October 13, 2015

One Business Publicly Leaves Facebook; Facebook Doesn’t Care


As the famous saying goes, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” And food delivery startup Eat24 has found this out the hard way. Eat24 publicly announced it was leaving Facebook recently. It’s mainly over changes to Facebook’s Newsfeed algorithm which controls the number of non-paid posts brands can share with their followers. But the social networking site’s response was basically, “Get used to it. This is how it’s going to be from now on.”

In a post on the official Eat24 blog, the company addressed Facebook like a girlfriend or boyfriend being gently dumped, explaining:

“When we first met, you made us feel special. We’d tell you a super funny joke about Sriracha and you’d tell all our friends and then everyone would laugh together. But now? Now you want us to give you money if we want to talk to our friends. Now when we show you a photo of a taco wrapped with bacon, you’re all like “PROMOTE THIS POST! GET MORE FRIENDS!” instead of just liking us for who we are.”

After years of free marketing, businesses like Eat24 are finding Facebook is starting to restrict the number of followers who can see a brand’s updates in their Newsfeeds. More and more, the only way to guarantee fans will see your Newsfeed these days is for them to visit your Facebook page. You can also pay extra for Facebook’s sponsored posts. Obviously Facebook prefers door number two.

This pattern of behavior is more than mere perception on the part of disgruntled Facebook marketers. A recent study by Ogilvy & Mather found that companies’ Facebook posts went from reaching 12 percent of their followers in October to just 6 percent in February. Valleywag reports Facebook is planning to make sure no more than 1 to 2 percent of a brand’s posts reach followers eventually.

Facebook has not stayed silent in the Eat24 controversy. In a comment on Eat24’s Facebook page following the post, one of Facebook’s PR representatives Brandon McCormick responded:

“Hey Eat24, this is Brandon over at Facebook. I was bummed to read your letter. The world is so much more complicated than when we first met – it has changed. And we used to love your jokes about tacquitos and 420 but now they don’t seem so funny. There is some serious stuff happening in the world and one of my best friends just had a baby and another one just took the best photo of his homemade cupcakes and what we have come to realize is people care about those things more…So we are sorry that we have to part this way because we think we could still be friends – really we do. But we totally respect you if you need some space.”

It’s certainly easy to see why businesses are angry about Facebook persuading them to sign up for promotional pages and the lure of all that free marketing. Then years later, when the hard marketing work has been done, Facebook starts demanding money.

Valleywag points out that Facebook is a business and needs to turn a profit. But certainly big brands advertising regularly on Facebook must be taking care of some of that.

The real casualties are small businesses, with zero advertising budget, and who were creating loads of great content for Facebook absolutely free. Those businesses may need to find other ways to market their products and services in the future.

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Mark O'Neill - Staff Writer

Mark O'Neill Mark O'Neill is a staff writer for Small Business Trends, covering software and social media. He is a freelance journalist who has been writing for over 25 years, and has successfully made the leap from newspapers and radio onto the Internet. From 2007-2013, he was the Managing Editor of MakeUseOf.com.

14 Reactions

  1. Both sides have valid points, which makes issues like this so controversial. Facebook obviously put in a lot of hard work to get 1.2 billion users. Businesses put in a lot of work to get their fans to like them on Facebook. Obviously Facebook has the trump card since they own the platform.

    • Yes. But I know that even the members agree that all these sudden so-called improvements can really get on your nerves especially when you are already used to it. Why the change if you already have 1.2 billion users?

    • I think Facebook was always going to charge. It was just a matter of when. However, I think they could have been considerate in how they did it. It was like, one minute everything was free, the next there was this new feature asking for money to talk to the same people you used to talk to for free. They could have offered discounts, for example, money-off vouchers like Google Adwords does – just something to make the transition more palatable.

  2. “It’s certainly easy to see why businesses are angry about Facebook persuading them to sign up for promotional pages and the lure of all that free marketing. ”

    Mark – the problem I see isn’t with the pages that built a following using “free marketing” (nothing is free), but the ones that paid FB for their audience. They paid the cover charge to the bouncer and now have to pay to talk to the singles at the bar. Not a great way to get people to come back to your party.

    • Stephen, you have hit the nail right on the head. Thank you. I built my small business on Facebook in 2010 from nothing, but I was prepared to advertise my brand to my target market geographically to increase my brand awareness. Nothing is for free. I worked so hard on that page with fantastic content which complimented my onstore site beautifully, the synergy was great the viral element was effortless. With over 6,000 followers and high engagement rate for a little shop i was rather chuffed 4 years down the track and then the lights went out. I won’t disclose just how much i spent on marketing, but needless to say i felt insulted and ripped off to then be asked to pay AGAIN to access my followers that i already paid to access the first time around. Don’t they call that ‘double dipping’?? And how is it fair that another page that never spent a dollar on advertising gets the same access to their followers as i do? Given i’ve been contributing to the Facebook payroll they bit the hand that fed them instead of giving my some sort of allowance say 50% access to my followers, give me something at least for my loyalty and ability to stick my hand in my pocket. But in the end, there was no one to even chat up in the bar. Most posts were receiving 2 or 3 likes out of 6,500 followers. Waste.of.time. I closed my business last week. Just another small business owner burnt and poorer with nothing to show for it.

  3. I see no problem with the situation. You could opt-in or out, start you own social media network, and so on… I must say that I got curious about Eat24 after reading the “secret” word, Sriracha! 😉 I am a chile-head, so I had to them out. Where is Eat24 located in the cyberspace nowadays? Have they created their own hub, for example a new blog?

  4. Facebook has become the modern day phone book. Sits in the corner until you want something. Teens and young adults have lost interest. They have moved onto new things that don’t invade your privacy. You can’t pay my teenagers or their friends enough to even reopen their account. As a small business owner, Facebook is such a small part of my business, there aren’t any hurt feelings with our parting. My fans will follow me on Instagram or Pinterest where they actually enjoy it. The facebook trend is fading, the wow is done. We have played with the farm animals, watched the drama, and decided that is just is a waste of time.

    Facebook forgot who used their sites to bring our family and friends to their site. Greed will always be the fall of every big business.

  5. For those suggesting that somehow small business expected anything free, this is an error; small business is not expecting anything free. As an owner, I have no issue paying for reach. The problem is that Facebook is losing (or already lost) credibility. Firstly, I already *paid* for that reach now FB wants us to pay again just to reach them. Secondly, in light of many emerging stories that those so-called likes are not even real, I now have to question the validity of that reach. My “reach is entirely local – people that live and work in a given geographic area – the idea of spending money to reach “phantoms” that will never be customers is scary for any small business. I need to know my marketing budget is not going down the toilet.

  6. Very interesting that Eat24 is owned by Yelp. It is also ironic that Yelp used to provide great visibility to restaurants, then it started to put competitors’ ads on those pages, then it said a business should pay for advertising at a rate of nearly 1000x what Google charges because they have to make money. Why should Eat24 get a free ride on Facebook when the free ride on Yelp, their parent company’s site no longer applies? It is unfortunate that Yelp bought Eat24 because restaurants are beginning to drop the service in favor of alternatives and in protest to Yelp’s policies.

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