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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Facebook remains a dominant force for businesses a decade after huge IPO

By Nina Culver For the Spokesman-Review

Ten years ago investors bought into Facebook. It was the first time Mark Zuckerberg’s social media juggernaut – with more than a billion users – made its stock available for purchase by the public.

And purchase it they did. Facebook’s initial public offering on May 18, 2012, raised $16 billion – the third most raised through an IPO.

It was astounding money for a company that was largely used as a way for people to connect with friends, family and former classmates.

But then, of course, people and businesses began to use it to make money.

The company’s fortunes exploded to $86 billion in sales during 2020 from the $5.1 billion in sales during that promising year of 2012.

It has become common for businesses large and especially small to maintain a Facebook page to keep their customers updated about special events as well as new products and services. Business Facebook pages often pop up during online searches, giving businesses a way to introduce themselves to potential customers.

When Kayla Bren opened Lemon Salvage, a reclaimed goods market on Northwest Boulevard in Spokane three years ago, she signed up for a Facebook page. It has become an important part of her business, particularly because it lets people know what she has in the store.

“I use it to let everyone know what’s going on with the store, what inventory we’re getting in, when our sales are,” she said.

On a recent day, she used Facebook to tell her customers she was opening late that day because her sons needed her. “One thing my boys require is an allotted amount of quality time,” she wrote. “Quality time quota, if you will. As of this morning, the boys’ quota has not been met.”

Bren said she usually includes several photos in her posts as a way to catch people’s eye. “I think that’s definitely my language,” she said. “There’s just so many different ways to get their attention.”

Lemon Salvage carries modern and vintage clothing, jewelry made by Bren and others, glass beads and a variety of household items. “It’s kind of a step above a thrift store, but not a boutique,” she said. “There’s a little bit of everything. You just never know what’s going to be here.”

While she has a little over 900 followers, most of her posts have a few dozen people interacting with them. She said that she’s not sure how many people see her posts, but said her business gets a boost when people post about something they bought at her shop and tag Lemon Salvage in it.

She creates a Facebook event for her twice-yearly parking lot sales and those usually get pretty good reach online. Bren said she knows Facebook isn’t as popular as it once was, but she still finds it useful.

“Different generations are going to use different types of social media and I want to reach everyone,” she said.

Brick West Brewing, a homegrown brewery located on the west end of downtown Spokane, has jumped into social media with both feet. Their Facebook page boasts just over 7,450 followers and there’s a similar number of followers on their Instagram account.

“I like to call it a communications tool,” said marketing manager Bill Powers. “We’re telling the story of our brewery, our beer.”

Businesses didn’t use Facebook when it first came out, but when they did it wasn’t hard to get your posts seen by everyone who followed your page, Powers said. Now, however, algorithms determine who sees what and even people who follow the brewery’s Facebook page might not see the posts.

“It was an amazing tool for many years,” Powers said. “Now it’s hard to break through the noise.”

Powers said he’s noticed that a simple post with a picture of a new beer won’t do as well as when he posts a video featuring people talking about the new beer. “That’s why content is key now,” he said. “It’s a little bit tricky.”

Recent Brick West posts on Facebook have included information about the Spokane Lilac Festival Brewfest on Saturday, a video about trivia night, a post promoting the brewery’s Brick West Pilsner and video of several wild turkeys roaming outside the brewery.

While Facebook isn’t what it once was, it’s still useful, Powers said. “It’s still a powerful tool in the tool box, but it’s not the only tool,” he said.

What does work well is purchasing a paid ad on the platform.

“As an advertising platform, it’s still pretty functional,” he said. “I can run ads on Facebook and it will show up in people’s feeds.”

Brick West Brewery also uses Instagram and is preparing to go onto TikTok, Powers said. There are so many social media options now that it has contributed to the loss of Facebook’s dominance for businesses, he said.

“Now it’s just one of many because of the growth of other platforms,” he said.