I Paid for a Facebook Promotion. Here’s What Happened.

Nicole Melanson ~

Algorithm

If you’ve been running a Facebook page for a while, you’ll know that recent algorithm changes significantly reduced the organic reach of your posts. An article that would have been served to thousands before might only go to a small handful of followers now. The solution? Paid promotion. Facebook promises to extend your reach (the way it used to do for free) in exchange for a small fee. This is an attempt to monetize their service, which seems fair, but are you really getting what you pay for?

I recently published a post about merchandising & promotion. It drove a lot of traffic on this blog and continues to receive many hits. I decided to see what would happen if I paid Facebook to promote that same post.

Woman's hand taking dollars out of a wallet

I’ve always been ambivalent about maintaining a Facebook page for WordMothers. I think Facebook’s great for groups and can work very well for individual authors running their own pages IF the content is original AND based on Facebook. Facebook is very happy to have you chatting, live-streaming, and sharing photos with your followers on their platform. What they are less keen on is you providing links to external content with a view to luring traffic away. To put it simply: encourage engagement on Facebook and they’ll reward you by extending your reach; provide a link to your blog, and Facebook will make sure no one sees it.

At pub time, the WordMothers Facebook page had about 425 followers. Once upon a time, most of those followers saw posts I shared from the blog. However, once the algorithm changes were introduced, I was lucky to have my posts served to 25 people. I decided to “Boost” my post for 24 hours and see what happened to traffic. Here are the results:

Facebook promotion results showing people reached, followers, and post engagement

Look at the top 2 numbers and the results seem pretty good…but wait.

0 comments

1 share

1 link click

What?! 1 click out of 2,585 people?? I could have gotten that 1 click from the 25-person serve for free.

Furthermore, the engagement rate for this post is roughly 50%. I don’t know what kind of content gets a like from every other person who sees it, but I’m positive it’s not a book blog. And if all people are doing is hitting “Like” on a post and not actually reading it, what’s the point anyway?

Next, I decided to see what would happen if I paid to advertise the WordMothers page itself. Note that I paid Facebook to advertise on Facebook – I didn’t purchase “fake” followers from a third party. And yet…

In 18 hours, the WordMothers page gained 300 followers. Sounds great, right? Wrong. My ad was aimed at women who self-identify as interested in writing. The new “followers” seem to be everyone BUT the target demographic; I honestly don’t think there’s a genuine follower amongst them, and certainly none that have clicked through and subscribed to the blog directly. Why does this matter?

Blurry shadows

New Facebook followers

Well, Facebook considers the engagement level of your followers when deciding how far to extend your reach. If you have a huge number of fake followers who aren’t engaging with your posts, your reach diminishes to the size of a peanut. Consequently, I have since terminated my experimental promotion and am now in the tedious process of actively undoing every new like the WordMothers Facebook page just acquired.

My conclusion for bloggers? If you want the ego boost of seeing large numbers of likes and follows on your Facebook page or you want to make your page seem more popular than it is, then by all means do a paid promotion. Just remember that the lack of engagement from these fake followers will diminish your reach in the long run.

If you want to ensure that your followers are genuine and legitimately engaging with your posts, let them find you organically.

Or maybe just don’t bother with Facebook at all for a blog.

What do you think?

– Nicole Melanson

Nicole Melanson - Writer, Poet, Editor of WordMothers