Sometime after Facebook went public, it tweaked its algorithm so content posted organically would have very minimal reach. In the range of 1% for most pages. Businesses realized that if they wanted to reach their audience which they often spent real money to acquire, they would need to advertise.
“Boosting” is one of the ways to do so.
For those new to this, boosting is taking content you have posted on your wall and spending money to increase reach. It can be as little as $5. The audience can include people who like your page, friends of people who like your page, or a custom audience.
As recent as October 2015, a Page with 5,000 likes would typically reach between 700-1400 people for $5. The engagement from that increased exposure was very good too.
Well, it seems $5 “boosts” was not enough because now both reach and engagement rates are dwindling while the cost per engagement is skyrocketing.
I’ll share an example. We boosted a content piece in October for $25. That earned us 205 actions (likes, shares, comments and clicks) and reached 2,199 people. When backed out to standard online media metrics, that’s a CPM (cost per thousand) of $11.36 and CPE (cost per engagement) of $0.12.
Fast forward to November – just a month later – and a post we boosted for $15 reached just 450 people and earned only 17 actions before we paused. Had we spent the full $25, the post was on pace to receive 750 views and 28 actions… ~66% lower reach and 87% fewer engagement! The CPM backed out to $31.25 and CPE jumped to $0.89 (greater than 7X more than a month earlier).
Oh, and that is the same audience and same targeting.
Numerous examples of this new trend showed we had to change our approach.
There are two ways to boost content. The first is from the post itself which is highlighted above. You can go directly to the post in your business interface, and boost for whatever amount you want. That is the easy way, and like most things that are easy, someone else is the main beneficiary. It’s analogous to using Google Adsense; it’s extremely easy, which is why Google is estimated to take ~50% margins for running ads on your website. Go direct and margins are much, much higher.
But there is another way that I want to share. It requires using your ads account, which is Facebook’s interface for buying media. If you go to your account, the top option is boosting a post.
After clicking that option, you can select the following information: target audience, lifetime or daily budget, timeframe, and the metric you want to optimize the campaign around. This is essentially the same as the easy way. However, there are two more features: you can optimize for unique reach and impressions, and adjust your bid. And THAT is a big one.
If you select “manual”, it will give you a suggested bid (which is always much, much lower than what they put in by default). As you can see, they automatically put $2.20 in the box whereas the suggested bid is $0.11. Manually adjust to the lower end of the range given. My theory is when boosting from the post itself, the system automatically optimizes for their default bid, which appears to have gone up recently. Facebook optimizing towards a higher bid is likely why engagement rates have dropped and the cost per has increased significantly.
In the interface, you take back control.
Let’s say for example that you’ll pay $0.10 per engagement, put that in and the system will now optimize towards that number. It doesn’t always hit that number, but it’s a lot lower than the default bid and you’ll earn greater engagement at a lower clip.
And all it takes is a few more steps to get there.
Each and every move Facebook makes is not designed with your business in mind. It’s with theirs. Don’t fool yourself into thinking otherwise. They have an amazing business with unprecedented levels of reach and targeting, but you have to be wise in order to maximize return. One of the ways to do so is by boosting your content through their ads platform instead of from the page itself. Sure, it takes a few more steps and clicks, but lowering engagement costs and getting more bang for your buck is definitely worth it.
Wouldn’t you agree?