(Note: As a followup to yesterday’s post about Facebook’s new “no promotional posts” Business Page policy, we asked SmallBusiness.com contributor and veteran web marketer Chris Thilk to share with you his take on the new policy. A version of this post also appears on his personal blog.)


Facebook dropped a bomb on marketers, big and small, on Friday when it published this post saying it would be reducing the number of “overly promotional” posts from business (brand) pages that appear in people’s News Feed. According to Facebook these are the traits that people surveyed weren’t fond of:

  • Posts that solely push people to buy a product or install an app
  • Posts that push people to enter promotions and sweepstakes with no real context
  • Posts that reuse the exact same content from ads

That’s an incredibly broad definition that essentially eliminates everything but “News” as a possible topic for Facebook posts. Anything that sounds like a call to action to buy, watch, download or anything else would fall under the “overly promotional” definition and therefore sound too much like an ad, to use Facebook’s terms, to make it into the News Feed of the people who have Liked the page.

The already diminishing  “organic reach” of a Facebook post

Facebook’s new policy, set to launch in January, threatens to drop organic reach (the number of customer newsfeeds on which a post appears) from the current ~2%  (meaning if you have 100 Facebook fans you’ll actually reach 2 of them with any given post) to effectively 0%.

Facebook vice president Brian Boland is quoted in the New York Times as saying this is not a move made out of the desire to increase ad revenue but considering the above three categories are all ones where Facebook has increasingly made serious ad dollars that claim is dubious at best.

What can a small business with a Business Page do about it?

The answer, unfortunately, is not much. At least when it comes to Facebook itself. This is a stark reminder that not only are brands only renting space on Facebook in a relationship that is dramatically one-sided. There’s little to no recourse available than to agree to the new cruelty and either accept what’s given to them or pay for the privilege of getting more.

Nate Elliott at Forrester has a couple of thoughts, including making sure your owned site has a form of community built into it and doubling down on tools like email marketing, where you have more control over the delivery of the message than you do on a platform like Facebook or other social network.

What role should Facebook play in the marketing of your business

Before any decisions are made, though, it’s important to take a moment and examine what role Facebook currently plays in the marketing ecosystem at your company. How big is it in terms of referring visits to your site? Are those “quality” visitors? Do you know if your Facebook fans also get your email marketing? These are just some of the questions to be asking at this moment.

One thing is clear: Unless they’re willing to pay to achieve any sort of reach, a Facebook Business Page is no longer the place to sell or promote your business. It would seem that this would even apply to the “sale or coupons” deals that people have stated over and over again that they prefer from the brands they follow and align themselves with on social media.

The timing of this actually works out well. If you are in the midst of setting your 2015 marketing strategies and goals, now you know the roadblocks Facebook has set in front of you and can plan and allocate accordingly. That may be small consolation for those who have built their social strategy with Facebook promotion and publishing at the core, but better to know how much trouble you’re in before you have the rug pulled out from under your feet.

Illustration by SmallBusiness.com, Photo: Dimitris Kalogeropoylos via Flickr. (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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