I think boosting posts is stupid. Here’s why: it’s a cheap way to get people to advertise without going into the ads manager and having them do all the “complicated” targeting. It’s basically taking advantage of those people who don’t fully know what they are doing.
— Andrew Foxwell, Good Advertisers Do Not Boost Posts!, 24/06/2013
Social Media presence is undoubtedly becoming a crucial aspect in promoting a brand of any size or proportion. Consider the statistics below, as a snapshot of the Australian online advertising landscape in 2016:
Across the board, a large portion of businesses are using SNS to promote their brand, and it is not unreasonable to assume that that number is growing every day. As we can see in the second half of the Sensis snapshot, businesses are embracing (albeit; perhaps reluctantly) paid promotion of social media content and/or advertisements. As demonstrated by Foxwell’s argument (2013) at the beginning of this post, there is some debate about the effectiveness, and even, the risk of damage that is involved in a number of Facebook promotional methods. These arguments will be the focus of this article.
Many bloggers have written about a conspiracy theory that emerged once Facebook introduced ‘promoted posts’. The theory suggests that once a user/page/brand has paid for a post, then Facebook essentially ‘has you by the wallet’ and can decrease your organic reach in order to encourage/force you into purchasing more paid reach (Baltagalvis 2016, Laffertyb 2012, Merrick 2016, Rey 2013). Merrick discusses some examples of users having lost “as much as 90%” of their organic reach, once they began paid promotion on Facebook (2016).
On the contrary, Rey, Co-founder and Cheif Scientist at Wisemetrics, conducted a data analysis study focused on the relationship between organic posts, and promoted ones (2013). The results:
No, Facebook promoted posts won’t cannibalize your organic reach.
— Benjamin Rey, Myth buster: Do Facebook promoted posts cannibalize your organic reach?, 05/04/2013
So, where is the missing link?
Closer examination justifies both claims and does so with an angle of positivity. While the intricacies of the algorithms themselves are kept secret, Facebook have revealed that it is relevancy that is most important to News Feed placement (Laffertya 2012). What this means for advertisers is that yes, promoted posts can reduce your organic reach, if the result of your extended paid reach is negative engagement (‘hides’, ‘reports’ etc.) (Laffertyb 2012, Maver 2015, Merrick 2016). This is why Foxwell, who’s words opened this article, thinks ‘boosting’ posts is stupid (2013). Because without targeting your advertising, you are essentially opening your posts up to unnecessary scrutiny (from audiences that were never intended to be engaged with in the first place, ie. the friends of those who like your page but may not be interested), and that scrutiny can end up harming your organic reach and wasting your money. (albeit; perhaps in an effective act of reflection upon the effectiveness of your content).
So, the positives?
Paid reach can be great if used effectively. Ernoult considers ROI and concludes that, in some cases, brands are spending around 10% of their average revenue per customer to acquire a new one (2014). Facebook explains how relevancy is “ultimately better for marketers, because it means their messages are reaching the people most interested in what they have to offer” (Ge 2013). Baltagalvis notes that correct use of paid/promoted posts allows a user to “choose the most suitable objective, select much more relevant target audiences, and have complete control on where to show your ads” (2016).
But these algorithms also clean up the News Feed for audiences. A push for better content, less spam, less ‘clickbait’, (Walters 2016) and more desired, relevant content is a positive push towards a more enjoyable, homely News Feed and user experience.
Baltagalvis, A. (2016, March 30). Don’t Touch That Facebook Boost Post Button. Retrieved from Agora Pulse: https://www.agorapulse.com/blog/boost-post-facebook-advertising
Ernoult, E. (2014, March 03). Guide to Facebook Reach: What Marketers Need to Know. Retrieved from Social Media Examiner: http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/facebook-reach-guide/
Foxwell, A. (2013, June 06). Good Advertisers Do Not Boost Posts! Retrieved from 3q Digital: https://3qdigital.com/socialmedia/good-advertisers-do-not-boost-posts/
Ge, H. (2013, September 27). News Feed FYI: More Relevant Ads in News Feed. Retrieved from Facebook Newsroom: https://newsroom.fb.com/news/2013/09/news-feed-fyi-more-relevant-ads-in-news-feed/
Laffertya, J. (2012, November 16). Facebook News Feed Placement Is All About Relevancy. Retrieved from AdWeek: http://www.adweek.com/digital/facebook-news-feed-placement-is-all-about-relevancy/
Laffertyb, J. (2012, November 27). The Dangers Of Facebook Promoted Posts And Suggested Posts. Retrieved from AdWeek: http://www.adweek.com/digital/jon-loomer-promoted-suggested-posts/?red=af
Maver, J. (2015, April 06). How the Facebook News Feed Works in 2015. Retrieved from Thoughtlabs: https://blog.thoughtlabs.com/blog/how-the-facebook-news-feed-works-in-2015
Merrick, N. (2016, May 12). Facebook Deliberately Lowers Your Page Reach After You Pay To Boost A Post. Fact or Fiction? Retrieved from Prime Focus Lab: https://primefocuslab.com/facebook-lowers-page-reach-boost-post/
Rey, B. (2013, September 05). Myth buster: Do Facebook promoted posts cannibalize your organic reach? Retrieved from Wiselytics: http://www.wiselytics.com/blog/do-promoted-posts-cannibalize-your-organic-reach/
Sensis. (2016). Sensis Social Media Report 2016: How Australian people and businesses are using social media . Sensis. Melbourne: Sensis.
Walters, K. (2016, September 12). The Facebook Algorithm: What You Need to Know to Boost Organic Reach. Retrieved from Hootsuite: https://blog.hootsuite.com/facebook-algorithm/
*Featured Image Credit: Live My Lief – Steve Roggenbuck
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