How to use Facebook.

Pro-tip, it’s all about momentum.

Recent changes to the way that Facebook promotes posts, and the way that people are encouraged to pay to promote, means that there’s a fair amount of confusion about how to use it effectively for promotion of bands, brands, and organizations. To me Gordon Withers‘ excellent blog is an example of the challenges that people face. In a recent post, titled, “Facebook is pretty much useless for musicians at this point“, he points out that despite 400+ likes on a page and 14 hours of exposure, he had garnered only 22 views on a particular post. He identifies two major problems (in his words):

  • Promoted posts aren’t really advertising, they’re pay-to-play.
  • The experience for everyone, Page owners and fans alike, is completely unpredictable.

I disagree. In fact, my experience in promoting the Charlie Clark Campaign on Facebook was precisely the opposite. Non-promoted posts are still in the game, the experience is predictable, and Facebook makes a great primary promotional platform. But here’s the catch: it’s about momentum, not individual posts.

First, here’s my defence of promoted vs. unpromoted posts:

Screen Shot of Promoted and Regular FB posts

Promoted and Regular Facebook posts. The promoted post has the green dot on the right hand side.

At this point in the campaign, we had around 600 page likes. Within a few hours, 400 people had seen both of our unpromoted posts. Our paid post reached 2.5 times as many people and had about twice the number of user actions. As you would expect.  This is predictable behaviour.

So why did it happen? This:

Progress on page likes and actions, Clark 2012

Likes, posts, and discussion about the Clark Campaign over time.

These weren’t one-off posts. This was a careful campaign of engagement over time. People were encouraged to come back and engage, time and time again, with posts that kept them involved in the page. Over time, this improved views, comments, and likes. The big spike there is advertizing (which also works. That reach number at the end? It’s almost 30,000).

What’s my point? Well, Facebook is predictable — people see the things they engage with on a regular basis. This means that there are lots of positive feedback and negative feedback loops in the system: if you’re not seen, it’s hard to be seen, but if you can get some engagement, you’re going to get more engagement. The trick as a promoter is to keep people engaged so that your posts appear on their timeline. That’s an interesting problem. If you’re not good at engaging your viewers, you’ll have to pay. You might have to pay to kick start the process as well. But in the end, it’s up to your ability to develop and keep momentum.

Like I said, it’s all about the momentum.

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