Facebook Study: Boost vs. No Boost?

Social media is an extremely useful tool in marketing. Not everyone listens to the same radio stations, or watches the same TV channels, or drives past the same billboard, but 48% of all Facebook users check in on any given day — and when we say “Facebook users,” that’s 1.28 billion people worldwide.  That includes 1.01 billion mobile Facebook users, so we can conclude that you have a huge potential audience that can be reached anywhere at any time.

Like every other social media platform and search engine, Facebook is constantly making changes. With some of the more recent changes, businesses are finding it harder to reach their audience without shelling out advertising money. Facebook isn’t being shy about this; basically if businesses want to be seen in the feeds of people who Like their pages, they must be ready to pay. Being seen by new people definitely requires ads, which come in several forms. You can run an actual ad in the sidebar where the ads live, or you can “boost” a post — pay for it to be shown on people’s walls.

If you’re a business owner trying to promote a special you are running, or a painter trying to spread the word about an upcoming exhibition, you might find it hard to get your desired visibility on Facebook. Is paid advertising the answer? Does boosting a post on Facebook have that much of an effect?

Luckily, there was a guinea pig on standby to help get some answers to these questions. When I’m not  working for Haden Interactive, I play with a band called Basement Brew. After being a collective of music-loving slackers for close to a decade, we decided to actually put in some work and record our first full-length album. We’re justifiably excited to put a feather in our otherwise fruitless cap, and are making efforts to promote our CD and the release show as much as we can.

Boosting our Facebook posts seemed like an obvious answer. Facebook allows business pages (including artists’ pages) to “boost” a post, resulting in higher visibility for a set period of time. You select your budget and the duration of the boost, then sit back and watch your post reach climb to new heights.

Just a quick look at our previous history of posts shows that our boosted posts definitely reached more people. Facebook breaks the stats down to organic and paid reach. You get to see how many people viewed what you were saying thanks to the money that you spent and how many people viewed it through the good old fashioned way of shares and likes.

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You can also work on encouraging organic traffic to your Facebook page the same way you get it for your website — you can see that organic search and links from other websites sent people to our Facebook page without paid ads.

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However, the paid reach can indirectly lead to organic reach. If someone sees us thanks to the boost, that stat goes into the paid reach category. But, once that same person likes or shares that post it shows up in their feed where other people can see it organically.

As you can see, the percentage of paid reach and organic reach can vary greatly depending on the post. Sometimes the organic reach is less than 10% of the paid reach, and sometimes organic reach is greater than the paid reach. While this is all good to know, the thing that remains the same is that boosting a post reaches way more people than a non-boosted post.

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This is all tangible evidence online, but the effect offline is harder to measure. Just because people share a sale that a business is having, or Like a band’s post about their new CD, doesn’t necessarily mean that you can connect that data to an offline result. We haven’t been systematic about counting the size of the audience at gigs where we boost compared with gigs where we didn’t boost a post, but any difference has not been large enough for us to notice… or to boost our income from our gigs.

Although you can’t bank on paid reach resulting in more than visibility, that visibility can be worth the funding. For Basement Brew, our paid posts reached 10 to 20 times more people than regular posts, and our real-world popularity has increased along with our efforts to increase visibility. You’re not paying for direct results, rather you’re increasing the potential for results. Whether or not that increased visibility is worth the money is up to you.

Feel free to check out the new Basement Brew record – Lost in Ramble! Let me know what you think!


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