Everything You Need to Know About Promoting Posts on Facebook
Want to get more traffic from second most popular website on the internet? Of course you do. We are all trying to tap into the huge traffic potential that 1.1 billion+ users can offer.
Promoting your website through Facebook can be difficult. Yesterday I spoke about the reduced reach of Facebook page traffic during 2012. I myself saw traffic from Facebook drop to around 5% to 10% of what it used to be. You can still tap into the huge traffic potential of Facebook, however it does require you to bring out your credit card.
Today I would like to show you how you can get traffic from your Facebook pages using Facebook’s post promotional system. As you will see, you can potentially reach thousands and thousands of people for just a few dollars. Very few website services offer that kind of targeted traffic for such a low price.
How to Promote Posts Through Facebook
I have used Facebook Advertising many times in the past to add some fans to Facebook pages and to send traffic directly to a page on one of my websites. Until recently, I had never used their option to advertise individual messages (despite them promoting it heavily).
If you have a Facebook page for your website (and I assume you do), then you will be familiar with the layout of the messages you post. Specifically, you will have seen the information at the bottom left of the post which tells you how many people have seen your post and the link at the bottom right to boost your post. The “Boost Post” button was initially set as “Promote Post”. Some people have also reported seeing “Advertise Post” instead of “Boost Post”.
As I discussed in great detail yesterday, not everyone will see your post. My Facebook page for KevinMuldoon.com currently has 161 subscribers. From those 161 subscribers, only 16 people saw a notification about yesterday’s article.
Having 10% of my followers see a notification is normal. Sometimes 30 or 40 people see my messages though sometimes it’s lower. The other day I shared an article I wrote on another blog and only 2 people saw it. I appreciate that it probably was not sent at the optimal time, however having 1% of my followers see a message I sent is ridiculous.
Of course, that is why Facebook want us to boost posts. To their credit, Facebook has made the process of boosting a post incredibly easy. If you have already advertised through Facebook before, boosting a post will take you seconds (literally).
Whenever I click to boost a post for this blog, Facebook always seems to default to $15. It is possible to change your advertising budget to $5, $10, $20, $30 and $50. The more you spend, the more people will see your advertisement. Post promotion only shows your message to people who have followed your page and friends of people who have followed your page. Therefore, this method of promotion is not as targeted as using Facebook ads to promote your website or Facebook page directly. It is, however, much more affordable. I would probably have to spend around $1 per new follower through Facebook if I promoted my Facebook page to developed countries such as the United Kingdom and United States through their normal advertising options.
The reach of your advertisement increases as you spend more money. For $15, Facebook advises that my chosen message will be shown to between 2,100 and 3,800 people.
Your advertisement will be paid by the method that is configured in the settings area of the Facebook ad manager. All promoted ads have a duration of three days. There is no option to change this.
That’s all there is to promoting one of your messages on Facebook. The whole process is simple and fast.
The Reach of Your Facebook Page
I have several Facebook pages for corresponding websites I own. What I hadn’t noticed until recently was that Facebook changes the price of boosting a post dramatically between my pages. The more followers your Facebook page has, the cheaper it generally is to reach more people (though, as you will see, this is not always the case).
So for the Facebook page for this blog, $15 will send my message to between 2,100 and 3,800 people. For my martial arts videos page, $15 will send my message to between 21,000 and 40,000 people. Therefore, boosting a post on my other fan page ensures my message is seen by 10 times as many people for the same price.
The idea of promoting a post to followers becomes more appealing as the reach of your Facebook page grows.
Let’s compare the prices of boosting a post between some of the Facebook pages for my martial arts based websites and a gaming based website I have. As you will see, whilst the advertising budget for Kevin Muldoon was restricted to $50, some of my more popular Facebook pages allow more money to be spent.
Facebook Page: Kevin Muldoon
Current Number of Fans: 161
Facebook Page: Retro Gaming Consoles
Current Number of Fans: 423
Facebook Page: MMA Forums
Current Number of Fans: 4,579
Facebook Page: Taekwondo Forums
Current Number of Fans: 8,746
Facebook Page: MMA Clips
Current Number of Fans: 10,073
Facebook Page: Black Belt Forums
Current Number of Fans: 13,420
Facebook Page: Taekwondo Patterns
Current Number of Fans: 35,673
Facebook Page: Martial Arts Videos
Current Number of Fans: 48,417
Generally speaking, the more Facebook fans you have, the more people you can reach; however, that is not always the case. The Taekwondo Forums Facebook page noted above is a good example of this. It has 8,746 fans yet for $15 I can reach up to 31,000 people by boosting a post. My Black Belt Forums Facebook book has nearly 5,000 more fans, however to reach the same number of people through boosting a post would cost me over $100.
