Promoted Posts: Does Facebook Expect Page Owners to Pay Twice For Fans to NOT See Their Posts?

I find myself facing quite a conundrum. You see, I love Facebook! I think it’s one of the most powerful business tools in the world today. As a social media consultant, I advise every client taking the social media plunge, that the very first place to begin is with a Facebook Page. No matter what your business, a Facebook presence is necessary and will enhance your business in many ways.

I am constantly extolling the virtues of Facebook – for business or pleasure – to anyone who will listen. I admire Mark Zuckerberg, and tend to defend him and his company when others are complaining about constant changes rolling out (or dismal IPOs). I’ve been called a Facebook evangelist, and I wear the moniker with pride.

So what’s the problem? It’s actually two-fold:

  1. Promoted Posts: I don’t understand why Facebook is basically forcing Page owners to pay to reach their existing followers. I don’t understand it and I don’t like it. Not. One. Bit. More on this in a minute.
  2. Advertising to grow the Page so that more people won’t see your posts: Growing their Facebook community is one of the first things a Page owner is tasked with once they set up a Page. This can be done in a variety of ways, but the most effective has been advertising. I’ve never been okay with the fact that only about 16% of fans of a Page will see the posts, but when promoted posts rolled out that added insult to injury! It’s as though Facebook is telling Page owners: ‘Most people won’t see your posts, but you should keep advertising so that more people won’t see your posts. And, don’t fret over that 16% – for just a few bucks, we’ll be sure that another small percentage of your fans are reached – just not everyone!’ This is a real shame because I’ve personally experienced the effectiveness of Facebook ads for growing my own business Page. I’ve been running ads on my new Page and have watched it grow from 139 likes to over 800 in just a couple of weeks – still only about 10 – 12% are seeing my content.

Let’s look at each of these in more detail:

Promoted Posts

Promoted Posts is a new feature that’s been rolling out the past few days. They are accessed at the bottom of your post(s). For little as $5, you can promote your posts to reach more of the people who like your Page and their friends. 

Awesome!!!!

Wait. What???

I have to pay so that people who’ve already opted-in by liking my Page (and who I’ve already advertised to) will see my posts?? I’m at a loss to understand how business owners and social media managers believe this to be a good thing, but some seem to be genuinely excited about this feature. The way I see it, I already paid for those people to see my posts by advertising in the first place! The followers have already expressed to Facebook that they want to see my posts by clicking like.

But it gets better. Take a look at the image below that shows what I’ll get for my Promoted Post. I can pay $5.00 to reach an additional 70 of my…say it with me…EXISTING fans. How does that even make sense? I could take that same $5, apply it to advertising, and reach 200,000+ people who aren’t already connected to my brand. Funny thing is when Promoted Posts originally showed up on my Page, I had several pricing/reach options. Now, only one option…for less than 100 people. Update: As of this morning, my Promoted Posts will go out to 2,700 people. Still not cost effective.

Running Ad Campaigns So That More People Won’t See My Posts

As I said earlier, I’ve been running campaigns for my new Page and it’s grown to over 800 likes. I felt that this was a good investment at the time: grow the Page organically with ads targeted to my ideal audience of business owners. But now I’m wondering why I spent all that money and time running those campaigns since, in reality, I’ve just spent money so that more people won’t see my posts. Granted 16% of 800 is more than 16% of 139, but really???? I’d be willing to spend a lot more money on advertising – and encourage my clients to – if I knew that all of these new followers were going to see my posts after they like the Page. After all, I want to grow my Page so that those new people will see the information I post, connect and engage with me and my community, foster brand loyalty, and eventually some of them will become clients. That’s sort of the point.

Advertising is Facebook’s Largest Revenue Source

I understand that Facebook is a business and, as such, must generate revenue. I understand that to keep the platform free for users, advertising revenue is the name of the game. I also understand that given the recent IPO issues, Facebook probably feels the need to prove to the world that it’s a viable business that can generate big revenues. Got it. And, I understand that Facebook advertising is relatively cheap given the number of targeted people that can be reached.

So why does it seem that Facebook doesn’t understand that business owners will eventually advertise on the platform in order to grow their audience, engage with potential clients, and ultimately enhance and grow their businesses? There’s really no other way to grow your reach in such a targeted way without advertising. I mean, really, posting and asking for likes will only get you so far. At some point you’ll have to advertise. It’s just good business sense.  Or it was, anyway. Now it seems that I’m spending money growing my Page just so that I can spend more money trying to reach the same people I reached with the ads.

