Snapshot: The challenges and opportunities of Facebook for businesses

While most businesses know they should create (and maintain) a Facebook page, the No. 1 social network still has its challenges.

As of the second quarter of 2020, Facebook reported 2.7 billion monthly active users, according to Statista, so the biggest promise of the social platform is the potential audience reach. 

But what hurdles do businesses face on the social platform?

Below, we examine the opportunities and challenges of Facebook for small businesses.

Opportunity #1: Facebook’s audience targeting

The most common audience targeting feature of Facebook is tied to its advertising platform, and it is definitely powerful.

When creating a Facebook ad, you now have the ability to target three different ways:

  • Core audiences: Where you can define your target audience based on criteria like age, geography, gender, interests and more.
  • Custom audiences: Where you can target the people who have engaged with your business (whether online or not).
  • Lookalike audiences: Where you can reach new people whose interests are similar to those of your customers.

Find out more about Facebook ad targeting capabilities.

A feature that is less commonly known is Audience Optimization for organic posts.

In it, a Facebook page can add interest-based tags for people who are likely to engage with a post. 

For example, Facebook says, “a sports post might include tags for the league, team and players in the story.”

By doing so, you can help prioritize Facebook page posts for users based on the topics that interest them, and the reach is not limited by adding such tags.

In addition, you also can limit the visibility of your content to specific demographics and prevent a post from being seen by people anywhere on Facebook. 

Find out more about Audience Optimization.

Challenge #1: Organic growth of Facebook pages

At this point, one of the biggest challenges on Facebook is starting from scratch.

The average monthly change in page likes is just 0.13 percent as of 2020. This is in stark contrast to 2013 when the median growth rate for a Facebook page was 0.64 percent per week.

In other words, it is a slow process to build up your fanbase on Facebook. Very slow. And that makes a thoughtful and strategic content marketing plan for Facebook that much more important.

Opportunity #2: Low barrier of entry to advertise on Facebook

You know how much it costs to create a Facebook ad?

Zero! Nada. Not a cent.

Of course, any investment you made in the creation of the images or videos you use is entirely up to you.

Beyond that, the amount you ultimately spend on any Facebook ad campaign is up to you as well.

That makes Facebook ads especially accessible for all-sized businesses—a complete DIY marketing campaign if you want it to be.

Challenge #2: Rising ad costs

While your Facebook advertising budget is under your control, studies are showing that many marketers are concerned about getting less bang for the buck.

Adstage analyzed “over 177 million ad impressions and over 2 million clicks for ads in Facebook’s Audience Network” and reported that advertising costs saw a 90 percent year-over-year increase in 2019. That increase was found in the CPM, which is the cost per 1,000 impressions.

Opportunity #3: The power of video on Facebook

It’s easy to think of YouTube when you’re considering the creation of video content for your business to engage audiences and reach potential customers. 

However, Facebook is an unsung hero of video content.

A recent study by Quintly stated that native Facebook videos have 530 percent more comments in comparison to YouTube videos.

In fact, native videos get 478 percent more shares on Facebook than videos from other sources do, but Facebook Live videos generate six times as many interactions and 10 times as many comments as pre-recorded videos on the social platform.

Either way, video content should be considered on Facebook as part of your overall content mix due to its high success rate.

Challenge #3: The limited reach of organic content from Facebook pages

Of course, any talk of challenges on Facebook has to include a mention of not only regular Facebook algorithm changes, but also the industry-shaking algorithm change in 2018.

First, the Facebook algorithm is a backend system of the social platform that determines what posts users see and in what order they see them each time their News Feed is refreshed.

Understanding the inner workings of the Facebook algorithm would definitely give any business a leg up on its competition. This is why the algorithm itself is larger concealed, with the exception of what Facebook wants to communicate about it.

One of the biggest changes to the algorithm happened in 2018. Facebook shifted the prioritization of posts from users’ friends and family above posts from Facebook pages. 

With a declining amount of organic reach for businesses, Facebook ads and boosted posts became increasingly popular. They became one of the few ways to meaningfully reach an audience on Facebook as a brand.

It shifted Facebook marketing strategies, to say the least.

There have been several updates to the Facebook algorithm since and surely more to come. It’s always a moving target for businesses.

In the end, it’s important to remember that no matter what the challenges of the world’s largest social media network, it is wise to not only have a presence there but a thought-out strategy as well.