If you were like us, and spend thousands of dollars growing your Facebook page follower base, thinking that this would give you a big loud voice, congratulations, you have been suckered by the ultimate bait and switch, and you have no recourse but to vote with your feet. Facebook grossly misrepresented the benefits of growing your following on their platform, and teaming multitudes of small businesses were deceived into thinking that this was going to do them some long term good. Then Facebook pulled the rug out and removed the thing we thought we were all paying for: access to our own fans. Honestly, there should be a class action suit against Facebook for this, and I hope somebody does it.
The free ride is officially over. Small business owners and charities are the losers, pushed out by big media, penis pills, bait and switch scams and fake wrist watch ads. This is Facebook now.
Small businesses can still post, still have discussion groups and pages, but distribution of what’s posted in them has now been throttled back to about 1% of what it was five years ago.
You hear people complaining about this a lot, and then everyone says, “but Facebook is still your best option for reaching prospective customers”.
And it is – but only if you can spend hundreds to thousands of dollars a month on advertising, and only if you have a product or service that has such a high profit margin that you can afford to set that much aside for advertising. Most, if not all, of the small businesses operating on Facebook, in pop media or geek culture or otherwise, do not fall into this category. Many barely eek out an existence, making just enough in a month to allow them to keep doing it next month.
So what do we do NOW?
I’ve been studying this a while, and the alternatives are Twitter, and Instagram, and possibly Pinterest. And before you ask, yes, Tumblr has a wide following, but people using it for marketing don’t do well. It’s used mostly by kids, and most of them don’t have discretionary income.
Twitter is used by about a quarter of all adults on the internet. Instagram is used mostly in the United States for some reason, but has a huge following as well – but the drawback with each of these is that you can only reach the people who directly subscribe to you. Getting them to do that is an agonizingly slow process unless – you guessed it – you pay for advertising.
Yes, you now have a new problem to solve – how to grow your social media following outside of Facebook with no advertising budget. The harsh truth is that you can exchange money for time, you can either build it too slow to matter but cheap, or fast and more expensive than you can afford, but there is now no third option.
You’re going to have to figure out where your balance point is between cheap and fast, and it’s going to take a chunk out of your profits if you have any to start with. The sooner you wrap your brain around that fact, the sooner you can get over the shock and begin to deal with the new reality.