Since November 2007, millions of businesses, from corporations such as McDonald's to locally owned mom-and-pop shops, have all enjoyed the invention of Facebook Pages. Social media in general, but specifically the Facebook Page, has been extremely valuable not only because of its targeting and tracking capabilities but also because it has eliminated the expense of one of the key ingredients of advertising: media costs. Traditionally, components of advertising look a lot like this:
Labor Costs + Media Costs = Total Advertising Expenses
Looking at it purely mathematically, it's mind blowing that businesses have been able to get articles, images, videos, and more in front of consumers in a location that people view daily! Facebook pages have given companies – large and small alike – access to this incredibly valuable media. So far, a business's only expense for Facebook marketing the past 7 years has been the cost of the labor involved, whether it be an owner's or employee's time away from other duties or the cost of paying a professional marketing agency to handle the logistics, creative work, and strategy.
However, as many business owners and marketing professionals have been learning the past few years, this valuable media, which for years has been free, has not been performing as well as it did at first. In 2012, Facebook officially reported that organic reach rates for business pages were roughly 16%. That meant that each of your fans were seeing roughly 1 out of 6 posts you were producing. Two years later, that number is down around 6%, or 1 out of every 16 posts.
In response to this obvious change in performance, Facebook made the following comment earlier this year:
“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.”
This news signaled the beginning of the end of the most valuable free media in marketing history. This change was confirmed in November, when Facebook issued this statement:
Beginning in January 2015, people will see less of this type of [promotional] content in their News Feeds. As we’ve said before, News Feed is already a competitive place – as more people and Pages are posting content, competition to appear in News Feed has increased. All of this means that Pages that post promotional creative should expect their organic distribution to fall significantly over time.
Businesses should still refer to our Page publishing tips and best practices. And for targeting specific audiences with predictable reach, Facebook advertising offers ways to achieve specific business objectives, like driving in-store sales or app downloads.
What does this mean for your small business?
Just like TV, newspapers, radio and virtually every other marketing platform that has ever existed, Facebook will now be reliably effective only when businesses use paid media to help meet their goals. Your business won’t always appear on the first page of a Google search unless you’re paying to be part of that space. Similarly, paid media on Facebook allows businesses to reach broader audiences more predictably. Facebook Boosting and Facebook Ads will reach customers with much greater accuracy than the organic reach Facebook Pages have been depending on thus far – the same reach that has already ground to a screeching halt this year after a two-year decline.
However, the transition from free media to paid media is only half of the equation here. The key factor in a business's success in social media marketing is still what it always has been: quality of content.
Putting aside the number crunching of what your boosting budget should be on each piece of content you share on your Facebook Page, the fact of the matter is if you don't have a solid social marketing strategy backed by quality content, you're wasting every dollar you put into that boosting budget. With this new change, every Facebook Page in the world will fall into one of these four categories:
What group do you want to be in? Are you willing to decide how much you want to spend on this media to get your messaging to your fans? Are you ready to work with a professional team to make sure that money is well spent and that your messaging is creatively and strategically strong enough to win customers and affect your bottom line?