Why Businesses Can’t Rely on Facebook for Free Promotion

Why Businesses Can’t Rely on Facebook for Free Promotion

Promoting your local business used to be fairly straightforward.  Fifteen years ago, marketing a small business most likely looked something like this:

  • Put an ad in the yellow pages.
  • Print some business cards.
  • Put a couple of flyers together.
  • Put a sign up.
  • Network with prospective customers and local businesses and ask for referrals.
  • Run ads in the local papers occasionally.

This has dramatically changed in the past decade and social media networks are frequently used as the main conduit of connecting with customers online.

One of the most frequently used social networks for businesses is Facebook.  The ability to create a page for your business and the potential and ease for your customers to spread the word about your company and services is hard to beat.

The problem arises when that Fan page, on a platform and space paid for by another for-profit business, is made to be the main online funnel for your business.   Last week I talked about stewarding your assets and building and nurturing your customer list.   The goal should be directing those fans and Facebook audience into a medium that you control such as a newsletter subscription, signing up for an account on your web site, subscribing by SMS, etc.

The Impact of Facebook Fan Page Changes

So what happened with Facebook?

Obviously if you use Facebook at all, you’ve seen the new Timeline.   As a user I hate it, but the layout itself isn’t the biggest issue for company or brand pages.  The three biggest Facebook page changes that affect businesses are:

No More Welcome Pages

Before the change, if someone who wasn’t already a fan went to the Legacy Marketing Facebook page, they would have landed on this page.  The option for directing new visitors to specific information was very cool.  In addition, you could create menu links for your page that appeared in the left column.  Those are now also gone that have been replaced with . . .

Horizontal Info Icons

Instead of having the ability to direct new visitors and create items in the Page menu, now there are customizable icons that are display in the information bar.  Customizable to a point.  While you can add icon links to custom pages for your Fan page, only three will display in the information bar (there are four total, but the photo icon cannot be moved.)  A visitor would have to click the “more” arrow to see any of the additional icon links.

So you have to choose which three you want to spotlight at a time.  This is an example of the custom icons we created for the recent March of Remembrance.

facebook icons

Fan Page Update Throttling

The most serious change, the one that will have the most impact, is that Facebook has begun to throttle the number of fans that see your status updates.  If a fan hasn’t interacted much with your page, the odds are your page update won’t show up on their newsfeed.

Kind of defeats the whole purpose doesn’t it?

Your purpose anyway.  It’s great for Facebook’s business model because then they can sell you more exposure through their Reach Generator.

So the question is, is your online marketing and Facebook campaign building a customer base for your business, or are you creating a distribution channel that Facebook controls access to and will charge you for the privilege of reaching?

 Update 6/14/2012:

As I was writing this post yesterday, apparently George Takei was also venting his frustration on the changes to the visibility of fan page status updates.  Mashable has a story on his comments as well as Facebook’s response.

Update 7/10/2016

Over the past four years, this trend of limiting free exposure on Facebook has only increased.  Why Facebook has implemented other business promotional tools during that time, the latest change to the page and timeline layout has limited exposure to anything other than recent posts.  While Facebook continues to rise in useage, actual engagement rates have plummeted.

Contact Us to Discuss Marketing Options for Your Business.

LinkedIn Tips:  Automatically Promote Your Blog Posts to LinkedIn

LinkedIn Tips: Automatically Promote Your Blog Posts to LinkedIn

With all of the social media options out there, business owners are often confused on what to use, how to use it and how often.

Who has time to sit on the computer posting updates from site to site?  I know I don’t.  I have work to do!

So you want to make the most you can out of every online effort.  The report I wrote, “10 Steps to Success with WordPress” covers just that.  How to make the most out of the content that you publish on your site.  You can download the report for free here.

If you’re more of a visual person, I’ve recorded a short video with step by step instructions on how to connect your site to automatically publish on your LinkedIn profile, which is one of the recommendations in the report.

