When we began the “How to Start Your Own Website for Cheap or Free” Series, we planned to include utilizing Facebook as a free-to-you marketing method.  It’s free to sign up for a Facebook account and it allows you to post a variety of information and interact with your potential customers, so using Facebook was a big part of our list of recommendations.  However, in the last few months, the Facebook game has changed and we no longer recommend that our clients put much time into utilizing Facebook for business marketing purposes.

Basically, Facebook has changed their algorithms again, and this isn’t great news for business pages.  Earlier this year, we began hearing reports that “Facebook [was] in the process of slashing brands’ ‘organic page reach’ to just 1 or 2 percent” of any page’s fans (Slate.com).  What does that mean for small business owners who previously used Facebook to promote their business?  Well, after this change, “only a tiny fraction of the people who have liked a business on Facebook will see each of its posts in their news feed, unless that company pays Facebook for wider promotion” (Slate.com).

Even if your business has a small advertising budget, Facebook ad campaigns for your business can be run with even a small amount of money, so the fact that Facebook is now requiring you to pay them to have your posts reach your intended audience didn’t have to be deal-breaker for us.  But now, reports of “Facebook click fraud” are surfacing.  Business Insider actually reported on Facebook click fraud earlier this year.  That term can be tricky to explain, but here’s a summary:

Should I use Facebook for my business

Should you use a Facebook page to market your business? At this time, we don’t recommend that you put much time or money into maintaining one.

“It’s complicated, but here is how it works: Facebook lets people promote their pages with advertising tools called  “Suggested Posts” or “Suggested Pages.” For small sums of money, companies with a few hundred fans can dramatically increase the reach of their Facebook material so it gets seen by thousands of new users. Prices for these campaigns can cost as little as $50.

The problem is that — according to four Page owners who have complained publicly about it — the incoming extra likes generated by the campaign are mostly fake. A company can accumulate thousands of new fans only to see engagement on their page drop because the new fans are fake, abusive accounts run from click farms in Egypt or India” (Business Insider).

So, while we do not recommend that our clients give up on using Facebook entirely – we still find some good in promoting your company or brand on Facebook – we are keeping a close eye on Facebook click fraud information as it develops.  We are also re-evaluating our free-to-you marketing recommendations, and are determining whether or not the suggestion of using Facebook for business will still hold its place in our recommendations.

As we keep an eye on marketing trends and re-develop our recommendations, we will continue with our Cheap/Free Website Series!