Small Business Resources: My Experiences with Facebook Promoted Posts

March 04, 2013

I've shared my tips for using Facebook to promote your business and interact with your supporters on this blog before. 

If you are a Facebook user, you may know that Facebook is always changing the way the site operates and how users interact with one another. One more recent change that direct affects how any small business owner uses Facebook is the introduction of the promoted post

Now when you create a post through your business page, you have the option to select "Promote" at the bottom of the post and, for a certain dollar amount, Facebook will promote your post in others' news feeds. What exactly does this mean? According to Facebook: "Every day, News Feed delivers the stories you post to your friends and followers. Promote important posts to help people notice them. Promoted posts appear higher in News Feed, so there's a better chance your audience will see them."

So what's the deal? Why choose to promote a post? If you share a regular post, due to Facebook's algorithm that decides who sees what, people who like your page still may not see your post as it may fleetingly appear buried in your followers' news feeds. Pay to promote your post and the number of people who see your post will grow exponentially - not just your current page followers (people who have "liked" your page, but their friends who have no connection to your page. 

This is somewhat of a game changer for small businesses who use Facebook as one of their main sources of free advertising and promotion. I have experimented a few times with promoted posts to see what happens when Facebook prioritizes my posts over others. 

The post below is an example from the Happy Cactus Designs' Facebook page of a non-promoted post. I shared a photo of my cards on display at one of the retailers I work with in Dallas. According to Facebook Insights, 98 people saw this post. 

Last week, I shared a picture of and link to one of my new birthday card designs that I had just added to the online shopI chose to promote the post, setting a budget of $5.00. 

Because I paid to promote it, 1,295 people saw the post. That is hundreds of more people than I actually have following my page, so clearly it was hitting the feeds of friends of my page's followers. I saw a slight uptick in new likes and visits to the site after this promoted post, but nothing truly significant. That said, it did seem slightly exciting that over a thousand people were seeing an image of my cards on Facebook. 

This change by Facebook certainly causes dilemmas for small business. How do you decide what to promote? Is it annoying to your non-followers to see a sponsored post by your company appearing in their news feeds? Does it make a significant difference - in terms of number of likes, visits to your site, purchases made, etc. - when you promote a post? 

It's not surprising to me that Facebook is making new attempts to monetize the news feed and generate revenue from small businesses like my own wanting to get my name out there. At the same time, it's irritating that for my posts to be seen I need to pay to promote them. While $1 to $10 per post may not seem like a lot, it adds up over time! What are your thoughts on promoted posts? 

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