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https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0002/3143/meh_button-blog-thumb.jpg

If there’s one thing guaranteed to get Facebook page owners riled up, it’s a change to the Edgerank algorithm. This month complaints have been springing from every corner of the world’s largest social network about the latest tweaks (and frankly, why should I be any different?).

Over the past weeks I’ve been watching our page reach figures fall... and fall... and fall... with Facebook’s latest changes putting severe limitations on the amount of organic content that we can serve to our followers.

I try to make sure the Econsultancy page follows the moving best practice goalposts, so in order to understand the situation and try to arrest the decline, I decided to try out a series of promotions to gauge their effectiveness. 

Before I go any further, a caveat: This is obviously a limited test. I’m being careful with the company credit card at this point, so I simply wanted to judge how different kinds of promotions reach people, and see how effective Facebook’s promoted posts targeting is.

Here I’ve tried a couple of different types of post and wanted to see how much bang I’d get for a small investment. 

If you are running ads regularly then please do add your comments on this below, it would be great to find out more about how the changes have affected your campaigns recently.

Impact on organic reach

First of all, let’s look at how our organic reach figures have changed recently.

Here’s a few of our posts from before the change:

https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0002/4674/1-blog-full.jpg

When Facebook began providing reach figures we routinely reached between 2,000 and 4,000 people, per post (at the time, our page had around 7,500 total ‘Likes’).

Next, here are some posts with similar content after the change:

 https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0002/4675/2-blog-full.jpg

As you can see, numbers have fallen considerably. By as much as 50% in fact.

I should point out that since the switch; these numbers have grown slightly, so it appears that Facebook may still be tinkering with things, but our total organic reach now rarely exceeds 1,600 people per post.

Timing helps a little, but it‘s still not a great situation. Previously I covered this and felt fairly certain that they were not ‘actively’ restricting post reach, but given Facebook's recent blog post on this, I’m no longer certain.

So, if organic content won’t reach your hard-earned Facebook audience, will promoted posts? Let’s take a look:

As mentioned, I decided to run two parallel promotions:

  • A ‘light’ post, designed to be shared.
  • An infographic post. Of limited interest to people who aren’t part of our target market.

Both posts were targeted to reach ‘People who like our page, and their friends’.

As mentioned, this targeting isn’t really valuable for a niche business like Econsultancy, as even if someone Likes our page, it’s unlikely that all of their Facebook friends will also be digital marketers.

This targeting is designed with consumer brands in mind, but I'd expect it to be the most popular option for managers using promotions, as it offers the most likely route to page growth.

For my first promotion I posted something deliberately made for sharing. You guessed it, it’s a cuddly wombat.

https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0002/4676/3-blog-full.jpg

I’ve also deliberately asked people to Like, tag and share the post, following all the basic terrible brand page rules (Albeit with a touch of irony... I hope).

I promoted this post for £7, and set the targeting to reach people who liked my page. Here are the results of this post:

https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0002/4696/results_of_wombat_posting-blog-full.jpg

2.7% of people who saw this post Liked it, and over 6.5% took some kind of action.

That’s a pretty impressive engagement rate. But let’s take a quick look at the users who Liked the post:

https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0002/4677/5.jpg

I’ve spent time checking out the profiles for a lot of these users, and while there are a few legitimate users in this list, we also received a large amount of Likes from profiles in Malaysia and Thailand, many with no connection to digital marketing, and alarmingly, many appeared to be fake profiles.

Now, I’m a big fan of triple-checking everything, as things on Facebook are rarely what they seem, but if this is indeed the case, then we’re left with a problem. At this point it seems that either: 

  • Facebook’s targeting is utterly, irredeemably borked, or
  • Something far worse: that promoted post interactions are falsely buoyed by fake profiles. 

I’m not about to pit myself against the legal department of one of the world’s largest companies here, but this does have some disturbing implications if Facebook is serious about building an ad network.

Incidentally, I’ve also seen several posts on various forums recently (including our own) saying that geo-targeting options have disappeared for some users, and again, that promoted posts have been overwhelmed by users from Indonesia, so it seems I’m not alone in this. 

This has also affected our publically displayed Likes figure – with Bangkok now being our ‘most popular city’ –previously this was London, followed by New York:

https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0002/4697/talking_about_figures_after_promotion-blog-full.jpg 

(Incidentally, look at that interaction curve! More on this in a moment).

