There have been whispers, and speculations for months across the marketing stratosphere that Facebook hasn’t been serving businesses as well as it used to. Now there are official studies and reports to back up these speculations.

A recent Times magazine uncovers a study, which shows that Facebook has been reducing the organic reach of business page’s over the past few months:

“In a recent study of more than 100 brand Pages, Ogilvy & Mather found that companies’ posts dropped from reaching 12% of their followers in October to just 6% by February. The tech blog Valleywag reports that Facebook is planning to dial reach down to 1% to 2% of followers eventually.”

Effectively Facebook is keeping the posts of big brands like Coke and small businesses like your favorite local eatery from reaching users who chose to support and engage with their business by following their company’s page. Thus far, coverage on the topic has been focused on how this is impacting larger businesses and media agencies, but what about the small businesses who invested so much “sweat equity” into building community via Facebook?

For small businesses where every customer interaction counts and resources are limited this is a huge blow to their expected returns when considering how much time they’ve invested into attracting and engaging their followers on Facebook. With limited financial resources most small businesses in these past few years have turned to Facebook as the equalizer of internet, as it gave them a platform to build and strengthen relationships and community by investing their time and “sweat equity”.

Now the veil has fallen, and small businesses who follow marketing industry news are feeling upset, hurt and betrayed.

Small business owners speak out against Facebook marketing changes on Twitter Small business owners speak out against Facebook marketing changes on Twitter Small business owners speak out against Facebook marketing changes on Twitter

Small businesses must begin making alternative strategies for engaging with their current and prospective customers online. Small businesses must begin trying to recoup their investment in Facebook marketing now given this collective downward trend in reach. It is highly plausible that small businesses will soon be blocked from reaching ALL 100% of their followers unless they pay to promote their posts to them.

To Protect the ROI of your Facebook Marketing Investments:

1. Be upfront with your followers. Facebook users are no stranger to the manipulations of our largest social network’s bullying. Share the articles exposing Facebook’s throttling of businesses’ posts and ask them to repost the news to their friends.

2. Aggressively Encourage Your Facebook Followers to Subscribe to your Newsletters, Blog or other Social Media Channels. While you still can reach 10% of your followers, send posts at different times of the day asking your followers to subscribe to your blog, newsletter or other social media channels. In each post, include a reminder to your followers that Facebook is keeping your posts from reaching all of your followers.

3. Invest Your Time on Facebook Wisely. Schedule your posts for times to go live only when the majority of your followers are online. This information can be found under the “Posts” section of your Page’s Insights area. And don’t forget to dedicate a higher percentage of your posts to promoting your owned content channels (i.e. email newsletters and blog posts) in an effort to engage with your following elsewhere.

4. Invest More into your Small Business’ Blog. This news can either be taken solely as a doomsday report or as an important reminder of the dangers of building a community in any space that your business does NOT own (this category effectively applies to every social media platform). Make it a rule of thumb that your marketing team must invest as much, if not more so, time and resources into driving traffic to your small business’ website via content marketing and building community through your site’s blog and resources than on sharing and curating on social platforms.