Should Entrepreneurs Promote Posts on Facebook?

Dear Jasmine,
I was wondering what your thoughts are on Facebook use for business.
Specifically the trend in which you need to pay to have posts promoted. I'm sure you've thought of ways around having to pay for every post to be promoted in order for more of your fans to actually see it appear in their news feed?
Cheers,
Frenzied Facebook User


Dear Frenzied,
I love this question because I recently had a conversation with fellow photographers about this very thing. While we may see differently on the matter, I'd love to share my opinion, based on things I've read and personal experience.

Here's the single most important thing you need to know about Facebook: engagement (i.e. interaction) is the thing that matters. That's it. Engagement is comprised of Likes, Shares, and Comments. The more you have of these things, the more natural engagement will occur. Conversely, if people aren't engaging with your posts/updates, the less fans it'll reach. In fact, this article--5 Social Media Trends Every Entrepreneur Needs to Know--states that only an average of six percent of fans currently see your posts. SIX!


This number plummets over a prolonged period of time if the engagement remains stagnant on a page. So, yes, it's a compounding problem (you want engagement, but no one's seeing your posts). Some business owners might assume that if they pay to promote a post, interaction will follow...but that's furthest from the truth. Sure, expanding reach may increases chances of interaction, but if few fans are interacting with your posts to begin with, chances are it'll be the same, even with a larger audience.

So what's an entrepreneur to do?
    1. Post Things Fans Interact With Naturally
Most photographers update their fan page solely with promotional advertisements (Just blogged a wedding!...Love this engagement session!...A sale on mini-sessions!), but this type of update isn't something fans will consistently respond to. Facebook should be a fun place for fans to see personal aspects of your life, funny stories, or instagram photos. Most fans want to interact in ways they find themselves similar...not just to praise your recent photo work. The more fans who engage with the post, the reach of the post organically increases...and organic reach is FREE! :)

    2. Promote Posts That People Are Responding To
If there's a post that fans are naturally responding to, this is a good sign that if more people saw it, more would interact. In this case, promoting this particular post may make more sense because you'll yield farther reach (by paying to promote), but also yield more reach by people leaving comments and Likes (this will organically put the post in different news feeds, which is a total bonus).
The last thing you want to do is promote a post too early and later realize it was a waste...more people seeing it doesn't necessarily mean more interaction. Remember that.

    3. Promote Call to Action Posts
I don't promote posts of my photography. Why? Because it's just putting my photos in front of more people, but that doesn't necessarily mean I can measure its effectiveness. I may occasionally promote a post linking to a specific blog post or promotion within the J* Store, but that's because I can measure (by way of Google analytics) how much traffic Facebook sent me directly and the overall increase from previous hits from Facebook. Knowing how effective your marketing efforts are within Facebook are imperative to determine how much you'll invest in it.

If you don't have a marketing budget for Facebook for your business right now, no worries! The key is to create content that makes you human, shows what you do (as well as who you are), and builds ways for people to interact with you like a friend, not a business owner. Once you do this effectively, you'll see each post expand its reach far beyond the six percent average.

Shine On,
j*
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Ruben Nunez - I like to spend a few bucks to promote a blog/session post to my existing fan base. This usually only costs a dollar or so but ensures that thousands will see it, instead of only a few. Sure, you have to pay to play (as they say), but in the grand scheme of things, its a very minor investment for the returns. And yes, they should always have a call to action.  05.05.14 - 12:25pm
Anna - Great tips Jasmine! Always good to know how to improve interaction on FB :)  04.30.14 - 5:23am
Tosha - Awesome tips! I struggle with this myself and even being "human" seems complicated when it comes to Facebook! lol.   04.18.14 - 11:48am
Cramer Imaging, Pocatello Photography - Jasmine, you make a great point about boosting Facebook posts. Paid advertizing, anywhere, can be a costly lesson to learn for anyone. We tried some paid advertizing last year. We were promised that all we had to do was to get 1 job and it would pay for the advertizing. Never got a job off of any of the ads so now we will only use the free options unless and until it actually proves beneficial otherwise. I would say the same thing goes for any social media promotion. If you don't have the eyes already on that post, promoting it is just going to be a waste of money. Ours was a rather hard and painful lesson that kept us from making a profit last year. Marketers and account reps will promise you a lot in order to get you to agree to give them money. Dollars don't always translate into eyes; even on Facebook.  04.18.14 - 11:38am
Jane - Very thought provoking. It's making me re-think how I interact on my page. Thanks for your opinion!  04.18.14 - 8:48am
Matt - I keep saying this, but Page owners I know keep posting announcements and synopses, instead of asking questions and inviting comments. And then they wonder why their Pages get so little traffic.  04.18.14 - 8:20am
sheri j - I am curious if there is a certain day of the week or time of day that is most effective for getting the highest amount of views organically?  04.18.14 - 8:03am
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