To recap, it is just two steps:

  1. Add the web site url to your LinkedIn profile.
  2. Add the Bloglink application to your LinkedIn profile.
In order for this to work, the url that you enter has to have an RSS feed that is autodetected by browsers and feed readers.
A word of warning:  If you add this application, Bloglink will publish everything on the RSS feed that is discovered at that url.  So make sure that what shows on the RSS feed is what you want displayed on your LinkedIn profile.
The concept behind this is to publish once, but to promote in multiple places.  If you want to learn more easy ways to promote your content, business, and web site, download my free report, “10 Steps to Success with WordPress.”
Promoting Merchant Circle Reviews on Facebook and Twitter

Promoting Merchant Circle Reviews on Facebook and Twitter

I’ve had an account on Merchant Circle for Legacy Marketing for awhile but other than filling out my company details, I haven’t focused much on promoting it.  However I got a very nice review from a client, wanted to show it off, and I started to research the ways to integrate the Merchant Circle accounts with other web 2.0 sites.

Although there is a “Facebook Connect” option for Merchant Circle, it appears that it is just for personal profiles.  Either that or it didn’t sync with my Merchant Circle account because my Merchant Circle business account is tied to a business email address and my Facebook account is tied to my personal email address.

Since I want the Merchant Circle reviews and coupons to post to my Legacy Marketing business fan page and not my personal account wall, I scrapped that option.

I started to look for an alternate Merchant Circle application, when the light bulb went off . . .


Sure enough, my MC business page had it’s own RSS feed.  From there, it was a snap. (Are you wondering what is RSS?  Read this article on what RSS is and how to use it.)

Adding Merchant Circle Reviews to Facebook

I’ve used several different Facebook applications to post RSS feeds to my wall and/or fan page such as Networked Blogs and Blog RSS Feed Reader; however, they can be a little tricky to configure to post only to your fan page wall or to both your personal and fan page wall.  I found a newer application called RSS Graffiti that has a much easier interface to have granular control over your RSS feed’s postings.

After installing the RSS Grafitti application, you can set whether you want to give the application permission to your personal page and fan pages on an individual basis.  Multiple feeds can be added and you can add prefixes or unique titles to the feed postings.  You can also track the url clicks through your bit.ly account, which I think is a really cool feature.

As I already had the application installed on my fan page, it took a total of 3 minutes add the review feed.

Adding Merchant Circle Reviews to Twitter

Twitter integration is becoming de rigueur for social networking sites and I’m a little surprised that it isn’t a default feature for a Merchant Account business profile.  Even so, there are other tools that make it easy to add to Twitter using the RSS feed.

There are several services out there which will post an RSS feed to twitter; however, my favorite is Twitterfeed.  Every new review or post on your RSS feed can be displayed on your Twitter account within minutes with just a few simple steps.

  1. Sign up for an account at Twitterfeed
  2. Click “create a new feed.”
  3. Name the RSS feed and enter your feed url, click test.
  4. Click “Continue to Step 2.”
  5. Click “Twitter” under the services option.
  6. Click “Authenticate Twitter Account.”
  7. After you have allowed Twitterfeed to access your Twitter account, the integration is complete.

Now every time a customer posts a review or you post a coupon or a blog, it will be displayed on your Facebook and Twitter accounts.  The caveat to this method is that you must be committed to excellent customer service.  If you repeatedly get customer complaints and have unhappy customers, you may want to think twice before setting this up.

If you’re thinking, “That sounds great, but all this tech stuff makes my eyes cross,” don’t worry!  That’s what we’re here for.  Contact us regarding our social media promotion options.

If after reading this you are inspired to take your site or business promotion to new heights with RSS, Sean Donahoe (an RSS marketing fiend) just came out with a online seminar called “RSS Master Class.”  It is a limited offering and I haven’t checked the availability lately, but if it is still open, I would jump on it.