The more I think about it – which is every day now pretty much – there are few investments that are less wise than boosting your organic posts on Facebook. Over the last half decade Facebook has slowly taken away the communities that we all built to be able to talk to our fans and customers. Sure the likes on our pages are high, but the reach is not. Brands and businesses think that they have no choice, with 1% organic reach, it’s time to open the checkbooks.
Facebook has no qualms about their success, and far from it. At the beginning it was free. Brands started dedicating content budgets and community managers to jump on the opportunity. Over time Facebook rolled out business models and the platform became so successful in terms of unprecedented growth that yeah, it’s pay to play now.
The problem is that brands are locked into content strategies that require people seeing their content. The easiest thing to do is just pay up and spend a hundred bucks boosting your organic posts. All too often, brands and businesses take the easy route, but if this sounds like a losing strategy to you, you are right.
Facebook’s unprecedented global reach means that you cannot ignore it, and I don’t recommend ignoring Facebook. But you do have a choice, you can stop boosting your organic posts and spend your money in much more advantageous ways.
There are 5 main reasons why you should rethink your post boosting strategy:
#1. It’s only going to get more expensive
As brands and businesses accept the fact that they need to pay to have any sort of organic reach, boosted posts are only going to get more expensive. I’ve already seen a sharp decrease in reach with the same budgets overtime (when controlling for targeting). This is logical, people are spending more time on different platforms from Facebook, and more brands want to reach you via Facebook, so the real estate in front of your eyeballs gets more expensive with more bidders.
When you boost your posts, you are competing with other brands that are running advertising campaigns and so you are putting yourself up against strategies that are probably cross-channel and therefore much more impactful. You could have the most coherent content strategy, but there is no way to retarget people with your boosted organic posts, so you cannot guarantee a fluid storytelling by boosting posts. That means that people see fragments of your content versus complete campaigns from your competitors. It’s like trying to shoot down an Apache war helicopter with a slingshot.
Even if you say that at least you get people to see your content, what does that mean actually? As Facebook usage declines, the already fraction of a second that you get when you appear in someone’s feed will become even more squeezed. People scroll through more and more content each day and it’s splitting off from Facebook because the user experience has become so degraded. Our thumbs are getting trained to scroll faster and faster to satisfy the dopamine creation in our brains. The definition of an “impression” has come to mean an ad delivered from an ad server, and not someone actually seeing – and letting themselves be imprinted upon by – your content.
When you combine these two realities (paying more and more for less and less visibility) how effective can that really be as a strategy for your business? Here is the real question to answer: if you’re doing it now, when will you stop? I can see many of you brand managers out there cringe because you know the answer: you won’t stop until one day you have to make a hard decision and cut your budget. Then you will look back and say, “wow, we wasted a lot of money doing that.”
I get it, you want people to see your content, to keep up the relationship, but there are other ways.
#2. It’s not nearly as effective as classic media on Facebook
I want to make it very clear that I’m not saying to cancel all of your promotional budget on Facebook. Facebook is still an effective advertising platform with a robust range of services to sell all kinds of products.
Building upon the point I made above, media formats on Facebook are much more effective than boosting organic posts for the following reasons:
- Media formats have additional functionality that boosted posts don’t have, such as more options for e-commerce integration
- You can customize the language of the creative and caption to the audience you are looking to reach
- You have much more complete analytics and reporting from an ad campaign than a boosted post
So if you are going to use Facebook to boost a post, then why would you sell yourself short and use a format that gives you fewer options and a worse experience as an advertiser? You should also look at the fact that boosting posts is often only to increase visibility, and not drive concrete results like traffic to an e-retail site.
You can still post the same content to your Facebook page if you want as you would use in a sponsored post, just don’t boost it.
Clarification: Boosted post ≠ Sponsored Post. A boosted post appears organically on your page. A sponsored post does not appear on your page.
