We get away with a lot of things temporarily in this life. Rarely do any of these things last, however. Just when we think we've beat the system, the system quickly reminds us why we call it 'the system', and puts to rest our silly ideas of getting something for nothing. 

It's true, the internet economy and social media have opened up opportunities for small businesses and solopreneurs in ways unimaginable just a few short years ago. That doesn't make it immune to the forces of business. After all, everybody wants to eat and have nice things.

Give Your Budge a Reality Check
If you have been trying to milk business out of social media channels without spending any money, I'll bet you had a rough year. The crackdown on free advertising is in full effect, and many businesses saw that firsthand this year as their Facebook posts reached fewer and fewer people month after month.

The reality is that Facebook is a business, too. They too are always looking to minimize cost and maximize revenues, just like you. And what they've seen is that their platform is great and effective for advertising. So what would you do as a business owner? Exactly, you'd make some money from that situation. For those of us on the receiving end of the coming price increases, it's known as the cost of doing business. Right now is the time to determine if you're going to be on social media or not going forward, because, if you are, your budget needs to change.

You'll need to allocate funds in your budget for social media advertising this year. In January, Facebook will be altering news feeds to receive less posts that contain advertising that hasn't been purchased. So if you think you'll just use your regular posting as your ads, you're not going to get any viewers. These kinds of posts will see "a significant decrease in distribution" according to Facebook.

It's Still Social Media
In November and December, companies flocked to buy ads on Facebook for the holiday sales season. I don't know the figures, but I'm willing to bet that a lot of them failed to garner any significant sales. Which ones? The ones that didn't have an active presence for the other ten months of the year.

Social media is a great platform for advertising and sales, but it doesn't use the same rules as a mall or retail store, or even Amazon. It is first and foremost a social network, and the sales follow the social, not vice versa. Probable buyers are those who already have a relationship of some kind with your brand through the network and have interacted with it in some way before.

The Other 10
If you want to have a great holiday sales season next year, now is the time to start. It's what you do the other ten months of the year that will determine how good November and December are. You need to build a fan base right away and make sure that you are engaging with them. This is a full-time need, not a part-time seasonal position.

The other set of likely buyers are those who have visited your website before. You should be collecting email addresses like crazy for the first ten months and trying to engage them on social channels as well. If they've been to your website already and they like your page on Facebook, they are your prime targets for advertising. Which you'll need to pay for. Because that's the cost of doing business.

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Socialty is a full-service social media marketing and social recruiting agency in Chicago.  We create content, websites, blog posts, email marketing and strategic marketing plans for small and medium size businesses. Our social recruiting team helps you attract talented candidates via social media outlets.  Socialty connects you to your audience and potential employees.  We'll keep you social while you carry on with your business.  Keep Social and Carry On!