Is Facebook No Longer Effective for Small Business?

March 28th, 2014 by Megan Totka

Image Of Facebook LogoIt’s well known that Facebook is, by far, the largest and most successful social network in the world. Here are just a few of the astonishing statistics for this social giant:

  • More than 1,310,000,000 (that’s 1.3 billion) active monthly Facebook users
  • Over 680,000,000 active mobile Facebook users
  • Number of users rose 22% from 2012 to 2013
  • 48% of Facebook users visit the site every day
  • The average number of friends per Facebook user is 130
  • 48% of 18- to 34-year-olds check Facebook when they wake up
  • 28% of 18- to 34-year-olds check Facebook before they get out of bed

Facebook is obviously home to a massive potential audience. The problem for businesses, especially small businesses, is the same as the advantage: Facebook is massive. And it’s hard to be noticed in the crowd.

Finding Your Facebook Audience: Then vs. Now

For quite some time, Facebook has remained the cornerstone of social media marketing. Small business marketers discovered and fine-tuned strategies to grow their Facebook pages organically, gathering page “Likes” and fans who would spread their message willingly to their own friend networks.

However, there have been a few changes along the way. In late 2013, Facebook acknowledged that the organic reach of posts would drop off for everyone. Advertising Age reported that a statement from Facebook read: “We expect organic distribution of an individual page’s posts to gradually decline over time as we continually work to make sure people have a meaningful experience on the site.”

Facebook’s New Algorithm

The driving force behind the “meaningful experience” Facebook is promoting came in the form of algorithm changes. Near the end of 2012, the social network changed its news feed algorithm—and users immediately saw a decline in organic post reach. At the time, Facebook denied the algorithm was intended to reduce news feeds.

However, another update to the algorithm in 2013 filtered news feeds even more, and this time Facebook stated the reach reduction was deliberate. Coincidentally, the network began offering promoted posts: a program that lets companies buy the ability to push their posts into more Facebook news feeds.

Organically, page posts will now show up in only around 1 to 5 percent of the news feeds of people who have “Liked” your page. A number of variables, such as relevance and shares, can increase the percentage of exposure within that range—but only paid, promoted posts will exceed it.

Are Promoted Posts Worth It?

With organic reach on Facebook in decline, and the reality that businesses must pay to have their posts pushed to enough news feeds for the chance of going viral, is it worth investing your time and resources in Facebook marketing?

The answer likely depends on your existing circumstances. If you already have a strong Facebook network with a substantial number of followers, you’ll probably benefit by continuing to post actively and buying the occasional promoted posts. It should be noted that promoted posts can cost anywhere from $5 to $300 per post—and the per-action cost of these promotions can run high.

For small businesses lacking the time and the budget to sink into Facebook as a primary platform, this form of social marketing may no longer be viable. It won’t hurt to maintain a presence on Facebook, but relying solely on this platform to increase your business could be a costly mistake.

What do you think—has your Facebook reach declined recently? Have you ever tried a promoted post? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Image courtesy of Gerd Altmann

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.