Facebook introduced the Promoted Posts feature in May 2012. This was available for business or fan pages with 400+ likes and was rolled out only in certain countries. Recently, Facebook announced that this feature would be available to users too and they were testing it out in detail. The ‘400’ likes constraint also seems to be gone since I can see the Promote feature on my fan page now, but apparently it is not rolled out to India yet as nothing happens when I click on ‘Promote’. So what exactly is ‘Promote Post’ and what does it do?
What are Facebook Promoted Posts?
If you’re a regular Facebook user just hanging out there to swap news with friends, play games and chill, you may not know this. Anything you post on Facebook in the form of photos or status updates is only seen by a handful of your friends. Why? Well, there are several reasons for this. Your post goes into your friends’ newsfeed, and many factors are going to control whether they actually see it – the time and day when you post, the number of other items in their feed, whether they are online when you post, how often they login to Facebook etc. Now let’s say you have a friend who logs in only on the weekend – if your status update happened on Tuesday, then they will have to scroll down several pages before they actually reach it in their feed. And maybe they’ll just tire out after the first 2-3 pages! OK, so now you get why your BFF never commented on that cool shot you uploaded last week. This is where promoted posts come in.
How do Promoted Posts work?
Promoted posts bump your update to the top of your fans’ newsfeed, and increase the chances of it being seen. The more money you pay, the more people are likely to see it. Facebook generally asks you to specify increments of $5 for this, and tells you the approximate number you will reach for 5, 10 or 15$. A post can be promoted only within the first 3 days of posting, and it will be pushed for that period only. This feature will not help you, however, if someone has blocked you from their feed, or chosen not receive your updates. This will also not be helpful if you are part of a certain group, and your friend rarely checks that group.
When to use Facebook Promoted Posts
Now that you have a general idea of what promoted posts are and how they work, the next thing to know is when you could use them. Anything that increases your engagement with your fans is a good candidate. Some ideas –
Fun Announcements – your anniversary celebration, or ice cream social, for example. The more people this reaches, the more people will turn up.
Promote special offers – limited time offers like freebies from your site, or a huge sale or discount you are offering, announcing sales etc.
Promote blog posts – OK, so you got featured in Social Media Examiner. You want the most people to know. Promoting this status update will ensure most of your friends get to know about it.
Mobile Users – this group of users increases day by day, and promoted posts reach them. More on these below.
So you see, the possibilities are endless, and how you use this feature should be determined by your most prominent business need.
How Facebook Promoted Posts differ from Unpaid Posts, or Facebook Ads
Since any update you post on Facebook reaches your friends, why pay for it? After all, isn’t Facebook supposed to be free? As a regular user, only you can decide if your update is important enough! And this could be a red flag for the youngsters ( and the not so young), because perspective is important here, in my opinion. Telling people you aced the MCAT, or got engaged, might be big news, and spending 5-10 bucks for promoting it might not seem a lot. But paying those same 10 bucks for bragging you broke the speed limit, or got a high score on some video game – well, I will let you finish that.
Of course, our focus here is the business owner, and as I said above, an entrepreneur might easily envisage spending some money on advertising their stuff, based on their expected returns. I use the word ‘advertise’ here in a loose sense, but let us see how the ‘Promote Post’ feature can be your preferred choice over using Facebook ads –
Complexity of Facebook Ads
As easy as it is to set up an ad campaign on Facebook, it is much easier to promote your post. All you need to specify is an amount (5, 10, 15 etc.) and set up a payment method. You might choose a certain geographical region, and your fans only, or fans and their friends.
But there is no CPC or CPM here to figure out.
Promoted posts can run only for a short window of time anyway, so there is no long term planning like you would do for an ad campaign.
Promoted posts allow greater content
Your Facebook ad has to be a certain size and you need a short and precise pitch that will fit in a small area. Your promoted post is like any other update – so you get to write lots of text, or even upload a larger picture than possible for ads.
Promoted posts take center stage
Since your promoted posts are part of the news feed, they occupy central position. Unlike ads that are only visible in the sidebar, these posts appear in the central or most viewed area of the screen. Most people automatically tune out ads in the sidebar, so they might not pay attention to yours even if they know you. So your $$ can go a long way with a promoted post.
Mobile users see promoted posts
Mobile users do not see the right sidebar where ads appear. But they can very well view the news feed. So you get to potentially reach a large number of people. The mobile users are a force to reckon with and given their sheer number, they just cannot be ignored!
I think you now have a general idea of what promoted posts are, and the information here should help you decide whether they are right for you. Whatever you decide to do, we are eager to learn your response to this experimental feature from Facebook. Facebook does not seem to have rolled this out to my region yet, so even though I see the ‘Promote’ button, I cannot access the full functionality. Can you access this wherever you are? Please leave a comment and voice your opinion.