If you’ve been using Facebook as part of your company’s marketing strategy for more than a year, you know that this particular social outlet is subject to frequent change. Whether it’s an addition or a subtraction, Zuck & Co. aren’t strangers to the idea of “new and improved”. As users of their product, we really shouldn’t be surprised anymore.
Now, I’m not telling you that you need to be happy about each Facebook change but, please put away your surprised face.
While we don’t have a right to be surprised at the fact of change, a recent change to Facebook may have been a little shocking.
Sounds a little scandalous, right? Well, it’s because Facebook has been “free” since its inception in 2003 and this new change seems like a completely different model for Facebook.
You read that right folks. All of those little thumbs you worked so hard for on Facebook have lost quite a bit of their value. Only a fraction of your fans see the statuses you post in their newsfeed organically.
So if no one comments or likes your post it may not be because they lack interest, but that they never even saw your post to begin with.
We noticed a drop in views
The proof is in the pudding, folks (mmm pudding). Mack Web has been working on building our own community for nearly a year now. We’ve been writing content on our blog and in our industry in order to encourage this community growth. Throughout this time, we’ve had some pretty decent engagement through Facebook but towards the end of December, we noticed a significant drop in our Facebook statistics. This was all due to Facebook’s infamous EdgeRank. EdgeRank was put into place to help alleviate the noise and reduce spam, but it has also caused businesses to disappear from their fans’ newsfeeds.
Like many businesses, Mack Web experienced a significant drop in visibility after EdgeRank made an appearance:
As you can see we went from reaching nearly 1,500 people organically, to just a mere 20-70 people, depending on the type of status we post. That was a drastic and, frankly, unpleasant change. We left Facebook alone for a few weeks to see if there would be any other significant effects and as you can tell from the image, it stayed about the same until we decided to bite the bullet and use the new feature to promote a post (more on that below).
How EdgeRank Works
According to a VentureBeat article on the topic Facebook announced four main criteria for how EdgeRank affects which posts you see:
Well, don’t let it all be for nothing. With change this drastic, all you can do is shift your perspective to match. It’s not about random posts or being on Facebook ‘just because.’ If you are doing that, you’re wasting your time. Now you have to invest some money and become more strategic about the content you share.
When you pay to promote a post, it needs to be something your community is going to appreciate, enjoy, share, read, engage with. You have to be really thoughtful of what is truly needed within your community.
Ins and Outs of Promoting Posts on Facebook
Now, because I have the opportunity to assist in the management of a number of communities, I’ve learned there are some ins and outs to promoting a post:
- According to Facebook, pages with at least 100 likes can promote posts and the posts that are promotable have to be made after June 2012.
- You can share photos, offers, videos, questions, events and good ol’ status updates.
- Promoted posts are labeled Sponsored.
- You pay for a post by providing credit card information.
- You don’t have much control over a promoted post’s life span (but you can extend its visibility.)
What you’ll see when you go to promote a post:
- Hit the promote button
- Go to the wheel and you’ll input your credit card information
- If you have the option, you can choose your budget for the promotion
- Then hit promote post
Two case studies
As part of our services we help our clients manage their online communities. We have great partnerships and our clients are quite amazing.
Because I’m the dedicated Social Media Strategist and Community Manager, it’s my duty to do what is best for our clients. I wanted to determine whether it was worth paying the money to promote posts, so I went ahead and did a little experiment.
Case Study #1: Warren Federal Credit Union
For this case study, I am focusing on one client in particular because recently they wrote a post that informed their community on the advantages of being a member at a community credit union versus being a customer at a bank. It was a brilliant post that wasn’t getting the attention it deserved so, with their permission, we spent a little money and promoted it.
The situation pre-promotion
Prior to the promotion these were the stats:
175 people saw it.
5 people liked it.
It was pinned to the top of their page which means it had a prime spot for visibility.
When you promote a post you can choose the audience so I chose to promote to people who already like their page and to their friends so that it gets the most reach available to them.
As you can see from the image below our client was able to reached 1,525 people with this particular post while only spending a little more than half of their budget.
Also, there is some good engagement (likes and shares and comments and such), which helps in terms of Facebook EdgeRank (the more a person engages with a company, the more likely that company is to show up in their newsfeed). The client was happy with the results and it will be in their best interest to continue promoting great content/give-aways/contests/new products.
Case Study #2: Mack Web Solutions
Recently, Mack wrote an industry blog post for SEOMoz. It was a good one that I thought our community would appreciate because it was all about building community with value, so I promoted it even though it didn’t lead people to our website. It lead our community to great content and that was reason enough.
The situation: pre-promotion
This is what our stats looked like right when the promotion began:
25 people saw it.
3 people liked it.
It was pinned to the top of our page.
I chose to spend $5.00 over three days to promote this post.
These results are very different from our client’s experience, but still pretty good. For $5 dollars, we had about a 5600% increase in visibility along with increased interaction with people within our community:
And the verdict on promoting a Facebook post is…
Facebook has clearly committed to this change and I don’t think they intend to “go back to the way it used to be.” Promoting a post is a new way of informing the community you’ve already built. You still need to earn the respect and intrigue of people in order to increase your audience size on Facebook, but now you’ll need to pay to reach them.
Based on this little experiment and the results both Mack Web and our client experienced, I would highly recommend you promote a post chock-full of value or a post with some type of purpose behind it. Not one like this:
See how well it does, and if you aren’t satisfied with the results then keep it organic next time. After all, who knows what the next change will be.
Try it for yourself. I’d love to hear about your experience with this new feature, so feel free to comment.