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In hindsight, it’s easy to see that it was only a matter of time. Facebook has been such an amazing marketing tool for businesses for a couple of years now, allowing effort and proper strategy to circumvent spending money on the platform. If a business worked hard and applied the proper techniques, they could perpetuate a formidable marketing strategy that helped with branding, drove traffic, and sparked engagement.
Facebook fixed that last month. Page administrators started noticing their statistics fading. In some reports, the drops were dramatic, chopped down to a third or less exposure of what was happening before. I almost wrote about it then but decided to wait to see one of Facebook’s infamous corrections. Surely, there would be outrage over them forcing businesses to pay in order to get exposure.
There was, to some extent. Many sites took notice. However, the “outrage” was limited as there was no real sympathy from users. It didn’t noticeably affect them. If anything, it helped to clean up their Facebook news feed to allow fewer business posts to appear. More images of nephew Timmy sliding into third base wasn’t such a bad thing, so Facebook is continuing with the current EdgeRank settings. Moreover, there have been suggestions and recommendations on various blogs that say users should start spending more money on it.
I was one of them.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Facebook definitely needs to right-size their pricing; pages with a low number of fans can be promoted inexpensively, but once you start getting into the tens and hundreds of thousands of fans, the promotion costs go up tremendously. If they can make adjustments to their pricing, it’s only fair that they should make money for being a marketing platform.
Still, it’s annoying. It’s a bait and switch, regardless of whether that was the original intention or not. They hooked a lot of businesses into relying on engagement, activity, and quality content. They then pulled the rug out from under then and are holding the eyeballs of fans hostage. If you want to be seen, you have to pay up.
I cannot fault them for doing what they have to do to make their many investors happy. This is a business. They’ve provided a tremendous service that has struggled to make the money to justify both the size and price. Still, it changes the way that those of us in the social media marketing industry must calculate for Facebook. Strategies that are strictly organic have been devalued.
We’ll see how it’s working out during next quarter’s reports, but it’s a safe bet that this is the direction they’re heading. Businesses got snookered a bit, but not too badly. It’s just time to adjust.