After Facebook realized that its stocks were not as great as everyone predicted, it’s looking for new ways to monetize the site. Unfortunately, this monetization comes at the expense of small business owners who have built their entire strategy around the social media site’s offerings. When small businesses realized that they could create a Facebook page for free and list everything they needed on it, some didn’t even bother making a real website. Their phone number, hours, location, and more could all be featured right on their free Facebook page. Additionally, they realized they didn’t need to spend money on advertising, either. As long as they had a wide fan base, their posts could serve as the advertisements. For many businesses, this worked wonders.
However, all good things must come to an end, and Facebook has announced that it will start charging businesses for promoted posts. If a post is not promoted, it will not be visible on every fan’s newsfeed. Facebook argues that it will still show up, but might be at the bottom. However, businesses fear that soon enough, the posts will be completely invisible unless paid for. When businesses do pay to promote a post, it will show up at the top of their users’ news feeds. The companies will also be able to tailor who sees the posts by area, age, or any other criteria.
Businesses that have made Facebook their main advertising venue are panicking. To small businesses, Facebook is as good as a print ad or a TV spot. 77% of small businesses in the United States spend at least a quarter of their advertising budget on social media sites, and 73% claimed they have hired a “social media manager” to watch over the pages. Many know that they won’t be able to afford Facebook anymore if they need to promote every post. Richard Bishop, a catering business owner in Idaho, says that he posts approximately 35 times a week on Facebook. At that volume, promoted posts would cost him at least $9,100 every year. To a small business, that amount is outrageous, and many are unsure where their social media efforts will go from here on out.
If you own a small business and you are concerned about promoted posts ruining the Facebook value you’ve worked so hard for, don’t delete your profile page just yet. There are some ways you can get around the hurdles set up by the promoted posts feature, and they can even make you more popular on the site than you were before.
Get Fans to Share your Posts
Facebook claims that some fans will still be able to see your posts in their news feeds. While this might be a smaller percentage of your fan base than you could reach out to before, they can help you expand your reach. Encourage these users to share your post with their friends. That way, your content will be at the top of the news feeds for many people because it will be considered a “friend” activity instead of a corporate post. Get creative with your posts to make them shareable. Consider making special offers through Facebook especially for commenters on the post, or ask fans to spread the word about a temporary sale. If you have a good reputation in your community, people will be happy to help spread the news.
Get Fans to Add Your Page to their Interests
Similarly, get your loyal fans to make sure your page is added to their interests. When you are considered an interest, your posts will be closer to the top of their news feed. “Liking” might not be enough anymore, so encourage them to visit your page and click “add to interests”. Unfortunately, it does make an extra step for them, but if they are truly fans of your brand, they won’t mind. Non-profit organizations especially can get people to add them, since they don’t have money to spend on promoted posts. People are more likely to “add” a nonprofit organization’s page to their interest so that they can stay on top of fundraisers and special news.
Integrate Heavily with Other Social Media Sites
If you’re worried about your Facebook posts showing up too far down on your fans’ newsfeeds, consider sharing each post on other social media sites as well. Even if your main focus used to be Facebook, create a Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest account. That way, your fans will have multiple means to hear a single bit of information. It will be more time-consuming to update multiple platforms, but it is certainly a way to get around the problem of being buried at the bottom of someone’s cluttered news feed every time you have something to say. You can always link posts back to your Facebook page, where everyone can see the updates in your own timeline.
Suck It Up and Promote Your Posts
There are benefits to promoting your posts on Facebook. In addition to being at the top of all of your fans’ news feeds, you can view special metrics related to your post. You can see how effective your promotion was and control exactly who sees it. Paying for promoted posts is similar to paying for sponsored results on Google. It will pay off. Companies that have started using the feature have in fact seen an increase in revenue in their business and more activity on their Facebook pages. While the initial cost might be intimidating, you will get a return on your investment. Nothing in life is free, so be grateful for the past few years of advertising a gratis via Facebook.
Even if you have the money, you’d probably rather spend it on real advertising outside of Facebook. If only on principle alone, social media sites should be free for everyone. Luckily, there are some sneaky ways around the promoted post feature, so you’ll just have to get creative with your social outreach. Whether you’re crafty in your new posting styles or you suck it up and pay for promotion, you will likely see an increase in web traffic and you might even get more Facebook fans.