I’m not saying that traffic from Thailand is necessarily useless for us. To find out, we need to check our own analytics:

 https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0002/4698/where_traffic_came_from-blog-full.jpg

As you can see, during the promotion, we received no referral traffic from Bangkok.

Was it valuable?

... maybe. Here’s a shot of transactions from Facebook during the promotion:

https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0002/4699/ecommerce_transaction_peak_during_promotions-blog-full.jpg

There’s a definite bump in traffic and correlating ecommerce conversions there, so we are at least

reaching some valuable customers. But there’s no real way to separate organic from paid here so it’s a little unclear. 

So let’s see if we can figure out why, as the actress said to the bishop, we’re getting so many thumbs up from Bangkok.

I mentioned earlier that I’d tuned this post for general ‘likeyness’, which wasn’t the case with our other promo – an infographic covering social sharing. 

I targeted this post to reach people who liked our page, and their friends.

At this point I should add a further caveat: For a company like Econsultancy, this targeting won’t be very effective. We have a niche audience; it’s unlikely that all our follower’s connections are also digital marketers. This is a setting built for consumer products, so this is absolutely a test which I didn’t expect any long-term value from, but hey, you’ve got to try new things.

Here are the results:

https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0002/4700/reach_figures_for_infographic_post-blog-half.jpg

This post received a huge bump in visibility with 21,000+ views, and around 7% of people who saw the post were engaged in some kind of action, but as mentioned, this post had a fairly limited appeal, so I wouldn’t have expected too many Likes or shares from the target audience. 

Now let’s see who ‘Liked’ this post:

 https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0002/4702/people_who_liked_post_2-blog-half.jpg

Aha! More users from Bangkok, only this time, investigation shows that they seem to be real people.

So, it appears that someone from Thailand ‘Liked’ this post, AND our cuddly wombat. They have a lot of bot users following them, who in turn lavished likes upon our promotion. So in that sense, Facebook’s targeting is quite good. It displayed and promoted the Econsultancy page to the users it said it would.

However, without accurate geotargeting, there’s no way of limiting that promotion to more relevant followers, and despite claims to the contrary, it appears that Facebook is still littered with spam accounts who may be artificially inflating the cost of using promotions.

So not a deliberate attempt at price bumping by FB, but certainly a case of poor housekeeping.

Our largest problem here is that we don’t  know how far Facebook casts the connection net. If I target you, and your friends, am I getting your direct contacts, or am I getting six degrees of Kevin Bacon?

Facebook needs to be much clearer about these and provide better targeting if it wants to be effective. 

Over the course of promoting these two posts we gained 235 new followers, that’s higher than our usual acquisition rate so has certainly helped, but since then things have dropped back to their usual levels:

https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0002/4703/before_and_after-blog-full.jpg

At our recent JUMP event, Lovehoney’s Matty Curry spoke about the effect TV advertising had on their brand awareness. Typically a site will receive a traffic spike during the ad, then a quick fall, but a fall to a slightly higher general level than prior to the campaign. This is important, as it seems to be missing here. I’ll have more data as we continue to test, but it appears that without this incremental increase (which again, may be something that FMCG brands will see), then Promoted posts lack any long-tail value.

The impact for page managers

In effect, we’re left needing to constantly promote posts, otherwise we have:

  • No long term traffic increase
  • No long-term on-page interaction increase
  • No long-term conversion increase

and crucially no increase in brand evangelism or overall engagement from relevant customers.

This has always been the absolute core of Facebook’s value proposition for businesses: The ability to easily connect with engaged customers. As things stand, if you want more Likes, then keep posting pictures of fluffy toys. If you want actual customers… it may not pay to advertise. 

Again, this is a very small data sample, so please do let us know how you're finding the changes, and the success you're having with new Facebook ad formats in the comments. 

Matt Owen

Published 18 October, 2012 by Matt Owen

Matt Owen was formerly Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or hook up on LinkedIn.

203 more posts from this author

Comments (62)

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Primary Position

I think these numbers are going to get harder and harder. Facebook wants to operate like traditional media - its easier to get paid for impressions than for actions (where Google is heavily focused). Facebook have recently stated that just seeing the ad is now equivalent to engagement.

Your data corresponds with little tests we do. But its getting mushy.

