You’ve probably been told time and time again that Facebook is the land of opportunity to SMBs.

But what if you’re not getting the clicks, comments and shares that you were promised?

“But I Thought Facebook Was The Land of Opportunity! What Gives?”

If you’re bummed out by the lack of action on your business’ Facebook page, you’re not alone.

Facebook has changed dramatically for small businesses and marketers within the past few years. Unfortunately, unless you’ve been clued in on these changes there’s a good chance that your marketing efforts have been mostly hidden from your followers.

Here’s the deal: in the early days of Facebook, small business pages were king. Between 2007 and 2010, Facebook was hungry to attract SMBs and marketers who were likewise eager to make their presence known via the social network.

Small businesses who found themselves on the bandwagon early were rewarded with rapid growth and massive exposure in their fans’ newsfeeds. Hundreds of likes, comments and shares weren’t uncommon for SMBs putting in the work on Facebook: in short, it was the golden age.

But times have changed in a big way.

The New Rules of Facebook (That Nobody Told You About)

Fast forward to present day where Facebook has exploded to well over one billion daily active users. The need to attract small businesses is no longer there, especially given Facebook’s robust (and often pricey) paid advertising platform which rakes in big bucks from brands willing to pay.

As a result, it’s tougher than ever for your posts and promotions to end up in your followers’ feeds unless you’re paying for them.

If you’re a small or zero-budget marketer who’s trying to build your audience organically, posting to your Facebook page may very well be a shot in the dark. Sure, you might gain some traction, but are you really getting a return on your investment of time and content creation?

Reality check: just because you post something doesn’t mean that your followers automatically see it. The idea of spending your valuable time grinding out content on Facebook just to have nobody read it may sound like insanity, but that’s the reality SMB marketers face in 2017.

Skeptical? We don’t blame you. After all, why would Facebook do this? Aren’t they the “good guys” who hate advertising and stress the need for organic content?

Don’t take our word for it: see for yourself.

Take a look at what happened to an image that we posted to our own Facebook page on December 7, 2016.. The post had all the qualities of a “great” Facebook post on paper: an eye-grabbing image of an irresistibly cute animal (Olfie, our in-house rabbit) and a short, humorous caption.

Olfie, our in-house rabbit

This sort of stuff is the bread and butter of Facebook, right?

That’s what we thought, too.

Unfortunately, we were mistaken.

At the time of post, our Facebook page had little over 6,000 likes. In total, the post was seen by a mere 17 percent of our followers (1,029 people). It received 12 likes; one of them – our own.

We decided Olfie deserved better and boosted the post on Facebook for $100. Overnight, Olfie received 356 additional likes, pushing the like count to 368. Additionally, the post received 18 comments and 12 shares.

Olfie, our in-house rabbit

Not bad for a $1oo, right? We were pleased.

Yet here’s the problem: few small businesses have the budget to boost every single one of their posts.

This begs the question: what should you do? How can you make the most of Facebook marketing when it feels as if the deck is stacked against SMBs?

Don’t freak out: you have options. Consider the following, for starters:

Accept that the Party is Over

Simply put, it’s time to acknowledge that the party is over. Facebook’s honeymoon period with SMBs has ended and it’s time to move on and shift your mindset accordingly.

Stop thinking of Facebook as a free marketing platform and start thinking like a professional. In short, you’re going to need some sort of Facebook budget if you want to realistically gain any sort of worthwhile traction. The old adage of “you’ve got to spend money to make money” rings true on Facebook today, much to the dismay of marketers who still dream otherwise.

That said, using boosted posts is a great strategy for reaching a wider audience. Paying for a small, one-time boost can promote more engagement, likes and followers for the long-run.

Similarly, Facebook ads don’t have to cost an arm and a leg: in fact, boosting a post can cost as little as $20 depending on your industry and desired reach. For more info on a realistic approach to boosting your Facebook posts, check out this actionable guide by Kim Garst of Boom! Social.

Turn the Creative On

Instead of pouring all of your energy into pure content creation, channel that energy into your boosting strategy. Paying to boost a post once every couple of weeks is a totally valid marketing technique that will do more for you in terms of exposure versus grinding out posts that nobody will see.

If you’re still hesitant to the idea of forking over any cash on Facebook, think of it this way: you’re probably losing more money via time wasted writing content for nobody versus the small initial investment of a boosted post.

That being said, don’t dump a bunch of money into Facebook without doing some serious research first. If your competitors aren’t on Facebook, don’t panic: this actually gives you some leverage over others in your industry.

No matter how small your business is, and even if your niche is microscopic in the grand scheme of things, you can still win over an audience by making a unique statement about who you are and what you do.

Aim high. Be bold. What do you have to lose?

Get the Most of your Non-Paid Posts

Let’s say that you have no room in your budget for Facebook ads. Fair enough: you still have options to explore.

Did you know that Facebook favors content that’s solely confined to its platform? In other words, Facebook would prefer your content not link out to an external source such as your blog or website.

To ensure a better reach for your posts, consider image-only or linkless posts as means of achieving a wider audience. After all, you can always invite people to connect with you directly on your Facebook page or encourage them to message you if they want to get in touch.

Also, bear in mind that original videos receive the highest organic reach of any type of post on Facebook. Likewise, Facebook is pushing their live video platform (Facebook Live) hard right now. Live video is emerging as the new wave of engagement and perhaps serves as Facebook’s answer to the popularity of YouTube.

Thankfully, live videos aren’t expected to have much in terms of production or budget: all you really need is a smartphone and a message to get started. In fact, a genuine, spontaneous video is likely to get more engagement and appreciation versus something cold and calculated.

In Facebook’s own words: “Facebook Live is a fun, powerful way to connect with your follower and create new ones along the way.”

Marketing on Facebook Doesn’t Have to be a Headache

Facebook can be the land of opportunity for small businesses willing to understand their game and play by the rules.

Listen: don’t let marketing on Facebook frustrate you. In many cases, engagement requires a shift in mindset and a more creative approach; however, it may be time to start paying to boost a post or two. It’s certainly possible to grow your following via Facebook, just keep in mind that the best practices of 2007 no longer apply today.

What content seems to work the best for your brand? Is there anything you see other companies do on Facebook that you’d love to do yourself? Let us know in the comments below!