As many observers are realizing and reporting, the dramatic changes being dictated by Facebook’s Timeline are disenfranchising small businesses.
As Jay Baer writes in “14 Ways New Facebook Betrays Small Business,” the changes being ushered in by Facebook’s Timeline will make it difficult for small businesses to build and maintain a Facebook presence.
Given 30 days to revamp their Facebook pages and maintain them going forward, small businesses must scurry to make significant changes they are ill-equipped to handle—particularly those lacking the budgets, creative talent, and dedicated marketing resources of larger companies.
Facebook’s changes generally favor big businesses over small, and a good number of the new features require a staff devoted to the care and feeding of Facebook, a capability beyond the means of many small businesses.
For example, about the new Auto-Play Content feature, Baer notes that it is a “newfound playground for big brands, but probably not something most small businesses will have the dollars or desire to embrace.”
Similarly, about the new Real-Time Insights feature, Baer writes, “This is a nifty opportunity to be sure, but of course will be beyond the reach of small business due to budget and lack of staff to sit around and stare at real-time data streams.”
Even more egregious in Baer’s eyes is the Reach Generator, about which he writes, “This is the end of Facebook as a ‘free’ option for brands, and demonstrates such gall and guile it makes me want to scream at my laptop.”
Among those who share Baer’s view is Mari Cochran, a Facebook business consultant, who in "Facebook and My Gut: Thumbs Down for Small Business," lays out his perceptions of how Facebook’s changes are “not good for small business” but “very good for large ones.”
“Small business owners cannot afford to spend this kind of time setting up and managing a page. They also cannot necessarily spend the money to hire someone to do it for them unless there is real return on the investment of time and resources. It seems that Facebook has gotten so large they no longer care about the small business owner.”
Michael Katz, managng editor of Commerce on Facebook, sees the new Facebook changes as particularly harmful to small retailers. Katz writes that, “Small to medium sized retailers, who already had little luck selling in Facebook with little, if any, marketing budgets, will be hit the hardest by this move.”
Katz also sees the changes favoring the big enterprise at the expense of the little guy, noting that “it will be the enterprise solutions of retail applications who will benefit the most from this change.”
Among the most significant and harmful changes for small businesses, critics say, is the elimination of the default landing page.
As Victoria Ransom explains on Mashable.com, “The option was one of the primary ways to control the first (branded) impression a user encountered” and its elimination “will drastically change user impressions when they first visit a brand’s Timeline Page.”
Cochran calls the elimination of the default landing page the most important new change and notes that it “does away with a lot of products and a lot of time business owners have spent creating those things.”
Baer and Cochran both scoff at the 30-day notice Facebook gave businesses to implement the new changes. Says Baer:
“Thirty days to find a Cover image; replace the landing tab; change about copy; decide what and when to pin and star; figure out how to handle direct messages; reconfigure legacy apps and pick which two will be shown as a default; and potentially add milestones, is actually a frighteningly short period of time for small business – who do not sit around and ponder their Facebook best practices every day.”
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