The short answer, is no. The long answer is that it really drives me crazy when people have a Chicken Little mentality and spread rumors instead of getting the facts. Whew. ;)
So what is this new feature on Facebook’s business pages, and what the heck does it do?
Well, to better understand the way that it works, you first need to have a little bit of an understanding of how Facebook works. Specifically, how Facebook delivers your posts and status updates to your friends and fans. Facebook uses an algorithm called EdgeRank to determine who sees what in their News feeds. I can hear some of you going, what? I don’t always show in my fans’ feed? Then what’s the point of having fans? The fact is, that Facebook is just too big anymore to deliver every single thing that someone types into everyone’s feed. I have 1,748 friends on Facebook, and have “Liked” 578 pages. That’s a whopping 2,326 opportunities for someone to feed me information. There is no way that I can read everything, from all of those friends, and all of those pages. I can’t even imagine trying, it would make my head spin! So Facebook looks at the pages that are more RELEVANT to you, and will deliver that information accordingly. Without going into an entire post about EdgeRank, basically this means that certain posts are delivered to certain people, and not others. It’s estimated that 14-18% of your fans see your posts. Shocked? That means that if you have 1,000 fans, it is estimated that a mere 140-180 people will see what you post. How is that determined, you might be asking? EdgeRank. The people who regularly “Like” your posts or comment will see them more often. Certain posts are weighed more heavily than others as well. For instance, any posts from third party applications, such as HootSuite or SociRoll, have a lower EdgeRank – meaning less people will see them. Facebook wants to drive people to post on Facebook itself instead of other applications, so posting from within Facebook will rank higher than other applications.
Whew. Is your head spinning yet? That is a VERY vague description of how EdgeRank works. If you’d like to learn more and increase your efficacy on Facebook, I highly recommend reading up on EdgeRank. Just Google it, there are a TON of tools, articles and tutorials.
SO, now that you’re all experts on why only a certain number of people see your posts, let’s talk about the highlighted posts. I’ve done a little Facebook experiment that I would love to share with you. First, we’re going to look at several posts that I’ve put up in the past month or so. Now keep in mind that when I show you these insights, there are several things that influence how many people see these posts. Time of day, type of post, the number of people that like or comment – these are all things that can change the total number of people reached. But here are some examples:
First up, just a regular old post. No links, nothing special, posted on a Friday morning. You can see that 23% of my fans were reached, 271 fans that are organic – meaning fans that like my page, and 19 that were viral – meaning people that saw the post because it was on a friend’s page, they haven’t directly liked my page. Not too bad as far as the reach goes. This particular post had 2 likes and 2 comments.
Next, a photo of my beautiful daughter, saying cheese on a Monday morning. 326 people were reached total, 24% of my fans, 257 organic and 75 viral. What can I say, my girl is popular. ;) This post ended up with 9 likes, and 3 comments.
Next we have a link. Those of you who follow me on Facebook know that anytime I have a new blog post, it goes on Facebook too. There are several reasons for that, but that’s a whole different post for another time. This particular post didn’t do so well. 12% of my fans were reached, with 138 organic and 12 viral. This is probably closer to average for most businesses that aren’t active on Facebook. This post came out with 2 likes and no comments.
Here is another basic post that did very well. There were 16 likes and 2 comments, 30% of my fans were reached, 316 organic and 171 viral. I’m still not entirely sure why this one has so many viral users, but EdgeRank is just like Google’s algorithms – ever changing and mysterious. ;)
This was a shared post – meaning that it was a photo that I saw on Facebook and shared to my business page. It did pretty well too, with zero comments but 12 likes. The viral stats aren’t bad either!
For anyone unfamiliar with Facebook’s insights, I highly recommend that you learn a little bit about how to read them. It will help you immensely in determining your message and reach on Facebook!
Let’s look at the highlighted post now. Yes, I paid the $5.00. First things first – when you “pay” $5, you’re actually setting a budget. That portion works very similarly to Facebook ads. You’re not paying $5 up front, you are saying that you’d like to promote the post until your $5 budget is spent. Facebook sets it up for 72 hours, but if your budget is spent before that, the promotion will turn off. When you are posting something onto your business page, you have the option underneath the post to “Promote.” That is where you can choose your budget, and depending on the budget and post, you can choose the timeframe as well. You can also promote posts that are already posted, three days from when they are posted. So if you choose not to do it up front and decide to do it later, you can do so within three days. This is NOT the same as pinning your posts to the top or highlighting across your page – this is a paid promotion.
And I wanted to know how well it worked, so I set up an experiment. ;)
In the experiment, I kept track of the statistics and options as time wore on. This is the post that I decided to highlight. This was posted on Wednesday, June 6th, at 11:21am – prime time. When I first put the post up, my “estimated reach” for a $5 budget was 1,000, and $10 was 1,400. This is just an estimate, the number of people that Facebook things you might be able to reach if you spend that amount of money. What was interesting to me, is that the estimate changed based on the number of people that liked the post. After two likes, the numbers went up to 1,400 for $5 and 2,200 for $10. That’s quite a jump for two likes. I watched the stats for awhile before actually promoting the post.
