I’ve always been a little skeptical of Facebook ads and boosts.
Partly this is because I’ve never been very good at running them, and partly because I’ve never felt like the traffic on Facebook was as “buy ready” as Google’s.
So what happened when a boosted post of Blog Tyrant’s received over 500 shares?
Well, the results were quite mixed and, as you’ll see below, there are quite a few lessons and ideas that I wanted to write about here because I’m sure someone out there is going to be able to do something useful with the information.
I’m not sharing the number to brag, but just to show you the kind of results that can be achieved (or not achieved!) with a simple paid promotion.
Let’s start by taking a look at the actual Facebook post that I did which then turned into a paid boost run straight from the Facebook page and not the ads area (that’s a different thing, if this is all new to you).
Please keep in mind that Facebook is not something I’m very good at and have never focused on it too much. Here it is:
Something I’ve been focusing on a bit more lately is the idea that blogging and online business is something that more and more people are turning to as traditional job roles change and artificial intelligence and robotics make whole cities redundant. I even wrote about it over on the Jeff Goins blog.
Blogging might not be the “coolest” things anymore, but it is still extremely effective and it is a fantastic way to increase your chances of making money on the Internet and it can provide a bunch of new opportunities for businesses and families that are struggling.
With all that in mind, I’ve been trying to talk about how to start a blog properly a bit more so as to introduce people to the idea that your traditional “bricks and mortar” business isn’t the only option out there. I genuinely hope this stuff helps someone out there, and I try really hard to just write about effective strategies that could work for people.
Now I’d like to get into some of the interesting lessons that I learned while boosting this post. Some of the things that happened were really interesting to me, and I’d love to know your thoughts.
1. A higher total budget seemed to get better results
Something that surprised me was how much better this promotion performed right away, and I think it had something to do with the higher total budget.
I’ve boosted quite a few Facebook posts before for smaller sums like $20-$50 but this one I gave $1000 or so and set it to drip out over a week. Instantly it started getting a larger reach.
Now, this is entirely a conspiracy theory and I have nothing to base it on, but I wonder whether Facebook favors promotions that have a higher budget so as to encourage you to keep doing similar promotions?
This might not be at all nefarious either, it might just be that Facebook considers boosts/ads with higher budgets to be more legitimate in the same way that Google likes older domain names.
2. I’m not sure all the shares are legitimate
The next thing I noticed was that this post was getting a lot of shares. For me, even two or three shares is pretty good as it’s not a topic that lends itself to that activity (as opposed to cats or motivational posts). But if you scroll through all of those shares you start to wonder whether all of them are legitimate. Take a look:
A lot of the accounts doing the sharing are pretty “thin” in that they don’t have a lot of other posts or information. And hardly any of those shares get any further likes or comments.
I’m sure a lot of you remember Derek Muller’s video about his experience with fake Facebook likes:
Having 500 shares on the post is good for social proof in that it shows other people that the article is not complete rubbish, but I do wonder about the origin of these sharers. Perhaps they are just secondary accounts used by people to run other campaigns?
I am not someone who thinks that Facebook does this deliberately, but I also don’t fully believe that all of those shares are legitimate either.
3. The traffic acquired was decent
One of the surprising things I learned was that the traffic acquired through the promotion was pretty decent once they had clicked through to the blog. Have a look.
For example, the average time on site of over three minutes is quite good and probably means that the targeted audience matches up quite well to the content. You can also see that the bounce rate is slightly better than the average of the site.
4. Targeting audiences that are already interested works well
One thing I did was target audiences that I know are already interested in the idea of starting a blog or a website as I thought it might make it a little less difficult to convert them to the idea of subscribing or reading a long-form piece of content.
For example, one thing I tried was targeting the audiences of NPR podcasts as I know that Squarespace and other blogging platforms do a bit of advertising there. I had hoped that meant that their level of blogging education and knowledge was already quite high.
Don’t just direct target your exact keywords, think about other places on and offline where people might be encountering your topic or might be at least open to it down the track. This can lead to some better targeted promotions.
5. Managing comments rapidly is very important
Something I learned pretty quickly is that there are a lot of people out there who love to comment on paid promotions and be as critical as possible. It might be that they object to the advert, or to the content itself, but the result is some comments that you really don’t want to leave up.
These type of hateful comments used to bother me quite a lot, but these days I just err on the side of kindness and patience and try to educate the person if I can. For example, if someone expresses an opinion that blogging is a waste of time I try to show them some statistics about how it’s growing, the different forms it can take, and the new opportunities it presents different groups of people in the community.
Most of the time these types of friendly replies (feel free to be too friendly!) end up creating a new dialogue with the person or, alternatively, they just end up deleting the comment they made because the reply is so comprehensive.
Over the next few weeks I’m going to be be spending a bit more time and money running different Facebook promotions to see if I can improve the results more consistently.
Glen wrote a post on using Facebook ads a few years ago and it’s still a pretty good starting point which I’ll be using as a basis.
Specifically I’m going to be look at:
- Split testing multiple photos/images
Do photos of actual people convert better than images and graphics of people (like our Blog Tyrant character)?
- Comparing colors
Does a red image like the one above perform better than a black one? I’m curious to know how much color impacts on clicks and then conversions.
- Lowering and increasing CPC dramatically
How low can we get the cost per click down to before the traffic starts to be poor or the campaign just stops running? And does higher CPC always result in better traffic?
Budget size and effectiveness
Does a lower budget have a less successful campaign even if the daily spend limit is the same?
Changing the timing of promotions
For example, I was thinking about running an ad set right when an episode of This American Life comes out and targeting just their listeners (assuming they have a relevant sponsor).
Please let me know if there is anything else you would like me to test and I will do my best to write it up in a post that will hopefully be relevant to bloggers in any niche.
Have you ever had any luck boosting posts or using Facebook ads more specifically? I’d really love to know what has worked for you or, alternatively, if you’ve ever had any strange experiences that you couldn’t figure out.
Leave a comment and let us know.