See also: Dear Mark Zuckerberg: Can We Talk?

If I were assured that posts from liked pages – mine, my clients’, or anyone else’s, for that matter – would, at the very least, show up in all the followers’ news feeds, I’d be all for the Promoted Posts along with advertising. As for now, I’ll continue to advise my clients to advertise, but will be certain that they’re made aware of the above issues, and may advise them to adjust their budgets accordingly.

Will you be advertising and/or promoting posts? Do you agree or disagree with my assessment of the issues? Please tell me what you think and what this means for your Page(s) – or your clients’ Pages. I want to hear your opinions!

 

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Carole Billingsley (@YouSeekSocial) is a social media consultant, speaker, and trainer. Combining her social media savvy with her expertise as an entertainment promoter, educator, and emergency preparedness coordinator, Carole founded Seek Social Media in 2011. She is known for her ability to make technical and social media topics easy to understand for even the least tech-savvy business owner.

19 Comments

  1. Susan
    May 31, 2012

    I agree 100% with your assessment! I have just recently started my “fan” page within the past two months and have been looking into the advertising options for additional promotion. Prior to this change I was completely ready to spend the money for advertising – but now am questioning the entire thing. Facebook seemed to be the best outlet to reach my target audience, but now I’m trying to think of other (more cost effective) ways to accomplish my goals. Some days I post up to 10 times on my page – sharing information, humor, tips, etc – to engage my audience. Do I really want to spend $5 on each of those posts for SOME of my fan base to see it? I’m thinking no….

    Reply
    • Carole
      June 3, 2012

      Thanks for your comment, Susan! In spite of my current disillusionment, I still believe in Facebook as a powerful business tool. I think that they will eventually get it right with regard to helping businesses market effectively on the platform. I just hope it’s sooner, rather than later!

      Reply
  2. Alison Davis
    June 2, 2012

    Wow. After reading your incredibly informative article, I know I have to make immediate changes in my current advertising protocol.

    I will be seeking your assistance; what I had been suspecting has turned out to be the case without question.

    Thank you for clarifying what has been in the back of my mind for awhile — and keep this amazing site growing!!!

    ~ Alison
    http://www.alisondavis.org

    Reply
    • Carole
      June 3, 2012

      Thanks for your comment, Alison! I still believe in the power of Facebook and believe that they’ll get it right for marketers at some point. I have to keep reminding myself that this is a young company in a young industry and they’re trying to figure it out as they go….just as we are!

      Reply
  3. Kevin
    June 5, 2012

    Carole,

    Can you clarify the numbers for me? You mention 16% will see your posts in a pre-promote world. Does that mean that all along when we think our posts go to the pages of all of our likes, that they really didn’t or is that the calculation for what percentage of people see them before they fall off the bottom of the page?

    I am really trying to understand, what percentage of the time did my posts at least make it to pages of those who liked us (not the % who saw it) versus what this new model does – which is not very clear on how it does it? Does promoting just keep the post in queue so that when someone logs in to view there page, it gets displayed as opposed to being missed by getting pushed down in the newsfeed?

    Reply
    • Carole
      June 6, 2012

      Hi Kevin,
      Thanks for your comments. Facebook says that approximately 16% of your fans will see your posts in their news feeds. To me, that says that your posts will only be put into 16% of your fans’ news feeds. This is based on their algorithm, EdgeRank, which is a combination of three variables: Affinity Score, Weight, and Time Decay. The more a fan interacts with your content, the more likely it will show in their news feed. Here’s a good explanation of EdgeRank, in case you’re not familiar: http://uptowntreehouse.com/blog/2011/09/get-more-people-to-see-your-facebook-posts-understanding-edgerank-and-nfo/

      My contention has always been that when a person likes a Page, they do so because they WANT to see the information that Page posts. If they later find that the Page is posting substandard content, posting too often, or whatever, they can and will unlike the Page. I’ve never understood why Facebook thinks they’re doing anyone a favor by deciding what posts a user wants to see. Secondly, it’s difficult for a user to interact with content that they never see.

      In my opinion, Facebook’s thinking is very flawed in this area and, if they want brands to spend money on advertising and/or promoting posts, they’d better make some changes to their algorithm.

