Ever since Facebook changed the way they serve updates created by company pages to the people that like that page, we’ve seen a sharp decline in the number of our fans that see our updates. We know we’re not alone in this, as it’s usually the first thing on anyone’s lips when social media comes up in discussion.
As I write this, SumAll’s Facebook page has just over 18,000 fans, and in the past few months when we share an update, it usually gets served to no more than 200 of our fans. That’s a meager 1%. It’s kind of a bummer that we’ve spent three years cultivating a captive audience to only have them pulled out from under us. If we wanted to maybe reach our 18,000 fans, we’d need to spend $100 boosting a post, and even still, Facebook says it might just get sent to 11,000 of them. As a fledgling start-up, we just don’t have that kind of dough floating around.
We could hem and haw at this all day long, but when it comes down to it, complaining doesn’t really get you anywhere, ever. In the name of rolling with the punches, I’ve been doing some experiments with “boosting” – Facebook’s lingo for putting money behind a post in order for it to appear to your followers or a targeted audience – our posts for a very small amount of money. By boosting Facebook posts for $5 each and strategically targeting people based on interests or countries to match the piece of content, I’ve been somewhat happy in knowing that our content is getting out there. By no means have my tests been comprehensive, they’ve mostly been driven by curiosity and a want to get our content in front of our page’s fans.
With that said, here’s a little experiment I did with two very similar pieces of content. The main variable I wanted to experiment with is choosing to serve content to our fans and their friends, or the other option: serving it to strangers. When serving to a targeted stranger audience, the piece of content appears in their feed, much like a traditional ad would, except in our case we usually like to post our blog content, so it doesn’t feel like an ad. The major thing I wanted to find out is this: Does your $5 go further if you choose to spend it boosting to your fans, or strangers? To be honest, I didn’t have high hopes on any concrete findings.
In the name of cutting down on variables, I tried to keep some things as consistent as I could. Both of the Facebook posts I boosted had similar messaging, the image was the same, as were the countries targeted. Both campaigns started in the morning (EST).
I chose to serve the post on the left to an audience of “strangers,” or rather people that haven’t liked our page. Since the content was an announcement for SumAll’s latest integration with Facebook personal pages, I chose to target people with Facebook as an interest, as well as other related socials media interests. The one on the right is a link to our blog post for that same announcement, but this one I chose to serve to our fans and their friends since they might already be familiar with our blog.
- • Content of the post – one was a photo, the other was a link to a blog post.
- • Audience – our Facebook fans and their friends versus a select and targeted audience we chose based on interests.
- • Length – The blog post ran for a day, the photo ran for five. Since Facebook serves the posts to a limited number of people based on your budget, and since they both had the same budget, in theory, this shouldn’t matter.
Using SumAll’s Facebook Ads integration, I can compare any number of metrics and ads, side by side. One interesting thing I gleaned from this test is that the photo share had a cheaper CPM compared to the blog share. This could be due to the fact that Facebook encourages that you share photos and videos.
If we go by the total number of people reached, the photo post wins out hands down. However, the interesting thing to note here is the number of people reached in the photo post has a discrepancy when you check the analytics within Facebook. You’ll notice it says 4,878 people were reached when looking at the post, but when you click “See Results” it says the paid reach is much lower. So does this mean those extra 3,000 people reached were from that one share? In searching for answers, I came across this explanation, but am still just as confused. I think Facebook likes it that way.
As you can see, the paid reach for both posts is nearly the same and this is one thing Facebook is pretty upfront about – how many people they’ll serve your post to – when you’re setting the budget for your boost. If there’s one thing I learned though, it’s that photo posts out-perform posts that are links to our blog, but this is something I already knew.
In the end, the most important thing to know is that you can choose who to boost your posts to: your own fans, or a more targeted audience. When deciding, you should think about your goals with each share: Do you want an outside audience to know about a certain aspect of your product, or are you looking to just make your own fans aware of an update? Are you trying to gain more page fans as a result of the share, or would you rather people just click through to your content? Ultimately, the decision is up to you. Let us know what’s working best for you in the comments section.