This suggests that the number of fans your page has, is not the only factor when your potential reach is calculated. I suspect that the number of friends which each fan has is also a big factor. Facebook states that boosted posts are shown to fans and friends of fans, which seems to support the idea of reaching more people if your fans have many friends. Perhaps the demographics of your fans is an issue too (e.g. pages with followers from USA will be more expensive to promote to than Malaysia).
Of course, at this point, I can only speculate as to why some fan pages can reach more people than others. In general, Facebook pages with more fans have the potential to reach more people. Or to put it another way, the more fans a Facebook page has, the cheaper it becomes to advertise a message to thousands of people.
The Kevin Muldoon Facebook page has next to no fans. It is something I will hopefully develop over time, however I can utilise my other fan pages to promote this blog.
People on Facebook have a wide range of interests. Take me for example. I am a fan of many Facebook pages therefore I am someone who will, or has already been, marketed to using the “Boost Post” option. I currently have 289 friends on Facebook. 5 or 6 of my friends have created websites before, therefore would be interested in blogging related topics. Several of my friends love MMA. A few dozen share my love of films. My friends interests are varied.
Facebook post promotions target your fans and your friends of fans. If you have a blog which focuses on basketball, a promoted post would target all of your fans and their friends; however, not all of their friends will like basketball. The point I am trying to make is: Facebook post promotions are not particularly targeted. If you have 10,000 fans and you pay to reach 100,000 people, then 90,000 of those people may or may not have the same interest. This means that, after a certain point, you can target a message with a link to your blog on any Facebook page and expect a similar return (NOTE: Facebook previously offered the option to target fans of your page or friends and fans).
I am of course making the assumption here that Facebook is not using other factors in its post promotion strategy such as looking at the interests of your fans friends. I am sure it does, however I have not read anything online that suggests it plays a big part on how a post is promoted. I am also assuming that Facebook primarily promotes posts to fans first. That is, if your page has 10,000 fans and you pay to reach 10,000 people, the majority of people who will be targeted will be your fans (again…this is another assumption, please let me know if you know otherwise).
Let’s put this theory into action
Facebook Post Promotion Case Study
My plan was to utilise the extended reach of my other Facebook pages to promote this blog (KevinMuldoon.com). Essentially, what I wanted to do was promote an article from this blog to fans of one of my Facebook pages. Most of my Facebook pages are related to martial arts. My initial idea was to publish a martial arts related article and then promote it through those websites. It is something I may try in the future though I realised that this was something I could do at any time.
To test the effectiveness of Facebook post promotion, I decided to promote an article that would appeal to anyone and everyone. I chose an article I published last Sunday called “100 Bad Tattoos That Will Shock You” (created by my girlfriend Johanna). My thinking was that everyone either has a tattoo or knows someone that has. Those who haven’t have at least seen tattoos throughout their life. It is a topic that could potentially appeal to a large audience, unlike a subject such as WordPress, which is geared more towards bloggers and developers.
So here is what I done. First, I found the message on the Kevin Muldoon Facebook page.
I then shared the message on my Martial Arts Videos Facebook page. Doing this allowed me to boost the post at a much cheaper price. I was thinking of spending $100 or so initially, but I decided to be prudent and only spend $10 on my first boost.
On the Kevin Muldoon Facebook page, $10 would reach between 1,500 and 2,900 people. On my Martial Arts Videos Facebook page I would reach between 20,000 and 38,000 people with the same amount.
I gave some thought to the title of the message. I considered keeping it related to martial arts and wrote “Do you know a martial artist with a bad tattoo?”. Afterwards, I had second thoughts. My plan was to appeal to a more general audience, therefore I changed the title to “Tag someone you know with a terrible tattoo? :)”. My hope was that people would tag their friends on the post, leading to the post going viral. I now realise that this technique is better used on images rather than link messages (hindsight is a wonderful thing).
For some strange reason, Facebook has not used up $0.08 of the promotion, however there is a message saying the promotion has finished. The screenshot below shows the final stats for the promotion.
