Ask the Experts: Use Facebook

This summer, Sharon Dawson and her colleagues at TheeDesign Studio in Raleigh began answering calls from clients regarding a new change affecting their businesses’ Facebook pages.

Instead of their clients’ posts showing up in the news feeds of everyone who has “liked” their companies’ Facebook pages, posts were randomly showing up in only about a quarter or less of those users’ news feeds.

“Facebook has changed the settings to encourage businesses to pay for a ‘boost’ post,” said Dawson, an Internet marketing specialist at the Raleigh Web design and marketing firm. “Many small businesses and entrepreneurs are unaware of this change and do not realize that their message is not getting out to their fans.”

Posts that companies boost show up in news feeds that meet the criteria the business selects, plus they are displayed higher in those feeds and are labeled “sponsored.” But for the businesses that don’t pay to boost posts, Facebook is about to make it much harder for them to reach their audiences.

“Beginning in January 2015, people will see less (promotional) content in their News Feeds. ... Pages that post promotional (content) should expect their organic distribution to fall significantly over time,” Facebook’s website states.

While you can still view all of a business’ posts if you visit their Facebook page directly, Dawson said, most customers rarely visit a page or search for their information in their news feeds.

“Since Facebook has said that it will always be free to the user, the company is using boosted posts as a way to make money,” Dawson said.

She suggests paying to boost a post when the information is meaningful and of interest to their target customers.

“You wouldn’t want to boost a ‘happy holidays’ post, but you should pay for a boost when sharing about your specials a week before Christmas,” Dawson said. “Think about what information your customers and potential customers want. They want to know about deals, specials and important news.”

Facebook calculates the price per boost, which ranges from $5 to $500, based on a variety a factors such as who and how many people the business wants to reach.

When choosing an option, a company’s first consideration should be its budget, but it is also important to consider the target audience, Dawson said.

“If you own a tea store in Raleigh then you should select the targeting option and only target Facebook users who live in Raleigh. It isn’t worth publishing the post to your Facebook fans’ friends, because someone in Massachusetts isn’t going to be interested in your store,” she said.