Yesterday I wrote about some of the knee-jerk reactions I’m seeing in relation to Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm, and how posts from business pages are, or aren’t, showing up in the newsfeeds of users. I’m seeing a lot of reactions that equate to,
The Facebook sky is falling!
Solely because we don’t like the way Facebook works, or how we think it works. As some of the commenters said on yesterday’s post, a business should never throw all their eggs in one basket. If you are relying solely on Facebook as your online presence, you’re in trouble, for a variety of reasons.
There are those who believe that EdgeRank is solely designed to get people to pay Facebook for ads or promoted posts. I’m not convinced that’s the case, but even if it is, I’m not going to let that influence my behavior on Facebook.
All that to do a quick case study on Promoted Posts. Recently, one of my clients, Plum Salon & Spa in Lancaster, PA decided to experiment just a little with these posts to see how they worked, and what type of results they would get. The owners of the spa are Lani Todd and her husband, Ryan Benner. Ryan set up a maximum budget of $50 to spend on a variety of promoted posts, mostly as an experiment. Here are the results, with a few observations.
Please note: This is a look at what one client did. I’m not extrapolating wider results out of this, but just making observations on what happened for Plum Salon & Spa.
The first post that he promoted, he spent $5 on a post that discussed one of their spa packages. As you can see from the collection of images below, they reached 560 people, and 55% of their total fan base.
The second post was actually promoting someone else’s event (I love that!) and included a video. They spent $5 and reached 569 people, and again 55% of their fan base.
The third post was promoting their own line of make-up, and Ryan spent $10 to see if he could get more traction, and sell more products. 946 people “saw” the post, and 43% of all fans.
A few observations:
Promoted seems to kick in mainly after organic – You can’t see it in the stats, but in watching this over time, I noticed that the majority of the organic and viral impressions happened rather fast, within the first 12 to 24 hours, while the majority of the promoted impressions happened over the next 48 hours. One of the factors in EdgeRank is known as “time decay”, which is the longevity of the post. It seems that while regular posts are more a factor of “affinity” and “weight”, the promoted posts are more a factor of “time”.
“Seen” doesn’t necessarily mean seen – I mentioned this yesterday, that while the numbers of promoted impressions are high, the interaction from those impressions was rather low. This is why impressions are a tricky number. You never have any idea as to how many of those people actually saw the post in question. You just know that they had the ability to see them.
Engagement on promoted posts is dramatically lower than organic posts – While these promoted posts did generate a number of clicks, shares, and post likes, when compared to other non-promoted posts there really wasn’t any strong benefit. We also didn’t see any discernible increase in the “people talking about this” number, or even the “virality” of the post. Those are both things I thought might increase.
Promoted increases impressions, but little else – The other interesting thing is that clearly a large number of the promoted impressions were among people who were not already fans of the page. Despite that, we saw no discernible increase in new fans of the page. And for the two posts that were specifically related to their own products or services, there was no increase in either requests or sales related to them.
While this was an experiment and there are plenty of other factors at play, my feeling is that our goals were not met, and the promoted posts, even at $5 or $10, weren’t really worth it. That’s not to say you couldn’t get better results with more tinkering.
Additionally, I spoke to my friend Kat Krieger of Brand Connections, who has recently played around with both Facebook ads and promoted posts. Kat tells me that in her mind, the Facebook ads gave her better results than the promoted posts. She shared some of the data with me, and while the click-thru rates on the ads were around the 1% rate or less, she feels she did get some traction from the ads, at least based on her preliminary findings.
I admit, I’m not a big fan of Facebook ads, but you can target them, and they will work for some business categories. I’m a purist. I like to focus more on the organic features of Facebook and other social platforms, rather than pay. This perspective comes both from my own business philosophy, as well as my position as a consumer and user of these platforms.
So should you use Facebook’s promoted posts feature? That’s ultimately for you to decide, and if you have $10 or $20 to spare on some experimentation, I say test them and see what happens. But here are a few questions you need to ask before you do this.
What are you promoting? – If you’re promoting something, make sure it is something that is worth while, and not just a random status update. Think it through and don’t just promote for promotions sake.
What are your goals? – What are you trying to get people to do? I would suggest that for at least these types of posts, you should have a fairly specific call to action. Are you asking them to click? Share? Purchase? What you are asking will help you determine whether or not you were successful.
How are you measuring? – If you know your goals, you also need to know how to measure to find out whether you have met those goals, whether it be new likes, new sales, or whatever.
With low barriers to entry (as low as $5 a pop) I think Facebook stands to make a lot of money. But that’s because the temptation is there to just pull the trigger and promote a post, just to see how it does. It’s low risk, in the same way that we download mobile apps for $1.99 a piece, knowing that if we don’t like it, it’s no big deal. But over time, that money adds up, and in this case, can start to eat away at your marketing budget.
We need to resist the temptation to pull the trigger so quickly just because it’s inexpensive and easy. That’s not marketing, that’s Russian roulette.
Make sure you develop a strategy with clear, measurable goals, and only then decide whether you should pay to promote your posts on Facebook.
But for me, I’m still not sold. If I use any of the paid features of Facebook, it will be very sparingly, and I will continue to rely more heavily on the organic nature of the social platform, which has given me great results for both my business and my clients.
Have you tried either promoted posts or Facebook ads? What sorts of results have you seen?
- Facebook Promoted Posts: A Step-By-Step Guide (mashable.com)
- 52 Cool Facts About Social Media – 2012 Edition (dannybrown.me)
- Your Business and Online Accessibility – #captionTHIS (inklingmedia.net)
- Sunday Shorts – Businesses Doing It Right Edition (dannybrown.me)