Some issues you've identified:

The likes on a Facebook page aren't all representative of people

There are so many bots - and this is a real credibility killer

Ultimately - brand managers want bigger like counts - we can't pretend that's not true even if everyone would advise differently

Lastly - getting more likes = "working" ? Brand recognition/visibility is big company, big budget stuff.

about 4 years ago

Ally Manock

Ally Manock, Head of Digital Strategy, Planning & Insight at Brass Agency

Really interesting post Matt!

about 4 years ago

Marie Page

Marie Page, Director at Musicademy

Hi Matt
Thanks for this. I'm seeing the same thing. Our normal Facebook audience is UK/US but with promoted posts to friends of fans loads of sudden likes from Malaysia, Indonesia etc. With 4,200 fans and only 37 of those being from Malaysia this is very suspicious. The promoted post I'm referring to wasn't even a cute one - we are really only paying to get the more serious posts out there nowadays.

And, yes, we're seeing a tiny amount of traction in comparison to previous months. Even posts that have instantly high organic likes, comments and shares are not performing well.

Inevitably the more viral posts are the cute/funny stuff because that's what people share. It's frustrating and delivers a skewed impression of the brand. I'm happy running the odd funny piece but for brands other than The Poke et al, where humour is central, you are struggling to get visibility for the arguably more important posts that actually provide some value to your audience.

Have you experimented with Sponsored Stories vs Promoted Posts?

about 4 years ago

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Dan Purvis

Very interesting. If the drop in reach coincided with the reach being more targeted and therefore effective, the it would make sense. But this correlation doesn't seem to be the case. I think there will be more tinkerings and, no doubt, an enticement to make people spend more to get more reach...not exactly true engagement.

about 4 years ago

Matt Owen

Matt Owen, Head of Social at Econsultancy

Thanks for comments all -keep 'em coming :)

@Dan - yes agreed, if the reduced reach meant that posts reached more relevant users (pre-qualified if you like) then this would be excellent, but it appears to simply be less people, at random.

@Marie - I've tried a few sponsored stories and 'Matt likes page X' posts which do seem to be effective in driving page Likes, but again targeting isn't quite clear, and for a business like Econsultancy it's just not viable, we need to be very specific with our PPC, which means that scale just doesn't have the return value we need generally.

Worth mentioning that a post targeted to reach only current university students was also seen by several people outside the target range recently, which makes specific offers difficult to manage.

I'm of the opinion that we've been falsely sold on 'Likes' as a genuine measure of value. Again, for Econsultancy, I'd rather have referral traffic than on page action from Facebook, as there's little search value there. Sharing and brand recognition are slightly different obviously...

about 4 years ago

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Crystal Munro

Great blog Matt. I manage multiple pages for clients and have echoed your concerns directly to many of my clients. It is frustrating to advise clients of something when I am doubting the credibility and authenticity of the data. I find myself telling them that if all they are concerned with is likes, then go for it, but if they are looking for actual prospects, best to stick with just promoting to those that like your page. Glad you have taken the time to document this.

about 4 years ago

Dawn McKeag

Dawn McKeag, Director, Digital Marketing at Live Events Management, Inc.

Thank you for sharing! This has been one of the more valuable posts I've read in a while.

about 4 years ago

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Sharon Ferry

I tried the promote post thing for one post this week. I have a limited number of fb friends - family....but THEY have a bajillion friends between them...I tried it and in the 24 approx hours it received 95% more views than if I had not promoted it. In a way this is great for some big mouth like me that might only want to promote a post now in then because I feel it is that important. I have decided I HATE PROMOTE post thing now because in the last 2 days I have not been receiving posts from usual fb pages/groups...only family....Today it is so bad that it feels like when you were a kid on the playground & nobody wanted to play with you! I am almost in tears because I can't make the supposed "fix" work...."add to interests lists" by scrolling over favorite fb page ALREADY liked button. ONLY the news feed check mark. If I didn't know better,& it wasn't driving me to tears, I would be laughing it off thinking it must be this strange windstorm we are having today that is blowing all the posts away from me LOL..yeah, that was bad...but geesh, THIS problem is bad! Thanks for reading my venting! Respectfully, Sharon - Calif.

about 4 years ago

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Magnus Nilsson

We've basically been adviced by fb staff not to use this new promoted posts tool. Reason being that the tool finds people not targeted by other ads, so generall low quality. We've done tests with similar poor results from random accounts abroad. Instead we should use sponsored stories from advertiser management.

about 4 years ago

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Clau

This was very informative and has given a general idea on how to level expectations when going for the initial try-out phase of these promoted post.

