Is Paying For Facebook Really Necessary To Reach People?

by | Facebook

At one time getting into the News Feed of your Facebook Page fans was free.

Most Business Pages expected to have to pay to grow the number of people (fans) who liked their Page. But paying for Facebook to share their content with people who were already fans was not expected!

Not so today! And in reality, not so since about 2012, if not earlier. It was then that Facebook began to slowly wean businesses away from the idea that Facebook was a free way for businesses to grow their brand and encourage engagement with their fans and potential fans.

Over the years, pretty much annually, we’ve continued to hear new stories about how Facebook is making it difficult to reach those who like Business Pages organically. Truthfully, Facebook has been weaning businesses away from organic reach for years. And each year they reduce the opportunity for Pages to reach their fans even more.

Today, for almost all businesses, if you want what you share on Facebook to be seen in the News Feed of those who have liked your Page and their friends, paying for Facebook isn’t an option – it’s a given.

Today’s reality is that if you have a Facebook Business Page, you’ll have to PAY Facebook to show what you share to those who have liked your Page. But the flip side is this, you can also pay to show it to those who are not yet your fans.

The question to ask yourself is this: “If I’m not prepared to spend money to show up in the Facebook News Feed of my fans and others, should I even be on Facebook?” The answer is, “Probably not.”

Facebook Organic Reach Is Down, Down, Down

Internationally recognized Facebook expert, Mari Smith, said this about unpaid Facebook reach in 2016: Facebook organic (free) reach is down to a mere 1-6% of your fans.

That means, that for every 100 people on Facebook who like your Facebook Business Page, only 1 in 6 of them actually see your posts in their News Feed. That is if you leave it up to Facebook to share your content organically (free).

The 1-6% statistic is from 2016! And, things haven’t gotten better. If anything they’ve gotten worse. And, just a few weeks ago Mark Zuckerberg made another announcement that could see this statistic drop even further if that’s possible.

So, if you’re sharing great content and no one is seeing it, and you’re not willing to spend any money to have Facebook show it to those who have liked your Page and others, does it make sense for you to be on Facebook? Probably not.

Paying for Facebook is a must for most businesses on Facebook today. Especially for those that want people to actually see what they are sharing on their Page.

The Silver Lining of Paying For Facebook!

While on some level paying to reach fans who are already connected to you on Facebook sucks, there is a silver lining. The silver lining is this, you can also pay Facebook to show your posts to those who are not already fans.

At the simplest level, you can pay to have Facebook show your posts to people based on their gender (Male, Female or both), their age, their interests and where they live. This allows you to narrow the focus of your posts to a particular city or broaden it to reach the world. The choice is yours … at a price.

Paying Facebook to boost your content opens up new brand building, marketing and sales opportunities for your business.

But, Won’t Great Content Alone Get Me Into The Facebook News Feed?

While there is still a lot of talk about great content being enough to get you in front of your fans, it’s not enough for most Pages.

Great content is hugely important! But great content doesn’t guarantee you’ll get into the News Feed of your existing fans. And it won’t get you into the News Feed of those who are not your fans.

Of course, if your fans are super interested in seeing anything and everything you put out, you could ask them to select to see your content first in their News Feed. But be careful with this. If you are overloading your News Feed with too much content, or content your fans aren’t interested in, you may actually lose followers.

But assuming you’re sharing content people want to see and at the right frequency, fans can choose to see what you share on your Facebook Page first in their News Feed. Here’s how:Facebook-Notification-&-Follow-Links

  1. Scroll over the ‘Following’ button beneath the cover image.
  2. Select to ‘See First’ in your News Feed

Doing this tells Facebook they WANT to see what you share and they want to see it at the top of their News Feed, first.

Facebook users can choose up to 30 Pages to see first in their News Feed.

Again, here’s the caution: If your fans find you post content too frequently and/or if your content isn’t interesting to them, they may decide to deselect this option. If they do, it’s unlikely what you share will show up in their News Feed unless you boost your posts. And even then, they can choose to block seeing your content.

