Facebook marketing: It's not what it used to be | Contributor

By Patti Rowlson
Courtesy to The Bellingham Business Journal

Did you know that today only about 6-12 percent of the people who “like” your Facebook page will see the information you post?

That number is expected to decline further in the coming months unless you pay for posts to reach more people.

How can that be? If people like your business page, they will receive all of your status updates, right?

Unfortunately, that is no longer the case.

A new reality

Gone are the days of posting a status update and having it be seen by every person who follows your page.

A study published by Edgerank in April 2014 showed that organic, non-paid posts were being seen by just 6.51 percent of page followers. Those numbers were a shock to many small businesses using Facebook as their main tool for online marketing.

When it comes to Facebook marketing, it’s more important than ever to understand the difference between organic and paid reach.

Here’s Facebook’s definition of these two terms:

– Organic reach (free): The number of unique people who saw your post in their news feed or on your page, including people who saw it from a story shared by a friend when they liked, commented on or shared your post, answered a question or responded to an event.

– Paid reach: The number of unique people who saw your post through an ad.

Think about those Edgerank statistics again.

If your page has 500 followers, it’s possible that an average of only 30 will be shown status updates organically (without paying Facebook to show the updates to more people). These numbers are the new norm.

Business reactions

Since its inception, Facebook has continually made changes to its algorithm, which determines how computers carry out specific tasks via input and output of data.

In the case of Facebook, its algorithm controls whether your status updates are shown to page followers or not.

Its latest algorithm update on December 2013 has led page managers around the globe to research how the changes work, edit their social-media marketing strategies and adjust their advertising budgets to include more paid advertising on Facebook.

One company, a national food delivery business, became so frustrated with the never-ending changes at Facebook that they wrote a very public break up letter threatening to leave the social media platform for good. The letter touched a chord with businesses and consumers—it went “viral” on the Web.

Impact to consumers

Not only are businesses frustrated by algorithm updates, but so are consumers.

The reason consumers follow a page in the first place is to be notified about events, sales and new products. Consumers opt-in to follow pages and assume they will be shown all status update, because they want to see them.

Again, that is no longer the case.

Today, consumers need to visit a company’s page if they want to read all status updates shared.

Test this out by hopping over and looking at some of pages you personally like on Facebook. Do you see status updates on those pages that you didn’t see in your news feed?

Moving forward

Experts say that, in 2014, it’s not possible to only use Facebook for social-media marketing. Companies need to diversify their online marketing efforts by incorporating other social sites such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram. Some also suggest revisiting email marketing.

Others are advising everyone to keep in mind that, even though Facebook keeps changing and their ad rates are increasing, it’s still an affordable option to reach a large audience of potential customers.

What do you think? Are your Facebook marketing efforts still effective? Will you make some adjustments, or will you look for alternatives?

Patti Rowlson is a marketing consultant and social media manager at PR Consulting, Inc. She helps Whatcom County small businesses identify, implement and consistently maintain marketing-related programs. Learn more about small-business marketing by connecting with PR Consulting on social media sites or by visiting www.pattirowlson.com.  


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