I’m always hesitant to talk to people about the wonders of Facebook advertising. It’s the most cost-effective way to get the word out to the right people. The targeting capabilities make Google envious and the effectiveness, when done right, is nothing short of a work of art for driving business.
The hesitation comes with the major caveat that surrounds Facebook advertising. It can be both a wonderful thing and a terrible thing because, unlike Adwords or other forms of digital advertising, you can actually do harm to your page and your future posts.
Facebook is governed by one of the most fickle algorithms ever created. It works in real time and has a long memory, making it like walking on eggshells when trying to promote a business. There are strategies for content posting that are specifically designed to play up to the algorithm just as there are strategies for playing properly with search algorithms. The difference is that there’s no attachment between paid and organic in search while paid and organic promoted posts on Facebook are connected at the hip.
Here is an example of the “Boost” options on a Facebook page that we manage for a client. It has around 1500 fans and thankfully we were able to build it nearly from scratch – they had 26 fans when we took the page over 4 months ago.
The numbers represented here show the estimated reach for the different numerical values available to be spent. These are stereotypical numbers of a well-managed page of this size with a history of posting strong content. It’s lower than what a fresh page can expect; Facebook gives first-time advertisers a wide range of people who can like their posts before reducing it down based upon successes and failures. The reduction is inevitable because as people see posts in their news feeds and do not interact with them, they become less likely to see the next post you put up. Unless you’re posting Shakespeare-quality unique content that is driving your audience to become mad fans, you will certainly see a major dip in reach potential.
The numbers go up and down, but as long as you can keep them reaching the total number of fans you have on the page with the lowest denomination of spend, you’re in a good place in the eyes of the Facebook algorithm.
Sometime in the past, they burned enough people who saw their posts that they’re having challenges reaching them a second time. It could have just been poor content, but a scan of the page doesn’t lend to this theory.
The only other explanation is that they’ve used Facebook ads in the past and butchered them. They posted content that was deemed spammy and then promoted it to a ton of people.
It would be like picking up a bullhorn and screaming fowl language at people as they walked by the store.
The damage is done. It’s reversible, but we have a pretty long road ahead with this much damage to correct. If the offending post or posts was so bad that a lot of people reported or made their posts hidden, it might turn out to be a better idea to start over from scratch.
Facebook is an extremely powerful advertising tool, but there are right ways and wrong ways to harness that power. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t use it for business-relevant posts. It just means that you cannot use it to spam the wrong messages. Before posting or promoting anything, ask yourself if you would want to see something like it on your news feed if it was from a different industry. In other words, if you run a car dealership, before posting this week’s newspaper ad and promoting it to 50,000 people, ask yourself if you would enjoy seeing a newspaper ad selling furniture popping up in your news feed between posts of little Timmy sliding into third base and your hilarious co-worker’s hilarious rant of the day.
Bill the Butcher was one of the greatest characters in movie history, but Bob the Butcher (you know, your Facebook ad guy) isn’t going to win you an Oscar for best Facebook post if he’s promoting content that doesn’t belong on Facebook.