Want To Reach Customers On Facebook? You Better Pay Up

Facebook's latest tweak to their News Feed has some business owners seeing red.
December 12, 2013

Think you can turn Facebook into your own small-business marketing engine simply by posting content or promoting customer deals? Not anymore. 

Facebook recently announced (albeit, in a somewhat roundabout way) that it will be giving less exposure to businesses’ Facebook pages in users news feeds—unless those businesses pay money to promote their posts.

“Because the content in News Feed is always changing, and we’re seeing more people sharing more content, Pages will likely see changes in distribution,” the company wrote on its Facebook for Business blog. “For many Pages, this includes a decline in organic reach. We expect this trend to continue as the competition for each story remains strong and we focus on quality.”

The December 5 posting then launches into a sales pitch: “Advertising lets Pages reach the fans they already have and find new customers as well.”

Many businesses’ Facebook pages are already getting less exposure than they did before. Ignite Social Media recently reviewed 689 posts across 21 brand pages and found an average 44-percent decline in organic reach since December 1. For some pages, the decline was as bad as 88 percent.

What does this mean for small-business owners who’ve, until now, relied on their Facebook Page for valuable marketing and customer engagement? First, it may mean that Facebook will become a less valuable business tool, since not as many people will see your posts in their news feed organically. (We already wrote about how Facebook’s recent addition of customer ratings on a five-star scale could change how businesses view their Facebook presence, since it will likely become more like Yelp.)

But it also means small businesses must decide whether it makes financial sense to pay for better exposure of their Facebook page and posts. Many business owners expressed anger with Facebook over its announcement that it is reducing businesses’ Page exposure.

One commenter, Jose Augusto, wrote the following in the comments section of the blog post:

“So the message is: please stop posting interesting content to get more fans to your pages; you can reach as many people as you want if you pay. Right? OK. Now imagine for a moment Google doing the same with the search results. No more good content, only ads. Who would use the search engine? What? Oh! I get it now, you want to become the next Snapchat! No content, only personal messages between friends. Good luck then.”

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Photo: Getty Images