“I’m looking for ways to bring in more clients to my studio. I started my business at the beginning of 2012 and currently use my Facebook page for promotion. I have around 500 followers and post regularly. I try and get everyone over to my page when I’m out networking by using a business card to let them know how to find me on Facebook. I can’t afford a lot for marketing now so I’m looking for cheap ways of doing things. Any ideas?”

I get questions and comments like this all the time.

Because you are starting out on a shoestring budget, you head to the one place that seems the most user friendly. If you already have a Facebook profile and understand how to use it, why not set up a free page and use that too?

Makes sense. Facebook is visual. Its easy to share your photographs. And with access to hundreds of millions of people, it seems like a great place to be.

Until they start changing direction.

When Facebook went public, their entire business model changed. They no longer are working for Mark’s desires; they are working for shareholders desires. Shareholders want profits – noting else. They don’t care about one user’s happiness; they want a return on their investment.

Which means the new goal of every person working in the Facebook offices is now focused on bringing in as much money as possible.

Nothing wrong with that – that’s what businesses do.

But if you were relying on Facebook and Facebook alone to help build your business, you are most likely in for a bumpy ride. A VERY bumpy ride. And it’s already coming through.

I wrote about one of their newest features a while back:

Dig Deeper: Using Facebook Promoted Posts For Your Photography Business

And if you have been relying on a page in any way, you are probably feeling the pain. Your Facebook page is probably receiving less traffic than before, and those numbers are continuing to head down every day, even if you are increasing your likes in the process. This has coincided with the release of the “promoted posts”, and while Facebook insists it isn’t artificially driving down traffic, hoping you’ll pay more for promoted posts, it is difficult not to put the two together.

No matter if it’s a coincidence or not, if you have a page, you’re not getting the same  traffic you did a few months or even a few weeks ago.

So now its time for a lot of questions on both sides of the court.

Can Facebook strike a balance between keeping users happy with their newsfeeds, helping brands reach out to potential customers in an affordable way, all while making the profits they need to keep their shareholders happy? Only time will tell.

But one thing should be apparent to you:

If you are relying on Facebook as your sole marketing tool, its time to make a change.

Facebook may be here tomorrow … or not.

Facebook may offer brands easy ways to connect with potential buyers … or not.

Facebook may offer affordable ways to reach out to clients … or not.

Facebook may have tools to help you market your business … or not.

But one thing is for sure. Facebook won’t work the way it has in the past.

However you have been using it, however you have been relying on it, that’s changing. The only question now is are you willing to change now and see what’s really happening? Will you do something to make your marketing tools more permanent, more reliable for you? Or will you be a holdout waiting to see where this all ends?