So you have your Facebook page with 10,000 fans and the rest of the digital world is following you on Twitter.

In digital marketing terms, you have arrived along with your small business. But then your digital landlord bangs on your door and says you have to pay. Why? You have to pay because you have built your digital world on digital land belonging to somebody else. Facebook and Twitter own the place that you have made your digital presence and were you engage with most of you clients. Except now, Facebook have increased the rent from free to pay! 

Leading US research firm Forrester have published a new report recently showing that “your Facebook posts get delivered 2% of the time” unless you are paying for it. Another startling fact in the research states that  “A study conducted by the firm from earlier this year found that posts from top brands on Twitter and Facebook reach just 2% of their followers. Engagement is even more measly: A mere 0.07% of followers actually interact with those posts.”

“Stop making Facebook the center of your relationship marketing efforts,” writes Nate Elliott, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester

Facebook has been in the process of shutting down its free-traffic since January, to facilitate its new stated strategy of its promoted content push. Unless you are paying for posts you are out! This pretty much puts anyone who relies on Facebook for reach in a very difficult position.

“Flush with cash and a high stock price, Facebook recently shocked investors by saying that it planned to spend billions of dollars on projects that might never generate any profits.

And on Friday, the company told marketers that if they wanted to reach customers on Facebook, they needed to buy an ad.”

– New York Times

The change to the news feed is the latest blow to businesses that try to reach customers through their Facebook pages. So many posts, videos and images are being published on Facebook that the average user has about 1,500 new items they could see when they log on. Some people have as many as 15,000.

So if your brand is looking for engagement on social media you’re probably better off turning your attention away from giant networks like Twitter and Facebook. This is especially true if you’re trying to engage fans on Twitter. 

So were do you go. Where do you point the social media marketing arsenal? It looks like branded communities are going to be the next big thing in 2015. Check out Sony’s “Greatness Awaits” as a good reference point to start you off. As Forrester suggests, if fans are looking for you, they will find you….

Finally there is always the old reliable (but perhaps not the sexiest) email database of clients, fans, friends. If I were to choose between an additional email subscriber or another Facebook fan to my page, I would go for the email subscriber every day of the week and twice on Sunday! Why? Because believe it or not, email still works despite what you hear and you can write what ever you like in an email without the worry of a social network shutting you down. 

The reason for this post is one primarily of selfishness. Please stop telling me you “have 297 fans and could you please like my page to get me over the 300” – It’s pointless in the general scheme of things and “Likes’ won’t pay your utility bills, sales do!

Happy New Year!