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Pay to Play: Your Firm's Facebook Page Will Soon Be Gagged

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By William Peacock, Esq. on December 03, 2014 9:47 AM

If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

If a law firm publishes content on its Facebook page, but it appears in no one's News Feed, does it make an impact?

We've talked about Facebook going "pay to play" recently, but according to a blog post by the company last month, the change toward de-emphasizing promotional posts from pages (unless you pay for advertising) may be rapidly accelerated to the point of invisibility for those who refuse to fork over francs to Facebook and for those who are transparently spamming the feeds of folks who "liked" their law firm's page.

In short: If unpaid Facebook posts are part of your law firm's marketing strategy, then it may be time for you to "defriend" the social network.

Facebook Says: Less Promotional Content

Obvious Truth No. 1: People don't like to be inundated with spammy content. In its blog post, Facebook framed their transition as a response to customer complaints, noting that ads were controlled for the number displayed to users, while promotional posts pushed out by pages "liked" by users were not as closely controlled. In short, they limit the number of paid ads, and only recently started cutting back on free-riders who used Facebook pages to promote their products and services.

Come mid-January, the free ride won't just be limited -- it'll end altogether. Specifically, Facebook will be targeting posts that "feel too promotional," including:

  1. "Posts that solely push people to buy a product or install an app,"
  2. "Posts that push people to enter promotions and sweepstakes with no real context," and
  3. "Posts that reuse the exact same content from ads."

Facebook notes that posts with these traits will see less organic (unpaid) reach over time. They also said that they will not increase the number of paid ads to compensate for the change, which means that your firm's posts will be replaced in News Feeds with shared BuzzFeed listicles, pictures of cats frolicking with goats, and whatever the heck else people share on Facebook.

We Say: Pay to Play, If You Must Stay

Facebook can call it whatever they want, but this is basically limiting businesses' ability to reach their customers unless they pay for advertising, even if a business has invested significant time and resources into building a Facebook following.

Personally, I've never heard of a law firm getting clients off of Facebook pages and advertising efforts. And LinkedIn and Twitter are way better for lawyer-to-lawyer networking than the far-too-intimate Facebook. If you have a successful Facebook marketing campaign going, know that this change will probably mean that you'll spend more on advertising than you did in the past. And if you don't have a Facebook marketing campaign, we don't see any reason to start now.

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