Commentary

Facebook Less Appealing Now To SMEs, Time To Search Instead?

Interesting to see The Daily Telegraph picking up on the impact that Facebook's algorithm changes have had on SMEs. The paper makes a good point that it isn't just the large brands that are missing out on reaching their own audience. I'm not quite sure you can pick out which size of company is suffering the most, in terms of reduced reach, however. Ultimately, the decline in posts now reaching, on average, less than 10% of followers falls pretty evenly.

I'd also question whether a lot of small companies set up pages -- or as I've noticed, set up an account in the company's name which then adds friends who are always reached with status updates.

The real losers have been the people at companies of all sizes who have put so much hard work and effort into organically growing a group of followers to their company's page, only to find out that nine-tenths will never see their latest message. Think of all those endless hours sending out apt messages, encouraging "shares" and "likes" so new people would be welcomed into the fold. Just imagine all the competition prizes that have been given away for the privilege of reaching out to just one in ten of those who entered.

The real effect on SMEs is probably going unnoticed at the moment because it arguably only large brands and their agencies that are aware Facebook has been tinkering with its algorithm. At the average SME there is probably a very keen young executive who persuaded the boss that Facebook was a great idea, but now can't quite figure out why the following they have built up seems so unresponsive. 

Large brands have always known that they need to pay to promote posts to gain traction, and so for them, the algorithm changes are confirmation of what they always knew. 

I'd suspect that those SMEs which have yet to throw the kitchen sink at social media will likely decide that it isn't worth the effort of having a dedicated person sending out updates and actively trying to grow a fan base. Instead, posts will probably be put up less frequently and with less vigour. It is a little like a ship that will keep sailing but with all the wind taken out of its sails.

For the average entrepreneur the appeal of a worldwide free fan base will hold much lower a promise today and so I wouldn't be at all surprised if SMEs don't turn their backs at least partially, on Facebook and either save the resources for something else. If the money remains focussed on marketing, the most obvious choice would be to spend on search. At least you then have a very clear link between what you spend and what you get.

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