In the early days, Facebook was a social media platform that allowed businesses to interact with customers without investing a lot of money, or no money at all. Over the past few years, Facebook has adopted new advertising policies that, at first, were still an extremely profitable means of reaching your market. Facebook has made more changes to their algorithm to favor content from people over businesses.

Consider these recent announcements from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg:

With this update, we will also prioritize posts that spark conversations and meaningful interactions between people. To do this, we will predict which posts you might want to interact with your friends about, and show these posts higher in feed.

Because space in News Feed is limited, showing more posts from friends and family and updates that spark conversation means we’ll show less public content, including videos and other posts from publishers or businesses.

As we make these updates, Pages may see their reach, video watch time and referral traffic decrease.

The biggest change for small business marketing is an increase in cost to reach your desired audience. In a recent article, Kunal Gupta calculated that the cost for advertisers will rise by a whopping 79% in the next year.

Along with increase cost to advertising, Facebook is launching new compliance regulations that cripple previously successful ads. Simply, they force advertisers to become increasingly more adept at reaching a shrinking market by using new means of advertising. No longer can we use product giveaways, entice customers to like our pages, and more. We’re seeing a steady increase in ad disapprovals and suspensions.

Despite all of this, we do see a lot of organic Facebook success for localized, small businesses who interact with their followers regularly, have strong presence in their community, and use an original (sometimes polarizing) voice on their social media accounts.

  1. Alternative strategies on Facebook Consider linking in content-rich landing pages from your website that spark conversation (like blog posts) or using Facebook Live to showcase different facets of your business – lifestyle shots of your business. We feel that Facebook is no longer a good investment for marketing for most businesses. There are always exceptions to the rule.
  2. Instagram Instagram direct response has grown exponentially. The user base will soon exceed 1 billion. There’s even an opportunity for free organic reach. But the real, scalable opportunity is with Instagram advertising. Instagram Live continues to show great organic return on posts.
  3. Quora continues to improve. Consider using Quora to answer questions related to your business.
  4. Invest in email Your email list will always be your biggest asset. The recent changes to Facebook are a reminder of how fickle those “social lists” can be. So, keep using Facebook and other channels for lead generation to reach those readers with messages you know will convert them to customers.