Recent news from the business world is sending brands and social media mavens alike into fits of instability regarding the potential loss of Facebook as a free advertising tool. In recent articles from Bloomberg Businesweek and other sources, it’s being reported that Facebook has plans in the works that could decrease the percentage of visibility of non-paying brands to a staggeringly low one to two percent.

What this means is that in the very near future, businesses with Facebook fan pages will have to pay for their status updates to be seen by more than just a small percentage of their customer bases. Current visibility is estimated at between 15 and 20 percent. A drop to one or two percent would effectively render most brands – even those with followings into the tens of thousands – practically invisible.

Although it should come as no surprise (this is a direction Facebook has been actively and openly moving toward for more than a year) it is a serious point of concern and bone of contention among leagues of brands that have embraced social media as a cheap, cost-effective means of communicating with their customer bases. From this point forward, companies will have to pay Facebook to promote their activity.

Where does this leave you if you have a limited budget and have come to rely heavily on Facebook to promote your brand? High and dry. Unless, of course, you’ve got the savvy to work that one to two percent to your advantage. The trick to unlocking a greater percentage of exposure lies in getting followers to participate with your Facebook activity. The more likes, comments, and shares that your Facebook page gets, the more likely it is to be seen by a wider percentage of followers beyond the “free” two percent. Ideas for accomplishing this include…

  • Keeping posts relevant and on topic. In recent times it’s become a regular practice among brands to ask open-ended questions of their followers to achieve a higher rate of engagement. This still works, but going forward it will be increasingly effective if those questions are more specific. For example, instead of posting an update asking your followers what their favorite kind of dog is, consider asking them what kinds of discounts they’d like to see you offer in the future, or what kinds of products they’d be interested in buying. It’s all about relevance.
  • Focus on timing. If you own a local cookie shop, odds are one of your greatest selling tools on Facebook are images of your tasty confections. By timing your visual posts to certain times of day when people are more likely to be hungry – just before lunch or in the evenings – you can reach a far greater level of interaction with followers than if you were to post images early in the morning.
  • Take the opportunity now to communicate to your followers that they can manipulate their Facebook news feed preferences to ensure your posts come through. This is done by clicking the “Follow” button on a fan page and will result in a user being notified each and every time you post an update or share a photo.

Despite Facebook pursuing a pay-to-play model for business users, there’s still great value in maintaining a Facebook presence. Since it continues to be the most widely used social networking platform in the world, it can still prove highly profitable to those who can rally their supporters to share information about their brand with others.

To learn more about how you can increase your brand’s visibility in social media, contact Artisan Talent. We are a creative staffing agency with an extensive listing of available social media marketers that you can hire on a freelance basis. We also help experienced professionals with social marketing, content creation, and web design careers find lucrative job assignments. Contact us today to learn more.