Presenting an ROI to my marketing superiors will be very difficult.

I am looking forward to a case study based on Conversion if it is possible to follow up this post.

about 4 years ago

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Rob Mansfield

Hi Matt. We experimented with a promoted post and had exactly the same experience.

It was deliberately targeted at our audience and, although we had a brief and large bump in reach, most of the increase came from south east Asia.

Unfortunately, our market is purely UK, so international interest is totally pointless. Conclusion: a waste of money

Interesting to see other comments here with similar experiences

about 4 years ago

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Vince Corbin

Hi Matt,
On a similar vein, but using Facebook Ads and with an even smaller sample than yours, I found that a high percentage of the "Clicks" were being generated by bots/scrapers! In my tiny test about 40% were generated in this way. I would obviously have to run a much bigger test to see if this result is typical.

However, is it possible that the results you are seeing could be caused by bots/scrapers? I can't really see the point of bots/scrapers clicking the "Like" button, but this might help to explain why you are not seeing any long term traffic increase?

about 4 years ago

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Mark Sproul

Hi Matt, we are a UK University and international reach is really important to us - we've seen positive increases in likes and engagements from key markets but how valuable these followers are is always a question from a conversion perspective and we are developing our understanding of this all of the time. Thanks for the blog - perfect timing for us. Mark

about 4 years ago

Matt Owen

Matt Owen, Head of Social at Econsultancy

Thanks for commenting everyone - seems as though it's not just me who's finding these promotions to be fairly low-quality then - @Magnus, that's ... pretty incredible, and pretty terrible to be honest, excellent insight so thanks for that.

From this it looks as though these should only be used if you have international brand presence and want to eke a few more fans out who wouldn't otherwise be connected to your page in any way - so of little real value outside of the largest FMCG companies?

about 4 years ago

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Patient

Here at Patient.co.uk we have been using promoted posts for a while, usually to push nice bite-size chunks of information such as health quotes or health myths (example here https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=508658605812330&set=a.384894764855382.101053.310041829007343&type=1&theater)

This has largely been successful for us in growing our fanbase - engagement is good in terms of comments and likes, and based on the cost of promotion each like normally equates to around 10p per person.

We promote to 'People who like your page and their friends' and looking at our demographic breakdown this broadly does match to uk.

However it would be good to be able to target this more accurately to just people in the UK as like others, an international audience is less relevant to us.

about 4 years ago

Marie Page

Marie Page, Director at Musicademy

In relation to the "fake" clicks people have experienced, has anyone asked Facebook about it? Google reimburse for these.

And I'm just reflecting about this today in the light of Google's share trading suspension. I've shifted a lot of PPC budget to Facebook in recent months. The media don't seem to have picked up on that element as a possible reason for Google's PPC revenue dropping.

about 4 years ago

Ally Manock

Ally Manock, Head of Digital Strategy, Planning & Insight at Brass Agency

Good points Marie!

about 4 years ago

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David

Matt thanks for this - very useful. I run social media for a large global sporting brand and after spending years getting our fan base up to almost 2 mil I find the current changes frustrating as hell. Am now work with google + (never would have considered it 6 months ago!) and find them far more engaging and helpful. A real shame but I just feel FB is heading the wrong way with things. I feel really let down by them. Anyone else out there feeling the same?

about 4 years ago

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Nick Tann

Nothing beats your own website and a mailing list...oh and Twitter!
Great post Matt, thanks.

about 4 years ago

Marie Page

Marie Page, Director at Musicademy

I've just had a response from Facebook to my moan about "fake" likes. This is what they say:

Thanks for writing in. Since your promoted posts use the same targeting as the original Page post- which is to Page fans and friends of fans, you will not be able to directed target the post to only a section of that group.

The reason you are geting more Likes for particular regions is that these fans (and their friends) are more likely to click, they will probably get a higher share of the distribution. We have been advising people to gate their page (Edit Page>Manage Permissions) if they feel they are getting unwanted click from countries they have no fans in.

