Well, first of all, Facebook does not hate your small business. It doesn't hate medium or large businesses either. Remember that Facebook was originally designed to be a way for people to connect with family and friends - not businesses. Fan pages and company pages on Facebook were a natural progression, and for many years, we enjoyed a really nice ride of free and 'magical' postings that could potentially reach thousands in seconds. Now, brands and small businesses need to be a little more aware, and a bit more proactive with their pages. Here are some things to keep in mind (and maybe make you feel a little better!):
1. Facebook is just like any other 'traditional media' form - really? Yes, think about how you 'ingested' brands and advertising prior to the age of social media. You saw a newspaper or magazine ad. Then, maybe you saw another ad on television or heard one on the radio. Finally, you're driving down the road and there's that burger on a billboard. You stop by, and you eat. Well, social media helps to shorten that 'ingestion' or 'digestion' period, but not by much. You still need to 'see, hear, feel, share, trust, believe or ask' about a product or service prior to purchasing it. All of those forms of advertising were paid. Now, Facebook's asking businesses to 'pay' for that exposure.
2. Pay to play - include social media in your advertising budget. Yes, it's time to actually put pen to paper and include paid social media posts (Facebook boost posts or Twitter ads) into your advertising budget. Comparatively, social media advertising is extremely affordable AND most of all, measurable. You can quantify results and explore click thrus and success rates to determine if the advertising worked, didn't work or you need to do more testing to figure out the best course of action for the next campaign. Television, radio and print are VERY difficult to analyze and determine an ROI. And, the amount of creative dollars involved in producing these 'traditional' forms of advertising are very cost prohibitive.
3. Be creative - think outside the box. The great news about Facebook reducing visibility of posts (it's not great, no one likes to know that no one sees their posts!) is that it's forcing businesses to get creative. Have you used YouTube, Pinterest or Instagram? If you are a visual based company, you should look into it. Google loves YouTube videos, and it could greatly help you gain some search engine optimization - organically (ie FREE). Instagram is hugely popular with the younger population, so if you want to reach that audience, find a teen to help you navigate it! Don't forget about your email lists - this is a GREAT time to beef that up and continue messaging your fans via email and text!
4. Don't just quit. I've heard lots of small business owners say, "Forget it, I'm just dropping my Facebook page, I won't pay to reach my fans, and I'm just mad!" I know it's frustrating, trust me, I do this for a living, and I've seen the best and the brightest in social media lose 30-50% of their audience overnight. They are not complaining, they are working harder than ever to engage and think creatively. When the big advertising 'bubble' burst 5-10 years ago, brands that said we have NO more advertising dollars, dropped all their campaigns and some went out of business. Those that continued to message customers, look into social media and engage in other digital, measurable advertising campaigns won big. Don't just quit. This medium changes by the minute. Stay the course, continue the conversation and spend a little more on your paid internet advertising.
If you truly shut down your Facebook or Twitter page today - completely - you just fell off the face of the earth, how would you talk to your customers? Are they REALLY going to your website? How would you keep the pulse of what your customers want? I'm pretty sure you'd miss them...and they would miss you!