Increasing Facebook Reach: Ads or Boosts?

business facebook ad posting 2015
business facebook ad posting 2015

Is the Free Ride Over?

As many of us predicted for quite a long time, and then knew for quite a long time, organic (unpaid) reach on Facebook business pages is dwindling away. This leads many business owners to a great deal of frustration. Many are feeling that what used to be the best free source for spreading brand awareness has more or less become another paid advertising platform.

That's not all it is though! There are still many tremendous benefits to having a great business page, keeping it up, and investing in its growth. For those out there who do not already have a giant audience, this will most likely mean spending a little more time and money.

There are two main ways of reaching a larger audience on Facebook. You can implement ads on the site, or you can promote posts. This may leave you asking, "Which is right for my business?"

Let's Start With the Good Ol' Facebook Ads

Facebook allows you to pay to place ads which are displayed to an audience you choose through targeting. They offer demographics like age, gender, location, and even specific interests. Once you've chosen your target audience, Facebook will give you an estimate of people that your ad could potentially reach. Don't be mistaken, though...This is not the number of clicks you'll get. That depends largely on the budget that you set, and the quality and content of your ad itself. After all, a million people could see your ad but if it's not enticing, there's no guarantee that a single person will click it.

With an enormous pool of users to target, and a cost-per-click that is drastically lower than many other Pay-Per-Click ad venues like Google Adwords, Facebook ads can be a great tool for content marketing and expanding your reach.

On to Promoted Posts


If the first question you find yourself asking is, "Why would I pay to show people a post when people will already see it?" then you've got a little catching up to do! Before fall of 2012, when you made a post on your page, it would be served up to all of the people who liked your page. Unfortunately since then, there has been cut after cut after cut to the numbers of likers that actually see your posts in their newsfeeds. Facebook has confirmed that ultimately (at some undisclosed time), page posts will receive no organic views. This means whenever you post on your page, the only people who will see it are people who specifically find and click on your page, and then look at your page's timeline. That is, unless you promote posts.

This is done by making a post as usual, and then clicking the "boost" button after you've posted it. You'll then have options to set a budget. You can also decide if you want your post to be served up to people who already like the page, or if you'd like to target a new audience. Once your post has been boosted, Facebook will put your post into the newsfeeds of the audience you select. Your budget will be the biggest factor in determining how many people are reached.

Both methods have advantages and disadvantages, much like any other form of paid marketing. The simple fact remains, however, that social media is quickly becoming a pay-to-play world for the businesses that have enjoyed free reach for so long.

Is Facebook For Business Pulling a Myspace?

facebook marketing services hampton roads
facebook marketing services hampton roads

Many platforms that have been 100% free for years and years are now turning into ad-driven platforms.  This means that they are changing the algorithm that determines what pops up in any users’ newsfeeds.

Facebook for Business, Public Figure and Fan pages have seen dramatic drops in organic reach.  Organic reach is how many people see your page’s posts in their newsfeed when they log on.  Over the past year or so, reach dropped to about 25% of your audience (1/4 of your total likers may have seen your posts) to about 11%, to about 6%, and is now reportedly around 3%.

Facebook has admitted that its goal is to end up with pages getting ZERO organic reach, meaning anybody who wants their business to show up on peoples’ newsfeeds will have to pay for it.

So the Big Question...If Facebook is Doing Badly for Businesses, Why Does Everybody Still Use it?

Well, think about it…SO many businesses used Facebook for business as free advertising, not as social media was actually intended to be used.  Individuals are seeing fewer and fewer posts in their feeds from companies…The ones they do see are often paid ads and very obvious therefor easy to ignore…and they’re seeing more from their friends and family where those fan page posts used to be.  Win-Win for the individual, lose-lose for the business page that doesn't have an enormous advertising budget.

If Reach is Down, isn't Facebook for Business a Waste of Time?

NO (Not yet)!  People still by and large use Facebook as a vetting system, a rating tool, and a picture gallery.  This will most likely change with time, but for now, while people are still largely using Facebook, it is important to keep a nice presence there. You might want to invest less time into your Facebook for business content creation posts, and more time into other platforms. That being said however, you shouldn't let your company Facebook page become a ghost town. It just doesn't look good!

Will my Audience Follow Me to Other Platforms?

Maybe, or maybe not…Either way, you can always build a new audience!  I have found that my clients’ views on Twitter and on Google + skyrocket past Facebook views.  Neither of the former platforms seem to get quite as much interaction as Facebook, but the number of people exposed to posts to those platforms seriously exceeds the number of people reached by the posts to Facebook.

