Facebook has made a number of subtle changes in the business pages recently. I am sure some of the changes are a direct result of their IPO.  Now that they have shareholders they are responsible to,  they have to prove they have a business model which can produce a projectionable revenue stream quarter after quarter. Some of the changes are wonderful tools for small business owners. Others, I don’t like, but I can respect.

Facebook Now Allows Scheduling

Inelegant at best, the new tool allows you to schedule updates in advance. Unlike when you schedule an update from Hootsuite or BufferApp, the scheduled update appears in your stream as if you had posted it live.

Available only when you are making status updates as a page, this is a change clearly designed to allow small businesses to take a more systematic approach to Facebook as a social media marketing tool. For a company like ours which  manages Facebook pages for our clients, this is a huge change. Now we can set aside regular intervals to jump on Facebook and schedule updates for a group of clients.

While our clients will still have to check in  for the real time flavor, the foundation work can all be done in advance. And for small business owners managing their own Facebook pages, this makes the task of keeping up a steady presence on Facebook much easier.

Promoted Status

What do you do when people ignore you? Well, you could try to be more interesting or you could simply yell louder.  With promoted status updates, Facebook is going the route of many advertising vehicles, allowing businesses to “yell louder.”

Facebook earns its money from advertising.  Unfortunately many advertisers are starting to figure out that consumers ignore advertising on Facebook. Case in point: General Motors cancelled their $10 million ad buy because they aren’t getting results, switching their focus to content marketing. This is where the idea of the promoted post comes in.

Now, instead of running a generic ad, I can use my advertising budget to promote specific posts. On the surface, this seems like a good idea. Used sparingly to feature only the most important posts, it might generate interest in contests and events. Unfortunately, who decides what is important? The advertiser. Which brings me back to my opinion that this is just a chance to yell louder.

While we may suggest this to a few of our clients, our primary focus will continue to be on developing interesting content people want to share. The challenge? As Facebook tries to drive more revenue from promoted posts, they seem to be reducing the number of people who see your updates in their stream naturally. Which actually puts more pressure on small business owners to share interesting content their community will like, share and comment on.

Facebook:  A Small Business Social Media Tool

In the coming months, I expect we will see more changes in the Facebook business pages as the company expands their programs to encourage use as a small business social media marketing tool. This is a coming of age for Facebook as they leave their adolescence behind.