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Amy Campbell

Amy Campbell
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acampbell@vpico.com

Does Your Self-Storage Website Still Get Value From Facebook?

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A guest installment by Brian Barwig, marketing executive with SelfStorageFinders.com

In the past few months, many owners of Facebook pages have noticed their accounts are sending much less traffic to their websites than in previous months. Even though clicks are down by as much as half, “Likes” are still increasing for some page owners. Why is this, and what is going on inside Facebook?

Facebook was (and still is) a great opportunity for self-storage and other businesses to promote themselves, their products and services, and reach customers. But like all public companies, Facebook is going after the money, and in doing so, may be tossing some businesses out of the way.

The website recently began using and pushing a new feature called “promoted posts” which is essentially a way for businesses to pay to have their content appear on more news feeds than it would normally. Some businesses believe Facebook is holding their old traffic hostage and waiting for businesses to pay in order to get their old traffic numbers back. Although Facebook insists it is not, the argument is intriguing. Facebook says it is trying to keep users’ feeds as clutter-free as possible by keeping out posts which users don’t wish to see.

Since the launch of this new program, some Facebook business users have noticed their messages are getting to their fans less often or not at all. The “promoted posts” and decline in traffic are not related, but the coincidence is difficult to ignore. The fact of the matter is, Facebook page views are declining. The company needs to make money to satisfy shareholders, and businesses are growing increasingly frustrated they have to pay in order for their posts to be viewed by fans.

Facebook is driving minimal traffic to the Self Storage Finders website.A New York Observer article last year reported that Facebook posts made on a brand’s fan page reach, on average, just 15 percent of that account’s fans. Our Self Storage Finders Facebook fan page is reaching even less than that.

Mark Cuban, serial entrepreneur and owner of the Dallas Mavericks, has been a vocal opponent regarding the decline in Facebook fan-page traffic and went on record last year saying he would move 70 of his companies away from Facebook. While he isn’t disengaging Facebook entirely, those 70 companies will not use Facebook as their primary site for building brand strength and reaching more customers. This is a telling sign and echoes the way many businesses are beginning to feel.

Facebook relies on an in-house algorithm to relay information it believes users will be interested in. Sounds a bit like Google, right? Some factors affecting the number of users who see a post include the amount of “Likes,” comments, “Hide this Post” clicks, and spam reports it receives. Basically, if a post receives a good amount of “Likes” and comments, it will be seen by more people. Conversely, if it gets a lot of “Hide this Post” or spam reports, it will likely be viewed less. This also means such posts are more expensive to “promote” since they were not commented on or “Liked” enough.

The posts from our Facebook fan page have been viewed far less in the last six months than in previous years. The total number of fans viewing, commenting and “Liking” our posts has dropped dramatically. It is a frustrating battle to continue publishing good, quality content when our fans don’t even see it.

A few months ago, we switched our main focus from Facebook to Twitter, Tumblr and Google+. Until recently, the traffic and interaction we used to see from Facebook dwarfed the rest of these social media websites. But as we began to shift our focus and invest more time in these other sites, we have seen a solid return, especially on Twitter and Google+.

This is not an endorsement to move away from Facebook, as others may be experiencing different results. However, our recent frustrations led us to shift our social strategy. We continue to post on Facebook but do not interact with customers nearly as much as on Twitter, Google+ and our SSF Blog.

The social network is caught in a tug of war in attempting to keep brands happy and users interested and posting, while also creating a solid, recurring revenue stream for itself. The balance is tricky and complicated, and just about everyone has an argument for or against Facebook. What are your thoughts on Facebook fan pages now? Have you noticed similar performance trends? Will you continue to use Facebook in the same way? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Brian Barwig handles marketing, social media and blogging for SelfStorageFinders.com, an online self-storage directory. The company helps consumers find local self-storage options by providing location and contact information for more than 5,000 facilities nationwide. Self-storage owners can list facilities for free but pay on a cost-per-reservation model. Brian can be reached via e-mail at marketing@selfstoragefinders.com.

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