At the beginning of the week I noticed the ‘Promote this post’ option pop up at the bottom of the status update box on my Facebook page. This happened around the same time that Facebook started showing me the % of my Facebook audience that I was reaching with each post rather than just the number of people reached and the number of people talking about it.
Both updates seem to have rubbed business owners up the wrong way. It has been the case for a long while, at least since the newsfeed update last autumn, that pages are not reaching 100% of the people who ‘Like’ them. Facebook have told us that on average only 16% of our ‘Likers’ see our posts. This makes sense to a certain extent, Facebook users are making more and more connections so in order to stop our newsfeeds scrolling as fast as they do on Twitter, Facebook is selective about what it shows us. In experiments I’ve noticed that if I post three times in succession from one of my test pages the first post will show on my feed but very often the second or third doesn’t, even when I have it set to ‘latest updates’. If I want to see everything posted by everyone I can keep a close eye on the ticker. As someone who likes 100’s of pages it’s a bit of a relief that I don’t see everything, I would be overwhelmed if I had to scroll through every update manually.
Quite rightly businesses are concerned about the push towards advertising, we’ve been given a free tool to play with and Facebook now seem to want us to pay to stay relevant, however, if you can be creative and are willing to spend a bit more time you can get results without spending. There is a place for promoted posts but I don’t think it’s as simple as big businesses paying to promote all their posts.
Promoted posts aren’t for lazy Facebookers even if your post reaches your entire Facebook audience there is no guarantee they will click your link or buy something, you will need to take time crafting a post that will work and encourage sharing, interaction and sales. They could be used occasionally and cleverly to achieve particular goals.
There are two occasions when I can see promoted posts working well
1. To get more of your ‘Likes’ engaging with you so that they will see more of your posts in future
Edgerank is the algorithm that dictates what pieces of your content arrive on the newsfeeds of which of your likers. In very simple terms it is derived from the type of content you are posting, the amount of time it stays in a newsfeed and the amount someone has interacted with you previously. Using a promoted post to reach more of your audience and including a strong call to action to ‘Like’ or ‘Comment’ means that those same people are more likely to see future posts from you even when they are not promoted.
2. To promote a specific offer
One of the biggest reasons for people to Like a page on Facebook is to hear about offers, so if you create a really good offer it might be worth paying for it to reach more than your usual audience. Again, it’s not enough just to put up a status update with a discount code, you will need to spend time making sure you are going to get maximum return on your reach. Creating a really strong image with the offer on it is one way to encourage more interaction and to be more memorable. Think hard about your call to action, make it easy for people to redeem by either including a link to your offer page on your website or an easy to remember phrase that people have to say when they drop into your shop.
How do promoted posts work?
Before I wrote this blog post I thought I should try promoted posts out to see if they worked, how they worked and by how much €5 could improve my reach, with some interesting results.
Creating the post
I created a post that I would like to get more exposure, the sponsor video we created for ‘Blog Awards Ireland’. Prior to posting the video had received 128 views.
I included a strong call to action for engagement at the top of the post. I rarely ask for people to click Like but I knew that this would encourage the post to become more viral and get shared on tickers and newsfeeds of the people who clicked the Like.
I included a secondary call to action, for sponsors to email us at a specific address. This would be harder to measure as the same email appears on most of our marketing material and our website. It was also far further down the post so many wouldn’t see it.
Thirdly I intended to measure video views. The video was posted to YouTube and I shortened the link that I posted to Facebook using Bitly so that I could measure click thrus.
Choosing the promotion options
Once the post was constructed I clicked the ‘promote’ button and I got a few options. I could either pay €5 to promote it but Facebook couldn’t guarantee the reach or €9 for which they promised to reach 1,700 people (way beyond the number of Likes on my Facebook page). I went for the €5 option.
Not surprisingly, because of the call to action I instantly started to get people clicking the like button underneath the post, the post will be promoted for three days so even as I type this the number of likes is growing. It’s currently at 49.
Because people were clicking ‘Like’ the post was getting seen by more people outside the pages fan base it was getting shared in the newsfeeds of the people liking the post and I was seeing a huge increase in viral reach. None of this could be put down to the fact that the post was promoted though, more the strong call to action. At 4pm just under 6 hours after I made the initial post I checked my statistics and noticed that only 1% of my page likers that had seen the post had done so due to the promotion.
What I did discover is that the post was reaching newsfeeds long after it was posted. I got comments on the post that it was appearing at the top of news feeds set to top news and I’ve even seen it appear in my own newsfeed today. I’m wondering will this continue until the three day’s are up? This longevity is a massive benefit if you are promoting an offer, we usually expect posts to last for around three hours.
This afternoon the statistics for the post are that 38% of my pages likes have seen the post and Facebook tells me that 3% of these are due to the promotion. That’s 188 extra people, it also tells me that this has resulted in 2 comments and 3 post likes. I’ve only spent €1.85 of the €5 so far so I’m hoping to see that increase over the next day.
38% may sound impressive when you sit it alongside Facebook’s claim that most page posts only reach 16% of their audience but if I look back at posts from the last couple of weeks I can see a couple that reach above 40%. Although the number of people who have seen the post is high at 871, with just 2 comments and 3 likes the promotion cannot be held responsible for the viral spread so it would seem that a simple yet strong call to action can buy you far more reach than an ad.
