For small businesses looking to their Facebook Page as a cost-effective way to help build their social media brand online, the news that significant changes were made in September 2012 to the Facebook algorithm is concerning.
That said, Facebook is a business, and more recently a publicly traded one. And, like any business a key objective is to make money. As a publicly traded one, it is to thrive and grow it's profitability, to keep shareholders (and creditors) happy.
This is small consolation for the small business owner working hard to build their brand online using social media.
But, the reality is the reality. Facebook is unlikely to change their algorithm to favour those in business who are, in truth, benefitting from their service at no cost (at least in terms of writing a cheque to Facebook).
And, as a well-written blog on the topic appearing on Social.Ogilvy.com stated "The crux of the change is centered strictly on organic brand page posts, in an effort to de-clutter the amount of posts served up to mobile and tablet users by brands."
The blog on Ogilvy notes, "The change comes at a time when Facebook is trying to maximize the amount of paid advertising it has on the platform, in an effort to bump its share price after a struggling stock share post-IPO."
And who can blame them? They are in fact a business, providing a service that is free for most and with an opportunity for businesses to buy further exposure through advertising with or without sponsored stories, and promoted posts.
Even without paying, or using advertising and promoted posts sparingly, small businesses can still benefit from having a Facebook Page.
Gokul Rajaram, Facebook's Director of Product Management Ads, is quoted in a blog by Trevor Dayley as saying, "Organically, you get anywhere from 15 percent to 20 percent of your fans, that you reach organically. In order to reach the remaining 80 to 85 percent, sponsoring posts is important."
My guess is the average Facebook fan is quite happy to not see a plethora of posts from businesses in their Facebook newsfeed. After all, most are on the site to connect with family and friends not brands. That said, posts that they find interesting and helpful from brands are likely welcomed.
In a nutshell, the old saying "you get what you pay for" is true here. You will get a certain level of exposure without paying for it, but if you want more exposure you'll have to pony up the dollars.
One caveat, just because you pay for posts won't mean people will engage with them. Paying for the ad is one thing and ensuring the content you're promoting is shareable, comment provoking and likeable is something else altogether.
If you're going to pay for advertising, make sure that when people see your posts on Facebook they'll be glad they did. Otherwise, you may just be spending money and not seeing any results.