If you do not want to do that, you can create Page post ads from your Ads Manager instead, which can be targeted to the users you want.

So, if I understand this correctly, if we want to continue with Promoted Posts and not have fraudulent clicks, we have to gate SE Asian countries from seeing the page at all(not very fair to the handful of genuine SE Asian fans we have) and stop using Promoted Posts, instead use ads. But I want the posts to appear organically, not as ads.....

about 4 years ago

Matt Owen

Matt Owen, Head of Social at Econsultancy

Great info, thanks Marie!

Absolutely agree that content appearing organically is the goal here, and it's worrying that regular, unpromoted posts seem to be being restricted by these new changes.

about 4 years ago

Dan Howe

Dan Howe, Online Marketer at UK third sector organisations

Really interesting post.
I have been experimenting too and found that promoted posts work really well. My audience isn't as niche as yours and not as big as some of the other commentors' (20000, mostly British women aged 45-54), and promoted posts seem to be a really efficient way to engage the majority of them. I haven't encountered the same fake-looking accounts or likes from an overseas audience. Best of all, the promoted post see a huge amount of click throughs and conversions on the site.

As a charity, I can't afford to do them all the time, but for important campaigns I will be reshuffling budget from Google Ads to Facebook Promoted Posts.

about 4 years ago

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newriverm

Great post, really interesting. Isn't it ironic how social media is getting like advertising i.e. your message reaches many people who are not a suitable audience!

about 4 years ago

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Lindsay Hopkins

Hmmm, great post - but the findings are rather disconcerting.

An alarm bell rang when I promoted a couple of posts recently and like you the response came from a large percentage of people outside my normal reach, however I didn't do the research as you have have.

Thanks for pointing this out, I'll now rethink my strategy.

about 4 years ago

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Anna Freedman, Owner at Anna Freedman & Co

Very interesting - I've experimented with promoted posts and have had exactly the same issues with 'quality' of the audience reached - some user profiles appear somewhat dubious to say the least.
That said, even on standard ads and daily posts, I find the Asian audience (especially India) is far more likely to engage than users in the more established Western markets. As much as it pains me to give FB the benefit of the doubt, perhaps this is one reason why they so heavily influence the audience thrown up through promoted posts?

about 4 years ago

Daniel Phillips

Daniel Phillips, E-Commerce Manager at HJ Hall

That is a very cute wombat.

about 4 years ago

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iain martin

Excellent post and discussion thanks. I would also add that I use a number of highly targeted ads (using Precise Targetting) as well as 'Like' and Promoted Post ads.

The CTR is high on the precise targetting, but according to FB the audience is too small and hence they have automatically dropped ads that as an advertiser I am happy with, pretty much forcing me to use higher CPC, less targetted ads.

Regarding the fall in Reach, Facebook needs to think more about user intent (per Google). If a user likes a Page, why should they be prevented from seeing that Page's posts.

about 4 years ago

John Wroath

John Wroath, EMEA Digital marketing at Market Research

Nice one for pointing this out. I now notice that I can't actually click the link that shows who's seen your promoted post!?

Moreover, I have also noticed a circ 50% decline in exposure to my organic posts. Which sucks. Makes you more included to use the promoted post. Which I do believe is good for those Ad-hoc situations.

about 4 years ago

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Jacob Varghese

I have found creating ads from posts instead of using promoted posts gives me more control including geo-targetting.

about 4 years ago

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Stephanie

RE: bot users possibly created or encouraged by FB to boost "like" numbers, etc...I think it is true.

I used the offer of $50 free ad credit and set up ads for 2 Pages I run. Both are lifestyle, not ecommerce based. The likes pour in, but so many of the "people" seem like fake profiles and so they, of course, don't engage.

Very, very disappointing.

The cast ad net definitely finds some appropriate real people, too, but the fakes are a bummer and like one of the commenters above mentioned, really bring down the page credibility.

about 4 years ago

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Erin

Thank you for this test! I thought i was losing my mind after running a series of promoted posts last week and I noticed all of my new likes were bogus accounts in foreign countries.

I was actually thinking about filing a charge back against Facebook. Clearly this isn't what I paid for.

about 4 years ago

Marie Page

Marie Page, Director at Musicademy

@Erin
I'd be interested to see if you get further than I did with Facebook. They are basically denying that these are fake accounts.
@Jacob - yes certainly ads will give you more control but they look like ads. People don't like ads very much but they are much happier with what they perceive as unpaid for posts.

