By Samantha Jockel.
When I think back over the past six years I have been using Facebook as a business tool, there have been moments of exhilaration and despair.
In the early days, we experienced incredible growth on some of our Facebook pages – growing thousands of people overnight without a dollar spent. And then there was this word algorithm that started to pop up, which is when dread began to set in.
This fantastic platform that we had been using for years to gain an amazing audience for our business became less and less accessible as the days went by. Then Facebook ads came along and at that point I thought it was the beginning of the end.
I know in business it is best not to put all of your eggs in the one basket and we have tried very hard to build other ways of connecting with our audience outside of Facebook, however the more we look at the data the more we know Facebook is where our people engage.
I remember feeling anger at Facebook for quite some time. All of a sudden they had taken away our capacity to communicate to this amazing community we had built because they wanted our money.
I understood they were a business trying to make money as any business would, but I was still annoyed. After I got over myself and my rage I was faced with the option of trying to work out this new Facebook challenge that was sitting in front of me or give up. I am not one to give up!
Three of the pages I ran had rather large Facebook following: Suburbly (367,000), School Mum (328,000) and Aldi Mum (115,000). This meant when I initially started looking at boosting posts, I was faced with options between $200-$1000 per post which was a huge amount of money for us for one post.
Despite all of the struggle around organic reach, our pages still performed quite well due to our audience being highly engaged.
We were lucky to have built such large numbers before reach was restricted so even though our average post did not reach anywhere near our total page likers, we still reached a significant amount of people.
Having said that of late we have noticed the Facebook algorithms getting smarter at picking up sponsored content and shout outs to sponsored posts on our blog.
Ultimately they want in on the action and from a business point of view I can understand that.
So the conundrum was that sponsored posts are the posts we want to do really well to continue to secure brands being interested in working with us, however their reach seemed to be impacted at times.
So here is what I have learnt playing with boosting posts on Facebook over the past year.
Firstly, we have learnt that different audiences cost different amounts to boost to.
Due to running a number of different Facebook pages with different demographics, we have learnt that depending on who you are targeting will change the cost significantly.
On one of our pages we can spend $100 and reach up to 30,000 people and on the other we could pay $100 and be lucky to reach 2000. Initially we thought there was a glitch with the page and e-mailed Facebook on a number of occasions about it but every time they told us this particular audience was more sought after so they were more expensive to reach.
How much it costs to boost depends on how popular the post is.
We have noticed that when we boost a popular post, our dollars go much further than when we boost a post that is not performing as well.
Again, this is logical, however it is good to know that you will get much better value for money boosting posts if your people are engaging the content.
3. Money Well Spent
Boosting a post can be cheaper than paying for your time or another writer’s time to produce more content for traffic.
Content, content and more content is the story of our life.
For us, we have traffic targets for our weekly content on the blog that we need to hit to maintain consistent website traffic.
Creating this content either costs us in our time or we may pay a contributor to produce some content for us. Sometimes I swear a piece of content is going to go gangbusters and then for some reason it doesn’t get Facebook reach. My intuition tells me that if we can just get it out there off it will go.
In these moments I do the math and realise that boosting a post is cheaper to bring website traffic than spending my time writing more content or paying for another contributor to write an article. So we boost and 9 times out of 10 we are right.
Sometimes I will boost a post that has performed really well already because I know the boost will perform and the traffic from that is genuine and so much cheaper than the time it would take me to write another piece of content.
4. Taking time off
Boosting is great when you want to have a holiday.
Realising this was the moment that I fell in love with boosting posts.
When you live your life on the content creation train it feels like there is never time for a break. Social media and website content is 24/7.
One of the magical things about boosting is if you want to take a holiday and keep up the traffic to your website then you can by posting a few of your best performing posts from last year and boosting them.
Sure it will cost you some money but it will be less than paying for content and you can take a well-deserved break knowing that the traffic is still coming in.
5. Sponsored Post Success
You can be confident that you can get traffic to your sponsored posts.
Knowing that I can boost our sponsored posts for clients gives me the confidence that we can guarantee value for the brands that we work with as we can guarantee the hits.
No more fingers crossed that Facebook will give us reach for that post as we know we can always boost it and we generally never create content we know our audience won’t be interested so the challenge is just getting it in front of them so they can engage it.
As you can see I have done a full 180 in terms of my attitude towards boosting posts and feel like it is not so bad after all as it gives us the confidence to know that we can get our content in front of people, we just might have to budget that in.
Sam Jockel founded ALDI Mum in 2011 and cofounded School Mum, Suburbly and The Holidaying Family in the years to follow with a total Facebook community of over 800,000 followers. She spends half of her life looking at analytics to help inform the next step.