An Open Letter to Facebook From a Small Business Owner

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hey facebookHey Facebook…we need to talk. It’s me, Tara. We used to be friends, but lately I’m not so sure.

We met towards the end of my college career. You came around and lured me in with your Facebook-y ways. I have to admit, when I first found out that everyone was jumping ship from My-(what was that site called again?), I wasn’t so sure. But as soon as I landed on your site, you had me at Hello. I suppose that’s probably a similar story for many of your other 1.5 billion users.

But our relationship didn’t stop just there. I started my career in public relations soon after we met which was primarily focused on securing publicity through long awaited magazine and newspaper publications for my employers. But once again, I found myself drawn to you, only this time for professional reasons. See when I posted about my employer on Facebook, the immediate feedback and gratification was exhilarating. In fact, I thought leveraging Facebook on behalf of my employer was so fun that I decided to jump head first into a career solely rooted in social media. In a way, you could say that your company gave me my social media job. Really, I’m sure this position wouldn’t have existed without you.

And here’s where it started to go wrong. I begged and pleaded with you during my time working for the man for a way to set my business apart on your site. I had this huge budget to work with and truly and honestly would have invested any amount of money to make my business page stand out from the rest. But this didn’t exist. Every single page looked the same and included a similar ability to grow and retain a following on Facebook. I didn’t even complain much about the ridiculous voting rules for contests (which have since been changed). I simply adapted and instead spent my enormous budget with third party vendors to host specialized applications and promotions that complied with your rules. Again, all I really wanted was to help my brand stand out on your site. You threw me a bone with the cover photo and timeline addition in 2012, but you still always left me wanting more.

I’ve since left the corporate world and have now embarked on a new journey as a momaprenuer and small business owner. Now that I’m on the other side of the table, I find myself more disappointed in our friendship than ever. I’ve worked hard, I mean really hard, to attract each and every one of my 2,064 fans. These are people who willingly took action to “like” my page with the premise of being able to see content from my brand. It is just mind boggling to try to understand why you are now preventing these very people from being able to connect with me in the way they originally intended.

It seems to me, you have taken away functionality from the little guys who cannot spend exorbitant amounts of money with you to reach their existing fans, just so you can charge a premium to large businesses for something that should already exist through your site – the ability to connect with others (you know, that thing that your entire business model is founded upon).

Rather than stomping on the little guys to try to make a buck, why don’t you focus on providing more paid opportunities for the big guys to set their business page apart on your site? If the big guys are paying more, I completely get that they should get more in return. I can assure you there are other ways of generating revenue that don’t include hindering the ability for small business owners to connect with the audience they work so hard to attract through word-of-mouth and grass roots marketing.

I know I don’t just speak for myself when I say that my frustration with you is beyond measurable. I really want to like you, but I think our relationship may be coming to a point of no return. There are other social media sites that are just doing it for me more these days. I thought you might be THE ONE to adapt to the times and retain your following, but I can assure you that your uncomprehendible Facebook Fan Page rules are driving small business owners away in droves.  Sure I do still make a token post once or a week on my business page, but every time I do, I find myself feeling reminiscent of the old days when I felt that exhilarating excitement every time I used your platform. Believe me when I say, that excitement is long gone and has left behind only frustration, questions and a yearning for a social media network that can meet my needs as a small business owner.

So, it’s not goodbye yet, but who knows what the future may hold. For a company that has done so much right, surely you can find a remedy to this issue that I know is weighing heavily on so many other small business owners.

Sincerely,

an_open_letter_to_facebook_from_a_small_business_owner

7 Comments

7 Comments on An Open Letter to Facebook From a Small Business Owner

  1. elizabeth
    October 7, 2013 at 9:22 am (10 months ago)

    Well said!

    Reply
    • One Stylish Party
      October 7, 2013 at 9:27 am (10 months ago)

      Thank you Elizabeth!

      Reply
  2. Samantha
    October 7, 2013 at 9:35 am (10 months ago)

    It’s funny, I don’t feel this frustration that everyone feels! At least not yet, lol! 

    I think Facebook has done it’s job in what it was built to do and that is connecting and reconnecting people socially. But when it comes to business, it’s just business. Why should Facebook work or allow your business to get customers and sales on THEIR platform, but get nothing in return? I think, and it’s just an assumption, that it takes a whole lot to make sure 100s of thousands of business are seen daily. It can’t be easy to run a site like Facebook and not have it experience any crashes or downtime. 

    Not saying, this isn’t a legitimate complaint, but Facebook is free to socialize, but I don’t think it should be free to do business on. We pay to advertise on blogs, why not Facebook? And I think Facebook has improved since even last year. It’s how you use what is given to you to the best of it’s ability! 

