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The Small-Business Facebook Reach Workaround


There’s a good chance you’ve been lamenting the tightening of brand page organic reach on Facebook. Regardless of your business’s size or scope, the simple fact of the matter is Facebook wants your money more than your brand content, so pay up or get lost in the algorithm with your brand page content.

But for every system in the world, there are also human beings who try to hack those systems. And while some may intentionally try to game the system, many just find perfectly acceptable workarounds with little fanfare or hoopla.

Allow me to introduce you to my cousin Tara. She runs a dance studio in my hometown called Shake Señora that focuses on teaching Zumba as exercise and helping its customers gain fitness and lose pounds while having fun dancing. You know, aerobics, but slightly more fun.

Or so they tell me. You know I’m not doing it. Heh.

Shake Señora has a Facebook page. But if you look closely, most of the posts tell people to either join one of the several groups Tara runs for her classes or to follow her personal profile. Why? Because you’re more apt to see the posts that way.

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Certainly, this immediately triggers the question, “But isn’t she violating Facebook’s Terms of Service?” In my opinion, no. The term in question is vague. Term number 4 under Registration and Account Security says:

“You will not use your personal timeline primarily for your own commercial gain, and will use a Facebook Page for such purposes.”

The problem is the word “primarily.” I can personally attest to the fact that Tara primarily uses her Facebook page to post selfies of her and her belly. (She’s expecting my newest cousin, Rubyann, this fall.) But when you look at her personal stream, there’s no clear delineation of what the page is used “primarily” for.

Could Facebook find her in violation? Certainly. They can interpret their rules anyway they want. But Tara is allowed to talk about her work and even promote her work on her personal stream, so long as it’s not the primary way she uses it.

Groups are an even more clever way to promote a business. They can be public or private, and they are 100% opt-in for the members. Facebook prioritizes group content over brand content because of this. (Although this is a cruel hypocrisy, since following a brand is 100% opt-in as well.) Tara is using three main groups: one for the business, one for dance lesson homework tips and practices, and one for a running club — the largest of which has 2,500 members. (Pikeville only has about 8,000 residents.)

But what really gets me with what Tara does to promote Shake Señora is the incredibly compelling content she posts — mostly before and after pictures of members — that are big, glowing packages of virality.

tara-fb-post-sample

This post from early June shows the results of Shake Señora’s teen boot camp on one particular customer. (We got permission from Brandei and her parents to use the image here, by the way.) Tara is marketing her business in a brilliant way: Show the benefits of the product or service in a fashion that makes an emotional connection with the audience.

The beauty of this is Tara claims to know nothing about business or marketing. And no, she’s never asked me for advice or used a consultant or agency to help her figure this out. Shake Señora is a passion project for her. She is a substance abuse counselor by day.

“Facebook allows me, a ‘business dummy,’ to operate efficiently,” she said. “My degree is in psychology/sociology, so I’m business illiterate. Without Facebook, I would not be successful with Shake Señora. I promote it in between seeing my patients at my day job. It’s a life-saver.”

But when you really look at what she’s doing, it’s marketing genius. She finds a workaround for some silly rules construct to reach her audience effectively. She then delivers highly relevant, emotionally sticky messages that illustrate her company’s benefits to an engaged audience that is apt and willing to share.

So the next time you think to yourself, “I need help with social media,” remember what you may actually need is the confidence and wherewithal to do it yourself.

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