Facebook Promoted Posts Less Effective Than Ads

Becky Doles

After receiving access to Facebook Promoted Posts for the HasOffers Facebook page, we started experimenting with the impact. So far, the results are less than impressive.

If you haven’t tried Facebook Promoted Posts yet, they appear to be a way to simplify advertising on Facebook for people who might find it confusing. Instead of creating an ad campaign targeted to specific users, you simply choose a dollar amount you are willing to spend to get your post in front of more people who Like your page. You need a Facebook Page with a minimum of 400 fans in order to use Promoted Posts. Assuming you meet that minimum bar, you can click the Promote button under any recently created post and theoretically extend its reach.

Facebook Promoted Post by the Numbers

Our first Promoted Post was about our new Director of International Sales, Aryeh Altshul, and his upcoming trip to a4uexpo in Barcelona. The post linked to the HasOffers blog. When Todd setup the Promoted Post, Facebook estimated a reach of 2,100 at a price of $30.

The post organically reached 821 people, had a viral reach of 393, and paid reach of 1165. Paid reach is what you’re charged for in a Promoted Posts campaign, so we only got 55% of the estimated reach. Maybe the estimation algorithm isn’t working yet?

Facebook Promotion Complete

Total unique impressions for the post is 1574, which means some of the people we paid to get the post in front of are the same ones who saw it for free. I know both Todd and I saw the organic and sponsored versions on our respective Facebook news feeds, so we even paid to show the post to page admins.

We netted a total of 9 clicks to the blog from those 1165 paid impressions, along with 4 post likes and a page mention. Those 9 clicks net out to $3.03 CPC for anyone keeping score. Post likes and mentions might help get us in someone’s news feed in the future, but those have nebulous value.

Facebook Ads Are More Effective (and Cheaper)

Facebook Ad for a4uexpoAt the time we ran our first Promoted Post campaign, we also setup a Facebook Ads campaign for the same topic. You can see the ad we ran in the image to the right. The ad linked to the same post about Aryeh and a4uexpo on the HasOffers blog. Coming as close to matching the same timeframe as the Facebook Ads tool will let me, I find that our ad reached 4,902 people. The Facebook Ad cost $0.64 CPC.

The ad was specifically targeted at people in European countries who like affiliate marketing related topics, so maybe you could argue the ad campaign was destined to do better. The Promoted Post was shown to anyone who Liked HasOffers, which should make them fans of the company and more likely to care about what we’re up to.

The bottom line is we paid about 4.7x more per click for the Promoted Post.

Problems with Facebook Promoted Posts

Early on, we discovered that pricing for Promoted Posts appears to variable. This continues to be true as Facebook offers different pricing tiers when I access the HasOffers page as myself vs. accessing it as the HasOffers Page. But that’s not the only quirk of Promoted Posts.

As the page admin who initiated the Promoted Post, Todd was the only page admin with access to the advertising data for the campaign. While all admins can see the reach data, Todd was the only one with access to the price per impression. This is very different than Facebook Ads, where all admins have access to campaign data.

Promoted Posts also failed to deliver within what I would consider a normal variance for estimating reach. The Promoted Post campaign promised an estimated reach of 2100 people for $30.00. Facebook came pretty close to collecting the full $30, with the campaign closing out at $27.28. They overestimated advertising reach and delivered a mere 55% of the paid impressions. Our other two Promoted Post campaigns are also failing to reach anywhere near the Facebook estimates.

Could There be Benefits to Running a Promoted Post?

While it looks like our money is better spent on Facebook Ads, there could be some merit to running a Promoted Post campaign. If your fan engagement has fallen off, a Promoted Post is a good way to remind past fans you still exist. If your Facebook page wasn’t updated for awhile, a Promoted Post might also be a good way to override EdgeRank and get back on people’s radar.

At the same time we were testing Promoted Posts on the HasOffers page, I ran a test on my own Facebook page. I update it infrequently, so I thought it might be a good test of re-engaging a page. My page only has 785 Likes, so it’s a small population. Facebook estimated a reach of 500 people for $5. The net result was 340 organic views and 292 paid views, for 391 unique views. The actual paid reach in my case is 58% of the estimate. I got 2 clicks to the blog post I featured for a $2.13 CPC, which is still considerably more than a targeted Facebook Ads campaign.

Have you tried Facebook Promoted Posts? Is it meeting your expectations or are Facebook Ads more effective?

Becky Doles

Becky is the Senior Content Marketing Manager at TUNE. Before TUNE, she led a variety of marketing and communications projects at San Francisco startups. Becky received her bachelor's degree in English from Wake Forest University. After living nearly a decade in San Francisco and Seattle, she has returned to her home of Charleston, SC, where you can find her enjoying the sun and salt water with her family.

17 responses to “Facebook Promoted Posts Less Effective Than Ads”

  1. Comparing apples to oranges…

    • It’s not comparing apples to oranges. Both Promoted Posts and Facebook Ads are a advertisements on Facebook. A different style of ad, yes, but still an ad. Comparing a Sponsored Story to a Promoted Post is probably a closer match (again 2 types of Facebook advertising), but in either case a Promoted Post is still an advertisement.

      Dismissing them as being different also overlooks the fact that Facebook can’t accurately project the price for performance of the Promoted Posts.

      • the Promoted Post goes in the needs feed, the other doesn’t. In my opinion you should be running both to fully capitalize. Why don’t you try something more interesting as a promoted post like a survey or sweepstakes and see the effect 😉

      • Alex says:

        Hi Jake, if you ad the paid reach to the organic & viral it gives you a very similar amount to the estimated reach Facebook gave you. Are you sure they are not referring to total reach?

        • Based on the numbers represented above the total reach is 2379, with unique reach of 1574. Organic impressions should be the ones that you get based on Facebook’s algorithm. Somehow there’s an overlap of 805 impressions. That means we probably paid for 805 impressions that were already shown organically.

  2. Great analysis. Sounds like Promoted Posts has its fair share of
    issues, which Facebook should hopefully smooth out. I haven’t tried it
    myself yet, but can see its potential for fan engagement stories with an enticing CTA like a contest or giveaway. Seems like FB ads and promoted posts both have their place depending on a slew of factors like the number of fans, context of the ad, and the end goal.

  3. Aj Archibald says:

    What also would have been useful is the net result of the facebook ad. If the facebook ad netted the same end result even though exposed to more people you could begin to draw some conclusions. We’re missing data 🙂

  4. […] HasOfferes, the software company providing advertising tracking, tested Facebook promoted posts against their own Facebook ads. […]

  5. […] wondering whether promoted posts or Facebook PPC ads will net you more traffic for your buck, a recent test by determined that Facebook PPC is cheaper and more effective that using promoted posts. They reported […]

  6. […] site HasOffers did a write-up of their experience with Facebook promoted posts and compared it to an standard Facebook ad, just in case you want some more opinions. Share and Enjoy: Tags: advertising, Facebook, promoted […]

  7. Pho-Covering says:

    I think you can set different permissions for admins, including viewing advertising campaign statistics.

  8. […] the "Promote Post" functionality. Please refer to this link if you're not convinced…Embed QuoteComment Loading… • Share • Embed • Just now  Add […]

  9. Hi Jake, have you tried this again recently? I am curious to know if they have cleaned up their act at all in terms of the estimates and if you have seen different results.

  10. […] wondering whether promoted posts or Facebook PPC ads will net you more traffic for your buck, a recent test by determined that Facebook PPC is cheaper and more effective that using promoted posts. They reported […]

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