Is Facebook Forcing Businesses to Evaluate Its Importance?

If you use Facebook for business and social media marketing, you may have noticed over the last few weeks that a new option is appearing for your status updates. It’s called ‘Promote This Post’ and, for a fee, it will do just that.

It used to be that when you, as a business page, posted something to Facebook, it would go into your followers’ streams just like everything else. If users had their feeds set to display all posts (aka “most recent” posts), your updates would show up. Barring any extra settings that they might have put into place, any of the people who liked your page would see your updates as long as they logged into Facebook and scrolled down far enough to view the post in its chronological spot.

If users had their feeds set to display “top posts,” you’d be reliant upon EdgeRank – a Facebook algorithm that determines what content is most relevant to that particular user – to help your content to be seen. Many social media marketers have invested a lot of time and energy into figuring out EdgeRank.

These options were important because it was how we knew people were viewing our updates and content. If they aren’t seeing it in their news feeds, very few of them will ever see it at all. Studies have shown that most people, after ‘liking’ a brand page, never return to it. In other words, no matter how much people like your business, they’re probably not going to go in search of your updates.


These are the options you are given for viewing content in your newsfeed.

Now we’ve got an option to promote posts – another money-making venture for Facebook. The option seems relatively innocuous at first. After all, just as you don’t have to advertise with Facebook, you certainly don’t have to promote your content.

However….

With Facebook business pages, you’re able to see a number representing how many people have potentially seen a given post (it doesn’t guarantee that they’ve read it at all, but just that it’s come across their screens).

So let me ask you a question. If you manage a business page on Facebook, have you noticed a pretty significant drop-off lately in the number of views your posts typically get? For example, if you were getting several hundreds of views on an update, now you’re maybe getting around a hundred or so.

Welcome to Promoted Posts.

Facebook, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to acknowledge that this is the case. In the FAQ section for Promoted Posts, when asked if people would still see posted content, Facebook says that yes, people will continue to see the content just like they did before. Promoting a post, they say, just makes it appear higher in a user’s news feed than it would have otherwise.

Sounds kind of like EdgeRank, no?

But I’m not sure if I buy that posts are really appearing just the same as they were before. Too many people managing businesses pages have noticed a large drop-off in readership and it appears for all the world as though those posts aren’t making it to the intended audience.

If that’s what’s really going on here, then it seems that Facebook is presenting us with a challenge directly related to the ROI of social media (but more specifically, the ROI of Facebook, itself).

How much is it worth to you to have your following see your posts?

If Facebook drives a lot of traffic to your site and you can definitively say that it plays a vital role in lead generation, Facebook has you where they want you: ready to eat out of the palms of their hands. The question isn’t just about finding the value of posting to Facebook anymore. Instead, the question is more about the risk of not posting there.

But could this backfire on Facebook?

If less than 1% of those who follow your updates are actually seeing them and you aren’t able or don’t plan to pay to promote much (if any) of your content, what’s the value of Facebook as a whole then? Ask yourself why your company needs to continue to use it and really evaluate its role in your business.

Facebook is free to use because it makes most of its money on advertising. In that respect, this isn’t necessarily a shocking move from the company. On the other hand, if users decide that the extra cost just isn’t worth it, not only are they not spending that money, but I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to think that they could also stop using the site altogether.

That’s all to say nothing of users’ negative feelings toward having “promoted” posts show up in their streams, as well. Think you’ll only be seeing promoted posts from the businesses you like? Not so. Promoted Posts offers options for promoting your content to fans and their friends, as well. That means users will see content that may or may not be relevant. This leaves a bad, somewhat spammy taste in their mouths.

Where do you stand with Facebook’s Promoted Posts? Is it a feature you’re going to use to get your views back up again, or could you see your Facebook use decreasing because of it?

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About Renee DeCoskey

Renee is a freelance writer and the managing editor for Business 2 Community. She currently resides in Central Pennsylvania (whatever you've heard is probably true) and continues to pursue her dream of once again renting her own apartment - preferably in Philadelphia - if only to house her ever-growing collection of books. She received a BA in English from Susquehanna University and an MA in English from George Mason.
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