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Should Brands Bother With Facebook Pages?

As businesses carve out a social media marketing strategy, Facebook isn’t just a consideration—it’s typically at the top of the must-use platforms list.

Yet as the social networking giant continues to tweak its visibility algorithm and make other wide-ranging changes, a critical question has emerged: For businesses new to Facebook, does a Facebook page still make sense?

Ch-Ch-Changes: What’s Different About Facebook?

Before we dive in to whether or not a new Facebook business page makes sense, let’s take a quick look at what’s happened over the last few months...

Recent adjustments to Facebook’s algorithm have had the biggest impact on page performance. The algorithm is critical in determining post visibility in a user’s News Feed and uses several factors, including affinity, weight and time, to establish which posts should be shown to Facebook users.

In December 2013, Facebook announced changes to the algorithm that would cause lower organic reach. The culprit? An increasingly crowded News Feed that’s heightened competition for user attention.

“As a result, competition for each News Feed story is increasing,” according to a post on Facebook for Business. “Because the content in the News Feed is always changing, and we’re seeing more people sharing more content, pages will likely see changes in distribution. For many pages, this includes a decline in organic reach. We expect this trend to continue as the competition for each story remains strong and we focus on quality.”

More recently, new tweaks to the Facebook algorithm have impacted the types of stories shown from pages. Text status updates (as pictured below) will be shown less often in favor of link share posts, which Facebook says drive more engagement and contribute to a more visual experience on the site.

What’s interesting, however, is that text-only updates shared from personal profiles have more influence and are more likely to drive shares. The kicker, however, is that mindset doesn’t translate to page posts, prompting Facebook to rank the two types of posts separately for consideration in the larger Facebook algorithm.

How Businesses Can Still Succeed On Facebook

There’s no denying that Facebook is becoming an increasingly complex (and mildly hostile) social networking environment for brands and businesses. With all of the algorithm changes and uncertainty about what additional adjustments may lurk around the corner, can businesses still succeed on Facebook? Here’s the short answer: Absolutely.

By focusing on longstanding best practices instead of getting too bogged down by each and every algorithm change, you can help protect (and even grow) your page’s reach and engagement. Consider these tips:

  • Rich media historically performs well on Facebook. Use photos and videos as part of your content strategy.

  • Frequently analyze your data. What does your Facebook audience like? What do they respond to? What time of day are they most active? Your audience will tell you what they want—it’s your job to analyze your data and tweak your strategy based on their preferences.

  • Ditch the corporate speak and other industry jargon. Let your Facebook page tell your company or brand’s story. Most people are on Facebook to entertain themselves, which makes it an ideal platform on which to showcase your company’s personality.

Chad Wittman recently wrote a post for The Moz Blog and, after doing some extensive data analysis with EdgeRank Checker, offered some additional tips to help your Facebook page gain reach:

  • Focus on engagement.

  • Avoid overusing strong calls to action.

  • Avoid using memes.

  • Increase post frequency.

  • Test different times of day for different types of content. One possible example? Chad recommends posting news stories in the morning and product promotions in the evening.

The Bottom Line

Despite the recent spate of changes, success on Facebook is possible. Yet the million-dollar question remains: Is it worthwhile to create a new Facebook business page?

Here’s the deal. Facebook’s ultimate goal is to get page admins to pay for visibility, something they clearly spelled out in a presentation sent to partners in December. If you’re willing to invest some of your financial resources in Facebook and it makes sense for your brand or business to be there, it’s certainly a worthwhile addition to your social marketing strategy.

If, however, Facebook isn’t part of your marketing budget, recognize that you’ve got a long, slow road ahead of you in terms of building a page audience and extending your page’s reach and visibility. One of the faster ways to increase Facebook page likes is by advertising (not by buying them)—without it, your growth is likely to be a more arduous process. It’s not that you can’t have any sort of success on Facebook without paying—but as the site moves more aggressively toward attracting revenue, page admins who refuse to pony up are likely to have a harder time generating any sort of results on Facebook.

One last tip? Know your audience. If they’re on Facebook, it makes sense for you to be there, regardless of whether or not you’re ready to pay for visibility. Yet if they’re spending more time on other channels, it’s probably a better move to focus on those outlets.

Page admins, we’d love to hear from you. Have you seen a recent decline in your page’s reach and visibility? Has it changed how you used the site? And for those of you who haven’t yet created a Facebook page, have the recent changes made you leery of the platform? Let’s chat!

Katy Schamberger is a Kansas City-based freelance writer, editor and blogger who’s dually obsessed with words and technology. Feeling chatty? Tweet her at @katywrites!

Image: Ksayer1 via CC

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