Out of all the recent changes to Facebook (scheduled posts, admin roles, etc), the Promoted Posts feature is definitely the most controversial.
To be honest, I’ve been dreading this post. Mainly because it could be so entirely massive if I let it be!
I don’t proclaim to know everything but I’ll explain the things I DO know, the things I recently learned and link to other articles about Promoted Posts that you’ll probably be interested in. Let’s get to it!
Promoted Posts essentially allow you to pay Facebook a fee to reach a larger amount of your fan base than you would otherwise. If you’re looking for how to do promoted posts, I’ll let PC World tell you since their article 5 Tips for Using Facebook’s Promoted Posts pretty much sums it up.
Instead this post will stick with some facts about promoted posts since there seem to be a lot of misconceptions out there.
The Biggest Misconception about Facebook Promoted Posts
Let’s start with the clearing up the biggest misconception I’ve seen out there.
Fact: Your posts were NOT being seen by 100% of fans before promoted posts took effect.
In fact, earlier this year Facebook said that a status update from a fan page reaches about 16% of their total audience. SIXTEEN PERCENT. And for personal profiles? A typical post from a personal profile only reaches about 12% of your friends. Yeah, that’s pretty lame. No denying that.
Facebook uses something called Edgerank to score each post you write, whether it’s your fan page OR your personal profile. That score determines how likely you are to show up in someone’s feed. Photos and videos typically do best, meaning they’ll be more likely for your audience to see it. Though only Facebook knows their exact algorithm, this is an excellent run through of how Edgerank works.
In one of Facebook’s marketing webinars I attended recently (they’re free if you’re interested), Facebook explained that the reason not every post shows up in the news feed is that they want to give users the “best experience and highest relevance” so using Edgerank helps them determine what shows up in your feed.
If Facebook posted everything in our new feeds, our feeds would zoom past us for the most part just do to the sheer amount of updates from friends and pages. While I don’t want the Facebook news feed to breeze by me as fast as Twitter moves, both of those numbers being under 20% bothers me.
There may not have been a light switch that suddenly flipped to make your posts not get seen… but the problem is that for many fan pages, engagement HAS decreased over time. Even though Edgerank has been around for quite a while, I know many, many pages have seen gradual decreases in engagement and reach way before Promoted Posts even existed, which makes this new “product” frustrating.
Despite all the frustration (I feel it too!), it’s important to understand that even if all your posts made it to news feeds, you’d never reach 100% of your fans because people simply aren’t on Facebook all day long watching their feed. (But keep reading because I have some ideas for you at the end of this post!)
Moving along, there are some other facts about Promoted Posts that I learned in that webinar…
Question: Why am I not seeing the option for Promoted Posts?
If your fan page has fewer than 400 fans, you won’t see the Promoted Post option yet. Facebook said they feel you need at least 400 fans before you would see success with Promoted Posts. If your fan page has greater than 100,000 fans, it’s not available to you yet (thought they said they may remove this limit in the future).
Question: Are there any restrictions for doing a Promoted Post?
Yep. A post has to be less than three days old in order to be promoted. However, you can promote a post as you are publishing it OR go back to an already published post and turn it into a Promoted Post (if it’s within that 3-day window).
Question: Will my Promoted Posts be labeled in any way?
Yep, they will say “Sponsored” underneath them.
Question: Can I post to my fan page without doing paid posts?
Absolutely. You only pay if you want to reach more people.
Question: I’ve been seeing a lot of people posting status updates to visit their fan page and select “Show in News Feed” to ensure posts show up. Does this work?
Well, if you saw that page’s post in your feed, then I’m sure you clicked to their fan page to discover the “Show in News Feed” was already selected. And if “Show in News Feed” was somehow not selected for someone, would they have even seen that status update show up in their news feed in the first place? I looked at pages that I’ve fanned but couldn’t remember seeing a status update in recent memory. Even those pages already had it checked.
Some people have said that after a while Facebook will uncheck that “Show in News Feed” if it’s a page you haven’t interacted with in a long time, but I couldn’t find an example of that in my page list. (If you had a different experience, please tell me in the comments! I’d love to be proven wrong on this but my first thought is that doing this won’t help at all.)
So What CAN You Do?
I’ve got three ideas for you to help more fan page posts get seen. The first two you can do within your own profile (and even ask your fans to do so) that will help you see the updates from pages you like the best. The last one is how to get more eyeballs on the posts you make to your fan page.
1. Change your news feed to Sort: Most Recent
If you’d prefer to see all the status updates in your feed in chronological order, then it’s an easy change.
2. Add Pages you like to Facebook lists.
And friends you like for that matter. I have lists of Favorite Pages, Close Friends, My Costa Rican Family, etc.
If you want to share this with your blog readers, don’t just mention this on Facebook because obviously not everyone is seeing it. Mention it on your blog as well. Here’s a simple 1-2-3 on how to add a fan page to an Interest List.
3. Write posts that are engaging.
Not every single post you do on Facebook will be a zinger. And the truth is posting your latest blog post will get less interaction on Facebook. Why? Because people are more likely to take action by clicking on the post rather than leaving a comment.
In the Facebook webinar, they said that posts with 100-250 characters in about 1-2 lines of text have about 60% more engagement. So keep ’em short and engaging. Here’s an example:
Again, keep in mind you won’t ever reach 100%. Our page posts never reached 100%, even before Promoted Posts. But is it reasonable to reach 50%? I’ve had it happen. I had a post start around 17% and the more people engaged, the higher it climbed. All the way to 59%!
However, for pages with more fans than me (I have around 1,425), it will be much harder to move that needle upward. It seem that the larger the audience, the harder it is to reach more of your fans (but that’s just my observations and the observations of people I know who manage large pages).
I hope this post helped clear up some of the mystery around Promoted Posts! I’d love to hear your thoughts and any experiences you’ve had with Promoted Posts thus far.