Facebook Increases Pressure to Use Paid Posts
Many companies have noticed some strange things when studying the analytics of their Facebook pages lately. In particular, their reach numbers seem to be bouncing all over the place with no apparent rhyme or reason.
Your “reach” is the number of people who actually see a specific one of your posts. You might be surprised (and disappointed) to realize that not all of your followers see all of your content. In fact, on average only a small fraction of your followers will see any given post. This is due mainly to Facebook’s unique, ever-changing and mysterious algorithm that determines what people see, where and for how long.
One the main drivers that determine visibility is engagement. This means that the more people who interact with your post (say, by liking it or commenting), the more it will get bumped up on followers’ feeds. This is why old posts suddenly seem to come back to life by popping up on feeds after someone decides to comment on it or, more likely, reply to an older existing comment. Of course, a post will also get wider reach if some of your users share it with their own friends and followers.
Facebook says it uses this system in order to cut down on the amount of junk that people see in their newsfeeds, and to show people things that would most interest them. Cynics point out, though, that Facebook has essentially created a problem for which they are offering to sell you a solution. If you don’t want to rely upon the activity or engagement of your followers to boost a post’s visibility, there is another way to boost your reach—and, probably not surprisingly, it’s a way that makes Facebook money. That’s because you can pay to do a promoted post, which will be seen be a larger group of people than your typical, non-paid post.
While in the past there was a slightly more subtle push to use promoted posts in order to be seen, Facebook has been increasingly blunt about stressing the importance of using promoted posts in order to get wider visibility and more prominent placement in followers’ news feeds.
Ideally, you can increase your reach organically (that is, without paying) by posting content that provokes reaction and engagement. However, if your organic numbers aren’t as high as you would like—or if there is a specific post you really want people to see—you may have no choice but to consider using paid posts. Unfortunately, this is a situation where it may boil down to, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” By relying on organic viewership, you risk having your content get buried by other people’s paid posts, which are enjoying a prime spot high atop followers’ news feeds.
This doesn’t mean you need to pay for every single post. Most likely, the smartest and most effective approach will include a carefully planned combination of paid and non-paid posts, incorporated as part of a larger, more comprehensive social media and content marketing strategy.
To learn how we helped one client boost their engagement activity while also earning more money, check out our case study, Boosting Reach, Engagement and Sales through Social Media.