What To Do Now That Facebook Has Killed Your Business Page Reach

What To Do Now That Facebook Has Killed Your Business Page Reach

If you’re using a Facebook business page as part of you marketing plans, you may have noticed recently that the number of people who have seen your posts has dropped like the proverbial rock. On a good day, our own posts are reaching about 5% of our fans.

If you don’t have a business page but are thinking about it, just know that the days of the Facebook gravy train are over. No longer the “free” marketing avenue that would let us engage with billions of people across the globe, Facebook is now scant more than a glorified advertising opportunity. But I won’t rant about that here – I did that already.

What I want to do is to share some ideas for coping with your loss in reach and how you can still use Facebook as a part of your marketing mix.

Build Your Fan Base

That might sound crazy and counterintuitive considering that you won’t have much interaction with more than 5-ish% of your fans at any given time but that doesn’t mean there’s no value in it.

It just takes a little attitude adjustment.

It may be time to stop thinking of Facebook as a community to engage and think of it instead as a popularity contest.

People like to hang out at the cool kids’ table and people like to “like” stuff that other people like.

Got that?

The trick is in the social proof. Fans beget fans so consider each one of those clicks of the blue button as a vote for your business.

More importantly, think of it as a targeted vote. You may not be able to engage directly with all of those voters at all times but that doesn’t mean you can’t reach them when you need to – and when you do need to, you’ll have a ready-made pool of people who have expressly shown interest in you and what you do.

Spend Money

You’re not just building a fan base for the numbers. And it’s time to get real about the fact that social marketing is not free.

Make friends with the idea that you’ll need to budget for ads. And appreciate the fact that Facebook offers you the opportunity to advertise to the select and very specific people who care.

Now, I’m not talking about those very ignorable ads that show up on the right side of your news feed. I’m talking about ads that show up right in the news feed.

And to be honest, I’m not really talking about ads – not the way we usually think of them, anyway – those campy promos or slick one-liners that may blink or flash or beg us to click here.

I’m talking about the ability to “boost” your posts. The very same posts you would normally make and the ones you hoped all your fans would see in the first place.

You may not have pockets deep enough to promote every witticism or fun photo or blog post but you can certainly promote your best offers, your freebies, your contests, events or anything that has the potential to lead to conversions.

When you do that – with the same charm you put into all of your posts – you’re going to reach a prequalified list of people who are much more likely to be interested in what you have to say than if you’d been advertising to some statistical demographic that fits your “target audience”.

Refocus Your Efforts

Before Facebook’s recent changes, the average brand page was only reaching 15% of its fans anyway. More, yes, but not exactly earth shattering. Way-back-when we could reach even more, especially with those “engaging” posts, but it was never close to 100%.

Now more than ever we need to shift our priorities to what matters, and that starts with our own websites, blogs and email lists. Unless you own it, you don’t get a say in how it works. Facebook – or Twitter or Google or Pinterest – can change how they do business, and subsequently how we do business, at any time.

If you rely on a third-party service for your marketing then it’s only a matter of time before you’re wringing your hands over another roadblock outside of your control.  We had this conversation long before this set of changes, when we tackled the topic of using Facebook as your home base.

So put your time and energies into building your own home base and that starts with the conversations and communities you create around your own web properties.

You may also want to consider reallocating time to another social network. Facebook is big enough and omnipresent enough to be the default social network but that doesn’t mean your fans aren’t also on Twitter or Instagram or Pinterest. Diversify your efforts for the best results.

Reconsider Your Content

Facebook is making a push to be more Twitter-like in its role as a real-time news source. As such, it’s promoting links to current news articles from prominent news organizations. If you’re curating content, consider adding news into your mix and gauge whether or not that improves your reach.

Facebook is also demoting memes, those ever-present ecard quotes and other silly stuff that it has deemed unworthy. Sadly, those were often our go-to tricks for getting engagement. Now, consider eliminating them from your arsenal and go for original photos and content.

Be thoughtful about what you say in your posts. Instead of taking a share-and-go approach, infuse your personality into your posts and ask questions, pose conundrums, share commentary. If you can generate some engagement, whether via comments, shares or likes, that tends to boost your overall reach.

Whatever you do, consider that Facebook can – and does – change its content rules quickly and often. Try not to fall in love with any one particular strategy. Instead, try different things and see what works best for you on any given day.

Make It Your Outpost

So what are you supposed to do with all that great content if nobody is going to see it on Facebook these days?

Easy – put it somewhere else.

All those great photos? Pinterest.

Videos? YouTube.

Clever quips? Twitter.

Quickie posts, memes or one-liners? Tumblr.

And of course, your own blog.

Now you’ve got a social presence all over the darn place and content that you can repurpose for Facebook that didn’t take you a single extra second to create but will still make you visible there and will show that you have an active page when fans or potential fans come to visit.

Many Eggs, Many Baskets

It never pays to rely too heavily on a single marketing tactic or tool. We got comfortable at Facebook for a while and bought into the shiny object with its billions of facets.

