Can Small Businesses Survive on Facebook?

When Facebook first announced that their algorithm was changing to decrease the organic growth for business page posts, a lot of people were angry. Most business page owners had already seen a steady decrease in the number of people who saw their posts and then Facebook released the following statement:

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“We expect organic distribution of an individual page’s posts to gradually decline over time as we continually work to make sure people have a meaningful experience on the site.”

 

The problem is, many businesses have already invested in promoting their page to gain likes and now they find they need to pay for those who like their page to actually see their messages.

So how can small business owners work around the changes? Here are a few tips:

1. Ask your fans to opt-in to your email list.

Ask those who follow you on Facebook to opt-in to your email list. Email is a great way to reach your customers and you are able to choose which of your clients get your content instead of relying on Facebook for views. Make sure that your clients know how often you will be sending emails and what kind of information will generally be included. Most people are “spam” adverse and need to know what value you will be bringing to them with your emails. You can also use contests, giveaways and coupons to incentivise people to opt-in.

2. Choose one other social media outlet and start investing time there.

Although Facebook is the biggest, there are many social media sites out there that can help you reach your target market. Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest and Tumblr. are the top 5 sites after Boost Post FacebookFacebook according to eBizMBA Rank. What works for you will depend on your business and your clients. Businesses with a lot of naturally visual content that people like to share (restaurants, clothing stores, photographers, etc.) do well on sites such as Pinterest and Instagram. B2B companies can often engage with potential clients on Twitter. Start by blocking out 15 minutes a day to build your presence on one site other than Facebook and you may be surprised by the results!

3. Build Facebook into your marketing budget.

If you can’t beat them- join them! Even with the recent changes, Facebook is still a good place to market your business. Use your marketing budget to sponsor stories instead of to get new likes. This will increase the number of people who see the posts you boost and will give them a greater chance of going viral. Compared to traditional marketing channels such as TV & radio ads Facebook is still a less expensive option and allows you to target your customers. Make sure to track where the bulk of your referrals are coming from and invest primarily in that channel (weather it be Facebook, another form of social media, TV spots, or something else).

4. Create more engaging posts.click like if

Create content your fans will want to share. Look at the Insights from your previous posts. Most likely, there is a common thread between the posts that were most popular. Find what works for your business and duplicate it! When I started at the AK SBDC I posted a wide range of material to our Facebook page without much of a result. One day, I posted a graphic encouraging people to buy local and to click like if they supported local small business.

The response was incredible! Our clients are proud small business owners and small business supporters who wanted to show their love for buying local so this resonated with them. It also included a “Call to Action”- we asked them to “Like” the post. Calls to action are a great way to increase engagement but should not be used in every post. If used too frequently or in a way that does not benefit your Fans (“Share this post so your friends will like my page!” versus “Share this post and be entered into a drawing for a free workshop!”) you may lose followers. Additionally, Facebook has caught on to the “click like if” post and has started penalizing businesses who use it too often.

5. Share updates that are text only with no links.

If you want to make sure that as many of your fans see your post as possible, make sure that it is text only (no pictures, videos or links). Facebook’s newest algorithm changes now favor posts that are text only while before they favored picture posts. Keep in mind that although this type of post may show up in more of your fan’s newsfeeds, it may not catch their eye compared to the picture of their best friend’s new baby and a funny video shared by their coworker.

Although it is now becoming a “pay to play” marketing channel for businesses, Facebook’s push towards paid posts is not the end of the world for small businesses. If you would like to learn more about marketing for your business, request counseling with the AK SBDC here or register for one of our workshops such as 10 Things You Don’t Know About SEO or Brilliant Marketing!

 

Lauren Riley, AK SBDC Marketing and Program Specialist