Sep 30, 2014 • Jessica Jones
If you’ve ever wished that your Facebook page was a little more popular - that you had more likes, that more people interacted, that you had better numbers in the all-important “Post Reach” box - you may have been tempted to throw a little money at it in hopes that it would help to pick things up. While I’m not going to discourage you from investing in a well planned Facebook marketing campaign, I will discourage you from spending any money on Facebook without (how long have you been reading my posts now? You know what I’m about to say) a plan.
You probably already know that your Facebook followers don’t all see all of your posts. When someone hits “Like” on your Facebook, that doesn’t mean that they will see all of your posts on their feed from then on. In fact, the estimated percentages of your followers who actually see your posts are dishearteningly low. Why is this? According to Facebook, their algorithms to determine which users see which posts are based on a desire to show users content that is of the most interest and value to them. A cynic might say that this approach is a great way for Facebook to gain revenue by charging businesses to show posts to users who are already following them.
It is true that the “Boost Post” button is lying in wait every time you make a post to your business page, like the candy bars at the cash register, hoping for an impulse buy. The fact that you can boost your post (to a very limited group of people) for a day for only $1 adds to the impulse buy vibe. While boosting posts could potentially be a valuable element to a well thought out Facebook campaign (you know, a plan), throwing money at it here and there without any real strategy is going to do little more than line Facebook’s pockets.
First off, before you put any money into boosting your Facebook audience, you should make certain that you’re already doing everything you can to maximize your Facebook reach organically. One thing that will help your reach is engagement: when users engage with your posts (comment on them, like them, share them, etc.) regularly, they will be more likely to continue seeing your posts in their feed, because they have effectively let Facebook know that your content is valuable to them. In order to accomplish this, however, you need to be publishing content that is actually engaging. If your users aren’t motivated to interact with your posts to begin with, paying extra money to make sure more people see those posts might not do you a lot of good. Boosting posts may put them in front of more eyes, but they aren’t going to make people any more likely to engage - only the quality of your posts can do that.
You should also evaluate your goals before you choose a method of extending your Facebook reach. If, rather than building your Facebook readership in general, your goal is to promote a specific event, product or special, you may be better off paying for a Facebook ad instead. The Facebook Ads Manager will ask you what your goal is for the campaign (page likes, offer claims, etc.) and guide you through the process of building your ad accordingly. Ads Manager will also offer you more options as far as your target audience and a more robust system of reports and statistics. If your goal is to conduct an ad campaign using Facebook as the medium rather than to build your Facebook presence, then Ads Manager is definitely where you want to focus your attention.
In fact, the Ads Manager may be a better option overall - many resources online recommend against using the “Boost Post” option at all due to its limited options. Either way, as with any type of advertisement or marketing budget, you should have a strategy for any money you’re spending on Facebook. If at all possible it would benefit you to have the assistance of someone who is knowledgable about Facebook campaigns and how to approach yours in order to maximize the return on your investment. Facebook’s checkout-aisle-candy-bar presentation may make it seem as though it’s as easy as entering in your credit card information and throwing some money at it, but to get real value for your dollars you’ll need to put some strategy into it. Facebook is an advertising medium like any other, and you wouldn’t run a print, television or radio campaign without considering your options and deciding how best to reach your target audience.
When it comes to putting money into your Facebook presence, there is one option that you should absolutely avoid: buying likes. Yes, it is possible to buy likes - but “possible” does not at all equate “advisable.” Like-sellers are operating outside of Facebook’s terms of service, usually selling likes from bogus accounts housed overseas. These bogus accounts are frequently shut down when they are discovered by Facebook, which can cause like-buyers to suddenly lose the phony followers that they’ve paid for.
Not only is like-buying a bad financial investment, given the ease with which you could lose what you paid for, but it also reflects extremely poorly on your business. Paying to boost your numbers via fake overseas profiles? Don’t be that guy. A small local business that gains 25,000 likes to its Facebook page overnight is about as inconspicuous as a balding, grey-haired man who suddenly shows up with a full head of black hair. And then if Facebook takes those likes away all at once? Just don’t go there. Really.
Can Facebook be a valuable advertising tool? Can it be worthwhile to put money as well as time into your Facebook presence? With a well planned campaign, certainly. Is it the best use of your marketing budget? The answer to that is going to be different for every business, and has everything to do with your goals and your target audience. If you make certain that any money you spend on Facebook is spent wisely and ethically, you may find that it is an effective medium for your marketing budget. Just don’t treat it as a here-and-there impulse buy. Marketing should be a planned strategy, not a candy bar or a lottery ticket.