Question: Has Facebook advertising killed free marketing for businesses?

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Hey Steph,

I wanted to ask you if you have heard much about Facebook changes that force you to pay to reach fans from your business page.

I know that reach has been limited by an algorithm, but I’m hearing that a post might only reach 10 to 20 people out of 1000 potential fans and you have to pay to reach more than that tiny group.

Curious about your thoughts.  Seems to signal the end of current social media practices as far as business go.

If I have 200 fans and I’d feel lucky to get one booking from a fan page, then why would I pay money to get no ROI.

Curious about your thoughts.



Hey, R.

Yep.  Facebook has messed with us again.  However, the truth isn’t as bad as it seems and it IS still possible to communicate your message to your fans without paying for it.

In September of 2012, Facebook rolled out a new update to its algorithm (also known as EdgeRank.)  Around the same time, Facebook advertising began offering promoted posts as a way to promote your posts to more of your fans.

If you’ve been tracking your Facebook Insights, you may have noticed that your “talking about” numbers and interaction tanked right around that time.  This has led many business page owners to assume that Facebook is now forcing us to pay for our fans to see our stuff.

The truth isn’t that simple.

The Truth About Promoted Posts

Facebook estimates that only 16% of your fans will actually see your post in their feed.  This is caused by many factors: only half your fans are actually online each day, probably for 30-60 minutes.  With all the other posts in their feed competing for attention, it’s easy to see how yours is missed.

Most of your fans have been missing your posts since way before the Facebook algorithm changed.  

Facebook claims that the update reduced unwanted “spammy” posts in the news feed.  According to them, if you were doing a good job of delivering valuable, interesting posts to your followers, you wouldn’t have been affected after the algorithm update.

In other words, if your numbers took a dive after the update, it’s because you weren’t posting things your fans actually want to see.  Check out Tech Crunch’s blog post for some statistics that support this argument.

Another study by Edge Rank Checker shows Facebook business pages seeing a decrease in reach and fan engagement across the board after the update.

So what do we do now?

Next Generation Free Marketing with Facebook

Our experience also corroborates a decrease in engagement after the latest Edge Rank update.  We’ve been experimenting with buying promoted posts, and they DO work.  But will we be forced to “buy” eyeballs for our Facebook posts from now on?

If you want to make sure more of your fans actually see your posts, you have TWO options:

  1. Post interesting, relevant, compelling content your fans like, comment on and share.
  2. Buy promoted posts.

Facebook isn’t behaving much differently from Google here; they’re trying to deliver relevant content to users.  In a similar way, we have to play by the rules they make if we want to be seen.

You can no longer promote your wedding business all over Facebook with lame posts no one cares about.  Well, you can, but now you’ll have to pay for it.

If you want more fans, more likes and more attention for your wedding business on Facebook, you have to earn it with great content that gets a reaction.

This isn’t the end of social media for business; it just means our strategy has to change.

How to Get More Brides On Facebook…Without Paying For It

Most businesses can increase the number of fans who see their posts organically (in other words, for free) to 20-35% by using the following strategies shared by Mashable, Buzzfarmers and us.

1.    Post more photos and images.  These get more likes and shares than any other type of post.

2.    Use the words, I and me in your posts to get more likes.  Be opinionated in your posts to get a stronger reaction.

3.    Post content from 4-6pm Eastern time, especially on Saturdays and Sundays.

4.    Ask questions that allow your fans to express an opinion.

5.    Ask people to like and comment.  It’s simple, but it works!

6.    Host contests that require people to like and comment to win.

7.    Use the Fans Flood app to invite your website and blog visitors to “like” your page in exchange for a cool freebie.

8.   Find and “like” other local wedding business pages that have bride fans. Like, share and leave helpful comments on their posts as your business  to build relationships with other vendors and so that brides (eventually) click through.

Warning: do NOT blatantly promote your business on other people’s pages or it will drive brides away and irritate potential wedding business partners.

9.   Say something nice about other wedding businesses in your posts and tag them to encourage sharing with their bride and groom followers.

There’s still Facebook marketing that can be done for free, but it takes a little more creativity these days.  Once you know your return on investment for your Facebook fans and leads, it can and does make sense to invest in some paid advertising.

How is your wedding business doing on Facebook these days?

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