Oh Facebook, how you make my head hurt. As a social media manager, Facebook has been by far one of the biggest thorns in my side lately. The reason for this is because there have been some major changes over the last year or so that have made getting noticed on Facebook extra difficult now. The methods I used to use for clients are not getting the results they once did, from organic to paid ads a like. Ad costs have gone up and the reach has become smaller. It has been happening subtly for awhile now but this past month I have really hit peak frustration. Especially now that my clients have noticed that they are not getting the same results and are asking why?
Well, I will tell you and give you tips on how to work with the Facebook changes.
Facebook Advertising Past To Present
Facebook is a beast and has changed so much is just 5 years. If you were a small business that took advantage of Facebook 7 years ago then you know that it was the hay day for cost efficient advertising. With little to no budget your little business could stand out against the crowd. Likes came easily, engagement and commenting was abundant as Facebook was not saturated with every business out there. About 5 years ago, advertisers were having wild success, viral campaigns started developing and the stats were coming out on how effective Facebook was for business. Many businesses still did not have Facebook pages but once they saw this that changed their minds. Those that were early adopters and understood the Facebook market place definitely got ahead of the curve. About 3 years ago I noticed that every business was needing a Facebook page. It was now an expectation. However, the average person does not want to like a steel beam manufacturer and see the updates of this business in their news feed. They want to see what their friends are up to and maybe are ok with a business that is relevant to them (their local coffee shop or somethings trending). In comes Facebook to respond to it's users, as it should.
For more information on Facebook's history in advertising click here.
The Current Situation: Algorithms
Facebook's most recent algorithm in June 2016 has made the current landscape very difficult for little businesses to break through. First off, Facebook is a well run company with a priority to it's shareholders and users. It needs to make money and stay relevant. To stay relevant (especially with millennials) Facebook can't seem like one giant commercial station. Priority is given to user's streams that information about their friends will come up first on the news feed, doesn't matter how many times your business posts, it will still be a lower priority. The ads have to be subtle, but with so many users and such a great marketplace that gives you all sorts of information about potential customers the biggest companies are going to get uber competitive to get the best real estate. Basically, without paying Facebook you won't be showing up anywhere and your budget needs to get bigger in order to compete.
For more information about this algorithm check out this article
Myself and many advertisers were hoping that the effect of this algorithm would not be as bad as we thought but it is bad, it is worse than I thought. I am really seeing the affects of this now. So what to do?
What Small Business Owners Can Do
So I don't want to sounds like all hope is lost, it's not. It just means it's time for a change. I need to get over my frustration and step up to the challenge. If you read this post you would have noticed that the early adopters were the ones that have done the best from Facebook and Social Media in general. My advice to small business owners is this; stay on top of what is happening in Social Media. It changes wicked fast. The companies that are just now thinking that they need a Facebook page and that they will be getting a lot of likes just for having one are way behind. In fact, I want businesses to forget about the likes altogether right now or at least not stress about it. I do believe that you need to have a Facebook page to seem like you are part of today's society however, I wouldn't focus so hard on the "like" number. It means less now than it did before. With the marketing options available through Facebook you can get in front of customers without having that like number go up. I will explain this more in another blog post. I would use Facebook ads to promote your website, and have an active page. I would set aside a monthly budget that you can afford and keep some sort of promotional ad going continuously (like with google ads). The content has to be interesting and relevant so it is really important that your business at least has a consultation with a social media manager to get an idea of what to post. If a customer looks you up, you are there and are relevant. However, I would lower the expectation that Facebook is going to be your marketing saviour for little to no money. If you want to use Facebook for advertising, you will need to start setting aside a larger portion of your budget. I would also focus on other Social Media platforms as well. For example, Snap Chat and Youtube are right now the new Wild West for advertisers. If your business gets on that now you will see your dollar go further. Next year it will be something else.
How to Stay On Top Of It All
If your are a small business owner you are probably thinking that this is not helpful because like you have time to add one more thing to the giant pile of things you need to do for your business to succeed right now. I hear you, I have been there but that is the world we live in. Best not to fight it, figure out a way to get help. I am a little biased here obviously but I know I spend hours every week reading up on what is new in the world of Social Media, either you need to incorporate that into your life (ya, right) OR you need to consider hiring someone (like me!) to help you. Social Media marketing and the speed at which it changes is part of business today. You need to invest in staying current or don't be surposrised at getting left behind. For decades advertising never really changed, TV, Radio and Paper were it. Today is different and it is exciting and dynamic and you need to enjoy the ride. So take a look at what your priorities are for marketing and get a consultation, many Social Media managers offer them for free (I do). So take advantage, get ahead of the curve and your business will be successful.