Facebook’s promoted posts: What you need to know
Advertising on Facebook has been seized upon by many businesses eager to reach millions of eyeballs.
The practice has also attracted controversy due to privacy concerns, but it appears users are becoming more, not less, engaged with Facebook ads.
An interesting new study by TBG found that click-through rates to Facebook ads increased by 11% globally in the last quarter, while the cost-per-click ratio has fallen.
Interestingly, ads shown in news feeds were doing well, but the majority of impressions come from ads on the right hand side of the page.
But what if, like most start-ups, you don’t have the budget for a Facebook ad campaign? If so, it may be worth looking at some of the other tools offered by the social media giant.
We’ve picked out one of the newest – promoted posts – to see if it is a good option for new businesses.
Below, David Klein, co-founder of social media agency Orange Line, runs through the pros and cons of promoted posts:
What are promoted posts?
Launched in the summer of 2012, promoted posts enable page owners with at least 400 fans to reach a larger audience by engaging not only their fans, but also their fan’s friends.
And although the best part about promoted posts is their success rate, the next best thing is the inexpensive price – Facebook charges as little as $1 per promoted post and these posts are also visible to mobile users.
The benefits of promoted posts
Let’s face it, simply posting about your product or service on your Facebook page is much like fishing with a very large net.
You toss it out there and hope that it reaches your target audience. Sometimes it does; sometimes it doesn’t.
However, with promoted posts, you can use the “People who like your page and their friends” radio button, and you now have an electronic fish finder to help you, allowing you to connect directly with your customers and their friends at the same time.
This allows you to build brand loyalty by being able to reach more people – but it doesn’t stop there.
By targeting friends of your fans, you’re initiating a conversation between them about your brand.
In turn, you’re increasing your prominence during a consumer’s breakthrough moment along their decision journey.
If you’re like me, you’re interested in the numbers. That’s where Facebook Page Insights comes into play.
They display at the bottom of each post and you can use the drop down arrow menu to get the information you need, such as page post likes, page likes, video plays and link shares.
Page Insights are a valuable tool to help you discover the types of posts that engage the largest amount of people.
This means you can use Insights to see if adding a video, asking a specific question or offering a certain tidbit of information is the most effective, and then hone your posts accordingly.
Promoted posts let you engage with people on Facebook in a much simpler way than having to wade through the Facebook Ads system.
Many businesses find that promoted posts are a quick and easy way to announce upcoming sales, new products and daily specials to their customers while freeing them up to focus on quality content, instead having to spend inordinate amounts of time trying to figure out how to run an elaborate ad campaign.
The antithesis to EdgeRank
EdgeRank is the newsfeed algorithm that Facebook uses to determine what to show in each user’s newsfeed.
It uses a variety of factors, such as the type of content users display; how often two people communicate on Facebook or how often a story has been shared or talked about. With EdgeRank, if your fans haven’t engaged with you on Facebook – or you with them – your posts no longer show up on their newsfeed.
Promoted posts is the way to fix this, because they reach all of your fans – and their friends too.
Customer service opportunities
Facebook allows brands to conduct customer service, as long as they stay on top of posts and messages.
If you use Facebook as part of your customer service strategy, you’ll be able to help more of your customers faster and easier, creating loyalty and word-of-mouth (WOM) advertising.
Now more than ever, consumers are turning to WOM advertising to sort through the barrage of media marketing being thrown at them each and every day, at every turn.
Promoted posts allow you to reach more customers at once, so if you happen to have a problem or issue with your product or service, you can put that fire out quickly.
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How to use Promoted Posts effectively
By now you’re probably ready to jump onto Facebook to get started with promoted posts, but before you venture there, here are a few things you should consider to help maximise the effectiveness of your promoted posts.
Goals are paramount
In order to take full advantage of Facebook promoted posts, you must first consider the goals of your business.
If you’re a start-up that wants to increase customer awareness and demand, consider ways to showcase what you can offer to consumers.
For example, if you have opened a brand new bakery, you can send promoted posts with mouth-watering photos of your special blueberry scones.
You can use them to spark business, too. A fashion boutique can post videos of their latest offerings to show potential customers what’s hot for the upcoming season.
A real estate sales company could post pictures of homes newly offered on the market that week. The possibilities are endless.
Timing is everything
By using Page Insights and other factors, you can study the results of the types of posts you add, but the timing of your posts is also an important factor you shouldn’t ignore.
Because you can use promoted posts so quickly and simply, being able to be timely about your posts helps you reach your intended audience, essentially striking when the iron is still hot.
