Several years ago I wrote a post about the dangers of focussing all your small business efforts on a platform you don't own. That post was prompted after Posterous, a simple blogging service, closed down, to the ire of many users who had built up a following using their very own Posterous URL. But even though that post was written 4 years ago, it's still 100% relevant today.
This morning I read this in the Guardian:
Facebook is testing a major change that would shift non-promoted posts out of its news feed, a move that could be catastrophic for publishers relying on the social network for their audience
What does this mean? Well, in Slovakia, one of the 6 countries where the test is being conducted:
“Pages are seeing dramatic drops in organic reach” … “The reach of several Facebook pages fell on Thursday and Friday by two-thirds compared to previous days.”
Should this test become a reality, it will be incredibly bad for any small business currently relying only on free Facebook posts to advertise their business. Why?
As it is, Facebook's organic reach is only about 3-5% - this means that for every 100 people who have Liked your Facebook Page, only 3-5 will see each new, non-promoted post (unless those 3-5 people Like or Share that post, which spreads the reach). If non-promoted posts are moved to a secondary stream, your existing Facebook reach will drop even below the current 3-5% that organic reach gets. For some Pages in those 6 countries, they've seen 60-80% of their Facebook reach disappear overnight.
If you are currently relying on friends to not only see each organic post on your Page, but then Like and Share that post, I'd respectfully suggest this is a pretty shaky strategy to be basing your business on.
A better solution would involve not just Facebook organic reach, but also some promoted Facebook posts, combined with something else like Google Adwords, to spread the risk (and also spread the word more effectively).