It is no secret that Facebook is now pushing more sponsored posts and advertising on their most popular social network site. Unfortunately it was only a matter of time that the in your face "pay us to reach fans" notion was going to be the main business model for the social giant.

Now businesses are wrestling with the new options and challenges on how to continue to push their social media reach through Facebook with little to no cost. It is difficult for small to medium businesses to continue to rely on the reach for their page without busting open the wallet for paid advertising.

Give Up On Using Facebook For Free. Start Using It Wisely.

Facebook is the social media network that everyone loves to hate but hates to love. With the IPO launching in May of 2012, Facebook has been completely shifting the powers that be through their network. The people most affected by this are the businesses and brands that use it to reach their audience, thus there has been a lot of outrage with the more recent changes that have drastically decreased organic reach.

Facebook is the social media network that everyone loves to hate but hates to love. With the IPO launching in May of 2012, Facebook has been completely shifting the powers that be through their network. The people most affected by this are the businesses and brands that use it to reach their audience, thus there has been a lot of outrage with the more recent changes that have drastically decreased organic reach.

In the meantime, personal use of Facebook has greatly been altered with more ad-crowded newsfeeds and several encouraging notifications to add more information to your profile, which in turn will help Facebook target you more specifically for ads. From a marketers perspective Facebook is a gold mine for reaching your ideal audience. Take this example where a man targeted his wife alone through his Facebook ad.

While these changes can help marketers, aren't we forgetting what Facebook is really about? This may be a great tool for marketers target the right audience through sponsored posts but the truth is that Facebook is no longer what it was originally made for, social networking.

What Happened To Facebook Being A "Social" Network

Since the IPO back in 2012, at first Facebook slowly introduced marketing to the mainstream businesses. More recently they have been more aggressive with their tactics to get businesses and brands to advertise through the network. Through the different business pages that I manage, it has become very obvious that they are looking for your next payment.

Through administrative panels on pages, insight boxes and like boxes have been replaced by constant pushes to advertise. This is reflecting the direction that Facebook is heading towards: MARKETERS ONLY! What ever happened to the "social" side of what Facebook was originally created for.

Before you say anything, as an online marketer and social media enthusiast I completely understand why Facebook is making the necessary changes. Now that they are now a publicly traded company they need to make as much income as possible with the great network they have created, but I think they are taking away one large piece of the pie that made them what they are.

Facebook's Best Allies Are The Businesses. Why Upset Them?

Facebook is dealing with some very harsh backlash and anger recently with the aggressive advertising direction they are going in with business and brands. For several reasons, businesses are now beginning to drift away from using Facebook as a primary social media network for their audience.

Businesses that grew their audience and fan base on Facebook before they could "buy" likes are infuriated with the fact that they are basically being forced to pay to reach their audience. An audience that has already engaged the business on Facebook by "liking" it now has to be reached through paid advertising.

While Facebook has that power to hold over the businesses heads, it seems that the changes are rapidly effecting audience reach overnight. In just one month, one of my pages went from hundreds of people talking about us to less than 100. But the kicker is we have been paying Facebook all along with a daily budget for engagement and we are still feeling the effects of these changes.

Ok, I've Accepted Facebook Isn't The Same. Now What?

Many small businesses that rely solely on Facebook for social media purposes are now looking elsewhere to connect with their customer base. Small businesses had broke into their social scene with their Facebook pages but with other cost-effective options out there they are being tempted to drift from the social media king.

With sites like Pinterest, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, Vine, Instagram, and more there is at least 1 or 2 other social sites that businesses could benefit from. For example, a Cupcake Shop in a small hometown can now drift from Facebook coupons and begin to use Pinterest (over 90% female audience) to post pictures of recent creations, recipes and more.

Facebook is a double-edged sword for businesses, considering it is the largest network, that's why leaving it completely isn't the wisest option. It can be very tempting to just leave Facebook behind, but instead you can use it to your benefit by taking advantage of what you can use.

Love to Hate and Hate to Love the "New" Facebook

Many businesses can get so frustrated with Facebook that they will think completely forgetting it in their marketing efforts, but that isn't the best choice. Some reasons being that it is in fact the largest social network, many people are familiar with the way businesses market themselves on it, and it is also the best source for specific marketing.

Instead of giving up on Facebook for your business' social reach, use it to your advantage with what you do know, in addition to new social networks that can also target your audience. Use this checklist as a guidance to see what you can do to continue to enhance your audience's experience with you online:

  • Rethink Facebook - Now that sponsored posts are here to stay, use them wisely. Putting aside some extra money every month can benefit small business with specials, coupons, or events.
  • Change Your Posts - Facebook has stated recently that they are weeding out "viral" content from their newsfeeds and instead honoring better quality content. Adjusting your types of posts will be very important to reach your audience.
  • Look Elsewhere - Try a new social network that can reach your audience in a new way. Everyone always likes starting new things.
  • Measure Your Success - Keep track of the changes you have made with your social media approach and keep track to see what works and what doesn't. Don't forget to be patient, things may not improve immediately.

Like everything else on the internet Facebook is always going to be changing, so it is important to be prepared to change things. Don't panic, just sit back and think outside the box and use what you can to your advantage. With social media it is important to not put all your eggs in one basket, you never know when one basket will get a hole in it.

Be sure to contact Built To Optimize to receive consultation and training for Facebook and many other social media networks for your small to medium sized business.