Here is how Facebook explains the various stats for the post:
- Paid Reach – The number of people who have seen this post because you promoted it.
- Link Clicks – The number of people who have clicked the link attached to this post.
- Page Post Likes – The number of likes on your page posts.
- Page Likes – The total number of page likes you received within 24 hours of someone viewing or 28 days after clicking your ad.
The boosted post generated 333 clicks. That works out at around 3 cents a click. The traffic was not super targeted but I’d still consider that a bargain. One thing I noticed right away was that the post was not promoted to the number of people Facebook said it would. For that particular Facebook page, Facebook advises that $10 will reach an estimated 20,000 to 38,000 people, however the post reached 10,150 people. This is around half of the lower estimated reach and a quarter of the maximum reach.
I looked on Facebook for an answer to this issue and found this response:
The reach you see when you promote your Page post is an estimate and may be affected by how many other promoted Page posts are running at that time. If there are more promoted Page posts running than estimated when you created your promoted Page post, the price goes up and the reach goes down. You will only be charged for the actual reach of your promotion.
Promoting a post that has been targeted to a specific location or language may also reduce your reach. The number of people you reach by promoting your post is in addition to the reach your post normally receives.
Your actual reach can be seen any time by going to the bottom of the post in the links to the left of the Promote button. To see more information about the total number of unique people who saw your post, hover over or click on the x total link.
This means that the final reach of your promoted posts will depend on how many other people are running ads at the same time. This seems very unfair to me. They should not be allowed to say you will get a certain amount of traffic and then not deliver because someone else has purchased an advertisement.
Results can also be seen through the Facebook ad manager. It is more practical to check the performance of your boosted ads there, particularly if you have boosted more than one post.
I also boosted the same article through my Taekwondo Patterns Facebook page. Again, I only invested $10…and bizarrely, $0.08 was left of the budget at the end again. The final results were very interesting. That page has around 35,000 fans, 13,000 less fans than my Martial Arts Video page. Despite this, I got a much better return for my money.
The post reached 15,748 people. This was around 50% more than the other Facebook page, even though it has 27% less fans. It generated 516 clicks, which works out at around 2 cents per click for visits to my website.
As you can see from this screenshot from Google Analytics, KevinMuldoon.com does not normally get a lot of referral traffic, though traffic from Facebook shot through the roof during the days the tattoo post was being promoted.
Between 6 May and 9 May 2013, I received a total of 1,375 unique visits from Facebook. 1,054 visits from desktop users and 321 visits from mobile users. Between 10 May and 13 May 2013, I received a total of 43 visits from Facebook. This highlights the volume of traffic Facebook sent to KevinMuldoon.com through two post promotions.
I also shared the tattoo article on some of my other martial arts videos, which is why the final traffic received from Facebook is higher than the clicks generated through the ads.
For an investment of only $20, I received 849 unique visits from Facebook. This works out at around 2.4 cents per visitor. I made a few affiliate sales during those days and out of curiosity I also put up a 300×250 Google Adsense advertisement on my sidebar during those days (which generated around $8 in commissions). In total I made around $60-$70 through this blog during those days. It’s not a huge amount of money, but any promotion that makes a profit is welcomed. It is now up to me to see whether it was a fluke and whether that kind of traffic is scalable.
The Right Facebook Post Promotion Strategy
I think it is fair to say that the promotions I tried for this blog were a success, though lots more testing is needed before I start scaling my Facebook post promotions up and spend more money there.
My first two tests promoted the same article through different fan pages. For my last test, I decided to boost a post through my Martial Arts Video Facebook page again. This time, I decided to promote an article from my martial arts discussion forum entitled “If Martial Arts Advertising Were Honest” (written by the always hilarious Sifu Phil). It is a funny article that looks at adverts for martial arts schools and shows what they would look like if they were more honest.
I was not sure how a forum post would perform on Facebook, however I assumed I would get a good return for any promotion there as is related to martial arts. Every day the latest forum posts are posted on the Martial Arts Video Facebook page, so all the followers are familiar with the forum already.
To keep things consistent, I opted to boost a post for $10 again. Unfortunately, this time the return was terrible.
The campaign only reached 4,173 people and it only generated 38 clicks. That works out at around 26 cents per click. I thought the content would be suited for the audience. With only 38 people clicking on the link, it seems that it was not.
