Facebook’s ‘Promoted Posts’

If you’ve got more than 900 million customers, I suppose it’s natural that even small changes make big waves. So it was that recent tweaks to Facebook’s ad platform ruffled feathers and fueled blog posts from, well … everywhere.

One of the changes was the rollout of a new feature called “Promoted Posts” allowing page admins to pay to extend the reach of their wall posts. That’s a good thing, right? So why the hand wringing?

Promoted Posts is a useful feature (more on that later). I think much of the concern actually came about because in “promoting” its new feature, Facebook called attention to a fact many people forget. Most of your fans will never get to see that wall post you crafted so carefully. In fact, Facebook put a number to it. Typically, a wall post will only be seen by 16% of your page’s fans. Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm determines how long a post will remain visible and to whom, but the algorithm aside, it stands to reason with all the content being generated by friends and by pages one has liked that many posts will get pushed quickly down the list. Still, Facebook’s widely reported evaluation of just how few people actually see your posts was an eye-opener.

Facebook’s solution? Pay Facebook, and it will make sure more people will see your post! If this seems self-serving, it is. But there’s no free lunch (or, if your hotel is offering free lunch, you’d do well promoting it on Facebook). It’s worth experimenting with. The Promoted Posts feature had previously been available only to large brands buying a bundled premium ad package from Facebook. Now small businesses and, yes, independent hotels can use Promoted Posts as one-off purchases (for as little as US$10 per post). We’ve used the new feature for several clients in promoting Facebook Offers and great photo posts, and the early returns are encouraging.

An admin of any page with more than 400 fans can access the feature. Below any new post (or a post from within the past three days) you’ll see the option to “Promote.” Click on that drop-down box, and you’ll have the option to target your ad just as with traditional ads, set the budget and decide on the duration (to a maximum of three days from the post date). Your post will then be seen by an expanded group of your fans and by a percentage of friends of fans who interact with your post (by liking, commenting, sharing, etc.). You can hover over the post at any point during the ad buy to get statistics from Facebook on how many more fans you have reached with the purchase than you would have reached organically. Fans will see your post in their news feed, rather than on the right hand “rail” where ads traditional run, though the post will be discreetly labeled “sponsored.” In this way, your post is also visible to fans accessing Facebook via mobile apps.

Have you tried Promoted Posts yet? If you’ve had success, or been dissatisfied, I’d love to hear about it. If you haven’t tried it yet but have an opinion on the concept, I’d love to hear that, too.