#3. Business Manager’s UX is garbage
Facebook is a self-service platform. Facebook prides itself as serving over 2 billion people with only 40K employees around the world. It’s true that for a level of efficiency, it’s hard to get slimmer than that.
But Facebook is finding out the hard way that maybe having fewer employees can cause you a lot of problems, especially when you have an enormous responsibility to society. I’ll get into that in the next point, but I can also say from personal experience that Facebook’s customer service is non-existant. Even when you spend money every single day on the platform, it’s hard to get a response from the account managers (I’ve come to find out why, they are so busy evangalizing Facebook’s mission that they don’t have time to actually help their clients).
This is a shame since Business Manager is probably the example of the worst UX on the web right now. I would go so far as to say that SAP is easier to use. Add in the fact that people use their personal accounts to connect to business accounts and the result is a web of permissions and layers of people and functions that should require a certification to use. The time I waste trying to re-confirm invitations to my pages, coupled with the fact that very few people understand how to properly boost posts or create ads means that the human resource toll of boosting posts on Facebook is hefty. That might seem trivial but it should be factored into your ROI since in many cases for major companies the digital teams boost posts while the media agencies with their digital experts run the sponsored post campaigns.
#4. Facebook is actually really sketchy – and the content is getting worse and worse
Facebook talks about their mission of connecting people around the world into communities based around shared interests. On paper, this sounds great, but now the world is waking up to what that really means. What happens when your interest is white supremacy? What happens when you need to stop foreign actors from influencing elections via a self-service advertising platform?
Facebook has always hidden behind the defense that they are responsible for the platform, the users are responsible for what happens on the platform. Since nothing like this existed before, the world didn’t know how to address that point. And in a way it was fine until the algorithm came into effect.
The algorithm is designed to show you content that gets more reactions. This used to mean seeing things like more photos of mariages and babies than photos of people stuck in traffic. But the sad thing is that positive posts about feeling good and being together get less reactions than inflammatory posts. Now it means that the only things we see are inflammatory posts that connect people to a side of an issue while disparaging anyone else with a different opinion.
If Facebook is connecting us along our divisions, isn’t it actually dividing our society?
Morally speaking, because of the algorithm, Facebook decides what you see, therefore Facebook is responsible for it. Facebook has not accepted this responsibility because doing so would mean putting a filter between what people upload and what can actually be posted. A filter would obviously limit advertising spend, and reduce revenue. Can’t have that now can we?
Facebook is a business – a for-profit business – and for all the “connecting the world kumbaya” they are interested in two things: cold hard cash and world domination.
In the early days, Facebook employees would conclude every meeting by standing up and chanting “domination.” They used spyware to illegally track how people used other apps to figure out which apps to buy before they could threaten the blue beast. The revoked API access to apps like Vine to prevent them from growing. The list goes on.
They are also unwilling to address the problem of fake information, and are powerless to stop the illegal uses of their platform. I personally find it terribly worrying that we are handing major moral and philosophical issues over to a man whose business card used to say “I’m the CEO, bitch.”
Facebook is sketchy as a business and if Facebook was a salesman, you would never open your front door to them.
Why are you opening the door for your business?
#5. You are in control, not Facebook
The answer of why is because it was gradual. People started using Facebook and it was great. Facebook released the Pages features and brands started building audiences. Every once in a while a brand got lucky and content went viral. Then everyone was on Facebook and brands were the ones with the wallets, so business models were born. Then all of a sudden the algorithm massacred our audiences, forcing brands to pay. But you have a content strategy in place, you have all these people who want to hear from you.
Sometimes the hardest thing in life is stopping a habit. Facebook has become a habit, and it’s time to stop it. You don’t need to “nourish your audience.” Your audience doesn’t visit Facebook to see your always-on brand content. You don’t need to boost in order to keep your KPIs high, reach and engagement mean nothing anymore on Facebook.
The reality is right in front of you, so the next time you put your mouse over the boost button, remember that you are in control.