      From what I understand about Promoted Posts, yes, they are kept in the queue longer (up to 3 days) so that there is a greater possibility for fans and friends of fans will see your post. As I said in my blog post, this adds insult to injury to those who are already spending money to get fans to their Pages in the first place. The fact that I paid to advertise, and those fans liked my Page from clicking the ad, means that those people should see my Page’s posts, whether I promote the posts or not.

      Reply
  4. Kris
    June 5, 2012

    Like many other were “enjoying” a 15-20% reach to our fans until about a week ago. In the last week the reach has dropped to just about 5-10%.

    We didn’t get the Promote option so we contacted facebook and they said we have too many likes to be able to access the Promoted Post function. Currently, only Pages with between 400 to 100,000 likes are eligible to see the Promote button. Since our total number of likes is above 100,000 the Promote button will not appear in our Page timeline sharing tool.

    Needless to say we have pulled our ads from facebook as we can’t justify promoting our page to reach new fans if we can’t reach the fans we already have.

    It it just mean or does it seem fishy we all seem to have similar %’s

    Reply
    • Carole
      June 6, 2012

      Kris,
      Thanks so much for your comment. Ironically, I, too, have seen my reach percentages drop – even while running an ad campaign, which really makes no sense at all! As for the 100K cap on Pages that can offer Promoted Posts, that sounds as though Facebook doesn’t want anyone getting too much of a good thing for a few bucks.

      I, too, just pulled my ads from Facebook. I agree 100%…and told the Facebook ads team that I can no longer justify spending money on advertising so that more people WON’T see my content. I’m also advising clients to do the same…unless their goal is simply growing the Page – though I’m not sure what the value of that is, at this point.

      As I said in my reply above to Kevin, Facebook’s thinking is very flawed in this regard and if they want folks to advertise – and they do – then they need to make some changes to the algorithm…and realize that their users are fully capable of unliking Pages that generate substandard content.

      And yes, I agree….the similar percentages are a little fishy!

      Reply
  5. Dana
    June 8, 2012

    I agree with you 100%. For the moment, I feel that I would be throwing good money after bad if I continue Facebook Ads -OR- promote my posts.

    It seems that Facebook is taking a “how can I not help you today…unless I take more of your money” approach.

    I’m strongly considering other social media avenues that I have not invested much time in before now.

    Reply
    • Carole
      June 10, 2012

      Agree, Dana! I don’t like feeling this way, either…I’ve always been such a huge advocate of Facebook. I really hope they get it together and make some changes. Thanks for your comment!

      Reply
  6. Chris-Tal
    June 12, 2012

    Although your assessment seems noteworthy and well-researched, and your self-proclaimed title of FB evangelist seems to lend to the authenticity of this article, it seems it is not accurate and people should be encouraged to research more before accepting these “facts” as truth. Here are 2 links to get you started…

    https://www.facebook.com/help/promote

    https://www.facebook.com/NewsOnSignal/posts/278625812234817

    Reply
    • Carole
      June 12, 2012

      Thanks for your comment, Chris-Tal. My assessment is based on personal experience with Facebook as a user, advertiser, and social media consultant. Perhaps I was unclear in my post…

      I was NOT suggesting that Facebook was ‘forcing’ all Page owners to pay to get their posts seen. I don’t foresee a time when it will be mandatory for ALL Page owners to advertise, promote posts, or anything of that nature. I also said that I was re-thinking whether to suggest ad campaigns for my clients – if I were suggesting they or Promoted Posts were mandatory, I’d have nothing to think about.

      The issues that I discussed were in no way related to the IPO offering either, just to be clear. I don’t believe these changes to be directly related to the IPO as Facebook has been looking for ways to monetize the site for years. I also never stated or implied that a Page’s posts would not be seen by any of their fans without using Promoted Posts, nor did I imply that if Promoted Posts were used all fans would see them – neither of those is true.

      I’m quite familiar with EdgeRank and the way it works, as I observe how it affects my Page and those of my clients every day. The issue with ER is that a user’s affinity for the Page’s posts weighs heavily in whether that user ever sees a Page’s posts. My contention has always been that if a user likes a Page, the posts should be in the news feed. That still doesn’t guarantee that the user will see them; they will simply have the ability to see them. I believe that users are quite capable of weeding out Pages that share substandard content, post too often, etc. I, personally, don’t like the fact that many of the Pages that I’ve liked don’t show in my news feed. I may not always interact with every post, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to see them. I’ve held that complaint for quite a while. How can a fan demonstrate his affinity for the Page by liking, commenting, or sharing if he doesn’t have the ability to see the post in the first place?

