Tara, good article. We've become used to thinking of social media as free, and Facebook may be the biggest target for our frustration right now but the other networks are following suit. Yes, social media was free in the beginning - kind of like a lost leader, to lure in business. Now social media has, to some extent, a captive business audience. We've seen the potential and the value to building brand name recognition in particular.
While I'm not keen to pay Facebook to promote my posts, I understand the reality. They were set up as a business, a big business, not a charity. This has (likely) been a part of their strategy since day one. And they have been slowly, over the past few years, getting us ready for the change by slowly making it more difficult to get into the Facebook news feed and in front of ffans without paying. There has pretty much always been a cost to attract new fans, at least those not somehow connected to someone to us or our fans in some way.
At this time, the cost is pretty small to get in front of a few thousand or more people in a localized area to hlep build brand name recognition. Larger companies of course need to get in front of more than a few thousand and will incur the larger cost of doing this.
All this to say, while I'd rather Facebook didn't charge to get my business in front of fans, the reality is all social media networks are going this way. Five years from now we may be thinking of these as the glory days of social media, once the other networks begin to follow suit more obviously.