Will Facebook Die Out the Way Myspace Did?

Most likely, in time.  Businesses, especially small businesses and professionals that have used it as a marketing tool are largely concentrating their SM efforts elsewhere.  As Facebook becomes more and more flooded with paid ads and PPC (pay-per-click) baiting and its ridiculous unnecessary features, individuals will most likely go elsewhere too.  My personal take is that right now, more individuals are using Twitter, but over the next 6 months-1 year, I think Google Plus will see a swift and steady gain in popularity.  At some point, most people will probably start to let go of Facebook.  NOT NOW though.  You may want to focus your content creation on other platforms and share to Facebook more than you rack your brain for Facebook content, but for the time being I feel it’s still important to maintain a solid presence on Facebook. As of now, Facebook for business is now a pay to play platform.

Facebook Changed Social Media For Businesses

facebook business organic reach marketing
facebook business organic reach marketing

Where does the future of social media take us?  It’s virtually impossible to say.  Facebook changed social media for businesses. One thing we know for sure though, is that you have to keep up with the ever-changing world of social media.  Many business owners are noticing that their organic (unpaid) reach has seriously been declining on Facebook pages.

If you're one of these business owners, you are not alone.  It’s not necessarily because you don’t have amazing content.  Back in April of 2012, pages were reaching about 16% of their fans on average. That number has reportedly slid into the low-single digits.

For big companies that have the budgets to buy paid ads and boosted posts, this reduction may be a good thing.  It weeds out many of their smaller competitors that had depended on the free reach previously enjoyed by page managers.  So what does this mean for small businesses that have put a lot of time, effort, and money into building a strong presence on Facebook?  Well, it means that it’s time to get creative!

Content Has Always Been and Will Always Be King

Your posts aren't showing up in as many timelines as they used to, but if you want good interaction and sharing from the small chunk of people that will see your posts, you still need to post good stuff! Also, even though you may not be getting the same amount of likes and interaction that you used to enjoy, people still want to see activity when vetting a company...These days, online research is a large (if not the largest) part of that vetting process.

Expand Your Social Media Horizons

-Are you on Twitter? Don’t let this platform become a ghost town with nothing more than an automatic feed and a stretched out, pixelated cover photo.  If you are active on Twitter and have a nice looking profile, it is pretty easy to draw engagement!  What good does that do?  Well, remember…Social media management isn't always about hard conversions (especially not right at first).  It’s less about advertising than it is about branding and trust-building.  Think about it…People follow you because you post useful/interesting/funny/unique stuff.  They might not need your product or service now…But they’re much more likely to come to you over your competitor when they do need it!  An active, engaging, useful online presence tends to add legitimacy, personality, and trust to a company.  People often prefer to do business with other people, not with faceless entities.  People want to relate.  Social media is a great way to give your brand a personality...The type of personality that people want to do business with!

-Are you on Google +?  This is one that you really don’t want to overlook.  Google Plus for Business is now completely streamlined with Google Places, YouTube, and Reviews.  From the new dashboard, you can see your insights and what kind of activity your page sees.  Even posting as little as once a week will have a tremendous impact.  When anybody Googles your business, as long as your business is verified and you've got your Google + Business page all set, your Google listing will show your location on a map, reviews, and a feed of your latest posts.  It seems as though there is less commenting/interaction on Google + than some other platforms (for now), but the number of views per month is through the roof!

Record and Analyze

Not too long ago, Facebook was pretty much the standard metric for how your social media program was faring.  This has very quickly become false.  It will get worse too…Many experts speculate that Facebook will decrease organic reach of pages to 0% over time.  This means that if you don’t pay to show up in peoples’ timelines, you simply won’t show up in them at all.  This may seem alarming, but don’t worry.  We still feel that it’s good to have a solid presence on Facebook, but do not worry when you see your insights slipping.  This will happen no matter how great your posts are (to varying degrees).  When analyzing the success of your social media program, look to other platforms; don’t rely on Facebook.  Twitter and Google + both provide insights and may provide a much more realistic view of your social media impact.

So basically what we're getting at is...Carry on!  Post the best content you can come up with no matter what platforms you use.  Branch out to other big platforms and have an awesome presence there.  Don’t let your Facebook turn into a ghost town, but also don’t get scared when you see your reach and interactions falling.  Facebook is not the be-all, end-all of social media.  Just like years back when MySpace fizzled out and led way to the growth of Facebook, another platform will take its place.  This may happen more slowly because although brands get the shaft with the new Facebook algorithm, individuals still interact with other individuals well on Facebook.  No platform can reign forever though.  You'll get through this!