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    Successful Facebook Marketing, No Longer Free

    By Jonathan Poston | Yahoo Small Business

    I've been helping businesses set up their Facebook Pages for a long time. For years, marketing on Facebook has worked pretty well, and the cost, was basically just the time spent posting, engaging, etc. Now, all of that seems to be changing.

    How Facebook marketing is changing

    For many small businesses, having a few hundred Facebook Fans (AKA Likes) was pretty good, and a few thousand usually indicated a successful Facebook marketing effort. Occasionally small businesses would amass 10k+ Fans, and rarely in the millions, but that's far from the norm (unless those Facebook Fans were bought, which by the way some do, at $5 per one or two thousand Fans).

    Let's say, a few years ago, you attracted a couple of thousand real Fans. That probably meant for great posts you could expect decent engagement: ten, 20, or more Fans might Like that post. Now, with recent changes on Facebook, a Page with a thousand fans may be lucky to get a few people to Like the kind of posts that have been popular in the past. The view count per post seems dismal now too, which begs the question, why post at all?

    Why is engagement down on Facebook now?

    Facebook engagement is down now simply because it seems (from what I've seen, and read: Search "Facebook Pay-to-Play", and read for yourself) that the giant social media platform simply doesn't serve your posts to as many of your Fans, hard earned ones I might add, as it used to. The exceptions are Facebook Pages that have an occult-like following (followers don't have to rely on posts appearing in their news feed if they visit Pages directly).

    Paying to get your Facebook posts seen

    Now, if you want your post to be seen, you really need to "boost" it. You can do that for very little, as FB says: " The minimum budget is $1.00 per day."  Boosting the posts that used to get a lot of attention will likely get your engagement rate back to where it was in the good ole days, or higher, but by all means don't assume that boosting bad content will now make it popular.

    You can boost posts to target the Fans you already have (how about that, paying to reach the people you worked so hard to attract to your Page), or to target those who aren't Fans of your Page yet (by location, age, gender, interests, etc.) . The difference boosting a post makes is huge. For example, comparing boosted posts to those that aren't on a Page I've managed with around 2500 Fans is telling. The posts that are advertised with only $5 often get viewed over 1000 times and get 15-20 Likes, and those that aren't boosted, they are lucky to get a few hundred views, with several people Liking the post.

    The price of growing an audience

    For those who want to grow their Fan base on Facebook, well, there's advertising for that too. And, it's not black market style, as mentioned above, where you can buy  fake Fans on the cheap, but a legitimate promotion on Facebook that estimates how many new Fans you can expect to get for the amount spent. For example, one Facebook ad campaign I'm monitoring estimates that $10 daily budget may result in 7-28 Likes (Fans) per day.

    In short, to be successful on Facebook, it now seems you have to pay to attract new Fans, and then pay again for them to see what's being posted.

    Alternatives to Facebook

    A few dollars of boosting posts here and there can add up, but in some ways the relatively low rates make marketing on Facebook still a bargain. And, consider that all of those businesses, which might include the competition, that don't want to start paying to advertise, may well be putting themselves out of the game, perhaps giving those who stay more market share.

    For those who feel betrayed, cheated, or that it's imminent that Facebook will be charging even more in the future, there is Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Google Plus, and other social media platforms that are popular, include their own unique advantages, and still free. At least, for now.

    Need help setting up?

    Need help navigating the complexities of setting up on social media, managing your ad campaigns, producing better copy, improving ROI, planning an editorial calendar, etc., visit: http://talentfriendly.wix.com/digital-marketing- , or contact Jonathan Poston at talentfriendly@gmail.com

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