In order to
force incent businesses to spend more advertising dollars with Facebook, the social media juggernaut is now offering an opportunity to sponsor posts inserted into users newsfeeds.
In the last couple of months, Facebook page owners have noticed that their accounts are getting fewer views than they used to. Although Facebook claims that it was simply coincidental, this drop in traffic coincided with the introduction of "promoted posts" through which brands can pay to push their content out to more news feeds than they would normally reach. Facebook indicates that unsponsored messages only reach about 15% of an account's fans. For an account to reach more than just 15% of their Facebook fans via a post, they have pay to sponsor it.
Facebook's money grab via promoted posts has infuriated some users, while others simply consider it a smart move by a publicly traded company to monetize the activity of their user base.
However, promoted posts are more than simply a tax that Facebook is imposing upon business customers. They provide a very viable marketing opportunity to expand reach via Facebook. Using promoted posts to expand reach is a reasonably priced online marketing vehicle. Shown below is the cost to promote a post for prom dress designer Mac Duggal. Spending $30 to reach their 14,400 fans with posts on a regular basis does not seem likely to payout. However, spending $100 - $1,000 to reach new potential customers might be worthwhile on an occasional basis. The cost per thousand (CPM) impressions of under $4 compares very favorably with other online advertising opportunities..
A key difference between Promoted Posts and other Facebook advertising opportunities is that they are inserted directly into the prime position in the viewers newsfeed. Thus, they capture attention from Facebook users. Their prime position avoids the problems of banner blindness that bedevils most other types of Facebook advertising.
Testing Promoted Posts
My recommendation in regard to testing promoted posts is to do so sooner rather than later. It seems highly likely that a wear out factor will soon come in to play as Facebook users get bombarded with an increasing number of sponsored posts as this new vehicle finds its way into marketer's budgets.
Any test of promoted posts should be closely monitored, as the impact seems likely to decline rather quickly after the 3rd to 6th exposure by any viewer. Also, it seems likely that promoted posts should be given some room to breathe. A frequency of once or twice a week may turn out to be about optimum.
While paying to reach new prospects on an occasional basis seems like it may be an efficient media buy, I am skeptical about a daily program of paying to promote posts to fans that previously could be reached for free. It seems likely that overuse of promoted post will be challenging to pay-out.
Do not be surprised if the cost structure of Facebook's promoted posts undergo changes in the future. The fees they are charging an organization to reach it's own fans seems exorbitant (this post by Dangerous Minds works out the math). My guess is that the fees to reach your account's fans may be reduced in the future.
On the other hand, the fees to extend the reach of posts by inserting them into the news feeds of the friends of "fans" seems like the type of interruption marketing that may be quite effective, although likely to be despised by users.
In order to avoid too great a backlash from users, Facebook would probably be wise to keep the prices of posts "promoted" to friends of fans high enough so that they do not become overly commonplace and annoying. Keeping prices high to maintain scarcity may also be a good tactic to maximize revenue.
It is becoming obvious that for publicly traded social media companies like Facebook, monetizing traffic trumps providing a great user experience. Paying for placement is becoming the new norm. While it may require holding your nose to run a test of paying to reach your Facebook fans and their friends, it is probably something that social media marketers' should consider
It may be a good idea to start testing sooner rather than later whether paying to play is productive. As the funding to pay for sponsored posts makes it into ever more marketers' budgets, the impact of using this vehicle is likely to decline.