• The Lies Facebook Tells its Small Business Users and What You Can Do About it

    Facebook Likes about EdgeRank and Organic Reach on PagesFacebook recently posted an article entitled “Organic Reach on Facebook: Your Questions Answered,” and it made my blood boil. (Disclaimer: I rarely ever write negative articles about companies or products. I believe in the old adage: If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. But I feel strongly that this issue warrants a discussion.)

    If you run a business page on Facebook, you’ve probably noticed that it is impossible to reach your entire fan base. In fact, it’s difficult to reach even 10% of your fan base without paying for advertising.

    Here’s what I mean:

    Let’s say you have a Facebook page with 1,000 fans and you post a new article on your page. You will be lucky if your post shows up in the news feed for 50 to 100 of those fans. And by the way, you worked hard to earn those fans, didn’t you? So why won’t Facebook show your post to the people who CHOSE to like your page?

    Facebook’s EdgeRank Algorithm

    EdgeRank is a fancy term for Facebook’s technology that determines how to serve up content in users’ news feeds. From a Facebook user standpoint, you may have noticed that sometimes you see posts from your cousin in Iowa, and other times you miss her posts. EdgeRank is to blame for that.

    Nobody knows exactly how Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm works, but it is partly based on how often you interact with your friends and the pages you follow. For example, if you often comment or Like a photo shared by a close friend, chances are good (though not assured) that you will see more posts by that friend. If you haven’t interacted with a friend or page recently, then you may stop seeing posts from that person or page for awhile, until Facebook decides to pop one into your news feed. Surprise!

    According to the infuriating article listed above, if Facebook posted every piece of content shared by every friend and business page you follow, it would create “competition in the news feed.”

    (Dear Facebook, Competition is a good thing. Perhaps you’ve forgotten that, but you might want to pay attention because I feel a mass exodus coming on. Competition may soon be a big concern for you.)

    From a business perspective, this means that Facebook is limiting the reach of posts from your business page to those who follow your business. And the only real way to increase your reach is to pay for it with promoted posts.

    The article above insists that despite popular belief, Facebook isn’t limiting organic reach in order to generate advertising dollars; it’s doing it to improve the user experience. Then it goes on to list four businesses that have had great success with Facebook, but ALL of those case studies cite utilizing Facebook advertising. Say what?

    The article also attempts to make the comparison that you also get better results with paid advertising on similar mediums like TV, radio, newspapers and the search engines. But comparing Facebook to traditional media is like comparing apples to fried worms.

    But for the fun of it, let’s compare Facebook with Google. Sure, paid placement can assure top placement on Google search. But Facebook also doesn’t recognize the reality that with some effort, basic search engine optimization (SEO) tactics can also get your web page top placement on Google search, and SEO doesn’t cost a dime. So if Facebook wants to compare itself to Google, then where are the suggestions for how to optimize posts on your page for better organic reach?

    The Bottom Line:

    Facebook has been angering the small business community for awhile now, and the natives are getting restless. Forcing us to pay to advertise to the people we’ve worked hard to get to like our pages in the first place is like a furniture company saying: “Sure, you bought that couch from us. But now you’ll need to pay us each time you want to sit on it.”

    I will add that I have experimented with Facebook advertising pretty heavily. It can help you reach more people, and it’s relatively inexpensive. You can boost a post for as little as $5. But it is infuriating that I’m forced to make this investment.

    What You Can Do About It

    1. Expect a Shifting Social Media Landscape. For many small businesses, Facebook is losing its value. It’s not going to be worth the time and effort if you can’t achieve results. This is going to lead us to other outlets, so prepare for the coming changes in the landscape. Keep reading…

    2. Spend More Time with Twitter and LinkedIn. Though none of the social media giants is perfect, Twitter and LinkedIn are both far more small business-friendly than Facebook. They don’t filter your content the way Facebook does. These networks let the users make those decisions. The challenge is to find your audience here, but in most cases, you can.

    3. Be Vocal. Though it often feels like the Facebook powers don’t want to listen to users, we should at least attempt to get their attention. Write blog posts and articles about what Facebook is doing. Leave comments on the article above and other articles they share. They need to hear from the small business community. They may choose not to listen, but at least we will have tried.

    And unfortunately if they don’t react soon, chances are most of us won’t stick around much longer.

    Filed Under: Marketing by SCOnline Marketing by SCSmall BusinessSocial Media

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    About the Author: Stephanie Chandler is an author of nine books including Own Your Niche: Hype-Free Internet Marketing Tactics to Establish Authority in Your Field and Promote Your Service-Based Business and The Nonfiction Book Marketing Plan: Simple Strategies to Build Your Audience and Sell More Books. She is also founder and CEO of Authority Publishing, specializing in custom book publishing and social media marketing services, BusinessInfoGuide.com, a directory of resources for entrepreneurs, and the Nonfiction Authors Association, a marketing community for authors. She has been featured in Entrepreneur magazine, BusinessWeek, Inc.com, and Wired magazine, and she is a contributing blogger for Forbes. For author and speaker details, visit http://StephanieChandler.com. Subscribe to Stephanie Chandler's blog feed here.

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    1. Sue CanfieldNo Gravatar says:

      Thank you for this insightful article Stephanie. Recently more and more of my social media marketing clients are asking us to create ads to get their message out there. They want us to increase the exposure they get on Facebook, yet Facebook is making it more and more difficult. I’ll be sharing this article with my clients.

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