I decided to up my budget on Google PPC a little in response to all this. Googled my keywords and not an ad in sight. Thinking a bargain was to be had I created my ads and keywords only to find the so-called minimum bid was £1.25. For a key phrase that doesn't appear to have any competition.

I have the feeling that we marketers are starting to be held to ransom a little.

about 4 years ago

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Tony Parkin

Had the same experience on the UK-based corporate page with a promoted post. Over 9,000 reach (compared to the 200 or so we usually get among our 4,000 followers) yet over 50% of reach was from Indonesia (with only 10 likes from there).
What seems like a bargain from a low-cost investment actually feels quite sour now and will question whether we do it again.

about 4 years ago

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Chris

I look after a facebook page for a client, and the last 10 sponsored / promoted posts have resulted in 48% activity from Thailand (95% of than from Bangkok) and only 10% combined for UK & US - which is where 95% of the 'business page likes' (1500) are physically from.

There is definitely something dodgy going on here..

about 4 years ago

Matt Owen

Matt Owen, Head of Social at Econsultancy

Thanks Chris - as mentioned in the other comments, it appears that promoted posts are targeted primarily at users who your other advertising is least likely to reach, therefore for niche pages based in the UK/US, Thailand is a non-targeted market, and thus receives promoted content (possibly!). I'd be interested to see what happens if you promote a post from a page that does well in Thailand - would the promotion appear to users in the UK/US etc?

about 4 years ago

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Nancy Prendergast

Great post. Despite your small sample, your work is very thorough. Thanks.

about 4 years ago

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Juergen

Thanks for this interesting article. I am running an Online Fashion Business in Indonesia and we are very active in Facebook. The reason is that Indonesia has the 4th largest number of Facebook users worldwide. Many Indonesian people sell all kind of products via their profiles, even this is against the Facebook profile policies. You find a lot of Facebook users in Indonesia with 5000 friends. They sell over their profile instead of having a business page. This might explain why some of you are getting quite some Likes from Indonesia with Promoted Posts. As soon as you get a Like of one of those profiles, many of their friends might Like as well. Of course the way Facebook handles the reach of the promoted posts seems to be not very accurate as well. Our business page has more than 30.000 Likes and we post everyday some of our new fashion. We also realized a dramatic decrease in the reach during the past months. So I started using promoted posts. If I do a non-promoted post then around 4.000 people will see it and 10-20 will Like it. However if I spend some money for a promoted post, I got a reach of 20.000-30.000 people and 100-200 likes. What disturbes me a lot is that we spend quite some money to get so many fans and now all of a sudden we have to pay to reach them. Furthermore I would really like to target the promoted posts the same way I do that with Facebook Ads. Recently we got so many people commenting about our models instead of our fashion product in an abusive way. So targeting promoted posts would be very important for us to avoid spam and remove countries from the list that we are not interested in.

about 4 years ago

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jude moran

I've been using targeted ads and promoted posts to grow brand awareness and I too have seen a recent spike in likes from pacific rim areas. We are a band, and have a webisode series and cannot fathom that the people liking our post are actual users who would engage us. Much better results with targeted ads - where I can pinpoint interests and obtain a much higher quality of potential fans/customers.

about 4 years ago

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Julien Picard, Digital Marketing Manager at Cable ONE

Very useful post. We have experienced a huge decrease in reach after Facebook changed their algorithm.We are using promoted posts and have been very successful with promoting to Friends of Friends. We also have seen an increase in what seems to be fake likes or accounts, but it has not been overwhelming yet.

about 4 years ago

Roland Latzel

Roland Latzel, Director of Marketing at MailStore Software GmbH

Very interesting insights, I have heared before that facebook seems to have a problem with fake accounts. No wonder if you take a look at the usual "1000 facebook fans for just 10$"-offers everywhere...

about 4 years ago

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Eva Bui, Digital Marketing Manager at Random House Australia

Great post. I work a book publisher in Australia, and have found we get random comments left on the post. Usually comments completely unrelated to the post. I didnt' realise you could go in and see which users liked your page from the promoted post - how do you do this? The links in the pop up box when you click on 'promotion complete' from the post don't actually click through for me.