10 minutes after posting, 2 likes – 1,400 for $5, 2,200 for $10
30 minutes after posting, 7 likes, 3 comments – 227 people reached, 19% – 1,200 for $5, 1,400 for $10. I’m not sure why the estimates went down.
45 minutes after posting, 9 likes, 4 comments – 266 people reached, 22% – 1,200 for $5, 1,800 for $10.
60 minutes after posting, 12 likes, 11 comments – 314 people reached, 23% – 1,400 for $5, 2,200 for $10.
2 hours after posting, 15 likes, 13 comments – 463 people reached, 29% – 1,400 for $5, 2,200 for $10. This is when I clicked Promote and set my $5 budget for promotion.
12 hours after posting, 21 likes, 19 comments – 714 people reached, 39%, $.82 of budget spent, 100 reached by promotion. This means that 100 people have seen this post at this point because of the promotion.
21 hours after posting, 23 likes, 21 comments – 806 people reached, 40%, $1.10 of budget spent, 146 reached by promotion.
24 hours after posting, 24 likes, 21 comments – 845 people reached, 41%, $1.37 of budget spent, 179 reached by promotion.
30 hours after posting I received an email from someone gushing about the post and the shoot. I have no idea who she is, where she came from or how she found me, she didn’t say. She’s not a fan of mine on Facebook, I looked for her name. I looked at my web stats to see if I could find out where the person came from, based on the timing of her email, and there was no referral from Facebook at that particular time, so she could have come from anywhere. Without asking her directly (which I have done, but no response) I will never know if her email was the result of the promotion. She specifically mentioned this blog post though.
48 hours after posting, 26 likes, 25 comments – 1026 people reached, 44%, $3.42 of budget spent, 303 reached by promotion.
After the campaign had run for 72 hours and my budget was spent, here are the final numbers:
26 total likes, 26 comments
1089 people reached (the screenshot was taken today, not at the very end of the campaign, so the numbers are different) or 49% of my fans
362 people were reached because of the promotion of the post
$5.00 budget was completely spent
Again, these numbers are a little different from the screenshots because the screenshots are from today, not the end of the promotion.
At the end of the promotion, 459 organic fans saw the post, 534 viral, and 362 paid. 49% of the people who follow my page saw the post, and 8% of those were reached through promotion.
So what the heck does all of this mean? This means that an additional 362 people saw my post, that might not have seen it otherwise. It also means that if these people commented or liked the post, their friends could have seen it in their feed, which contributed to the viral capacity of the post. One thing that is REALLY important to remember – that viral number means those people are NOT ALREADY your fans. So 534 people that are not already fans of my page saw this particular post. I post on Facebook to have conversations, not only with my existing clients, but with new people that I haven’t yet had the chance to meet. Those 534 had my name in front of them. Did they book anything, or did it matter to them? There’s really no way to tell. But maybe in the future, someone that I meet will say “hey, I saw that Clocktower shoot and loved it!” The point is, you really never know.
Bottom line, would I pay to promote things in the future? Sure. But only specific things that I really want to get in front of more faces. I have an announcement this week that is super exciting, and I will probably shell out the $5 to promote that one because I want to get it OUT there. Will I promote every post? No, definitely not. But there are some posts that I really want to be seen. Some are just fun and I love to play around on Facebook, some are definitely more important from a business and operational standpoint than others.
If you aren’t following me on Facebook, you are missing out on all of this super fun stuff. And toilet paper discussions. Over or under?! The debate rages on. Click here to go over to my Facebook page, and please click “Like” if you like what I do. I recently reached 1,000 followers and will be doing a giveaway to celebrate!
If you are a business owner and completely lost when it comes to promoting your business on Facebook, contact me. I help a ton of business owners with Facebook, social media and SEO.
I have a big announcement this week that I am SUPER excited, and a little nervous about. It will be going out to my newsletter subscribers tomorrow, so if you’re not on my mailing list, click here to sign up! I promise there is no spam, your email address goes nowhere except to me, and it will get you some awesome news and information every other week.
And if you’re as fascinated by this stuff as I am, please leave me a comment below with your thoughts or feedback. Like I said, Edgerank is ever changing and complicated, but I thought my findings were definitely intriguing!
Great post, Brooke. I, too, promoted a post as an experiment. My budget was $5 per day for three days, and the post reached 2543 people, of which 46 were organic (13% of my fans), 0 viral and the rest paid. I’m guessing my low rate of exposure is because my posts to FB are not consistent or as frequent as they need to be. And I have 227 fans compared to your 1000. Anyway, I really think paying for online listings or advertising is a big waste of money and have sworn this method off for the time being. I really believe this business is based on personal networking, which means getting out there and meeting people in person.
I absolutely agree that there is no better way to network than in person, meeting people face to face. This is an interesting method though, something that is different and offers someone a way to get something in front of more eyes, without running an ad. I don’t know that I will do it often, but I’m intrigued as to how it will evolve and change. From what I’ve read, it has fared pretty well in other countries that it was tested in before it came to the US.
Thank you for the comment!
Great article Brooke, thanks so much for sharing! And I would have to say in my experience that both in-person & online marketing are equally important! Of course referrals are very important in this super-competitive business. However, as visual artist its important to put ourselves out there visually online. When someone finds you and falls in love with your work they will follow you…and hopefully eventually book you ;-)
Really great info., Brooke! Thank you!