      During the live-feed of fMC (Facebook’s marketing conference) on February 29th of this year they told us that, on average, 16% of a Page’s fans see its posts (See Mashable’s write-up here – scroll to the section on Reach Generator: http://mashable.com/2012/02/29/facebook-ads-explainer/ ). As I’ve made clear, I wish it were different, but those are the rules we play by today.

      While running ads for my business’ Page, I was seeing a minimum of 100 new likes per day on my Page. They came in groups – 20 or 30 within an hour. I made posts during the hour when a group of likes was appearing on the Page, yet the in-line analytics consistently showed that only a small percentage of the total fans were seeing the posts. That leads me to believe that many of the new likes weren’t even receiving the posts, taking me back to my original assertion – if they don’t see it they can’t engage with it. On top of that, the numbers of fans seeing the posts was more like 10-12% rather than 16%. This was occurring no matter the time of the posts. That makes absolutely no sense and has not been the case in the past.

      During my campaign, Facebook rolled out Promoted Posts touting it as a way to ‘reach more of the people who like your Page and their friends’. This is what made me so upset. At a time when my Page’s reach should’ve been its highest, it was the lowest it’s ever been – and I was spending a good deal of money each day for the ads. Couple that with the offer from Facebook that more of my EXISTING fans could be reached for just a few dollars more by promoting posts, and well…my article was born out of the frustration. As I’d already paid for those fans to come to my Page via the ads, yes, it felt as though Facebook was asking me – and others in similar situations – to pay twice for the same people to see my posts.

      That’s a far cry from saying that Page owners are now being ‘forced’ to pay for their posts to be seen by anyone.

      As for my being a ‘self-proclaimed Facebook evangelist’…that was intended to be tongue-in-cheek. Clients and friends have referred to me as a Facebook evangelist due to fact that I typically defend Facebook changes and proclaim it King of social media sites.

      BTW, if you know the folks who run the NewsOnSignal.com Facebook Page, you may want to tell them to cite their sources, as the article you posted for us to use for research is a complete copy and paste of an article that appeared on Thatsnonsense.com on June 6 (http://thatsnonsense.com/blog/?p=409). I’m sure Thatsnonsense.com would appreciate (and expect) the attribution.

      Again, thanks for your comment and I hope I’ve cleared things up for you.

      Reply
      • NewsOnSignal
        December 15, 2012

        Hello,
        I was the owner of NewsOnSignal when the site was active. In the comment above, you are claiming that we “stole” an article off of thatsnonsense.com. Your information is wrong. We never “copy and paste” anything. Please correct your false information.

        Reply
        • Carole
          December 15, 2012

          Dear Chance,
          I’m not sure why you’re suddenly bothered by or bringing this up 6 months after the fact, especially since it appears your company is no longer in existence? However, since you did I will make ONE correction. I’ve just re-read both articles in question. The one published on the thatsnonsense.com site on June 6, 2012 which can be found here: http://thatsnonsense.com/blog/do-page-owners-now-have-to-pay-to-reach-viewers/ and the one posted on the NewsonSignal.com FB page on June 11, 2012 that can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/NewsOnSignal/posts/278625812234817 are WORD-FOR-WORD EXACTLY THE SAME with the exception of ONE SENTENCE in the last paragraph where your post cites an article that can be found on Mashable (yet doesn’t provide a link) and the thatsnonsense post cites their own article regarding interest lists. That one sentence is the only difference between the two articles. So either you or one of your representatives copied and pasted – changing one sentence – or thatsnonsense copied and pasted your article and published it before you.

          There’s nothing wrong with sharing information. After all, that’s what social media is about! But to plagiarize someone else’s article by not giving them credit for their work is wrong. Then, SIX MONTHS LATER, you have the gall to accuse me of not having MY facts straight? I wonder…did you read both articles prior to posting your comment??

          Please correct your own information before trying to call someone else out.
          Thanks,
          Carole

          Reply
  7. Moolah & More… Why The Number of Facebook Pages Decreasing
    May 10, 2013

    [...] online searching answers to my problem about Facebook pages “Likes” and I found this Blog Post – Facebook Expect Page Owners to Pay Twice For Fans to NOT See Their Posts. Promoting your [...]

