Facebook Changes: Bad for Small Businesses

For years you have been hearing about building a Facebook business page for marketing purposes. But some behind the scenes changes are making Facebook tougher for small businesses.Facebook started out as a free social media network where small businesses could develop a following and distribute promotional materials. But over the years it has become more clear that to make a big splash on Facebook, you have to pay.

Starting January 1, 2015, that trend is getting a big push, as the company once again changes what it will post for free. Unlike Twitter where everything you post appears in your followers’ news feeds, Facebook filters its content based on what it believes a reader wants to see. To improve visibility you have to focus on “organic” reach – getting followers to like, comment on, and share posts so that they show up in the followers’ news feeds. Facebook also sells ads or “sponsored posts” which can greatly increase the reach of one particular post, but of course, costs money. These ads are also screened for content.

The Changes

Starting this month, Facebook will begin applying those filters to all commercial page posts – ads or not. According to its press release:

Now we’re bringing new volume and content controls for promotional posts, so people see more of what they want from Pages.

What this means in marketing terms is that any post that is “too promotional,” by encouraging people to sign up, watch, call, or buy, won’t show up in your followers’ news feeds unless you pay for a sponsored post.

At the same time, Facebook is supposedly implementing a “call to action” button on their commercial page layouts where potential clients can get more information, your contact information, sign up for a service. (This doesn’t seem available yet.)

What They Mean for Small Businesses

These changes demonstrate an even stronger push for quality content over sales-driven marketing. By making sure you are posting informative, content-rich content, you can ensure your blog post will get through the filter while your competition’s sales flyer does not.

But it also may mean a shift in how you write your blogs. If your blogs traditionally include a heavy-handed call to action, that language could potentially clog the filter and keep your post from reaching its’ audience. Perhaps that is why some marketing professionals are encouraging small businesses to spend their time and money elsewhere, rather than fighting the new restrictions.

Rather than abandoning ship, consider what you post. If you are focused on offering discounts and urging immediate action, Facebook might not be your venue. But if you are committed to creating and curating valuable content for your followers, it should still suit you just fine.

Lisa Schmidt is a ghost blogger for Legal Linguist. She can help you create content for your website and plan your social media strategy to maximize its effect. If you need help creating value for your readers, contact Legal Linguist to set up a meeting.

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