How Facebook's Latest News Feed Changes Affect Page Owners

The days of free advertising on Facebook may be rapidly dwindling to a close.  Starting in January of 2015, Facebook has announced plans to change its news feed algorithm in order to filter out what it considers “overly promotional posts.”

Citing the results of a recent user survey, Facebook execs say they will penalize posts that singularly promote a product, app or contest and posts that re-use or mirror advertising content.  Survey respondents, they claim, wanted to see less blatantly promotional posts and more relevant, personal content.

The upcoming changes will not, however, affect the number of ads that users see in their news feeds.  Facebook is reportedly attempting to increase the overall user experience, while still providing a marketing platform for businesses to maintain an online presence and connect with their customers.

As Facebook has gained in popularity over recent years, the news feed has already become a very competitive place.  Many business owners are already taking advantage of Facebook’s “promoted posts,” paying anywhere from $5 to $5,000 to have their posts viewed by a larger group of users.

The Value of Facebook for Local Business

Of small businesses using social media as part of their marketing campaigns, over 80 percent list Facebook as their number one site, followed by LinkedIn and Twitter.  While it’s fairly standardized and limited in control, Facebook pages offer an easily managed online presence that is already optimized for mobile phones and tablets, and tools to upload photos and videos and create promotional events.  Many businesses supplement their business pages with promoted posts and Facebook ads to boost exposure, but a lot of those have reported that it’s complicated and expensive to manage this advertising effort.

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How to Avoid the Facebook Axe

In order to avoid having posts penalized by Facebook due to overly promotional or duplicative content, business owners should work to create posts that are relevant and provide some kind of value.  For instance, instead of simply encouraging users to purchase a product, show them what it looks like, how to use it and what kind of benefits it can provide.

Consider using your Facebook page in combination with a blog, newsletter and other online marketing channels, where your call to action won’t be censored.  Facebook isn’t threatening to curtail all commercial posts, only those that don’t contain interesting content, so get creative with your posts.

Is Having a Facebook Page Still Worth the Effort?

Facebook business pages will continue to be a valuable marketing tool that helps business owners to connect with their customers.  Almost a billion users visited Facebook pages this past October, over 750 million of them on mobile devices.  And the updated Facebook local search directory will encourage this even more.  Your Facebook business page is a great place to tell your story, provide information about your business and even host a sort of customer service forum for users to ask questions and provide feedback about products and services.  As far as sending out promotional posts about sales and discounts, however, those might be better suited for email marketing.