Getting fans to choose to see your content first is not as easy as it sounds. You have to work out the best way to let them know about these options and convince them they want to always see what you share on Facebook.

Facebook’s Long-Term Strategy For Business

As noted earlier in this article, Facebook’s drop in organic reach hasn’t happened overnight. You can be sure it has been part of their long-term strategy:

  1. Build a platform consumers love and use.
  2. Give businesses a free taste of how they can reach their audience on Facebook via their business Page.
  3. Charge businesses to reach consumers through their own Facebook Business Page, including their own fans.

Their initial plan may not have looked quite like this. But rest assured, they didn’t build a worldwide empire so that they could give away all that exposure for free. They are a business, not a charity.

Facebook knew that once businesses and other organizations had experienced a taste of the exposure Facebook could give them through their Business Pages, they would need to be weaned off of free reach and onto paying for reach. That’s why Facebook reach for Business Pages has been declining slowly but surely for several years now!

What Facebook has done to date is to build a monster consumer market for their product.

Facebook is leveraging the free service they provide to the average consumer, by monetizing the service they offer to Pages. In other words, to businesses and other organizations who want to reach the Facebook user base.

Paying For Facebook Reach

As already stated, for the vast majority of businesses, your Facebook Page fan base is no longer reachable without an investment of cash.

All major social networks are looking for ways to monetize their services to business. They know if they build it – a social platform that consumers use en masse – businesses will come. They know businesses and other organizations want to reach the consumers that use those social networks. And they know that, if the numbers are big enough, businesses will eventually pay to reach consumers using those social networks.

Of course, most social networks still have to grow their user base in order to attract business Ad spend dollars. Facebook has already done that! They’re well on their way to turning Instagram into a similar animal.

The cost for most Facebook Pages with a local audience to reach a broader audience on the platform is cheap in comparison to other types of advertising. On Facebook, a little goes a long way. At least for now. Even so, it’s clear to me it’s costing more to reach people on Facebook now than it did a year or two years ago.

The price for Facebook advertising will no doubt rise even more in the future, as more businesses use Facebook creatively to reach their fans and other consumers.

Changes To Advertising Guidelines Make It Easier

Facebook used to severely restrict the amount of text on images in their advertising. This made it difficult to create images with easy to read coupons, sales information, inspirational quotes or such that could pass Facebook’s old 20% or less text rule. So, even if you had wanted to pay to boost that content, you couldn’t. Facebook wouldn’t allow it.

In 2016, Facebook eased some of its rules around the use of text on images. Not a lot but enough to make a difference.

Facebook still prefers boosted posts that use images with 20% or less text. And, they restrict the reach of posts that use what they consider to be too much text. (They’ll usually provide you with a warning that you have too much text when you boost the post.)

To determine whether an image meets Facebook’s guidelines, you can check your images by uploading them to Facebook’s Text Check/Text Overlay Tool.

For more on this the amount of text you can use on Facebook images, read ‘Facebook Boosted Posts: How Much Text Can You Use On Images?’ 

Boosting Your Most Likeable Content

Finally, keep in mind, when paying to boost the reach of a post on Facebook, that if people don’t like what you share, they may eventually block what you share. It may be as simple as unliking your page, unfollowing your Page or using the link Facebook provides on a post to indicate they don’t like or want to see any more of what you’re sharing.

Traditional advertising that pushes you and your business won’t cut it for most businesses on Facebook. Facebook is a different animal from a newspaper, magazine, billboard or flyer!

On Facebook it is all about the consumer and what they like, find interesting, valuable, helpful or inspirational. it’s all about what the consumer wants to see. While it makes sense what you post is related to your business, it’s important to find creative ways to share content that helps build your brand and engagement in a way that isn’t seen as intrusive and pushy.

This article has been significantly updated from earlier versions.