As for the video, although my call to action was to Like the post I thought it would be interesting to note any increase in video views, Youtube records 20 views since the post went live. My Facebook insights attribute just 4 to my post, I also shortened the link to the video using Bitly and can see that there were 17 clicks on the video via that link, this means the shares that I gained (none of them due to the promoted post) gained me those extra views.
Yes promoted posts can work, they will help you reach a portion of your audience that don’t normally interact with your page but you need to have a strong call to action and you need to choose the right one. Imagine I had chosen to ask for a share or for people to watch the video instead of for the like? My campaign could have been far further reaching and may have gained Blog Awards some sponsors. Maybe I could have captured more from that 3% I reached due to the promotion. However most of the benefit I got from the post, most of the likes and all of the shares came from people who regularly contribute so by crafting the right post in the first place my reach would have been almost the same.
Have you tried promoted posts? Would you try them? I’d like to hear your thoughts so do leave me a comment.
Kays school of Floristry says
Very interesting, thanks for the feedback – Janette
Thanks for that Amanda, clears up quite a few questions!
Sarahandbrians Garden says
Interesting to see the outcome, but I don’t intend to promote the page through this channel.
Denis McCaul says
Hi Amanda, just started following you yesterday and watched some of your video’s, very good by the way. I wonder if you can explain the numbers above to me.
It says 871 unique people reached, 38% of your followers reached (900+ followers so 342 organic is 38%, got that bit.)
Then it says;
Organic 342 + Viral 473 + Paid 188 = 1003, does this mean that some people see the post more than once and 1003 is the number of times the post has been seen by 871 individuals ?
Then you highlight in bold and say “38% of my pages likes have seen the post and Facebook tells me that 3% of these are due to the promotion. That’s 188 extra people,” but 3% of your 900+ likes is about 27 people?
For the video on YouTube you say;
“Youtube records 20 views since the post went live. My Facebook
insights attribute just 4 to my post, I also shortened the link to the
video using Bitly and can see that there were 17 clicks on the video via
that link, this means the shares that I gained (none of them due to the
promoted post) gained me those extra views.”
So YouTube says there were 20 views, Facebook says that four of those views were clicked from the post but Bitly says that there were 17 clicks so does that mean 4 of the 20 views were from your Facebook post and 13 (17-4) of the 20 were from the Facebook post when it had been shared and then clicked on ?
Finally how can you tell the number of views that came through the Bitly link, YouTube Analytics or through Bitly ?
Am sure the answers are probably obvious and sorry for the detailed questions but am new to Facebook insights and Bitly.
Best regards, Denis
Amanda Webb says
Hi Denis, Yes some people will have seen the post more than once accounting for more views than unique views.
Yes the bolded phrase is confusing. From the number of people who like my page 3% who wouldn’t usually see my post have seen it. As a result of reactions to the post by them it has also appeared on the newsfeed of their friends hence more paid unique views than the 3% who like my page.
Youtube insights tell me I have 20 views since the ad went live. 17 of them have to be from the Facebook post as I looked at the statistics on Facebook. 4 came directly from my post but the rest came from my post being directly shared by people who liked my page. When a link is shared on Facebook it doesn’t attribute to the original post.
Hope this helps 🙂
Denis McCaul says
Thanks for that Amanda, fully understand now, good content on your site, I will share on Twitter later for you, best regards, Denis
Great article Amanda. Just wondering what the impact is once people know its being promoted. Do people care? It sounds like its only when it appears as featured that people know its being paid for. Are there any other markers, tags to indicate the promoted element.
Sorry for multiple comments but just noticed that the promote option does not appear on all the pages I am admin on. Imagine they are phasing through or have a limited based on fan numbers on page
Amanda Webb says
Hi Eoin, At the moment you need to have at least 400 Likes on your page to use promoted posts.
Amanda Webb says
The post looks almost the same but does dispay the word ‘sponsored’ at the bottom of the post in light grey.
Michael Dineen says
Isn’t it incredible that Coca Cola ( who have 42 million fans) pay $5 to reach an extra 10-20 million people and a local business with 500 fans pays $5 to reach an extra 100 people. The advertising model since the dawn of time in any medium has been the more people see it the more you pay. On television, billboards etc. Would a farmer in west Cork with an advertising billboard charge the same as a person with a billboard in Time Square New York? Of course not. It is perposterous.
Why don’t Facebook have a membership fee for businesses based on the number of fans? I’m sure Coca Cola would gladly pay a few million a year membership. This is the wrongest move I have seen Facebook make. In fact, the only wrong move ever.
Local businesses would gladly pay $10 a month membership fee. And increase it when Fan number increases.
Would love your opinions on this.
Keep up the great work.
Amanda Webb says
Hi Michael, That’s not exactly how it works. The cost changes depending on how many Likes you have, you are charged per impression still to a max of the budget you have chosen. So to reach all it’s fans Coca Cola would have to spend a lot more than me!
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I tried it for our business saying we had a new product in the UK market and got over 600 likes on a story. Half of which were from people in Asia and of no use to the business. Do they get paid to like a promoted story by FB. Very strange.
Amanda Webb says
Hi Tricky, You can use post targetting so it only reaches the newsfeed of UK Facebookers (by promotion) You may still get Likes from others if people share, comment or Like though.