As I'm sure every small business owner has noticed, Facebook reach has been dwindling significantly in the past couple months. In the Facebook page update email I receive on a weekly basis, my used-to-be green numbers are now an alarming shade of red, showing that my reach is accomplishing negative results- a very drastic change from our very positive numbers our first couple of years with a business Facebook page.
On November 14, 2014, Facebook stated, "Beginning in January 2015, people will see less [pages] content in their News Feeds." Which means that those red numbers you receive in your pages update email will get a little bigger unless you hop onto the paid advertising option. Though, if the point of posting on Facebook as a small business is so that people can view your content, the boosted posting doesn't seem so optional.
When I think back to first creating my business Facebook page, the biggest pulls were that it gave me an easy communication outlet with my customers, it gave our business a sense of professionalism (because what business doesn't have a Facebook page?), and, mostly, because it was free. Now, with our posts not reaching a majority of our audience unless we pay for it, it's hard to say if professionalism will continue to be tied to businesses that have Facebook. Or if the small businesses that start a couple years from will even feel the need to create a Facebook fan page due to the costs that accompany it.
Are there benefits to the new changes?
This whole thing started, it seems, to improve the casual user's experience. Facebook made these changes due to a poll they took asking Facebook users what they like and don't like about the News Feed. The response they received showed that, despite the fact that users initially "liked" a business page, they don't like to then see posts from said business pages. That, paired with the ever-growing competitive available space on each individual user's News Feed, has caused Facebook to remedy these complaints by lessening the frequency in which business posts actually make it on to other users' news feeds. Additionally, now more than ever it's easier to "unfollow" (while continuing to like) a business. So for the user that doesn't want to see a lot of ads, or posts from businesses, as he scrolls down his News Feed, the changes Facebook will implement this January seem pretty great.
But there are also benefits for the business pages.
Yes, we are paying for the viewership of our posts, but it is still cheaper to throw down $10 or $50 a post every now and then than it is to hire an outside marketing or PR team to reach people in a similar way that Facebook paid advertising does. Additionally, the boosted posts are being tailored to be highly effective for each individual business. Business pages now have the option of choosing specific demographics to point their posts at, based on age, gender, and location. Page administrators also now have the "post now or post later" option, allowing businesses to time their posts to send out at a later date - a helpful feature of Facebook posting for the busy business owner. So they really are working to improve the small business experience as well as the causal user experience.
Do I think it's worth it to hold onto our fan page?
As of now, yes. Facebook is still a good place to dump all of the great content we generate and create (especially because it's also going to other places). For anyone who simply searches our brand's name in the search box, he'll be able to find every great piece of work we've put up. As for the paid posting, we typically boost any post with a link that will lead directly back to our site. It's worth the money with how many click-backs we consistently receive. I plan on sticking with Facebook for the time being. Who knows, these changes could end up making marketing via Facebook the best PR option yet.