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Jack Cotter, social media expert for Dealerscope and CustomRetailer, helps retailers and manufacturers find the answers to their social media problems.

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Facebook Promoted Posts: Pay Up, or Face Up

These days a post on your business Facebook page just doesn't go as far as it used to. And back in my day we had to trudge a mile through the snow to get to the store (and looking outside right now, it seems like that's what I'll be doing today).

By now you may have heard someone complaining about how Facebook changed its algorithms for EdgeRank to favor its own Promoted Posts program. Now, posts on you business pages will reach fewer of your fans' newsfeeds... unless, of course, you're willing to pay.

Looking at the Facebook growth from month-to-month for every brand in our publishing company, the drop in new likes was jarring, particularly for November. So with of the brands, we took two different paths to try to solve the problem. Path number one involved paying Facebook (not too much, and not permanently). Path number two was the time-intensive, but free method of posting and tagging. Both are working in their own ways. Here's my take on the two strategies:

1. Pay up sucker

We took a month with one brand and paid Facebook for Promoted Posts. To maximize the results we got all of our editors on board with a theme for each week, and we tried to put up a quality theme-related post each day.

We spent $130 for the month and saw engagement increase 475% (although that was from a very low starting point). How much of that had to with the Promoted Post spend, and how much was the result of quality themed content, I can't say for sure. But part of the whole point was to kickstart our EdgeRank so that Facebook would carry over our newfound importance once we stopped paying. Growth has continued even without another group-wide themed content push, not at an increased rate, but considering that rate of growth dropped for many other brands, breaking even might be considered a win.

2. Tag, tag, and tag

With other brands we did not pay for Promoted Posts and we saw a period of pretty dismal growth. Fortunately CES, and some quality content came to the rescue. While a simple text and link post, even with a company tagged, wasn't getting far, an album of photographs with many people and companies tagged proved to be the most successful content we've ever posted. In January, the brand pages had their best month of the year, and engagement is at an all-time high.

What did we learn?
Spending for a month on Promoted Posts is probably worth it, as long as you back up the money spent with a real content strategy. It does appear that it established our brand with Facebook, and the EdgeRank boost seems to have continued several months later even if content has fallen back into the routine.

The better lesson is that Facebook is made for, wait for it... faces! A brand calling out another brand in a post is getting buried, and why shouldn't it. As a user, do I really want to see that on my newsfeed? No. But a brand calling out a person is still reaching that individual and their whole network of friends. Put up quality, original, personalized content, tag it, and you'll see just as much success as if you bought your rank.

Take whichever path best suites your company. If possible take them both. But in my opinion, Facebook at its core is still about faces, not your brand. Also, visit Dealerscope on Facebook.

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