The previous post which I boosted on the same Facebook page was shown to 10,150 people. This post was only shown to 4,173 people, which is around 40% of the people that the other post was. Their excuse that this is due to other promoted fans does not sit well with me.
A Facebook page of mine with 35,673 followers managed to reach 15,748 people whilst a Facebook page with 48,417 managed to reach 4,173 people. For the same $10 investment, one promoted post reached 44 percent of its fan base whilst the other reached between 8 and 9 per cent. That is a HUGE disparity. I see no reason for them to advise us of the estimated reach of a promoted post if they are never going to honour it.
It makes me feel like every promoted post is a lottery. Am I going to reach 50 per cent of my fan base this time, am I going to reach 5 per cent? Who knows….let’s just leave it to lady luck, roll the dice and see what happens.
The Benefits of Promoting a Post
Facebook post promotion is not the ultimate way to promote your website online, though it does seem like a cheap way to reach a wide audience. Plus, social media shares are becoming a bigger factor on how pages are ranked in search engines, therefore promoting a post could be a good way to give an article a boost in the rankings.
To ensure a post promotion is a success, you need a number of things. Firstly, you need to publish a high quality article that people will want to share. Secondly, it is better to have a Facebook page with a large following. It could prove expensive to use this promotional method through Facebook pages with few fans. You also need to consider other factors such as the title of your article.
If you do not currently have a Facebook page with a large following, you have a few options:
- Grow Your Own Fan Page – You could promote it through your own website or by buying ads directly from Facebook or through a third-party service.
- Grow a Related Fan Page – It might be easier to grow a Facebook page on a slightly different topic.
- Ask Another Fan Page to Promote Your Fan Page – Perhaps the owner of a large Fan page would promote a post for you if you paid them for the privilege.
Certainly, you can promote posts from Facebook pages with few fans. You may not have a choice if you do not have the time or money to grow your Facebook page following. I may do this myself with this blog as it currently does not have a large following, but it will cost me. I will need to spend four to five times more money to promote an article directly to get the same level of traffic. My hope is that the traffic will be more targeted.
If you own a website and a related Facebook page, I recommend giving Facebook post promotion a try. You can promote a post from only $5. This will not generate a lot of traffic for you unless you have a lot of followers on Facebook, but you may be surprised by the results. You will get a lot more likes on your post and you may get a few more followers and readers. Remember to only promote high quality articles on your site. Promoting a poor article is just throwing your money away.
My Own Plans for Promoting Posts on Facebook
I spent over $20,000 on Facebook advertising last year though when it comes to Facebook post promotion, I am still a novice. I am hoping to change that over the next few months by doing many more tests.
There are many things I want to try out and analyse:
- Competitions – Could Facebook post promotion be used to make a competition message go viral?
- Images – Images are always shared on Facebook more than videos and links etc. Images might not send a lot of traffic to your website directly, however boosting a funny or interesting image could get you a lot of new followers to your Facebook page due to so many people sharing it.
- Different Post Topics – Do some post topics perform better than others?
- Targeting – A large part of this article focused on the benefit of promoting a post through a Facebook page with many fans. I do not know whether a post promotion through my own Facebook page will prove to be a better investment. Specifically, will the traffic be more targeted? There is only one way to find out, therefore I have promoted this post
Within the next week or so I am hoping to spend a day or so completely revamping Martial Arts Videos, the website I own which has nearly fifty thousand followers on Facebook. Most of the content on the site is automated, with selected videos being posted daily from YouTube. I will be relaunching it and ensuring that all articles are original and of a high quality. Normally it can take months to establish a new website though having fifty thousand existing fans puts me in a great position to launch the site with a blast. Facebook post promotion might help the site get huge amounts of traffic from day one.
My story with Facebook post promotion is far from finished. It is a subject which I hope to return to here. In the meantime, I would love to hear your opinion on Facebook post promotion, especially if you have used it before.
Thanks for reading,
Follow Up Articles
The following articles were published shortly after this one and continue my research into Facebook promotion:
About Kevin Muldoon
My name is Kevin and this is my blog :) I am an experienced blogger who has been working online actively since 2000. Through this blog I talk about internet marketing, technology and travelling. You can get updates to this blog by subscribing via RSS or Email. Alternatively, you can follow me on Google+, Facebook or Twitter.