about 4 years ago

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Darren Ward

Really interesting post and I really enjoyed the backing of what you where talking about with stats, thanks for sharing.

about 4 years ago

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David Somerville

Good timing on this Matt as I've just run a Promoted Posts campaign and discovered exactly the same thing. Not being able to target geographically is a big mistake on Facebook's part (or it's intentional!). One thing to try (which someone may have mentioned already) is to restrict the page to United Kingdom only and therefore perhaps this will ensure no out of country accounts are reached?

about 4 years ago

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Laura@MotherWouldKnow

I write a food blog and noticed that posts from my FB page aren't even necessarily showing up on the newsfeed my own personal page, as they had previously. I don't have a budget that would allow me to promote posts and now that I've read your column and the comments, I'm glad I haven't wasted the money anyway. There is a lot of grumbling about this in the foodblogger community. I think this is the beginning of the end for FB. I'll look at Google+ more closely and try to figure out other ways to reach my audience.

about 4 years ago

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Josh McCoy

I truly think that for me and my niche, Facebook posts give me a vast popularity of the "tech guy". Some say that this would be a blessing, I say it's a curse.

I'm in SEO and Internet marketer, as I don't know everything about Tech.

I'm speaking of free advertising, and not paid respectively.

I do think that there are still only a very few limited niche based businesses that could do very very well on Facebook.

about 4 years ago

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Vero MacMillan, Account Manager at World Vibes Marketing

Interesting Info - Thanks!

about 4 years ago

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Claire Broadley

Fantastic post. I suspected Facebook would do this eventually, and it's fascinating to see the evidence against it laid bare. A friend told me that users now have to pay to post events on friends' profiles; I've not checked this, but if it's true, I think we're going to see even more restriction on what appears in the news feed.

about 4 years ago

Marie Page

Marie Page, Director at Musicademy

Just came across this Social Bakers/WeAreSocial data on halved reach on Facebook
http://wearesocial.com.au/blog/2012/10/12/react-halved-reach-facebook/

It appears to show that engagement is still pretty much as it was before, however what I think this report fails to consider is the possibility that a lot of those posts are promoted.

And of course with the new algo only showing widely the really engaging posts then of course the average will stay high. The net result is that Facebook is awash with so called "engaging" content being shared but unfortunately this ends up being the funny/trivial (because that's very viral) and we miss so much other good stuff.

about 4 years ago

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Paul Denyes

We've now spent about $800 spread over 3 promoted posts. Our first post was a smashing success. We were marketing a sale for one of our products and we saw great sales numbers. The last two we've run saw great engagement, but little movement in sales. Who were the people who liked most of these posts? People from Asia. According to our insights, our most popular cities are Jakarta, Bangkok, Malang, and Kuala Lumpur. Our product is exclusively for the US, Canada and parts of Latin America. Until we can make sure that these posts are only targeted to people in the United States/Canada/PR, we aren't going to spend anymore money with them.

about 4 years ago

Dawn McKeag

Dawn McKeag, Director, Digital Marketing at Live Events Management, Inc.

Since reading this article, I ran a test for our live events brand that targets women in the US 35-54. I ran 2 promoted posts last week. Prior to this test, our audience had always been in our sweet spot. I just ran the post-test analytics and they were very similar to this article. While we had a great lift in likes, these "promoted posts" were reaching the completely wrong audience. Men 18-34 in the Phillippines, many African nations and India. Just wanted to share the results as another example that this type of advertising does not work. Facebook has continued to show it cannot be a reliable source beyond the general brand page efforts.

about 4 years ago

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Dawn Roberts

Matt,

Thanks to you and to all of those who responded with observations/data of their own. Your insights based on the promoted posts are interesting. I am wondering how this might work in the non-profit space, both for Causes and their promotional partners.

about 4 years ago

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James

Informative post. I promoted a post just recently, as it was offered as a free coupon worth $25. While it did generate some relevant click throughs, I also noted a lot of likes out of asia that are look totally irrelevant.

I too think sponsored stories where you can selectively target your audience are way to go.