    Reply
  8. Simone Icough
    October 9, 2013

    I run a support group and now have over 4,500 members, when the updates rolled out I wanted to cry, I noticed immediately that my support is now NOT supporting the people who post, before, a member would aska question and get a reply within minutes from another member and the moderators, however, since the update, so few people see these updates so now there is less interaction. I worked so hard to get the likes in the first place and yes I also invested valuable time and money building the support group – for what? We are a support group there to help others with a spinal condition called Scoliosis and we are non-profit, now my members are lucky if they get a reply at all, which makes the whole point of my fan page quite pointless, we don’t have oodles of cash to spend to engage, we were engaging and helping people. I know we have to continue and work with what we have got but sometimes I do wonder if it is worth all the extra hassle. We are constantly updating and replying to members but it is mainly the moderators now who see the posts so the support from other members is now being lost simply because those members are not seeing the updates

    I think it is a real shame and very dis-heartening for many businesses and support groups

    Reply
    • Carole
      October 10, 2013

      You might want to consider asking your group’s members to either add your page to an Interest List or to click Get Notifications so that they can see all of your posts.

      To create an Interest List:
      Go to your Interests page and click the Add Interests button.
      Click Create List.
      Search for the people or Pages you want to add to your list using the search box at the top of the page, or use the categories on the left to browse.
      After you’ve selected the things you want to include on your list, click Next.
      Pick a name for your list.
      Select a privacy setting. Choose Public if you want others to be able to subscribe to the list you’ve created.
      Click Done.

      To Get Notifications from a page:
      Go to the page.
      Click on the “Liked” button.
      Click Get Notifications.
      Once Get Notifications is clicked, the user will get a notification every time a post is made on your page.

      Hope this helps!!
      Carole

      Reply
  9. Sherri
    January 7, 2014

    Wow. Ok. With all of the Facebook changes since you first posted this, are those numbers still accurate? When people liked my page, I thought that meant that they were receiving my posts.

    Again wow.

    In the past couple weeks, the boost option seems to have disappeared. But, it lead me to believe that by boosting the post I was going to be reaching the friends of all of the people who liked my page. Bit the people who like my page aren’t even seeing it?

    I’m having other issues, with the way the different ads are presented to us vs what they actually do.

    Did you know that running a post engagement ad is that we get to pay to reach the people who like our page? Whaaa? I advertised, with very specific demographics, expecting to bring NEW people to my page, I was running a sweepstakes.

    Any enlightenment? I came here madder than the hatter, now I’m even more angry!

    Reply
    • Carole
      January 8, 2014

      Hi Sherri,
      Unfortunately, my response most likely will not soothe your anger. The numbers have continued to decline, in both reach and engagement, for quite some time. I’m seeing this across the board for all types of small businesses, especially those that have small or non-existent ad budgets (for FB ads). I’ve all but given up on FB as a viable marketing tool for small business. That being said, I think it’s important for businesses to have a presence on FB since, most likely, your audience is there and will come looking, but my limited ad dollars will be spent elsewhere in 2014. I’ll be looking into Google and Twitter ads, as well as devoting more time to other platforms (i.e. G+, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn).

      For the record, I used to be a FB evangelist! People used to ask if they paid me for my word-of-mouth PR. Times have changed. It seems that FB is more focused on brands with huge ad budgets while, seemingly intentionally, ignoring the little guys.

      Right, Boost Post will typically only help you reach those who’ve already liked your page (and still not all of them) and their friends. They’ve recently added the targeting option to the Boost Post ads, but I haven’t even bothered to try them because the targeting seems irrelevant as they can only be targeted by up to 4 interests, geographically, and by gender/age. I wonder if that is targeting the existing fans who fit those interests. From your comment, I’m more convinced that this is the case.

      Yes, I did know that the Page Post Engagement ads are basically the same as Boost Post and do nothing to bring new people to your page. Instead, as you observed, you’re paying to reach more of the people who already liked your page. It makes no sense. Not sure how you were running your sweepstakes (with an app, on your page, on your website), but (if you’re willing to try again) you may want to consider an App Engagement ad or an Offer Claim ad – or even a targeted Page Like ad.

      Thanks so much for your comment! Sorry that I can’t offer anything more reassuring. Please let me know if I can help you in any way.
      Carole

      Reply

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