Now it’s get-real time again, so put Facebook in its place as a sometimes-tool and use it for its strengths, knowing that it’s a big, wide internet and there are plenty of options.

And remember, Facebook will change again – so focus on what matters, and that’s the people you serve. If you do that, you’ll always be able to find a way to reach them.

Need help re-strategizing your social efforts? Let me know! I can help you get set up with a social marketing plan that keeps you focused on goals.

Carol Lynn Rivera

Carol Lynn Rivera

I'm a business owner, content creator, podcaster and marketer. In 1999 I founded Rahvalor Interactive, a web and creative services production studio, with my husband and business partner Ralph. In 2011 we created Web.Search.Social, a consulting and marketing service line for small businesses. We also cohost the Web.Search.Social Podcast where we challenge the status quo of marketing and the Carbon Based Business Units podcast where we talk about the human side of being an entrepreneur. On any given day I wear the hat of project manager, consultant, social media manager and content marketer. My true passion is writing and in my spare time I'm busy planning my early retirement to Barcelona as a famous and wealthy novelist.
Carol Lynn Rivera
Carol Lynn Rivera
  • Nice post Carol. Marketers are REALLY upset about FB and I get it – the free ride as you say is over. Email is certainly a great channel. Also, while perhaps your organic (free) FB Page stream is not as strong as it once was, overall FB still does very well in terms of Google searches so there is still a very compelling business use case for FB in terms of validation.

    And yes – marketers need to begin to “socialize” their clients a little better in terms of the free ride expectations – a client would never dream that they could send postcard out for free, or they could run TV/radio/print spots for free….

    That said my personal FB stream is still a really good experience and FB still is my best resource for keeping in touch with a pretty wide group of people – I couldn’t imagine sending out a daily email to my family & friends but I don’t give it a thought when I regularly share things on FB.

    • Carol Lynn Rivera

      Hi David,

      You made a great point about the social signals in Google. Facebook may not be the “engagement” tool we once thought it was but it’s certainly another avenue to be found.

      There was (and probably still is) a misconception that social marketing is free. And I believe Facebook fed into that because they made the platform all about “engaging” and “telling your story.” At no point has Google ever said “come to AdWords and tell your story.” So basically Facebook cultured us to believe in the myth and then said “now advertise”. They’ve been culpable in the confusion and now it’s up to marketers and businesses to sort it out.

      It’s still a great way for regular people to stay in touch with friends and family. I’m curious to see how the news feed advertising (especially now with autoplay video!) will affect the experience.

  • Very encouraging, Carol!

    I’ve seen people that had gotten so excited about utilizing social media, but then when there wasn’t any engagement, they changed their stance on it all together and said, “Who cares! It’s all just for teen-agers anyway.” But is it really? Since when did something so valuable come so easy?

    Time, patience, and… a few dollars, might be needed as well.

    Robb

    • Carol Lynn Rivera

      Ah, the case of the sour grapes. Yes, you see it in marketing too! Nothing is ever free and most things aren’t easy (or fast) either. Facebook has to take some of the blame for cultivating that myth because they spent a lot of time convincing people to tell their stories and reach all these amazing and massive amounts of people. And then reality hit. That doesn’t make it worthless but it does take a new approach.

  • Terry Lancaster

    Carol Lynn,

    Awesome info as always.

    The good news and bad news about boosted posts:

    Good) Click throughs from boosted posts, in my experience, are some of the least expensive purchased traffic you can buy.

    Bad) Back in the day, Facebook would allow you to boost posts ONLY to people who were already fans of your page. Now you can only post to your fans AND their friends. That really hurts the targeting.

    • Carol Lynn Rivera

      Hm, that’s true… targeting friends isn’t necessarily the same. This idea that if your friend likes something then you will too… do that many people live in a bubble? I mean, if I have a friend who likes Italian food and I’m looking for a suggestion for a good Italian restaurant, sure I will go to that person. But I’m not going to eat Italian food because my friend does. Well, Facebook seems to want to tell us how we want to interact with people so I guess we just go along for the ride 🙂

  • Sylviane Nuccio

    Thanks for this insight Carol and helping us not losing too much of our time on facebook anymore.

    You know that’s right! Why did I shared my snow day pictures on facebook rather than pinterest? I guess it’s because I’ll get more feedback from my friends there.

    I have more chance to see the picture of you kitty on facebook then if you put it on pinterest where I’m not much.

    But you’re right, we need to take our business and action somewhere else if we don’t want to spend the money. As you said, they own the thing and they can do whatever they want.

    • Carol Lynn Rivera

      Facebook for regular people is still a great way to stay in touch with friends and family, and even business people if you have made them friends! They’re a lot more likely to see what you post than if you put it on a business page. Facebook can still be a good place to connect with people, even for business, so it’s just a matter of figuring out what works. You can post your photos everywhere, Pinterest AND Facebook and Instagram and whatever, but spend you most energy where it pays off!

  • Jeff Ferguson

    Facebook didn’t kill any company’s business page reach – the company’s lack of engaging content did. Own it and move on.

