Should You Boost Your Posts on Facebook?
Facebook is a controversial topic lately. Since the algorithm update that prioritized posts from friends and family over public ones, companies are on edge about how the social network’s constant changes will impact their bottom line. After all, we live in a world where businesses of all sizes can engage with audiences of all sizes using social media. Millions of businesses proudly tout Facebook pages, with many also using Facebook’s powerful advertising platform. We have all gotten used to having our customers within close reach – and the idea of having that taken away virtually overnight can be daunting.
The good news is that advertising on Facebook is largely unaffected by this change (so far). But it does call boosted posts into question, as they straddle the line between organic newsfeed content and advertising tactic – generally characterized as a desperate attempt to gobble up some engagement and conversions in a world where “organic social media marketing” was basically non-existent even before this significant change. Indeed, one company, a rare and shining example of organic engagement on Facebook, recently had to shut its doors after its organic traffic, which the business relied on, was slashed by more than 75% thanks to the algorithm change.
So, are boosted posts helping businesses rise from the ashes of algorithmic destruction?
The Beginning: Boosted Posts
About six years ago, Facebook released the Boost post feature (originally “Promote Post”) to an environment in which more and more businesses were seeing the value of social media, and Facebook in particular. But organic post reach was already and increasingly being taken from them – and boosted posts became a life raft for many businesses that were unable to keep up with all that goes into building a true, strong organic audience.
Some other things going on around that time, for perspective:
- Twitter acquires Vine and announces more than 100 million users, with more than 300 million tweets per day.
- Nielsen reports that social media “is no longer in its infancy.” Facebook is the social network people use the most, with other networks catching on as well. For example, the report declares Pinterest a breakout star in social media in 2012.
- Facebook acquires Instagram for $1 billion (and files for its initial IPO).
A lot was going on when “Promote Post” came about. But it was a VERY different world. One where many businesses were on Facebook, but just as many if not more were still not sold.
Where We Stand Now
With millions and millions of competitors living there and fewer naysayers crowing about social media not being worth the time and money, using the Facebook platform is not only vital, but also complicated and difficult.
As users, we can all appreciate Facebook’s attempts to become valuable to more than just businesses – but also to families and friends trying to connect with each other. As marketers and business owners, we have to wonder why the social network giveth and then quickly taketh away (the obvious answer is monetization). Organic outreach used to be the golden goose, where success meant you were doing everything by the book AND pleasing your audience. Now, organic is – well, a dead goose.
So, in light of this shift, advertising is an obvious necessity if Facebook is a vital channel for reaching and selling to your audience. And boosted posts are an important part of that.
The Pros and Cons
There are several pros and cons associated with boosting your Facebook posts:
- The idea of it may not be too appealing, but if it’s a battle between reaching your audience via a paid channel or not reaching them at all, reaching them wins.
- What is the value of engaging your existing audience? This is an important question to ask yourself as you consider this pro.
- Instagram exposure. You can boost your post on Facebook simultaneously promote it on Instagram (if your accounts are connected). You may be surprised by the results!
- One of our recent campaigns generated more than 1,000 likes on Instagram (cute puppy pictures for the win), 143 likes on FB + 9 Shares — all for $100 over 7 days.
- Do you have a choice, really? Right now, you have reason to pay for your content to be seen (because it will otherwise be further buried).
- One thing to consider: you may want to boost right away, as content that didn’t receive meaningful interaction before the boost may not perform quite as well, according to Adweek (though the impact there will likely be minimal).
“Advertising will become the only way to get your messages through to people…” – Adweek
And then there are the cons, which you have likely already considered:
- Some view the results of boosting as “bottom of the barrel” views – not “true” engagement.
- Traditional complaints about boosted posts include the fact that you have less control than you would in the Ad Manager.
- Facebook tends to automatically optimize for just post engagement – if you include a link, or a sale where you are trying to get some quick conversions, you likely aren’t optimizing for the right goal.
- You also may be using what to you are enormous resources to reach very broad audiences that are less likely to convert – even if they do like or share.
- You have less control over where your ads are seen (desktop vs. mobile), etc. If you know where your audience converts, it can be frustrating to see that your ad is NOT served there.
- Paying an algorithm to feed your existing content to your existing users can be, on its face, frustrating.
- You can also target other audiences, like a regular ad, though with fewer options (less behavioral, more demographic).
- On the other hand, when you consider that your most valuable customers are your returning, loyal ones (and presumably your Facebook fans), it becomes worthwhile to pay to appeal to them. And again, organic is less of an option.
It’s Not Ideal – But It Can Work (Well!)
One thing to really think about before you boost is, what is your focus? You MUST have a focus in mind – engagement, conversions, email sign ups, etc. If you get out of the mindset that engagement is your only end goal and its costing you a lot of money, it can change your perspective. Seemingly contrastingly, you must also adjust your expectations, as boosting may only actually lead to engagement. BUT (and this is a big but), what can that engagement lead to, especially when paired with traditional Facebook ads? The opportunities may just be endless.