Facebook promoted posts: What they are, and what they aren’t
Since Facebook introduced Promoted Posts for business pages, many page owners have taken advantage of a way to push content to more people than would see your content otherwise. Still others have been angered, believing that Facebook was sending their posts to Cyber-Siberia, and would only let them see the light of day if payment was made. The roll-out last week of Promoted Posts for personal pages has only confused things more.
Many business page owners were initially shocked to learn that their posts did not, in fact, reach 100% of the people who "liked" their page. On average, business page posts reach around 17% of your potential audience. Why not more? Several factors come into play (such as the fact that all of your page fans don't even sign in everyday), but the most important is Edgerank. Edgerank is Facebook's method of showing users the posts they are more likely to interact with. It preselects that content based on the user's activity and settings (choosing, for example, to ignore a certain friend's game posts but see their other content).
Why have Edgerank and not show all of the posts of friends and "liked" pages? Simply because once a user gets beyond a very few friends and pages, it would be impractical to think they would scroll through page after page every day. I personally have a friend count of 830 with about 1000 liked pages. This is of course, well above average. As you might guess, I only see a small fraction of what is posted every day. Even someone with an average friend count (around 130) and 50 page likes will only see a portion of what everyone of their friends and brand pages post.
Promoted posts allow you to pay to beat Edgerank to a degree, and push posts out to more people who "like" your page, as well as friends of fans. The posts show up not only on the desktop (as ads do) but, since they are in newsfeeds, they can be seen on mobile devices as well. You'll get a little more shelf life from them, especially if your post was already doing well organically. Recently we were able to almost double the page views on a status, and get 3000 comments, promoting a post that was already going viral for one of our clients.
Page owners are right to be concerned with the possibility of decreasing reach. There is only so much real estate in each person's newsfeed, and competition is going to get fierce. Engaging content, liberal use of photos and videos, and posting at different times can help maintain that engagement. Promoted posts can be a part of that process.
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