Facebook has long been a powerful, reliable marketing tool for businesses of all types. With no group is this more true than with small and medium-sized businesses. More than 20 million SMB owners maintain a Facebook business page, and why not? For the longest time, Facebook, with its 1.4 billion users, has been a free, effective way to get your business’s name out there. However, recent revelations show that Facebook may soon be a much less affordable option for SMB owners on a tight budget.
One Hand Gives While the Other Takes Away
According to a recent report from TIME, Facebook has purposely been scaling back the reach of Pages, the social media behemoth’s free service that allows businesses to build a page, attract followers, and share their content and services. As of October 2013, the average post on a SMB Facebook page would reach 12% of the brand’s followers. Reach is calculated by likes, shares, comments, and other analytics. Based on statistics from February, Facebook has halved the amount of users Pages reach, meaning only an estimated 6% will now see any content shared via a business’s social media profile.
Of course, Zuckerberg and the gang aren’t stupid — they aren’t simply going to castrate a marketing platform that earns the company $7 billion a year without offering an improved alternative. It’s been widely reported that Facebook is working on a number of new tools to strengthen their ties with the SMB community. Among them are Business Manager,a multi-page and advertisement management tool that could take the place of Preferred Marketing Developers, and an unnamed and unannounced mobile retargeting application. The latter is expected to be announced at April’s F8 conference in San Francisco. While both increase the marketing potential for any business using Big Blue, there is one salient point you need to absorb here: you’re going to have to pay if you want Facebook to be as powerful of a marketing tool in the future as it is now.
“I think eventually if you force people into a corner like that, they’re going to find a free option no matter what,” says Derek Bryan, Content Marketing Manager at Quez Media. “Companies will seek alternative social media platforms to take advantage of this.”
The Plan Seems to Be Working
Anytime a company jacks up their prices or eliminates a free system altogether, there is some expectation that their consumer base will react poorly. However, if recent news is anything to go by, Facebook’s move toward more paid advertising has actually won the company favor — oh, and improved revenue. As part of the transition, Facebook is expanding its in-house mobile advertising team. The result? The company is expected to steal 3.2% of Google’s current ownership of the mobile ad market. That may seem like a tiny figure, but if you translate it into real dollars, that’s approximately $539 million Facebook will gain at Google’s expense.
What do you think? Will Facebook continue as a marketing powerhouse after phasing out free marketing functionality?