Last week, I used Facebook Questions to get a feel for how often my Facebook Fans use Promoted Posts. Of those who responded, 80% said they had never used the feature once.
I’m willing to wager my coffee money that most of these people don’t use Promoted Posts out of protest. Promoted Posts and EdgeRank have gotten a heavy dose of negative press. The overwhelming sentiment is something along these lines:
I shouldn’t have to pay money to reach my Fans! What a scam!
Of course, I think those responding in this manner are completely misguided. I won’t go into all of the reasons here (read Your Facebook Posts Reach 16% of Fans… THE HORROR! for that). Instead, I want to provide some insight into what I’m seeing when I promote my Facebook posts.
I pulled the Facebook Insights for my Facebook Page (Jon Loomer Digital) from July 20 through August 19. By the end of this period, my Page had a total of just over 5,000 Fans.
During this test period, I created 98 Facebook posts. Of that 98, 86 went unpromoted and I spent a grand total of $72.63 on 12 Promoted Posts (just over $6 per post). Most of what I spent was front loaded: I spent 69% of that $72.63 on three posts. I also spent less than $1 on three other posts.
The Unpromoted Posts
Following are the average stats for the 86 posts that didn’t receive any promotion during this test period:
Average Total Reach: 1,432
Average Fan Views: 937
Average Engaged Users: 49
Average Engaged Fans: 35
Average Talking About This (all users): 9
Average Talking About This (Fans only): 6
I have over 5,000 Fans now, but that number has grown a few hundred during this test period. So overall, about 20% of my Fans see a single post that isn’t promoted — and about 53% more see each post when their friends and others are factored in.
The Promoted Posts
Now let’s take a look at the average stats associated with those 12 Promoted Posts:
Average Total Reach: 4,338 (3X more than without promotion)
Average Fan Views: 1,228 (31% more than without promotion)
Average Engaged Users: 111 (2X+ more than without promotion)
Average Engaged Fans: 60 (71% more than without promotion)
Average Talking About This (all users): 23 (2.5X+ more than without promotion)
Average Talking About This (Fans only): 12 (2X more than without promotion)
Once again, we’re talking about spending an average of $6 per Promoted Post. A couple of points here…
1) I only reached 31% more Fans when I promoted a post. This means that even after promotion, I still only reached about a quarter of my Fans. Even when I spent $15-18 on a single post, the most current Fans I reached was about 1,800 — or 37.5%.
People will interpret this various ways, but to me it’s clear: Even when you promote your Facebook posts, you will never reach all — or even most — of your Fans. That has very little to do with EdgeRank. It is more about the average Fan not being online long enough or at the right times to see your content.
And this doesn’t even consider the Fans who have hidden our content.
2) Engagement among Fans goes way up. While I wasn’t necessarily reaching that many more of my Fans by promoting a post, I was getting 71% more engaged Fans and twice as many Talking About This actions from Fans. The reason for this is simple: Reinforcement. Some of the people seeing my Promoted Post had already seen it before. The first time, they didn’t act. The second time, they did.
3) The surprise impact: Non-fan engagement. When you promote a Facebook post, you have the option of targeting only Fans or Fans and friends of Fans. I don’t always cast the wider net, but you can bet I will be in the future.
I reached nearly three times as many people when I promoted a post, and the big reason for that is Friends of Fans. In fact, it wasn’t until I looked at these stats that I realized just how important these non-Fans are. They make up 46% of engagement and 48% of Talking About This for Promoted Posts. That’s nearly half!
Even without promotion, I’m seeing 29% of engagement and 33% of Talking About This from non-Fans. These are important people that you must keep in mind!
First, keep in mind that my results always tend to be a small sample size. This is just my Page of 5,000 Fans. It does not mean that this applies globally, so keep these numbers in perspective.
Also, much of this budget was spent because I had a free coupon code to burn, so I won’t typically promote posts this often. And when I do, I’ll be more strategic about it going forward.
I’ll focus these dollars on promoting posts that will lead to direct revenue. With this test, I wasn’t particularly strict about that rule.
But my results show quite clearly that you can get an awful lot for very little money by promoting your Facebook posts. If you can reach more than three times as many people with a product offer by spending only $6, I’d consider that money well spent.
Here are some visuals around the data I found. Feel free to pass it on!