As a freelance marketing consultant it concerns me when I meet a small business owner and I hear them say “Oh I don’t have a website, I don’t need one, I have a Facebook page”. In my head plays the Bugs Bunny klaxon sound “NOOOOOOO”, that is the worst thing you can do. So what is the Future of Facebook?
Facebook is a commercial organisation, they have targets to meet, profits to make and shareholders to keep happy. Their sole principle is not to promote all of these fantastic small businesses that have been built up on the back of Facebook. Facebook algorithms change all the time and not necessarily in your favour if you are a small business.
I remember quite distinctly in the Autum about three yrs ago where my news feed literally stopped, so much so I thought there was something wrong with my phone. But no it was just Facebook saying we are cutting back on your feed, we are deciding based on your habits what you want to read about – scary or what?!
This was not the only change, recently there have been more changes and there are more coming. So what does this mean for your business? And do you need to re-think how you use your company page to get the most out of the platform?
In 2015, in a bid to make the News Feed more engaging for its users, Facebook made big changes to how businesses’ posts reach their fans. By minimising the organic reach of content, i.e. how many people will see posts, business owners must now consider paying for the privilege of content being made visible to their fan base. Moving forward, posts must be ‘boosted’ and paid for to reach your audience and appear in their news feed.
In a 2015 announcement, Facebook said: “As part of an ongoing survey, we asked hundreds of thousands of people how they feel about the content in their News Feeds. People told us they wanted to see more stories from friends and pages they care about, and less promotional content.” The ‘promotional content’ that Facebook is trying to shield its users from includes, in their own words:
- Posts that solely push people to buy a product or install an app
- Posts that push people to enter promotions and sweepstakes with no real context
- Posts that reuse the exact same content from ads
However it is not all doom and gloom eMarketers latest figures show that Facebook is reaching around 9 out of 10 social network users and 6 out of 10 internet users in the UK this year, this works out to be about 48% of the UK’s total population now has access to a Facebook account. And current forecasts see Facebook achieving exactly 50% reach in 2020.
But there are more changes on the horizon:
- Facebook are expanding their reach to even more users, through cookie based re-targeting advertising, so you are not just targeting Facebook users but those on 3rd party sites as well.
- Facebook will grade your post as low, medium or high text density, in essence keep the amount of copy to the minimum and keep things visual.
- Facebook is putting maps in ads to help track store visits to help with better reporting.
- Brands and publishers can expect their news feed posts reach to plummet. On 29 June Facebook announced it would change its news feed to be more friends and family focused.
- Facebook exchange a re-targeting tool will shut down from November 2016.
So despite rumours that Facebook is over the hill the figures suggest usage uptake is slowing down, which you would expect but they are still very much growing and expanding their network. So what does this mean for small businesses? If you wish to speak to this demographic it is still a platform to use, but this is beoming harder to do so for ‘free’.
And last but not least remember, this is a private company with their own objectives, their changes certainly seem to suggest they wish to maintain the core ethos of sharing content with friends but making more out of business advertising. Ensure that it is only part of your marketing mix and not what your business is built on.