustrated with Facebook has nothing at all to do with how well you have or haven’t approached your content.
  • People Don’t Want to See Promotional Posts, so Pay to Put Promotional Content In Front of Them Wait…what? Yes, people have never wanted to see all promotional updates all the time, which is why smart fan page admins have adhered to the 80/20 rule. This Facebook theory makes no sense. And to claim that this move was made “to improve the user experience” makes it laughable. How can Facebook say fans don’t want to see promotional content from businesses they chose to follow, and that it’s a great idea to instead show users a bunch of paid ads for businesses they may or may not care anything about?
  • Facebook is Punishing Spammy Pages like Google Punishes Spammy Websites This comparison always cracks me up. First, you aren’t comparing apples to apples. And second, Facebook is crushing the organic Reach of fan pages that aren’t and never have acted “spammy”. Google, on the other hand, rolls out its (often animal-themed) updates due to people trying to cheat the system. A search engine is not a social media platform, and business owners just trying to reach their customers with relevant, interesting content are not webmasters operating via black hat SEO techniques.

Truths About Facebook Marketing

  • Facebook is a “Pay to Play” Platform And it has been this way for a good part of 2014. If you are going to include Facebook as part of your marketing plan in 2015 and beyond, you need to have some dedicated ad dollars to go with it.
  • Organic Facebook Reach is Down to the Single Digits Business owners who have been around the block a few times know that it used to be very doable to achieve an organic Reach of 30-50% *without* any gimmicks, games, or ads. That was back when Facebook operated under the logical premise that the more people engaged with your page’s updates, the more they’d be shown future updates from your page.
  • People Chose to Like Fan Pages in Order to Receive Updates This is one area that seems to be entirely forgotten by Facebook and the (thankfully, few) marketers who write about the changes happening with Facebook in a way that leaves you thinking, “You must own Facebook stock, right?“. Facebook users gave a clear indication to Facebook when they liked that fan page that they want to see those updates. These desired updates may include “promotional” updates. It’s not crazy to think fans of a page want to know about sales, specials, and new product arrivals of that business. People don’t like fan pages in hopes of gaining new BFFs.
  • You Shouldn’t Put All your Eggs in Facebook’s Basket This never was a wise idea, and always something we advised against. This also holds true for any other single platform. All businesses need diversification. All businesses also need to have their own “home base” on the web, and it needs to be a website. You never want to put too much (or all) of your internet presence in a platform that you have zero control over. Never.
  • Fan Pages Still Have Some Value A while back we told you that Fan Pages were quickly becoming “digital billboards” since Facebook was essentially killing off the publishing component of fan pages. However, Facebook pages rank high in search engine search results, and it’s a great online listing to have if people are looking for current, correct information on what you sell, your phone number, email address, and website. So, don’t delete your fan page, just reconsider its intended use.
  • Consider Shifting Ad Dollars to Gaining Reach vs Gaining Fans There are still – and will always be – instances where it makes sense to run a Likes Ad for your fan page. However, given the current state of Facebook, I see little reason to pay Facebook for more Likes. What does having an even greater number of fans not seeing your updates really get you? Instead, spend your ad dollars to put your important news in front of the eyeballs of your existing fans. Facebook Ads are currently the best bang for your online marketing buck.

People like the fan pages of their favorite hair salon, toy store, and gym because they want to know about specials on highlights, buy one get one free toy deals, and new group exercise class offerings. Yes, they don’t want sales messages shouted at them all the time, but mixing in these promotional bits along with lots of other relevant and complementary content should still be the ideal. These changes with Facebook mean that business owners need to re-evaluate their marketing strategies and consumers need to reconsider how they’ll receive promotional updates from their favorite businesses.

Like it or not, Facebook is forever changed (In fact, I think this may be its ‘jump the shark’ moment). “Good content” is not enough. Not by a long shot. Zuckerberg has grand plans for extensive monetization. Facebook is going to continue to be a giant roadblock in connecting you with your customers (unless you buy ads). There are still reasons to keep an active Facebook presence and ways to utilize Facebook to grow your business, but this is going to require some serious thought, consideration, and retooling of your broader marketing and advertising strategy.


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