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Musings on the Foodservice Industry

Small Businesses Don’t “Like” the New Facebook

It’s All Pay-to-Play

Facebook, which changed the way the world shares memories and keeps in touch with friends and family, wasn’t originally a marketing tool for businesses. However, businesses quickly figured out that they could also promote their sales events and publish PR news to “engage” with customers and increase sales. The key was to attract as many “likes” as possible to build a network of followers to market to on Facebook. 

These free promotional announcements via social media were often the best advertising tool available to small businesses, but Facebook recently changed the game. In January, Facebook began filtering out unpaid sales and promotional posts on business news feeds.  

As a result, the only way for a business to reach its network of likes is to buy ads on the social network. Facebook said the change is based on customer feedback, as surveys indicated users were tired of seeing their news feeds splattered with posts pushing a product or service, an app, or a contest.  Now, the news feeds will include only the relevant posts they desire, interrupted by just a few ads that are geo- and behavioral-targeted. fb

This is a huge blow to businesses, which have spent years building their followers on Facebook; it’s as if the social network, deleted their database … whoosh, out with the recycle bin. Facebook finally adopted the publishing model of the old school media: If you want to publicize your business, you have to pay. 

Now to be fair, Facebook’s advertising features have some advantages offering effective options for businesses to reach potential customers.  But that dream of going viral with a cool post, is just a dream now, as a business will have to pay to promote the announcement or boost it. 

Now What?

Small business owners and restaurateurs will have to quickly re-evaluate their marketing plans for 2015.  It’s important to continue posting news on Facebook, using it as a customer service tool to communicate directly with customers, and upload a menu (a new feature).  

The most important marketing investment should be on the company website, ensuring it’s optimized for search engines. Managing customer reviews is also critical to make sure customers are sharing their positive experiences, while minimizing damage from negative feedback. 

Buying keywords on Google, Yahoo and Bing should also be a priority to capture potential customers who are in the market for a product or service. As far online advertising, the click-through rate for Facebook posts aren’t that much better than a targeted banner ad campaign.  Don’t just throw around ad dollars; be strategic: measure, evaluate and constantly re-evaluate every ad buy to maximize the return.   

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