So you have a Facebook page and you have been trying your best to build your fans and keep them engaged. Maybe your web or ad agency has been encouraging you to post quite a bit to keep people engaged (or their pocketbooks lined). But now guess what? Facebook’s tired of giving your brand a free ride in the News Feed. So if you want to reach all those fans you’ve earned, it’s time to pay Facebook to reach them.
This isn’t a secret, and it isn’t some sudden shift in direction. It’s a trend that’s been happening for at least 6 months (see the chart below). In a recent article in Ad Age, Facebook admits that they have been trying to push more businesses to pay for advertising and have shifted their algorithms to show less business content in people’s News Feeds.
But They’re My Fans!
Not so fast. Always remember that Facebook is a third party platform and they can do whatever they want to change up what they are offering. You do not have a contract with Facebook that gives you unlimited access to people who’ve liked your page. (Which is one of the many reasons we recommend posting regularly to your own blog in addition to third party social sites.)
Facebook survives by providing the best possible user experience. And they’ve determined that users want to see more personal updates from friends about babies, puppies, meals, etc. than commercial updates from businesses about sales, promos, new products, etc. When you step back, that makes sense. Very few people watch TV for the ads. So Facebook is just adopting a model more like other traditional media where advertisers need to pay to reach an audience. Pretty old-school for a company that is supposedly changing the way we interact socially, but you also need to remember that Facebook is now a real live publicly held American corporation with plenty of investor mouths to feed.
What to Do Now
Step One: Let your fans know what’s going on. In a paid post designed to reach all your fans, explain that Facebook is now determining what content they are going to see and not see and encourage everyone to sign up for your email list. We’ve discussed in the past how fruitful your email marketing campaigns can be, and it’s time to put that list into action on a more regular basis. If you are doing a quarterly newsletter, it might make sense to do it monthly from now on. If you aren’t sending out newsletters, now is the time to start.
Feel free to copy and paste this or customize as you see fit:
Facebook is increasingly requiring businesses like ours to pay to reach our fans. It doesn’t make sense for us to pay to share every update about our business. To keep updated on the latest happenings, great content, and specials, be sure to subscribe to our email list here: (Include link to your email opt in)
Step Two: Evaluate paid placement on Facebook. If you do want to start paying Facebook for ads, you may need to rethink your Facebook strategy. Give some thought to what deserves paid promotion and what doesn’t. It just doesn’t make sense to advertise something that isn’t likely to bring new business in your door.
Time will tell how this shift changes the way businesses prosper on Facebook, but we generally feel that a scaled back investment in the platform is the right way to go. It is not a good investment to labor over 10+ posts per week if very few of your fans are even getting an opportunity to see the content. A recent article in Slate makes a good statement on how you need to think about Facebook from here on out:
It’s understandable that businesses feel cheated: They’ve spent years doing everything in their power to get people to like their pages, only to see their engagement dry up when Facebook changed things around. But maybe the lesson for marketers is simpler than it seems: Facebook likes are only as valuable as the actual sentiment behind them. That is, unless people genuinely like your posts—in the original sense of the term—getting them to hit like on your brand page isn’t going to do you a lot of good. And maybe that’s the way it should be.