The new year doesn’t bring good news for those of us who have gotten used to promoting our shops to existing customers for free through Facebook.  We’ve already seen a decline in the number of organic views each post gets, and in fact our store’s 2,500+ “likes” sometimes translates into as few as 22 people seeing a post unless we pay to promote it.

Paying to promote a post was a bargain when the program first began, but prices have risen steadily.  On the plus side, whenever we promote to a market that includes our customers as well as their friends who haven’t “liked” Orange Tree Imports yet, we gain a few new fans. There is also a choice that you can check to promote through targeting, and a recent option that allows you to decide to spread the promotion out over up to seven days.

According to a recent article by Angus Loten in the Wall Street Journal, the rules will be changing on January 15. “As of mid-January, the social network will intensify its efforts to filter out unpaid promotional material in user news feeds that businesses have posted as status updates.” In the past that has meant that a less than 20% of the image with your post could contain words, which was intended to prevent businesses by using what is essence was an ad as a social posting.

As Eric Groves says in his Alignable blog posting on the topic, “Facebook has created a consumer data warehouse second to none and they now need to leverage it in ways that generate a return on investment for their shareholders.  Every post on every one of their user’s feeds has the potential to generate revenue for Facebook, and now they are going to aggressively go after making the most of every user impression…what they are effectively saying is that promotional posts from small businesses are no longer going to make the cut. “

What does this mean for your use of Facebook? Basically, you should consider including a sum for Facebook in your advertising budget, because customers are not going to see what you post unless you pay — although social, rather than commercial, posts may still have some reach. And if a customer wants to find out more about your business (especially if you don’t have a web site), they may well search for your Facebook page — so keep the “about” section current, and don’t forget to create interesting and timely posts for those who do get to see them.

Happy Retailing,

Carol “Orange” Schroeder