Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Facebook starts 'Promote' feature for pages

As reported widely and communicated by facebook, the option to Promote posts is here. While going through the motions managing one of my pages today, the innocuous little 'Promote' button made an appearance in my composer.  Here's what it looks like:

The 'Promote' button actually force feeds your page's posts into your fans' news feeds. Presently, your page might have a thousands of 'Likes' but getting your content/posts in front of your fans is a game of roulette at best.

From my zombie wandering experience on FB, one thing is apparent: Your audience can be very fickle. You might get a 35% reach for a certain post at a certain time of the day and a 16% reach at the same time the next day. There's no guaranteed formula to get your content in front of most, if not all, of your page's users.

This is where the Promote button intends to come in. Here's a screenshot of its inner workings first:

Depending upon the budget you set for the 'promotion' of a particular post, facebook will show you an estimate number of fans that will see your post. Common logic says the higher you go in terms of $$, the higher the reach of that particular post will be.

This feature surely has its charms and will be welcomed by many page administrators (including me), who rack their brains out to develop engaging content only for it to end up reaching only a small fraction of their audience. Though you wouldn't (and shouldn't) pay facebook to force feed all your posts into users' newsfeeds, the Promote feature can be particularly useful while communicating special offers to fans and hence, possibly increasing sales.

Say you have a 15% sale on coats (or cakes, or cats, or zombie snacks for that matter) for the week, it makes sense to promote a post outlining the offer which should ensure that the promotion is communicated to a larger audience.

It's all fine and dandy, however there are still a few rusty points:

1. There are still no guarantees as to the number of people who will actually see your post. The estimated reach by facebook is what it says it is: an estimate. And a very vague one at that.

2. You can only promote posts that are less than 3 days old. Suppose if you made a post about an offer a week back, you can't promote it using this. For that, you'll have to make another post and pay facebook to promote it. And repeating your posts in front of a highly targeted audience is like peddling bibles in front of your fans or in short, a digital suicide you don't want to commit.

This is the official reason given by facebook on why you can't promote posts more than 3 days old:'t-I-promote-all-of-my-Page-posts?

3. The BIGGEST issue I have with promoted posts is that they appear as 'Sponsored stories' on facebook. Many users have a natural aversion to anything sponsored by facebook, which clearly indicates that this particular post was 'forced' into your news feed. And whenever facebook forces something on its users, it's never welcomed warmly.  Here's what a' Promoted' post would look like:

The label proclaiming that this post is sponsored is innocuous enough to be ignored by most users but for the ones who totally hate anything forced into their news feeds should easily be able to spot this. And this group in your audience may not react well to your forcing your page's posts right there in their news feeds.

Each page's TA is different and they may have different goals regarding their online presence. I'm sure when you read through it, you will find more pros and cons of this feature depending upon your marketing strategy.  Here's the facebook help link containing the FAQ on Promoted posts. Do let me know how does the new Promote feature figure in your strategy.

Signing off...back to wandering the strees of facebookville in search of fresh blood.

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