Free Advertising…

Is free no more. And that’s ok.

Paying for ads on Facebook is a good idea. Boosted posts are not a good idea, even though you might be tempted to, given their cost structure. Not so long ago, the news for small businesses was that there was a FREE ADVERTISING source taking hold of North America.  Free advertising could be obtained; all you had to do was build up your LIKES on Facebook and post regularly.

There were over 1 billion active users on Facebook.  And, best of all, I could actually run my posts when my customers were most likely to buy, like a restaurant would at 11:30 just before lunch time hunger sets in.

Then, Facebook stopped giving away the farm.  “Who’s going to buy our advertising if we are giving it away for free?”

So, Facebook started decreasing the amount of your followers that see your business page posts.  Decreasing, decreasing and decreasing.  Today, only 6.2% of your followers will ever even have a chance to see your Facebook business page posts.  And, that’s likely moving to 1-2% very soon.

Moreover, Facebook has reduced page reach and continually upped CPM’s for advertisers, because it wants to “protect” the News Feed from being overwrought with cheap ads and bad content.  Today, native News Feed ads on Facebook are “premium” inventory, compared to most other mobile display ads, so that users aren’t overwhelmed with them during a normal browsing experience.  In fact, most users will be served only about 10 ads per day in the News Feed.


Don’t let your reach fall off a cliff – the new game with social is definitely pay-to-play.

Why the Free Ride Has Ended

There are a number of reasons why the ability to post on your business page is not capable of reaching all of those who have LIKED your page.  It is much harder now for everyone to see everything happening on Facebook.


First, is the sheer volume of posts that are going onto Facebook now that the medium is now 10-years-old.  Sixty-four percent of us access Facebook on a daily basis and we average 338 friends per account, with the median number of friends being 200.  Add those posts to the over 30 million local business pages that are posting and you can see how your posts are getting lost in the din of posting going on with Facebook.

There’s also the enormous amount of LIKES of the Facebook customer.  In the USA, the average Facebook user LIKES over 70 pages, up from 4.5 in 2009.

Finally, there’s engagement.  Facebook’s mantra is all about engagement and its new algorithm is putting more and more links to articles in your news feed.  They are also putting them closer to the top of your page if the news feeds are getting lots of likes and comments.

Don’t think you can try to beat the system either by asking more people to LIKE or SHARE your business page posts.  Facebook is on to you and will bury your post if you use LIKE-baiting.

I Already Did Facebook Advertising and It Didn’t Work

Many small businesses believe that a Facebook BOOST is the same as buying Facebook advertising.  Facebook boosted posts reach more people who like your page, reach some of their friends and also reach some new audiences.  Lots of emphasis to the “some” in all of those groups.

But, boosting a post in Facebook is not the best way to promote on Facebook.

When you boost a post, you can target people who already LIKE your page and their friends.  You can also use some of Facebook’s interest-based targeting tools, to hone in on specific groups that you choose.

picture3Now, I’m not sure that there’s a great value in targeting friends of people who already LIKE your page.  Sure, they may have similar interests as your LIKES, but they may not be interested in your product at all.  If your product was female oriented, why would you bother reaching all of the male friends of those who LIKE your page?

You may decide, however, that you’d like to reach all of the people who LIKE your page as they are, after all, probably your very best prospects.  And, you already know that you aren’t going to do it with an organic Facebook post any more.  Rather than use the boost feature, I’d rather use a traditional Facebook advertisement and simply target those who LIKE your business page.  That way, you don’t have to waste money on those who are merely friends of those who LIKE your page.  Paying for ads on Facebook is a good idea, and the results are always better than boosted posts.

The Boost vs. Dark Posts

“Dark Posts” is the phrase that Facebook uses to describe the advertising solution that it created in 2013.  A dark post won’t show up on your business page timeline and it won’t hit fans’ news feeds unless you target them and pay for it too.

A dark post appears either in the news feed or you can save some money and put it on the less effective, but recently improved, right rail.

picture4What the dark post offers your business is the ability to do A-B testing.  You can test various pictures and copy.  It’s the only way you can make sure you are using the best advertisements to the most highly targeted audience.  You can judge this immediately by engagement — how many LIKES and SHARES your advertising receives.  More importantly, you may also be able to judge by the most important KPI – your cart.  With a boosted post, this is not possible.  Whatever budget you put on your boosted post is what will be invested.  No optimization of creative or product selection is possible.  That equals wasted dollars for your business.

Now, think about your Facebook business page itself.  Imagine your restaurant is promoting four different menu items.  If you use three different pieces of copy and three different pictures for each, that’s 36 unique advertisements.  If you were to boost them, you would need to post all of them on your restaurant’s Facebook business page.  Can you imagine how silly that would look with 36 different, but essentially the same, posts!  You would be inundating your audience with duplicate content.

Paying for Ads on Facebook is a good idea – and it always was

Finally, let’s talk about targeting.  It’s part of the A-B testing as well.  I’m sure you wouldn’t target the same menu item for the same demos.  For example, we are from Philly so we know a thing or two about cheesesteaks.  The best audience for cheesesteaks is a male 13-24.  That’s much different than the salad ads that target Moms who want to offer healthy choices to their families.  Then, there’s the late night ads that we serve up to college students who have been out partying and are on their way home with the munchies.

Should I Just Scrap my Facebook Business Page Now?

So will we eventually hit the point where none of your Facebook business page posts reach their intended audience?

Facebook’s director of small business Dan Levy would only say that Facebook would always try to do “what’s right for the people on Facebook” and that Facebook is always “going to make the changes to keep things engaging for people.”

And, then Levy touted Facebook ads as the way that businesses get “the predictable reach that they want.”

PS – You need to have a Facebook business page to buy advertising so I’d keep it. Let us show you how to really get more bang for your Facebook advertising buck.