Paying to boost a Facebook post can feel a lot like pulling the lever on a slot machine.
On the one hand, it’s exciting! You feel like this could be the one that really scores big for you – and it might not even cost that much.
On the other hand, though, how often does it feel like you pull the lever, only to be disappointed when you see the results?
(And how often do you respond by shrugging your shoulders and plunking more money into the machine?)
If that sounds familiar, you’re not alone.
While 93% of social marketers already use Facebook ads regularly, 88% of marketers say they’re actually still trying to figure out the best way to use social media ads.
Basically, everyone is doing it, but most people haven’t actually figured it out yet.
So, let’s say you’ve tried boosting the occasional Facebook post before, only to find that it didn’t deliver the results you’d hoped for.
Where do you go from there?
What are some of the easiest adjustments you can make to get better results next time?
We’re going to go through three simple tweaks you can make when you’re paying for Facebook ads – the types of quick adjustments that won’t force you to reinvent the wheel, but can still dramatically increase the value of what you pay for!
Choosing more valuable posts to pay for
If you already have a semi-advanced background with Facebook ads, you’re probably using the robust ads manager to create, target, and monitor ads.
If you aren’t, and you’re trying to make all this feel a lot less time-consuming and intimidating, you’re probably clicking on one of the most alluring buttons in modern society (other than the “close doors” button in an elevator, anyway):
The Boost Post button seems like a quick fix for giving your content a little extra juice, and in some ways, it is – but it isn’t magic, so you still have to choose what you boost carefully.
Here are some things to keep in mind!
First, Facebook allows you to choose an objective for any post you want to boost, like so:
If you’re promoting, say, a blog post, then you’re probably choosing one of the first two options: you want either website visits, or engagement.
Along with the audience demographics you choose – more on that in a minute – Facebook can selectively show your post to the people it considers most likely to perform the action you want.
(Some people love clicking on links, some people love leaving comments. Some people love both!)
And here’s the thing about that:
Even if you want more traffic, you don’t always have to choose website visits over engagement.
Let’s take a look at what we mean!
This is a Facebook update that promotes a blog post we wrote in January 2018:
We boosted that post with a focus on engagement instead of visitors, and here’s a closer look at the results:
Why does that matter?
And why would we choose that over, you know, actual visitors?
First, engagement is one of the four primary factors Facebook looks at when deciding who sees your updates. (And not just the update that’s getting the engagement, either – your updates in general.)
Second, even though clicks count as a type of engagement, too, we knew that this post had a lot of potential for racking up comments, shares, and reactions.
Regarding comments and reactions, this update is about a subject that we know is of particular interest to both our existing audience and Facebook users in general – we also included an explicit call to action to share opinions in the comments.
(Just make sure that when you do that, you’re avoiding the five engagement bait tactics that could actually hurt your visibility.)
We also imagined that this post had a lot of potential for shares, based on the five primary psychological reasons people share content online:
- To reveal valuable and entertaining content to others
- To define themselves to others
- To grow and nourish relationships
- For self-fulfillment
- To get the word out about brands and causes they like or support
The first three are especially useful to think about when you’re promoting your own content online.
If someone shares it with their audience, are they revealing something interesting to those people? How does it define them by reflecting their interests? Does it nourish a relationship with an audience that looks to that person as an authoritative voice?
Accumulating shares shows Facebook that your content is interesting and valuable to people, and it puts your content in front of audiences who might not have seen it otherwise. (Audiences that may decide to start following you, too!)
Prioritizing engagement over visitors can be a long-term strategic choice, even if it doesn’t necessarily get you a huge clickthrough rate immediately.
Not sure how to choose?
You might find the answer in your Facebook Insights!
Let’s say you want to get some more eyes on something you posted within the past month.
From the Overview tab in your Facebook Insights, you can export the data for everything you posted within the date range of your choice:
With that data, one useful rule of thumb is to look for any of your updates that have strong engagement, but low reach. (Which is a thing that might not sound like it should happen, but does anyway.)
That kind of update clearly resonates with people, but just needs more eyeballs on it – making it a great candidate for a little extra push!
Similarly, you can look for updates that perform well in terms of clicks, but would benefit from greater reach. A post with relatively poor engagement or click rates, on the other hand, might not be one worth putting money behind.
Of course, the update itself might not always be the culprit.
Which brings us to the next simple tweak you can make when you want to improve the performance of your ads…
Refining your target audience
If you want to keep things as simple as possible when boosting a post, you can choose to increase its reach only for your existing followers, or for your followers and their friends.
And that’s perfectly fine!
If you don’t analyze your audience beforehand, though, you could easily be surprised – even disappointed – by how that post performs.
For a better idea of who you might consider targeting, visit the People tab in Facebook Insights, where you can compare the overall composition of your audience with the demographics that engage the most with your content:
You might find that your audience’s composition isn’t necessarily a strong indicator of which people are most likely to engage with your content!
This is also a strong opportunity to make sure that your content’s audience aligns with your target customers.
If you’re a business coach trying to reach women entrepreneurs, for example, but find that women are far less engaged with your content than men, it may be time to revisit whether your content speaks to the people you want to become your clients.
This section of your Facebook Insights also allows you to compare your fans to the people your content currently reaches, which can make it easier to find blind spots in your reach.
If you create content specifically for college students, for example, but find that your reach in the 18-24 demographic isn’t particularly high, you may want to isolate that audience as one for whom you boost your visibility.
If you want to increase the visibility of a pork barbecue recipe on your cooking blog, for example, you might get more bang for your buck by excluding people interested in vegan recipes.
It takes more effort to refine your audience based on your post, but not by much – and it can give you a real edge over assuming that your existing audience is the ideal audience for every single thing you share.
(And since you can save audiences as you go, you can build up a collection of different demographics over time.)
Finally, there’s one more quick and easy strategic tweak we want to look at – and this one doesn’t actually happen on Facebook at all!
Doing more at the destination
Let’s say you pay for more visibility for a Facebook update that you’re hoping will drive traffic to your site.
And, because you’re amazing, let’s also say it worked!
(Way to go, you!)
What’s your plan for all that traffic that you paid for?
Because on the one hand, sure – it’s great to get more eyeballs on something you worked really hard to create.
But on the other hand, that’s a one-time victory, and if you’re spending money on all this stuff, you may as well squeeze as much fresh, pulpy victory outta that thing as you can.
If you want your Facebook ads to go further, they need to lead people somewhere really useful.
We’ll use ourselves as an example!
When we drive traffic to our blog – especially traffic consisting of people who have never been here – we want to try to make them a regular visitor, not a one-time visitor.
That’s why we use things like this:
CTAs like this can turn a one-time visitor into a recurring one!
This is how someone who’s never heard of you can become a fan.
Here’s another example, from OkDork:
They can even exist in multiple locations, too!
Take a look at these, from ProBlogger:
Whether they pop up, slide in, or live on the edges of your page – or some combination of those things – CTAs like these should make it as easy and enticing as possible for someone to subscribe and become a repeat visitor.
(They don’t always have to take the form of an email capture, either – you may, for example, ask visitors to opt in for notifications.)
If the traffic you drive to your site using paid ads on Facebook doesn’t seem to add up to anything, it may be because it needs more opportunity to do so – converting those visitors into subscribers can make the value of every paid visit a lot higher over time!
What’s YOUR experience with Facebook ads been like?
Whether or not these are tweaks you’ve tried yourself, what do you think of Facebook ads?
Is it worth it to shell out every now and then for a little extra traffic, engagement, and visibility?
Do you feel like you’ve been burned too many times before for it to feel worthwhile?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments!