In 2012, Facebook dramatically changed its algorithm. No longer do your posts reach every single user who is following you. Now, only a percentage of your followers see your posts. If you want more of your followers to see your posts, then you have to pay.
They don’t choose a random set of followers to deliver your content to. They show your posts to followers who enjoy your posts. How they decide what a user likes is by paying attention to what they engage with. “Engagement” is either a like, comment, share, or click. The algorithm isn’t perfect, but it is somewhat effective.
If you are reading this, you likely know about this and are pretty peeved. I was, too.
Then I thought about it more. As a user and a business owner, I began to understand this model and come to accept and respect it.
As an ordinary Facebook user
The average user has 155 friends (source). Since you are here, I know you are a business owner. You likely network on Facebook so your average friend count is even higher. Now consider how many pages you and other users like.
Think about all of the friends you have and the pages you are following. Imagine how many new posts would be in your newsfeed every second if you saw all of their posts. And you most wouldn’t even enjoy every one of those posts.
You have a much better experience using Facebook because you see content you enjoy.
Say you “like” a local mom-and-pop shop in a town you don’t live in. Say their images are mostly photos of coupons and discounts that you can’t use.
Since you can’t use these coupons, you don’t engage with these posts. This tells Facebook you aren’t interested in this content. So why waste valuable space on your timeline with content you don’t like? If Facebook didn’t tailor your feed to content you enjoy, you might miss photos of your best friend’s new puppy!
As a casual Facebook user, I really appreciate this. Puppies are significantly better than coupons I can’t use.
As a business owner
Now let’s look at this situation like you are an admin on a Facebook page.
Your posts will never reach every single one of your followers. Your followers don’t and won’t enjoy everything you post. That’s impossible. Since Facebook monitors users’ activity and tailors their feeds accordingly, they will not show some of your posts to some of your followers.
This is what is upsetting us as business owners. It feels like we have to “pay to play”.
By tailoring our newsfeed to content we enjoy, our Facebook experience is more pleasant. As ordinary Facebook users, we should recognize this and appreciate it, at least to some degree. Facebook would be significantly more annoying if a large part of our feeds were content pieces we were completely uninterested in.
As users, we get Facebook for free. How awesome is that? We get a widely-used platform to connect with the majority of people in our lives. We can send updates to them en masse, share pictures and videos, share life events. We can quickly communicate one-on-one or in groups. We can find long-lost friends, connect with locals, and make new friends. We can follow our favorite brands. We can stay up to date with the latest news: local, national, and international.
And we get this all for free!
As business owners, we can create a page where we can establish our brands and authority. You can:
- grow your list with the call-to-action buttons
- upload photos and images to show off your work
- share deals and news
We don’t need to build a following or a tribe from scratch (like you needed to for your own website). We can reach people we know and don’t know on Facebook. We can reach people all over the world.
Again, all for free!
It’s pretty fabulous that we can get all of this free of charge.
But Facebook is a business.
Put on your “business owner hat” and consider this: would you give these valuable services away for free? Do you give away everything you offer to your customers and clients for free? No, you don’t. I don’t. You, Mark, and I are running businesses.
And even if Facebook were a nonprofit, they still need money to operate. They do traditional sidebar ads and in-feed ads. But that’s not enough. They already can’t show all of our content to all of our followers (because our feeds would be flooded), so why not profit by allowing us the option to pay to show our posts to more people?
That last sentence implies that their main intention is to make us happy then make money. That’s likely not true. I think these two issues (not being able to deliver all content and needing to bring in revenue) go hand-in-hand. And even if their priority is to make money, so what? Again, Facebook is a business.
Remember: paying for reach isn’t required.
Your posts still go out and are seen by some people. They aren’t even random people. They choose the followers who have proven they enjoy your content!
You still have the option to adjust your strategy so over time, more users see your posts. This is completely free (unless you hire a social media strategist to design that strategy for you). Many businesses are still successfully finding customers and clients by having a Facebook presence that they don’t have to pay for.
As a business owner, I respect and accept Facebook’s revenue model.
Yes, as a business owner who uses Facebook to build a following and raise brand awareness, I wish I didn’t have to pay for all of my followers to see my posts. But once I sit down and really think about it from all perspectives, I understand why it is necessary.
Knowing that I am not being forced to pay to have a presence on Facebook at all makes this situation a lot easier to digest. We can still use Facebook for free.
What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments below or on our Facebook page.
Boosting your posts can get expensive, so you must be strategic about it. Make sure your efforts are targeted, efficient, and useful. That way, your dollars are working hard to drive your ideal customer to your business.
I’ll write more about how to design effective Facebook ads later. But for now, I’ll leave you with three tips: do market research, do competitor research, and analyze your data consistently. Do not post blindly and without a plan. This goes for everything related to your online marketing efforts.