Facebook is one of the most important social media platforms for advertising for companies of all types and sizes today: when you take a look at the hard data, you begin to see why. Facebook has one billion active monthly users, and each month its desktop users spend an average of 6 hours and 35 minutes on the site, nearly double the amount that desktop users of Google spend there.

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Recently, Facebook has decided to change its advertising rules in ways that will impact many businesses. Companies that decide to pursue advertising on Facebook need to be sure that they are aware of these changes so that they can plan their strategy going forward and decide how much of their advertising budget they want to spend on Facebook.

Facebook’s Push to Limit Promotional Content

According to a blog post published on November 14 in the Facebook for Business blog, surveys taken by the social media giant indicated that its users disliked organic, overly-promotional content from the pages of companies, brands, or organisations that they had already liked on the social network. As a result, Facebook is taking new measures to filter out this promotional content in favour of promoting paid advertisements. The reason for this, as mentioned in the blog post, is that people have better control over what kinds of ads they are shown on their newsfeed, and less control over what kind of organic content they receive.

While this update might in theory be helpful for Facebook users who are annoyed by organic pages that are spamming them with unwanted updates, many in the social media marketing industry are worried that this change will harm small businesses that might not have the budget to pay for advertising on Facebook.

Rebecca Lieb, a digital media and advertising analyst, told The New York Times that the message sent out to brands is a distinct one: “if you want to sound like an advertiser, buy an ad.”

Many small businesses are worried about how Facebook’s advertising changes will impact their business. There are a few things to think about while you are trying to determine how Facebook’s ad updates will impact your business.

How Will Facebook Changes Affect Your Advertising?

If you already have an advertising campaign in place with Facebook that allows you to expand your reach on this powerful social network, you probably will not be greatly affected by the impending update that will take place when 2015 begins.

However, companies that rely mostly on organic posts to increase their reach may want to reconsider their advertising strategy, as the ROI of this approach might become insufficient to justify the investment of time that is required to succeed in Facebook marketing. This can be a serious issue to deal with, especially if Facebook is one of your main sources of online sales.

The impact of this change is set to be quite wide reaching when you consider that according to The Wall Street Journal, over 80% of small companies that use social media to promote their business say that Facebook is their top marketing tool.

Facebook’s Response and What The Future Holds

Facebook has kept relatively tight-lipped in regards to what this might mean for small business owners who rely on organic Facebook posts to drive their business. The Journal article quotes Dan Levy, Facebook’s small business vice president, as having “empathy” for business owners who will be negatively affected by this change, but maintaining that Facebook has much more to offer small companies than just organic promotions.

It is clear that Facebook is shifting towards more of a paid advertising model, an issue that has continuously frustrated advertisers over the years. Advertisers who want to get the most from their investments into social media may start looking at other options that can help them achieve the most value from their advertisements. Social media web sites like Pinterest and Instagram have been growing rapidly. Pinterest, for example, became the fastest-growing social media platform in the third quarter of 2013, when content shares increased over 19%.

If you are planning on making adjustments to your company’s social media strategy in light of these new Facebook updates, it is important that you analyse your options and make the decision after collecting as much information as possible. Only time will tell whether the consensus from the business community will be in favour of these changes or if they will cause Facebook to lose some ground in the online marketing realm to some of its major competitors.

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