    Reply
    • One Stylish Party
      October 7, 2013 at 10:28 am (10 months ago)

      I appreciate your thoughts and I’m glad that you have yet to experience any frustration with Facebook. I get that nothing comes free these days, especially not business advertising. I think my issues is the fact that small businesses were given a great opportunity to gain exposure for their business through this platform, and then it was taken away. Not only was it taken away, it was replaced with an advertising algorithm that just doesn’t work. I agree that to reach beyond my own fans, that should be paid. I just want to feel like I’m not talking to myself when creating and sharing content developed specifically for my fans! Again, I appreciate your thoughts and wish you the best!

      Reply
  3. Alexis Anne
    October 7, 2013 at 10:11 am (10 months ago)

    Tara, I could not agree with you more and I could not agree less Samantha. I have been running small business pages on Facebook for five years and have seen the truly horrible things FB chosen to do. As a small business it is like getting beat up. First it was a slap in the face. Then it was a sucker punch to the gut, and NOW it is a swift kick to the balls.

    Here is why…. Facebook started offering businesses this amazing opportunity to reach people. Socially. Just like friends. They let us build up this new opportunity, we grew businesses around this opportunity. Then, they changed the rules. It is their business and they are certainly welcome to change their business strategy, but the REASON they changed it was cruel. I don’t toss that word around lightly, either. What FB has done to small businesses by repeatedly giving us opportunities and then taking it away, saying we can only use their platform if we pay AS MUCH as major retailers, then we are screwed.

    Seriously, that is what they are telling the hardworking men and women (TONS of which are mothers trying to make a go of things).

    Here is what has happened over the years: they started offering opportunities to advertise and reach more audience. GREAT! Thank you! I’ll budget for that. The problem… it didn’t work. So FB changed the game. They hid us from the people who took the time to like us and said we could get more exposure (to the people who already liked us) if we paid to advertise. Fine, ok. We’ll budget for it. The only problem? We figured out their algorithms and worked around it. Icing on the cake? Their new strategy didn’t work anyway.

    So what is the problem? Why can’t FB figure out a strategy that works? Answer: we can’t afford to pay Facebook. It is a massive wrong turn in their strategy. Not only are they hurting small business, they had a huge opportunity to do amazing things by leading a *new* path in small business. But instead, they’ve insulted us, ostracized us, and on more than one occasion I’ve cried myself silly. Not because it isn’t fair (it isn’t. What is fair about someone liking your page and not being able to see it? I can’t tell you how many people have told me they assumed I was out of business because they no longer saw me in their newsfeed. OUT OF BUSINESS?!?!?!) But because of the way Facebook goes about it. Here is what they do: before each algorithm change and Facebook advertising adjustment, they allow us to reach more followers than ever. It is so cool, we sell like crazy. Business is suddenly good! And then overnight they roll out the new strategy and hide us all. We go from reaching 1,000 people a day to 20. AND THEN, they send us a message saying, “You aren’t reaching as many customers as you used to. You should pay to advertise.” It is a barely legal bait and switch. It is underhanded and quite frankly JUST PLAIN WRONG! Facebook could have done amazing things for this country and our small businesses. There are much better strategies for them to make money, but instead, they’ve chosen to give us the middle finger. It is a horrible company and I hope against hope another company steps up to do what Facebook clearly has no interest in doing.

    Thank you, Tara, for saying what I’m too angry to say politely. We should talk strategies one day! xoxo

    Reply
    • One Stylish Party
      October 7, 2013 at 10:38 am (10 months ago)

      I couldn’t help but laugh through some of your opinion / rant about Facebook. The bait and switch is really what gets me too. I honestly would find a way to budget and pay for advertising IF it worked. But throwing some money at them to still not reach my own fan base that I worked so hard to attract, NO THANK YOU. And as someone who worked on the other side of things that really wanted the ability to set my business apart on their site through paid opportunities, I firmly believe that what they are currently offering is still not meeting the needs of large businesses either. Are fans attracted through a sidebar ad really targeted? Will they stick around? I’d rather gain 100 targeted fans who want to be here for my content, rather than 1,000 people who are just coming to my page to win something free or have no interest in my brand. I am SURE there has to be a better way. Hopefully one day they will wake up and make some changes!

      Reply
    • Samantha
      October 7, 2013 at 10:44 am (10 months ago)

      Google does the same thing! Why isn’t anyone frustrated with them?  Frankly, I spend money to promote my website and keeping it updated, so when search engines change things around, I get upset more so than about a free platform like Facebook. I never thought being in business was going to be easy, cheap or free. Facebook shouldn’t be the number one. At the end of the day, you shouldn’t put high expectation on something not in your control, that includes Etsy as well. I see more complaints about FB and Etsy, amd other platforms that OTHER people run. But not about websites. Because you control that. Facebook should be a road that leads to your information hub, your website/blog. I don’t know, like I said, Im not frustrated YET, maybe because I put my energies into what I can control. And I use my page more so to have fun, give information and not really to sell. 

      But I do hope there is a remedy to this. I don’t really get it, but clearly it’s a problem. So I hope solutions are found that makes everyone happy! :)

      Reply

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