No, we're not. Facebook has just changed its algorithm for populating news feeds. Mostly because it wants small businesses to pay up for advertising.
As this Bloomberg Businessweek article suggests, there are a few ways to make sure your posts reach your fans. The first is – you guessed it – to shell out some cash.
This is, of course, the best way to make sure your posts get seen. But at Birdhouse Marketing, we're big believers in ROI. If you can afford to spend a few bucks promoting a new product that can be purchased through your website, then yes, it's worth paying for the ad space. If your ad isn't going to directly drive sales, then your budget can be better allocated elsewhere.
You can also place Facebook ads that drive people to 'Like' your page. Companies do this by offering a discount or special promotion specifically for new fans. These are really only worth it, though, if Facebook acts as a sales funnel for your business. As we all know, Facebook fans are more a matter of quality than they are a matter of quantity. Having thousands of fans is only helpful if they are engaging with your business, loyal to your brand and helping to spread your good word. If they 'Like' you just to get a free gift or one-time discount, they're not the type of fan you really want. They're just not that into you...
Of course, some small businesses don't have the budget to add Facebook ads to their marketing repertoire at all. For these businesses, here are a few suggestions to help increase the reach of your Facebook updates:
- Open-ended questions don't work so well. "What are you doing tonight?" "What's your favorite sushi place on the South Shore?" "What trend are you most excited about rocking this summer?" These types of questions seem like a good idea, but research has shown that they are ineffective at driving engagement or results. Updates about sales, new products, events, what's happening at your business…these are the things people want to hear about. They 'Liked' your page because they actually like your company. Stay focused, but err on the not-so-sales-y side. Your fans won't respond to a hard sell approach, either.
- Use Facebook Insights: Find out when your fans are using Facebook and what types of posts get the best results. Use your findings strategically.
- Ask fans to change their news feed settings and opt-in to more of your business's posts. Just don't bombard them with junk posts or they'll get annoyed and your master plan will backfire. Also, remind fans that the more they engage with you – likes, shares, posting to your wall – the more they'll see from you.
Whether you're able to pay for ads or not, Facebook is an invaluable marketing tool for small businesses. For more information on using Facebook to your business's best ability, contact Birdhouse Marketing & Design. We can help get you going in the right direction...