Paid Facebook Reach: Does it really matter?

To continue sharing some of the learning-by-doing lessons I’ve come across over the past two years as a community and social media manager, I looked into the world of Facebook Insights to learn a little more about the often debated Facebook Reach and see what it’s actually done to help me.

What I found was interesting, and also needs to be prefaced with this warning: the importance of Facebook Reach in your social media marketing strategy fully depends on your goals. I’m a firm believer in defining goals and objectives before launching any strategy; this prevents you from spending unnecessary time and budget on tactics that may or may not achieve outcomes that you may or may not even care about. For me, the goal of social media marketing is to promote content that I’ve either created or curated and bring readers to the Scoop.it blogs.

For context, some other goals of social media marketing might include lead generation (bringing users to a landing page where they take specific actions like filling out a form), brand awareness (getting as many eyes on your brand as possible, whether it be on your own site or on social media sites), or relationship building (talking directly with your customers to build community and strengthen relationships). I’m not saying that these aren’t any of my goals, because they most certainly are, but for the purpose of this study I tried to take into consideration my main goal for using Facebook marketing – bringing people to my site’s content.

When I first went to check my Insights for the month of March, I was super confused. This was the first thing I saw:

How could it be that my reach was up 20% from last week but the engagement levels were down? Shouldn’t these two things be related?

Then, when I took a deeper look into the post breakdown, I found something interesting. The reason that my reach has continued to increase is because I’ve been experimenting with the secret weapon: money. Paying to get your posts in the News Feeds of Facebook users is an unsurprisingly magical way to increase your reach (duh), but I still wasn’t happy with the fact that it didn’t have even the slightest impact on the number of people who were clicking my posts (read: visiting my site and reading my content).

Below is a selection of the highest performing posts in order of clicks, the metric that typically matters most (if my content is served in News Feeds but isn’t clicked, is it even really seen at all?). Although the post with the highest number of clicks happens to have been promoted, less than half of its reach was paid, and the other two posts that I promoted actually came in last place in terms of clicks.

Arrows pointing to promoted posts.

Without giving too much away, these posts were all either photos or links that served a purpose of sharing a piece of content with which I wanted to drive readers and potential customers to my site. As you can see, the post with the highest reach resulted in about 30 less clicks than the highest performing post with a 100% organic reach.

Not to overlook the fact that there is much more than this data that would have to go into a solid conclusion about Facebook Reach, but this simple chart gives me the quick idea that I might find a higher payoff in trying to optimize my posts for clicks coming from the people that they do reach, namely the ones who actually want to see them and interact with them.

The reason why posts organically show up in News Feed is because a person or someone in their network has interacted with that post or page in the past, which makes that person more likely to be a part of my target audience. If paying for reach isn’t going to increase my clicks, chances are it’s just aggravating those who are seeing it and in turn could actually have a negative affect on my social media marketing strategy. Definitely not worth it.

I would highly recommend reading this piece from Jon Loomer for more information on Facebook Reach.

About Ally Greer

Ally is Scoop.it's Director of Content & Community. She loves to geek out over anything social, Internet, or tech related. When she isn't working, you'll probably find her running the streets of San Francisco. Follow Ally on Twitter @allygreer.
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  • http://www.americanyacht.net AmericanYacht

    We have had excellent results with FB. Both organic and boosted. We have had a major campaign to increase “likes” and close to the 30K mark over three websites that we own. Google Analytics is showing incredible improvement in traffic especially from Facebook. That’s what all this is about, right? Eyeballs on your site.

  • http://beta21.circussocial.com Avtar Ram Singh

    Hey Ally – I think correlating your reach to your engagement is a mistake to make. Just because your message is reaching people doesn’t necessarily mean that your engagement should go up in the same proportion. It all depends on a number of factors, a few of them being the nature of the people you reach and the quality of the content you have.

    I could potentially put up a post on nuclear fission that’s exciting, and if my targeting and FB ad spend was going to Mums who are interested in knitting and cooking, I could reach 500,000 of them and get 0 engagement. That’s a very extreme example – I know, but you understand what I mean. :)

    Further – if you’re running CPM based ads, your reach will skyrocket – engagement not so much. Jon Loomer (who you mentioned in your piece) is a fan of oCPM, I myself try to use CPA as much as possible if not oCPM.

    Finely target your posts, use ads to push content to your e-mail list or people who have subscribed to you organically etc etc, and only then will you see reach correlate with engagement. (As long as the content is good too!) – I’ve experienced this myself. :)

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