Sponsored posts — Facebook’s latest ad unit — is attracting a lot of attention lately.
In many ways, I think Facebook has hit a gold mine here. From my perspective as a page admin, we’ve captured a user base that’s passionate about our brand, and we’re willing to pay extra to reach people that we wouldn’t normally reach. These are:
- Fans that don’t actively comment, view, or “like” page content (so FB shows it to them less), but still want to be notified about important things that happen with StudentRND.
- Fans who visit Facebook at different times than when we post
- Friends of fans that share similar interests
Lately, there’s been a lot of criticism about Facebook’s sponsored posts — Mark Cuban created a media storm when he announced the Dallas Mavericks were going to focus more on Twitter and Tumblr. But it’s not just him. Facebook page admins are angry — they feel that Facebook’s holding the fans, which brands spent much effort acquiring, hostage for ~$3CPM.
Proponents of Facebook’s promoted posts argue that the only reason page admins are angry is that Facebook only started showing statistics for post reach recently — and users never understood that each post didn’t reach all of each page’s fans.
That’s kind of true. But at the same time, from our experience at StudentRND, we’ve experienced a dramatic drop in organic engagement shortly after Facebook announced the availability of this ad unit (shortly, meaning ~3 weeks or so?). It’s hard to really quantify, because different post types (images, text, links, etc) are prioritized in different ways, “likes” and other engagement will increase engagement, and because of our small sample size. But here’s some examples:
Using Promoted Posts
Anyways, StudentRND and several of our volunteers decided to start using Facebook Promoted Posts — and we’ve had really mixed results. I’m not quite sure how if it’s just our experiences, or something more universal.
Here’s our first test with promoted posts. Promoting is pretty easy, there’s only two options:
- "People who like your page and their friends", or "People who like your page"
- Spending amount (for us, the options are $5, $10, $15)
Here’s the result:
Wait, what? According to Facebook, 811/944 of our page’s likes are from users set to English (US)! And those names don’t look English (US) to me! At our next opportunity, we decided to try setting the option to “people who like your page”. Here’s the result:
This is weird. Most of these likes are from China, but we don’t have many Chinese fans on our Facebook page.
What’s going on here? We’re very puzzled — Facebook promoted posts are definitely exciting, but we can’t seem to use them effectively.