Facebook’s New Timeline for Business Is Just Bad for Business

If you're not paying for it, you're not the customer. You're the product.I don’t usually rant, but the changes that Facebook has announced today have put me close to the edge. A few hours ago Facebook officially announced that they are forcing all Business Pages to the new Timeline format.

The Timeline was initially rolled out to individuals as an option but became mandatory earlier this month. If you haven’t been pushed over to the new format, you’ll see it on your Profile soon.

Like most changes by Facebook, this one has received a clear thumbs down from users. A whopping 70 percent of those polled this month by opinion site SodaHead said they didn’t like the Timeline. Almost 20% say they’re going to check out Google+

Facebook is telling businesses how valuable it will be in helping consumers build a relationship with their brand, but let’s be honest Facebook: You can’t dress a pig. Despite the attempt to pretty it up and lay a positive spin, it really is just another step along the road to forcing businesses to advertise on Facebook.

Facebook is going public soon and needs to bump up revenues to increase its valuation and justify the inflated sticker price to investors. Despite the incredible user base (about 850 million users), it’s only bringing in a tenth of what Google makes in terms of advertising revenues. That’s pretty pathetic and they know it.

To boost revenues, the once incredibly small business-friendly Facebook, has systematically removed pretty much any effective free option for small businesses to promote themselves on the site. The ability to communicate messages to your Fans as a group is has been completely gone for awhile. The ability to create custom tabs to encourage people to Like your Page or sign up for your company newsletter will soon be a memory.

Posting on your Wall as a way to be seen in your Fans’ Newsfeed has become pretty much an exercise in futility. Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm sees to that. 

Think about how many Pages you’ve Liked over the time you’ve been on Facebook. How many of those show up in your Newsfeed on a regular basis (or at all)? The studies that are out there give us a range of stats, but they all say essentially the same thing: Very few Fans, if any, will ever see your Post in their Newsfeed.

If Facebook likes business Pages so much, why has it only posted eight times on its own official Page in the six months since it rolled out Timeline? Just asking.

When you are on Facebook you may feel like a customer, but the reality is that you’re actually the product. From that perspective, Facebook has no issues in upgrading, downgrading or even discontinuing you if you’re not contributing to their bottom line.

As long as you can see Facebook for what it is, there are still opportunities to promote your small business or massage practice. The new approaches are just not immediately obvious and they are certainly not the ones that have been pushed forward by marketing experts in the past. And of course advertising on Facebook is still in it’s infancy and offers a cost effective medium for those therapists willing to invest some money in their marketing efforts.

Bottom line: The new changes suck for small business owners, but I’ll continue to make sure that you understand how to maximize any time you spend on the site for your business and I’ll help you use upcoming alternatives like Google+.