Facebook and small businesses

My facebook is rarely full of negativity; social media is whatever you make of it of course. When people moan about their timelines being full of abusive photos, or constant moaning, I'm reminded that we all experience a different facebook! The hide function is bleedin' brilliant.

I'm facebook buddies with a lot of small businesses, and the one regular gripe that shows up on my feed, is the decreasing reach of facebook business pages. I've always found the anger towards facebook slightly confusing, so I figured I'd share my arguments why that anger is misplaced.

The orange diagram is my facebook reach since Jan 2013, and the blue one is the number of likes for the same period.

Old school thinking would perhaps expect that with an increasing amount of people liking the page, the reach would also continue increasing. Instead you can see that my reach is currently pretty steady and lower than it used to be.

Think of your own facebook use for a moment. How many pages do you think you like? I currently like 345 pages, along with 983 'friend' connections. A total of 1328 things that I have instructed facebook matter to me. This number would have been much smaller in the past, and therefore I would have seen more of the updates from each of the pages and people I'd connected with. The pages I'd liked at the start would have have a much higher chance of me reading their post. However, the number of pages I like have grown, and yet my stream has not. If anything, I spend less time on facebook, as more social networks have developed alongside it. 

So, we spend less time on it, but have more and more stuff we'd like to see. That equation simply can't work. Regardless of whether facebook introduced paid adverts or not, we'd still be noticing less reach from our pages, simply due to the math.

Facebook can not show us every post from every page and every friend we have. We'd have to be on it scrolling through feeds all day. It has to select what to show us, each and every time we log on and look at our feed for a few minutes.

As facebook grows, our reach has to shrink to accomodate it. 

I've started to view my facebook page as a slightly different animal now. It's less about reaching out, but more about a reliable place people can come to check us out. Its a platform for communication (I book clients in via messaging etc), and sharing photos when people fancy a browse. A little like an old school forum, that businesses used to have as a place for their clients to come together as an extension to their websites. Facebook came along, and those forums became largely redundant. Facebook pages still help build communities, but social media isn't a static form of marketing, to use them successfully you have to be the reed rather than the oak tree.