By the way, somehow facebook have worked out a way to charge me for their 'free' coupon. Not sure how that works! Anyone fall into that same trap?

about 4 years ago

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Nick

A little late to the party here, but we've had success with promoted posts created from the Facebook Power Editor. This allowed us to create promoted posts that are very geo-targeted.

about 4 years ago

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Anthony

H Matt - I checked my Facebook "like" stats after a month of using Facebook Promoted Posts and surprisingly the most popular City for our page which is advertising a local bar on in Queensland Australia is none other than Krung Thep in Bangkok ages 24-35. All of a sudden we have so many Thai people liking our page from this particular City in Thailand.

I cannot believe this could be a mere coincidence.

Good luck with bringing the truth on this to light

For my business Id be happy to pay for promoted posts as long as I know they are hitting my target audience. Now I won't be paying until they sort this out as it seems like a waste of money.

about 4 years ago

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Aaron Moreno

@Marie

Thank you for providing the information on country gating. I handle the social media for a local children's museum in Bloomington, Indiana, U.S. and whenever I promote a post with "fans of your page", we get engagements from Indonesia. I just isolated our page to only users within the United States and ran a promoted post. We will see if this gatekeeping eliminates the program.

almost 4 years ago

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syed

i didnt understand how you got Geographic data in Google analytics.is it possible to get all the data ...geography wise in Google that too from facebook itself?

over 3 years ago

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Gardi

i also didnt understand how Geographic data in Google analytics.is it possible to get all the data ...?

over 3 years ago

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Terry Sexton, Founder at Wise Leader Group

I have just been experimenting with boosting our posts on Facebook and I have found that they have all been targeting India.

Whilst this is not a major problem I would like to experiement with targeting some other countries. Unfortuantely, I can't work out how to change the targeting. I've contacted Facebook and they haven't got back to me.

I see that from your experiments in promoting posts you found that you got a lot of engagement from people in Thailand.

Is the targeting something we can't control?

Terry

over 3 years ago

Matt Owen

Matt Owen, Head of Social at Econsultancy

Hi @Terry,
You need to set up the post directly through Facebook, and add targeting before you originally publish the post, then promote it (or 'Boost' as Facebook is now calling it). Hope that helps.

over 3 years ago

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embuh surabaya, CEO at www.mainankids.com

write a food blog and noticed that posts from my FB page aren't even necessarily showing up on the newsfeed my own personal page, as they had previously. I don't have a budget that would allow me to promote posts and now that I've read your column and the comments, I'm glad I haven't wasted the money anyway. There is a lot of grumbling about this in the foodblogger community. I think this is the beginning of the end for FB. I'll look at Google+ more closely and try to figure out other ways to reach my audience.
http://www.mainankids.com/

almost 3 years ago

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kentung oke, internet marketer at toko mainan anak surabaya

Thank you for sharing! This has been one of the more valuable posts I've read in a while.
(http://mainanak.com)

over 2 years ago

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Tobin Sinclair, Sales and Marketing Director at EcuTek International

Just finished reading this thread and have had exactly the same experience from running boosted posts from 17th - 24th March 2016. So...ergo nothing has changed with the facebook algorithm in 4 years!!

These are the first boosted posts we have run. In this case I selected a target group Male 24 - 40 that closely matched the existing profile of our page. I then selected countries I wanted to target. 16 in all. Australia; China; Japan; Malaysia; Thailand; Taiwan; UAE; Saudi Arabia; Germany; France; Switzerland; Belgium; UK; South Africa; US; Canada.

The results I got back for post 1 were as follows:
Thailand (97.8%)
Saudi Arabia (1%)
Malaysia (0.9%)
UK (0.1%)
South Africa (0.1%)
US (0.1%)
Rest of the countries (0%)

For post 2 as follows:
Thailand (92%)
Malaysia (3.1%)
Saudi Arabia (2.9%)
UK (0.5%)
US (0.4%)
South Africa; Germany; Canada; France; Taiwan; China (>0.2%)
Rest of the countries (0%)

If I look at our page results they look positive from boosting posts but I face the same issue as you, my likes have gone from a stable 3-4 likes a day to 194 likes a day over the boosting period and now back down to 3-4 likes a day again. Yes I put on the same amount of page likes during the one week boosting period as I did in the previous 12 months of organic likes, but if they are all from Thailand and are mainly bots or fake profiles I have got a whole load of useless likes. Same goes for the individual posts stats.

So will have to do further research to see what I can do to get real engaged likes who are my target market and not a load of fake profiles in Asia. Any help with that endeavor welcomed!

8 months ago

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