Duluth Social Media Marketing and Management
Duluth Social Media Marketing, Social Media Marketing for Minnesota Small Businesses

Are Facebook brand pages a waste of time without Facebook advertising?

Of all the topics covered at last month’s Zenith Social Media Marketing Conference in Duluth, MN, aimClear CEO Marty Weintraub’s emphasis on the importance of Facebook advertising stuck out in my mind the most. In several sessions that day, Weintraub noted that over the last year, Facebook has made it nearly impossible for businesses to spread content to an audience beyond the page’s current fan base without the use of paid Facebook advertising.

“It used to be that when your fans engaged with your page, their friends would see it. Now you are building a closed loop subscription list. Unless you pay money, friends of your fans won’t see your posts.” said Weintraub during the conference’s ‘Facebook Marketing! What Is Facebook Good For Anyway?’ session. “Pay for sponsored stories of fans engaging with your content or you’re wasting your time.” he added, mentioning that earlier this year Facebook announced that the average post from a brand page only reaches 16% of fans.

Marty Weintraub speaking in the aimClear office during the Zenith Social Media Marketing Conference in Duluth, MN on May 23, 2012. Weintraub is the author of "Killer Facebook Ads".

I have long understood the need for Facebook advertising in a successful Facebook marketing strategy. I have always included it as an integral part of my client’s campaigns, but I wondered what Facebook’s recent decreases in free, organic audience reach meant for small businesses who do not advertising on Facebook.

Is updating a Facebook business page a waste of time if you’re not promoting it with Facebook advertising?

I decided to test this theory by pausing my client’s Facebook advertising campaigns for two weeks, while still updating their page statuses about ever other day.

According to Facebook Insights, over the two week span my clients were able to reach a unique weekly audience of approximately two to four times the size of their current fanbase without using Facebook advertising. With Facebook advertising, my clients typically reach 10 to 100 times their fanbase each week.

So while Facebook says only 16% of your fanbase will see each individual post, posting a few times each week will still reach an audience far beyond your current fans. Posting two to three times throughout the day can help increase your audience even size even more. Facebook pages cannot yet be considered a true “closed loop subscription list”.

However, investing in Facebook advertising does greatly increase the amount of people you are able to reach and thankfully as Weintraub put it, “On the local level, it is cheap.”

At least for now, anyway.

The Verdict from CloudBerry Social Media: Managing your Facebook page is still of great value and importance regardless of whether you advertise on Facebook, but investing – even minimally – in Facebook advertising can drastically increase your chances of Facebook marketing success.


  1. Interesting. Thanks for the info!

  2. Building your seed FB community still has value, even without ads, just different value. Think of your FB community as a subscription list like email, SMS or a news letter if you don’t run FB ads and sponsored stories. Thanks for the thoughtful coverage. keep up the great work.

  3. Thanks for the info! That’s really interesting. I’ve always wondered if going the free route would still be rewarding enough. It’s crazy the increase in reach with advertising though!

  4. Thanks guys. Yes, I agree there is value in a Facebook page regardless of whether you advertise or not, as long as it is updated regularly with relevant content.

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