Does your small business do Facebook marketing?
If you use Facebook to share updates about your business, you’ve probably noticed a huge drop in the number of people who see your Facebook posts.
Brand page views are down an average of 44.3% since the beginning of December. Some pages are down as much as 87%.
If you business depends on traffic from Facebook, this is a disaster. So what happened?
To really understand what’s going on, we need to look at some history.
Until last year, Facebook was a private company interested more in gaining customers than making money. This meant that they didn’t worry too much about whether an update in your timeline was from a business or a friend. They cared more about whether the content was something you were interested in seeing. If you “liked” a page, Facebook assumed that you wanted to see the content from that page and they showed it to you.
But these days, Facebook is a publicly held business. Like all public companies, they need to generate enough income and profit to keep their shareholders happy. Which means everything that appears in your timeline is now an income opportunity.
But what about Facebook ads—isn’t that how Facebook makes money?
Yes, but the problem with Facebook advertising is that it doesn’t work very well. A recent Forester research report surveyed 395 marketers about which kinds of online advertising were most effective. Facebook was dead last. Last year ad blogger Bob Hoffman pointed out that blank ads performed better than the average Facebook ad. Marketers have been catching on and aren’t willing to pay for ads that don’t work.
Note: If you use Facebook ads or are considering it, we highly recommend that you test your ads very carefully to verify that they not only get the clicks you want, but that those clicks translate to sales. Many small companies are finding this very difficult to do.
But Facebook has one other big opportunity to make money—sponsored updates.
Businesses used to be able to post to their timelines and have those messages show up on the timelines of their Facebook fans—people who had liked their pages. Last year, Facebook started reducing the number of fans who saw updates. They claimed it was about 15%, but our experience at the time showed the number was much lower than that.
This month Facebook has gone all the way. The latest post on the Logomaker Facebook page was seen by .oo4% of the users who liked our page (just 34 of 8525 Facebook fans). These are people who have told Facebook that they want to see what we have to say. But Facebook still doesn’t show them.
That makes having a Facebook Page practically worthless to any small business.
But Facebook Marketing is here to help! For just $60, they’ll push our posts onto the timelines of at least 39,000 Facebook users—even people who aren’t our Facebook fans and have little interest in our updates. That way Facebook can deliver profits to their shareholders.
Um, no thanks.
So What Should Your Startup Do with Facebook?
Organic Facebook marketing is hard and it’s getting less effective. So other than having a Facebook page and posting great content to it from time to time (knowing most of your fans won’t see it), you may decide to do nothing. Or maybe you’ll focus your social efforts on other sites like Google Plus or Twitter. At the very least, make sure you have your own web presence where you can communicate with your customers outside of the walls of Facebook, Google, and Twitter.
If you still think Facebook marketing is an opportunity for your small business (and for some, it is), then make sure you do it right. Use a partner that can help you create custom tabs for giveaways, contests, and more. Someone like the guys at GroSocial, who can help you track engagement and analyze whether or not your Facebook marketing is really working. They’ll also give you templates, mobile links, and an editor to help you put it all together. If you’re going to do it, they’ll help you do it right.
More and more, we think small businesses will opt out of Facebook marketing. If they do, Facebook will only have itself to blame.
Note: We don’t blame Facebook for this move. They have to make money somehow. We’re simply pointing out that while Facebook might make money with sponsored content, your small business may not. So proceed with caution.