I’ve been running a few Facebook experiments using the Facebook “Boost Post” advertising feature. The short answer is, it does what it says it will do. Alas, it cost me nothing less than my very soul to discover this information.
When I post articles/images/whatever to Facebook, it’s rarely seen. Admittedly, I’m not a person with a ton of friends/fans over on my Facebook page, and if you don’t have that it can be difficult to be seen.
Actually, as it turns out: Even if you do have a ton of friends/fans, Facebook is actively limiting the reach of your posts, meaning fewer of your followers will see the posts you make.
I had about 340 fans at the time I became aware of Boost Post, and an average post I made there would be seen by about 30 people at most. That’s not to say I always reached that many, usually it would be around 20 on average, and sometimes I’d see that only 11 people have viewed the post.
As you can imagine, this sent me into a shame spiral, from which there was no escape…or was there?
Ancient Spirits of Evil…aka Facebook Boost Post
I think many of us have seen then “Boost Post” link underneath every status update you make. Sometimes it says “Promote Post”, and I’ve heard it even appears as “Sponsor Post” other times.
Wondering just what the heck this was sent me down the Google rabbit hole, where I found plenty of posts either praising, or decrying the “feature”.
I put “feature” in quotes, because some consider it to be an evil, money-grubbing ploy by Facebook.
Essentially, detractors say that Facebook purposefully suppresses your posts so that they don’t appear in the timelines of your friends and fans, then they introduce the Boost Post pay-to-play option as a way to get your items seen in those timelines, and even more.
What “Boost Post” actually does is then force (or perhaps allow) your post to appear in the timelines of your fans, and more importantly, the friends of your fans. I figured I had nothing to lose (except a little money), so I decided to go for it.
The official Facebook Promoted Posts page has the company line on the basics of the Boost Posts options, but you’ll likely need to try it out for yourself to see if it works.
I decided to give it a go shortly after I discovered the option.
Stupid Clowns and Guinea Pigs
A few years back, I wrote and drew an e-book called How to Deal with Stupid Clowns who don’t know what the Hell they’re talking about!. Since I’m terrible at marketing, it didn’t sell, but I recently revamped the book site and decided to promote it more, essentially by drawing more free comics and pushing those out every week or so.
It was the perfect chance to use these clowns as my guinea pigs!
The very first post I decided to boost was a short 4 panel comic featuring the characters from the e-book (click to view larger):
I was so charged up to do it that I forgot to put the link to the site in the actual post (I told you I was bad at marketing). Aargh. So while a lot of folks “saw” the post, there was nothing really “actionable” to measure…or so I thought.
The Like Factor
I noticed an interesting effect from the first boost experiment. I didn’t get a ton of Likes on the post, or even any comments, but I did get 3 new Likes to my page that day.
Yes, to many people with 10,000 – 40,000 people, adding 3 is not a big deal, but usually I might get 1 new person per month. To get 3 in a day was huge.
Something was working.
I tried it again with the next comic (click to view larger):
And this time I put the link to the stupid Stupid Clowns site in there (for the luvva Pete!), and off we went. Here’s a screenshot of the Facebook Insights on how this one went (click to view larger):
I ended up getting a few comments and Likes on the actual post, as well as a couple of shares (hey, they can’t share it if it never shows up in the feed). Of the 2,803 people who saw the post, 108 people clicked on the image itself to view the photo. Plus 3 people clicked the link to check out the site. Sweet!
Of course, we can also see that some humorless person who doesn’t appreciate epic artistry chose to hide my awesome post. Now, who the heck doesn’t want to read about some clown and a guy with glasses blabbing about blogging? It is a mystery…
But, you know what they say…mo’ money, mo’ problems, right?
Oh yeah, speaking of money…
How Much Would You Spend?
To answer my own question, every time I’ve used Boost Post, I only spent $10 (you can pay via PayPal or by entering your credit card info). Usually this will guarantee you about 1,800-3,000 or so views (approximately).
I say “usually” because, as I learned in this Facebook Promoting Posts article, the costs can fluctuate wildly depending on time of day and also how many other promotions are running at the same time.
When it was time to do my third comic post, I went as usual to the Boost Post button, but this time I was surprised to see that $10 would only buy me about 380 views. It would cost me about $75 to get my previous reach of about 2,800 views. Holy Hannah!
After some quick research, I dug up the article I just mentioned. The author suggests that when you see this happen, simply wait until later and try again. Once some of the other promotions stop running, the cost will fall back down to the numbers I was used to.
Every promoted post I ran, I started it at around noon (they usually run for about 24 hours). Except for this surprise one, which I wasn’t able to start until 8pm that night because it was too expensive for me.
Depending on the kind of results you’re expecting, even $10 for 2,800 views can be too expensive, especially if you’ve got 2,800 fans and you expect them all to be able to see your posts by default.
I noticed that after I put the link up to the book site for the second post, I got 6 sales in one day on Amazon. No sales on any of the other venues (iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, and Lulu.com). I also started getting 1-2 sales on Amazon for the following day of the post, but after that, it would dry back up to absolute zero (yes, I’m horrible at marketing).
That seems pretty bad, but consider that the book was making zero sales before I started doing this. 6 sales in a day was pretty major for me. Boost Post did something.
The price of the book is $1.99 and I get about 35% royalty on each sale which should be about $.70, now multiply that by 6 and…FOUR dollars?!?
Well, that doesn’t even come close to recouping my (multiple) investment(s) of $10. At least not financially…not yet.
Again, depending on what kind of results you’re looking to get, this may or may not be a good move for you. If you have a product for “x” amount of dollars and each click needs to equal a sale, then it could quickly get more expensive than your budget allows.
For me, the consistent thing is that each time I do this, I pick up more Fans to my page. That’s more people who expressed interest in what I do, and could potentially be willing to buy. Although I’ll have to keep using Boost Post to make sure they all see it. Sigh…
Obviously, this isn’t for everyone.
I came across plenty of links while looking into the Boost post feature. Many are negative, but some are actually for it. I’ll list them all here for convenience (and I’ll include the links already included above):
The Wrap Up
So, is this a good thing, or a bad thing? Is it evil?
Using Boost Post does help me, it does reach the viewers it says it will, and it does bring new people to Like my page. Even so, I’ll admit I do feel like a bit of a failure when I click that button. Like my soul steps out of my body and watches me click with a disapproving, disgusted gaze.
Shouldn’t I be able to reach these people by myself? Without having to pay for it? It’s like the immortal line from George Costanza on the TV show Seinfeld when he didn’t want to pay for parking:
“It’s like going to a prostitute. Why should I pay when, if I apply myself, maybe I can get it for free?”
Yes, I would if I could, but right now I can’t. I simply don’t have the platform to reach that many people yet.
I’ll just keep on keepin’ on, interacting with people and making connections to build my audience.
But in the meantime, to get that same reach I suppose my only option is to pony up the cash…and get tested regularly.
So does anybody else out there use Facebook Boost Post? If so, let me know about your experience in the comments -I’d love to hear about it. If you haven’t tried it, would you use it, knowing what you now know about it?
Ok, then – I’m outta here, for now. See you guys next time!