By now, each and everyone one of you — except the last stalwart old marketing warrior shaking his head — believes that social media marketing definitely helps to build business.

For the past few years, cleaning and restoration companies have enjoyed promoting their services via social media, especially since it is virtually free.

And now, as Bob Dylan so famously sang, The Times They Are a-Changin’.

You have probably seen the headlines, such as “The Free-Marketing Gravy Train Is Over on Facebook” and “The Facebook Reach Has Crashed,” among others.

For those that haven’t heard, here are some details.

Facebook is a business…

… And that means it is out to make money.

What is changing is the rapid decline of businesses getting organic views of their posts on “fan pages,” also known as Facebook Pages. You, no doubt, have a Facebook business page and have worked hard to get “likes” on it from those who reside in your local market. If you have been tracking the results, you have seen a decline in how many you are actually reaching.

During the past six months or so, Facebook has been reducing your organic reach. You may post something, but only a fraction of those who have liked your page may see it. Your posts are just not showing up in their news feeds. You might have even purchased pay-per-click ads to get more likes to your business page, and now you have all those followers who may not see you at all.

Now, Facebook wants you to pay up. You have built the platform to reach your market, and now — in order to maximize your social media exposure — you will have to purchase some advertising from Facebook.

That’s the bad news. No one wants to have to start paying for something that in the past was free.

What’s the solution?

Online marketing is always changing, and we have to change with it, even if that means spending a little money or putting more effort into other social media platforms, such as Google+ or Twitter. Increasing your exposure with other social media platforms can’t hurt.

You may find that a small Facebook pay-per-click budget will pay off nicely. Test it out and see if the return is decent enough to continue. That’s the thing with marketing; test it out, keep using it when it works and stop when it doesn’t.

Something under-utilized but very valuable are groups on Facebook, especially if you live in a metropolitan area. There are numerous local groups you can engage and be a part of.

And, you can start your own group in your marketplace. You have to create one that is interesting, with a local theme, and avoid using it just to promote your company. That drives people away.

How to do all of this profitably will be the topic of a future Cleanfax article by Rob Anspach, a social media expert.

Finally, something often debated is using a personal page or timeline to promote your business. If you have a personal Facebook account, the “rules” are you should use it just for personal communications with friends. But we all know many successful businesses mix their personal activity with business activity, doing so by avoiding blatant advertising, and it works for them. You have to decide if you wish to try it out.

I’m out of room, but we’ll cover this in more detail in future issues of Cleanfax.