Is Facebook’s Free Ride For Marketers Over?

Facebook's Boosted Post
To boost a post on Facebook, click on the Boost Post button at the bottom right of your post.

Much like Google, Facebook has been doing some algorithm tweaking recently. For the social network, that means changes to its News Feed ­— the posts users see from friends and companies when they log in. You may be one of the many Facebook marketers who have seen the organic reach of Page posts decline over time. A widely reported statistic in the tech world is that organic Page reach will eventually diminish to as little as 1 to 2 percent.

Some marketers even anticipate a day when organic reach for Facebook Page posts will be zero. This all means that fewer people will see your Facebook posts in their newsfeeds.

In a recent whitepaper, Facebook shared a new perspective that may clue marketers in to the future of the social network. It says the value in engagement rates (which has been the ultimate yardstick of the success of social campaigns) is to show which content is most valuable and that content, in turn, should be boosted through paid media, including Facebook ads and boosted posts. Facebook no longer wants marketers to think that engagement alone is the gold standard.

“The success of advertising campaigns should be measured through business results and not via engagement rates,” the whitepaper states. “The same key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics you use in other channels, and you know drive your business, should be used to assess impact on Facebook.”

So this could be the end of all the great free marketing we’ve gotten all these years on Facebook. This sounds like bad news, but some marketers aren’t seeing it that way.

“It’s actually really good for brands,” an anonymous marketing director told Digiday’s Matt Van Hoven. “[Facebook] is now thinking of themselves as a media platform and as less of a social network as it pertains to brands.”

Van Hoven himself points out that when you pay for exposure through ads, you don’t have to rely on your audience to engage and promote your content.

Two Ways To Expand Your Reach On Facebook

Facebook ads and boosted posts can be very effective, especially in reaching people who are unfamiliar with your brand, because of the complex user profiles it has built over the years. And these paid options still won’t cost you nearly what traditional media does.

1. Page Post Promotion. This is a feature that allows your post to be seen by a larger audience than just people who have liked your Page. You select the demographics you want to reach — friends of your followers or four demographics — age, gender, location or interests. Your posts will then appear in the News Feeds of a new set of Facebook users. Boosted posts are labeled as Sponsored.

To boost Page posts, you choose the amount of money you want to spend and the amount of time you want the promotion to run. Before you buy, Facebook estimates the number of people you will reach with the promotion. The more you narrow down the demographics, the more likely you are to appear in front of the users you’re trying to reach. Depending on your goal, boosting a post could cost as little as a few dollars a day with an added reach of thousands of Facebook users.

To boost a post, write it as you normally would and then click the Boost Post button at the bottom right of the post. And remember: You can send a Facebook post to every single site user, but if it isn’t engaging, educational or interesting, it won’t do your brand any good.

2. Advertising. Facebook offers good old right-hand rail ads, of several configurations, in addition to options for mobile advertising and ads that run in the Newsfeed as “Sponsored.” Facebook offers lots of advice on what type of ad is best for your advertising goals, including the best ad configurations for increasing your number of page likes, driving visits to your website and increasing post engagement, among others. You upload the text and images for the ads.

Facebook ads can be targeted to many more demographics than boosted posts. For example, you can target users by:

• education, by level or field of study
• those who list gardening as a hobby
• gender, age or location
• those who are not connected to your brand
• a particular relationship status
• target income range
• home owners vs. renters
• those who are fit moms, green moms, soccer moms, stay-at-home moms or trendy moms

The cost structure for Facebook Ads differs a bit from boosted posts depending on the goal of the ad. You can choose a daily or lifetime budget for a campaign, or to pay cost per impression or cost per click. You only pay for the clicks or impressions that Facebook delivers.

To create a Facebook ad or to find out more about Facebook Ads, visit Facebook.com/advertising.

One Thing Not To Do

The Share could be the most important engagement metric on Facebook for getting your content in front of more eyes, but you shouldn’t come out and specifically ask for either shares or likes. In its effort to clean up spammy posts, Facebook will soon be burying posts that come out and ask people to like or share content, according to a recent statement from Facebook.

The best way to get attention and engagement without having to come out and ask for them is to create quality content that grabs attention. And that applies whether you stick to free Page posts or increase your reach with boosted posts or advertising.

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