Stop Being So
Businesses. The
(Facebook) Free
Ride is Over.

By: Stephanie Walton

Well, guys – the plug has pretty much officially been pulled on all this free fun businesses were having on Facebook. The reach of a business’s organic (not paid) Facebook posts is being dialed down from what was 12% to 1%. Unless a business pays up, they can’t expect their posts to be seen by anyone.

“Yay!” general Facebook users exclaim. “Now our timelines won’t be take up with annoying business posts when I just want to see videos of my friend’s cat playing the piano!” But hold up – you also won’t get to see when Anthropologie is having a sale or the latest on Best Vines…unless those pages pay for you to see it.

A Brief History of Facebook Heaven

It’s no secret (and not even necessarily a bad thing) that huge companies with huge budgets enjoy huge reach. Mom and pop shops can’t afford TV ad spots and billboards. Prior to social media, small businesses relied on local magazine ads and word-of-mouth referrals.

So Facebook was a dream. Suddenly, small businesses had a voice…and it was free! If you wanted, you could pay a small amount to build a community around your page. Then you could post great content and start telling your story at low-to-no cost. It was great for consumers too because, unlike TV ads, consumers could choose which pages they want to follow. They could actively say, “Tell us your story. We want to hear it.”

Not so anymore. The heyday is over. Which is a huge bummer not just for small businesses, but for those of us who really do want to see a businesses posts, even if they’re not paying for them.

Oh, the humanity!

So why does this feel so unjust? Is it just because we won’t automatically see our favorite brand’s stories anymore? Or because some small businesses paid to build up a community (which Facebook hasn’t always handle with integrity) and now can’t connect with that audience they paid for? Is it because big business wins again in a channel where small businesses had a fighting chance?

Yes to all. Because true human flourishing means those on the margins are given a voice and those in power are put in check. If someone has something to bring to the table, rich or poor, they’re not denied a voice just because they don’t, say, bring in $19 billion a year in ad revenue.

Let me be clear – I do not hate big businesses. I love big business! They create some beautiful ads! But what happens when one big business favors another big business because it creates more big business? Small businesses are pushed to the margins.

It’s Not Personal, It’s Business

Or so the Godfather says. (Or Meg Ryan, depending on if you watched You’ve Got Mail growing up.) It’s also what Valleywag says, “Facebook is a business. It’s easy to forget. It’s not a charity, or a nonprofit, or an art project…. Facebook has to make money like the Nikes of the world….”

Totally agree. Facebook has to make money. We all have to make money. But I don’t care what the Godfather says – business is personal. Businesses are made up of people. The moment we start thinking it’s not, we not only lose the beautiful potential that can be found in an honest brand-consumer connection, but we start making decisions that hurt those people – those who don’t have any voice to defend themselves.

Stephanie blogs regularly at