To boost or not to boost? That is the question Facebook page owners ask me when they’re struggling with decreased reach and no engagement. Is it better to boost a particular post, or to promote the Page for Likes? The answer, as in every marketing question, depends on your goals.
If your goal is to bring more visibility to a particular offer, sale or promotion, you might benefit from boosting an individual post that includes a call to action or leads people back to a sales page. Or, if your Facebook business page fans have not been engaging with your page and your reach has dropped significantly, you might consider boosting a post you know will have a high perceived value for the majority of your fans.
What exactly is a Facebook post boost?
A boost is an ad for a specific post. Facebook displays a blue button on the right hand side of your post that says “Boost Post.” Click that button and you’ll be able to set the budget, the length of the boost (one to three days), and even the targeting. Facebook offers page owners or admins the opportunity to boost a post to reach more of their current fans, to those fans and their friends, or to a completely different set of people you choose based on location, interest, age and gender.
Facebook estimates less than 10% of any page’s fans see their posts in fans news streams. Being in the news stream should be a brand’s number one goal. If your posts aren’t seen, they can’t produce your desired outcome.
Additionally, unseen post after unseen post perpetuates the algorithm telling Facebook that your fans don’t want to see your content. If you’re current fan base has gone fallow and has not been responding to your recent posts, you’ll need to take action to jump start engagement. One option to do that is to boost a post that has a high likelihood of being interesting to your current fan base. You would, in this case, choose to boost the post “to people who like your page.” Because they liked your page at one time or another, they’re most likely to be interested in seeing a boosted, or sponsored, post.
The next choice is “people who like your page and their friends.” This assumes that your page and your post will be interesting to the friends of your fans because they are “like-minded.” You’ll have to determine if your page is likely to interest your fan’s friends or if your page is about something specific that may not interest that type of wider audience.
Why does this matter? Because if you are advertising to people who are unlikely to want what you’re offering, you’ll pay to be seen by uninterested folks, run the risk of having them mark your post as spam – too many of these actions will suppress your reach even while you’re paying for increased reach – and can temporarily give all of your other posts less reach because the Facebook doesn’t measure the expected interest in your boosted post.
Your final, and most often your best choice is “people you choose through targeting.” These will be people who are not already fans of your page but are in the demographics you choose such as location, language, sex, interests and age.
Is boosting the answer to decreased reach?
Partially but not completely, is the answer to that question. In order to be seen by more fans, a page must create posts that have a good percentage of active engagement activities such as likes, shares and comments. Every page owner or admin needs to keep engagement and visibility top of mind when creating content for their page or they will be creating a situation in which they’ll need to advertise to get in front of their current fans. Ask yourself if each post will compel fans to like, comment or share. When you’re paying to reach people, your budget will go further and advertising will be less expensive when people engage with your post.
Will I have to pay to play with every post?
Not necessarily, although you may have to do a bit of advertising in order to re-energize your fan base. You can then achieve an organic news stream percentage higher than the average 10% (or less) if your content is exciting to your fans and causes them to interact with your posts regularly. This helps the algorithm make the connection between what you post and a high interest level on the part of your fans. So if your fans like, share or comment on a post, at least once a week (hopefully more), they’ll be more likely to see your new posts in their news stream. And remember, the average Facebook user doesn’t come to a business page once he or she has liked the page. They expect to see your updates and don’t fully understand how their own news feed is curated by Facebook. So if they don’t see your posts, they think you’re not posting. They’re only aware of posts they see in their newsfeed. This is increasingly true for people who access their social networks on their mobile devices.
You can get a sense of how many of your fans are seeing your posts in a couple of ways.
- First, take a look at the number below your post in the lower left hand corner. This is the “people reached” number. That will give you an idea of how many people received your update in their news streams. This is Facebook’s self-reporting number. It tells you how many people they’ve chosen to show a post in their news feeds.
- Then look to see how many people commented on the post. This is a good engagement measurement. Try to phrase your status update in a way that encourages commenting. For example, “I’ve hit on this nifty tool that is increasing my email sign-ups and I’m loving it. Have any of you used this tool or do you have another one you’d recommend?” This will be more effective than a simple post stating that you’ve found a great tool you’d like to share. Both are very useful to your audience but the first one invites a deeper engagement.
- Now look at the number of people who shared your post. This number is very powerful. When someone shares a post to their personal profile, it has a strong chance of being seen by more of their friends. Facebook estimates that every fan has 160 friends. So each time someone shares your post, 160 additional people can potentially see that post and be exposed to your name and your message. Shares are an endorsement of you and your brand and they create visibility to an audience who does not yet know you – the friends of your fans.
If the engagement on your page is low or non-existent, you may have to boost or promote a post to get back in front of the people who have already liked your page. This can be an inexpensive way to jump start the engagement on your page but spend the money to boost a post only when you have something very valuable or desirable to post, and when you are ready to consistently post content and images most likely to cause fans to engage with a like, comment or share. Getting people to interact with a post by paying to serve it into their newsfeed can be a good use of marketing dollars. But only if you’re ready to convert those viewers/readers into highly engaged fans by preparing high quality, on target posts in the coming week after you boost. And you have to be prepared to keep it up in order to keep your fan page actively producing the visibility that will help you meet your marketing goals.