    • No doubt there are companies out there who take the post-and-go approach to social media and forget the “social” part. That will have a negative effect on not only reach but perception in general. But there have been changes at Facebook that have distinctly reduced the number of people seeing your posts – engagement or not – so it’s something we need to contend with.

      • Jeff Ferguson

        There were absolutely changes to the Facebook algo and they absolutely did reduce the appearance of some posts, but none of it could be consider “Facebook killing your reach.”

        Similar to the regular changes made to Google’s algo, there was nothing nefarious in nature – they were done to improve the quality of the product.

        The fact that certain brands don’t match that level of quality is nothing personal, but something marketers should learn from as something they should have been doing all along.

        My problem isn’t with the idea that marketers may need to change the way they do things, it’s the way this post sells it as some sort of evil plot by Facebook.

        You write great stuff… lay off the yellow journalism.

        • I appreciate the compliment and agree that the title was about generating interest with some drama. We may differ on this point but I don’t believe for a second that Facebook did what they did to improve the product – they did it for the advertising money. That does not make it nefarious or evil, it’s just a fact. There are plenty of brands on Facebook using the platform “for free”. Facebook is a public company and needs to make money. It’s likely never going to charge its users but it can certainly charge businesses. If people (consumers) didn’t want to see the junk that brands were posting, the very simple solution was unfollow/delete/block. In this scenario Facebook is deciding what is good for us to see and as a consumer on Facebook, I don’t appreciate that. I would quite like to see posts from brands I’ve chosen to follow but I do not. I also do not wish to “engage” with those brands – reading is sufficient for me. So for me the experience has been diminished. I can’t imagine I’m alone. It’s tough to make an argument that Facebook is improving our experience by removing things we opted in to see. You may very well disagree with that! But these days my personal Facebook stream is more about the crap that other people have “engaged with”, boosted to the top over and over – and sponsored posts – than anything I really wanted to see.

          • Jeff Ferguson

            That’s just it… if Facebook truly did this “for the money,” then why would they make a change that so many users (business or otherwise) claim they hate?

            Facebook is a business and a business needs to make money, but that doesn’t mean it’s always going to change it’s product just to make more money… it’s going to change it to make it better, which in turn makes them more money.

            I’ve heard your argument for this for far too long on the search engine marketing side of internet marketing and it’s never been true there either.

            It’s bad business to change your product to game the system; it’s great business to update it to improve it’s quality.

            While it’s nice that you just want to “read the posts,” that’s never been what social media is about… it’s about engagement that leads to an action. That engagement could be clicking through to an article, writing a response, or simply hitting like. For businesses, the action hopefully leads to something that generates revenue down the line.

            Facebook is a free, publishing platform that you’re allowed to use. Calling them out because they decide to change it for the better is just low.

          • We’ll have to agree to disagree on this one. I don’t care what Facebook or any platform tells me social media is “supposed to be”. I choose the way I use it. And the way I use it is to stay informed, not stay engaged. That’s true for many people. Consider the fact that some minute percentage of readers ever comment on a blog post or Twitter users ever post a tweet. I have no compulsion to “like” every update that comes past me or share my thoughts on every link, witticism or photo.

            Regardless, there is very little that any platform can do to lose users in any measure, beyond getting overshadowed by the new shiny object. We scream about violations to our privacy all the time then go ahead and post our lives out to the world. We complain that Google is reading our emails for advertising but has there been a mass exodus of Gmail users? We hated Gmail tabs/hated Facebook timeline updates/hate retargeted ads. None of that changes our behavior. A few point-makers will shut down their profiles but the rest of us will get over it.

            To your point “Why would they do something people claim to hate…” Because they can. Complaining doesn’t lose users or money. It’s just noise. People get mad, are disappointed, then everything melts into a new normal.

            So here’s my Facebook experience as a user: no brand posts that I have opted to see, but ads that I have not.

            Reducing business page reach makes good business sense for Facebook, whether businesses like it or not and whether we make noise about it or not. I can’t think of a single person who will leave Facebook because they aren’t getting updates from Nabisco anymore. Keep the cat photos coming and you’ve got a user base. But I do know people who enjoyed getting info from certain brands – especially small and local businesses, the kind who especially can’t afford to pay for that kind of reach in this new paradigm – and who now miss that. But missing something is not the same as deciding to leave Facebook. Minor inconvenience for users if anything. Crimp in the pocket for some businesses. Facebook makes money. Some people complain. Everyone gets over it.

          • Jeff Ferguson

            Feel free to disagree all you like; I’ve just seen what I’m saying all too often in other media channels.

          • Well I think we agree that for brands at least, the engagement is a vital element. “Post and go” as a strategy is just advertising by another name. As businesses and marketers we need to be present, be interested, listen and participate. That’s the ideal of social media. The reality is somewhere between. We just have to be realistic about what any given platform can and can’t do and be clear on our goals for using it, even if one of those goals is not “get 432 people to like this charming photo of a sunset”.