How Facebook is Screwing Small Businesses

A few years back the "big" thing that facebook was encouraging and marketing to businesses was "to create a fan page." Through this page, a business could build a following of opt-in fans that could then see the posts of the business and participate in threads started by the business.

From about 2010-2011 this worked great! Businesses loved it because it was a great way to have one on one contact with their followers for a low cost. The main expense was the manpower and hassle of getting the "likes" or "fans". In many cases people would buy facebook ads to gain exposure and garner these likes. (So there was certainly some hard costs involved for those who thought this to be the wave of the future.)

Then in early 2011, with the flip of a switch back at the 'ol fackbook plant -  It appeared as though something went horribly wrong for virtually all business "fan pages". View counts on new posts plummeted, comments died out and posts from brands were suddenly reaching a fraction of the eyes that they once reached?

What was going on?

Now we know. Facebook appeared to be getting ready to launch "promoted posts". Basically a way for you to pay them to reach the fans that you likely already paid to get - and who were willingly asking to hear from you. But now according to the "promoted post" option on facebook ... If you want to do that in almost any scalable form that will cost you.

As a marketer, this to me seems like very bad business. Its the equivalent of purchasing a radio or TV commercial, buying the air time on a radio or TV station and then suddenly before its about to go to air - the radio station call you up and wants to charge you extra to keep the transmitter on so you can "reach" the people that you've already spent so much time, energy and money gathering the attention of and paying to reach.

The value of having a huge fan base on facebook has plummeted in the process. "Likes" or "Fans" are no good if you can't reach them, or if you have to pay more to reach an existing base of followers that you very likely already spent money on getting.

Keep in mind, facebook already offers paid ads for business, but that doesn't seem to be enough to make them happy. They now want to take what many hungry businesses spent money growing (through facebook ads) and now charge a second time them to eat the meal they already bought. And charge a new fee for every single bite. While this may be doable for Pepsi, the average medium or small business - (who would most likely have more of a personal connection with their audience to begin with - THAT CHOSE TO FOLLOW THEM) doesn't have $20 - $100 to shell out every time they want to post and actually reach the followers that they have gained.

Sorry facebook, a move like this that truly gives the middle finger to small business is another reason NOT to move further away from your erratic marketing schemes. Maybe soon the old chain email about "charging" for an account will also come true. Only time will tell.

Tony is a professional marketing and advertising expert in the areas of radio, TV and web. Visit or for more on his services.

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