This means if you have a last minute clearance sale that you want to hold today, you can announce it today – with exciting results.
How often you post also depends on your product or service. Some post once or twice a week while others post daily – you can keep tabs on how your posts are working; and since promoted posts allow you to focus on creating strong, effective content, you can post more often, reaching more people. In time you’ll find the perfect schedule that gets the best outcome for you.
Remember, it’s all about relationships
Although Facebook is an effective marketing tool that every business should have in their advertising toolbox, it is definitely an animal of a different species than traditional marketing media, like television and magazine advertising.
Engagement is a two-way street on Facebook where fans can interact and choose what they want and don’t want to see, unlike traditional media where ads are force-fed to audiences.
You want to build relationships and promoted posts can help you do that, as long as you use them as a means to relate to your customer’s needs or help to solve their common problems.
Measure, monitor and split-test
You should think of promoted posts the same as you would any advertisement and monitor the results to see what is truly effective.
Facebook has made this simple by putting the number of people your post has reached at the bottom of each promoted post.
Hover your mouse over that number and you’ll be able to find more specifics, such as the total friends of fans your promoted post has reached.
If you are promoting more than one post, compare the numbers to see which was the most effective. Try using different types of promoted posts.
For example, try using one that is humorous vs. one that asks a question vs. one that has a call for action.
For those who use both promoted posts and sponsored page post ads, try doing a split test, so you can find out which one is the most effective by tracing clicks, comments, likes, and actual sign-ups.
The downside of promoted posts
Nothing is perfect, and the same applies to Facebook promoted posts. Here are a few things you need to watch out for, so you don’t run into trouble.
You need to commit
If you plan to use promoted posts, or any type of Facebook advertising, you’ll need to make a serious commitment of time, resources and manpower.
People will not initially seek you out – you’ll need to set up and maintain your Facebook posts.
Your company may need to hire a staff member to monitor and respond to posts on a regular basis.
Neglecting to post regularly or ignoring messages will reflect poorly on your brand and cause you to lose followers.
You need to take the time to become immersed in the Facebook experience and provide engaging social media experiences that represent your company as a reputable resource.
Generally speaking, you’ll need to put aside about an hour a day to post status updates like industry news, answer questions and conduct customer service, then two hours one day per week to create your promoted post and check the past week’s ad results.
Overall this equates to approximately seven hours a week.
Avoid passing on the management of your Facebook advertising to a staff member who says they know how to use Facebook.
You need a social media expert who can manage this powerful marketing tool, but can also handle customer concerns and complaints, too. They must know how to solve customer’s issues or direct them to someone who can in a timely manner.
There are important things social media experts understand, such as the fact that you should never delete a user’s comment – no matter how much you want to – this can backfire on your company’s reputation for the long haul, causing irreversible damage.
Costs can add up
Although promoted posts are relatively inexpensive, the total costs do add up over time, so make sure that you keep track of them and compare the results of promoted posts to your other paid online advertising.
Although you may find many views encouraging, they don’t necessarily mean more traffic or sales.
If you’ve never been adept at customer engagement, you may find you’re spending a lot of money to promote posts that simply don’t connect with your target audience.
Weigh the benefits of paying someone to create engaging content from the start vs. you doing on-the-job training while you figure out what works – and what doesn’t.
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Alternatives to Facebook ads
it's important to compare other platforms to Facebook to see what works best for your business or product.
Here are some of the most popular competing platforms:
At no cost, you can create a page for your business and then make public Events to promote your brand or even broadcast online.
You can also create a Hangout and use the Google+ newsfeed to post a video or interview. Since Google+ is connected to the Google search engine, this is a win-win.
Larger brands can purchase top trending topics for $120,000 per 24 hours – an effective move for companies like Coke, for example.
Smaller brands can buy re-tweets with 50+ starting at $17 over the course of three days, 100+ for $32 over four days and 500+ for $97 over five days, which gets your message to more viewers.
Currently the third most popular social media site where you can create boards, share and join their business boards for free.
Add the Pin It button to your website and also connect your Facebook page. Expect this platform to expand into the advertising venue.
You can set up a free profile, get recommendations, connect with other businesses and advertise on LinkedIn, which now has a new “share” function.
There are also many third-party applications you can use to connect your other social media pages with LinkedIn, like Facebook and Twitter.
This basic primer on Facebook promoted posts will help you get started, but for more information, such as how to manage or schedule them, visit Facebook’s Promoted Posts Help Center page.
As with any campaign, don’t just hand over your credit card. Set a test budget and stick to it, and analyse results before tweaking and scaling.