Facebook used to be the Mecca for businesses on social media. Recent changes with the platform may be changing that picture. New policies make it harder to be a business page on Facebook.
First you needed a phone number, then a website, now a Facebook page if you want people to think you are a real business. This still might be the case, but Facebook as a marketing tool is becoming less relevant.
The new news feed
Back in January Facebook announced that it would be prioritizing user friends and family over business pages in the news feed. This meant that you as a business page could post a hundred times a day and still get pushed to the bottom of the feed behind cousin Fred doing one post about his cat.
You used to be able to count on a high ranking in the news feed as long as you posted high quality content on a regular basis (usually several times a day). Now prior existing relationships are given more weight over companies. For an alternative view on why Facebook News Feed changes are a good thing, click here
The idea is to reduce spam and increase the social bonds between people. This is a noble goal, but spells disaster for businesses trying to promote themselves. Organic reach is essentially dead on Facebook. The last hope is targeted ads, but even those are now falling victim to Facebook changes.
Ads are getting less targeted
Very recently Facebook scaled back options for ad targeting. Before you could (almost scarily) target specific people based on education, geography, income, race, gender, pretty much any attribute you can think of.
Once you filled out your criteria, your ad would only be shown to the desired audience. This is great for selling scarves to ladies in Minnesota, boots to male hunters, or video games to teenagers. Your $20 of ad spending goes a lot further when impressions aren't being wasted on people not in your target audience.
Unfortunately some companies abused this targeting. Apparently some business chose to only target ads to certain races of people, specifically job postings. This excluded other qualified candidates simply because of ethnic differences. Facebook has found out that this is happening and is now changing the options for everybody. It's not clear yet how it will be limited, but you can be sure that the targeted ads will be far less targeted and thus not as useful for marketing.
Scheduling just got harder
Like most marketers, I schedule many of my Facebook posts. This has several advantages. First, I do not have to be active on Facebook during times that my audience is active. I can schedule posts at one time, and do my work at another. Next, I can create productivity blocks. I can do a week of posting in a single two hour block one day a week, instead of spending 20 minutes on Facebook everyday. Finally, it gives me a break from my company. If I am spending time with my family, then I don't want to get distracted with having to post on Facebook.
Obviously I feel that scheduling posts is a good thing. Facebook is working against us. Recently I did my usual Facebook scheduling of posts, but when I tried to schedule them, the option was nowhere to be found. I had to dig a little bit, but eventually found it and continued like normal.
Before scheduling was easy to do. You could either post immediately, schedule the post, or save it as a draft. All three options still exist, just now Facebook defaults to immediate sharing and you have to click two extra buttons to get more options. Two buttons might not seem like a big deal, but since they buried the option, it is probably a sign that one day soon scheduling will be a thing of the past. Think about Facebook Live and the push for friends and family content over business posts. To be the most relevant, content should not be allowed to be scheduled days in advance. Your family doesn't schedule posts, so why should a business page?
What do you think? Are these changes unacceptable? Should businesses move to a different platform that gives better marketing returns for their effort? Let me know in the comments.
Ethan Hausmann is currently the Vice President of Marketing and Community Outreach for Successtar Enterprises LLC. He is an author, professional speaker, and seminar/workshop instructor. Ethan has extensive knowledge and experience in marketing, customer service, leadership, and other small business related concerns.