You Have To Pay To Play

Pamela Vaughan  of Hubspot writes a post titled Facebook Rolls Out ‘Promoted Posts’ to Extend the Reach of Your Page’s Content. It explains Facebook’s new tool that enables you to extend the reach of your Facebook page’s organic content through Promoted Posts. This is a paid offering that allows page admins to promote recent posts and extend their reach beyond the normal exposure they’d get in fans’ news feeds.

Why is it offered? According to Ms. Vaughan:

Traditionally, the reach of the organic content you post to your Facebook business page has been limited by the scope of Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm. In other words, when you posted an update to your page, that update would only reach a limited number of your fans’ news feeds, because Facebook’s algorithm ranks and shows content based on the likely interest of a given user.

Promoted Posts now increases the percentage of fans your Facebook page’s organic content reaches, but only if you pay for it – a new strategy to monitize Facebook. However, Facebook isn’t revealing exactly how much more that percentage is. They will only say this:

Your promoted posts will be seen by a larger percentage of the people who like your Page than would normally see it. It will also be seen by a larger percentage of the friends of people who interact with your post. – Facebook

How It Works

For a fee, you can promote a post on your Facebook Page, including status updates, photos, offers, videos, and questions. This generatse sponsored stories that get delivered to  desktop and mobile news feeds, rather than the right-hand sidebar where ads are normally displayed. They are seen by people who are already fans of your page and friends of people who have liked, shared, commented, or claimed an offer from the promoted post.) These promoted stories are marked as “Sponsored” in news feeds, and run for up to 3 days after the post is  created. The tool is reportedly being rolled out to all Facebook pages that have at least 400 fans.

Uses for Promoted Posts

Promoted Posts can help marketers get more exposure for organic Facebook content, since, according to Facebook, fans spend 2x more on average than non-fans. Ms. Vaughan recommends this form of paid offering for the following purposes:

  • Posts about lead-gen marketing offers such as ebook landing pages.
  • Posts about marketing events such as webinar or live event registrations.
  • Posts about specials, discounts, or Facebook Offer coupons to drive in-store or on-site ecommerce sales.
  • Posts about new product or service launches.
  • Posts about important company news and other updates.
One of the advantages of this is that Facebook ad Manager provides robust tracking tools to measure the success of your efforts, which are explained in this post.

promo stats

promo stats 2

Hubspot provides detailed instructions on how to use Promoted Posts.  Facebook has also produced an overview video at https://www.facebook.com/help/promote.

Many Voice Objections

Many object to the slick and surreptitious manner in which a supposedly free social network is being monetized. Here are some of the criticisms people are raising:


This comment appears on the Yoga for Cynics Facebook Page:

Facebook is now pushing administrators to pay to promote every post/update from their page. In an attempt to make page administrators pay for “promoted posts,” Facebook will now only let 7% of you receive each update we post, meaning that now, in order to receive all our messages/posts, you must do the following:

1) Go to the Yoga for Cynics page. Note how clever and insightful the contents are.
2) Hover your mouse over where it says “LIKED” and click on “ADD TO INTERESTS LISTS”

By doing this, you will be able to see all of our posts in your news feed.


Bonnie Sandy provides the following frank feedback to Ms. Vaughan’s article:

Am I the only one that takes issue with an algorithm that controls your post views, followed with a package to have those post appear higher! Brooklyn hustlers have nothing on these guys! That just sounds like highway robbery.

Facebook…turned off the features that allowed us to communicate with [fans] then changed [the] algorithm so a 28-30% interaction is now down to 7% (overnight) now the ask to Promote post… seriously! –


Tony Argyle writes:
The fact that Facebook already censors information to page Likers because of what they deem ” relevant” is unacceptable – now they are suddenly prepared to make it relevant because you’re prepared to pay them?..and it appears to not even be pay per click. We’re about to discover less and less people will see anything on our pages until Facebook gets money. The fact that, in many cases you’ve already paid for a Facebook ad to generate the Likes doesn’t seem to stop Facebook from charging – a Like will soon be practically worthless.

 Bars4Bikers writes:
I noticed this yesterday, and I have a huge problem with it. We’ve all worked hard to get our “likes” and now Facebook is saying that they’ll let more of the people who already like our page see our posts for a fee? If it would impression on people who don’t already like the page, I could see where it would be great. This is extortion.

And Lee of the Buddhist Humor Page writes:

Last spring people saw their exposure rates plummet from 20 – 30% down to 7% due to the newsfeed algorithm changing. So under the old model, you posted a status update and if you had 1000 “talking about” regulars, you could pretty much expect 200 – 350 of them would see that post. Now, it’s capped at 70 unless you PAY.

Conclusions

Facebook’s IPO offer didn’t inspire much confidence, and their business model as an advertising platform has raised questions. I have already called attention to a little-known problem with their pay-per-click model – a problematic algorithm that in effect overcharges for clicks that have little or no expected engagement or conversions. The lack of fairness and transparency means that you should closely evaluate the return you are getting from your Facebook marketing.

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