Facebook’s Promoted Posts gets mixed reactions

Anyone that manages a Facebook page for a brand will very shortly see a significant difference, if they haven’t already. Promoted Posts are a way for businesses to pay a fee to put their updates in front of more of their fans. However, there’s already some debate growing on whether this is a way for Facebook to help marketer’s efforts, or just to profit more from it.

Watch this video to learn more about how to promote posts.

It sounds pretty decent, right? More exposure? Well, if you take a look at the comments on this Mashable article, you’ll start to see some negativity surrounding the update.

In my opinion, this news is only angering people because it is blatantly drawing attention to the fact that a given post is not seen by all of a business’ fans on Facebook. Apparently, this surprises some people, but this is not a new policy. Nor has the policy been kept in the dark by Facebook.

In fact, Facebook’s EdgeRank system has been accepted for a pretty long time, or so I thought. Basically, every post is given a score, which changes over time, which determines how many people see the post. The more interaction a post receives, the more likely it is to be seen by more people. Essentially, this produces a snowball effect.

Earlier this year, Facebook revealed to the world that, on average, approximately 16% of a brand’s fans see a given post. Promoted Posts are a way for brands to raise that number for posts that are more significant in some way than the typical one. Perhaps, for example, the business is changing it’s operating hours, and wants to notify as many people as possible.

From what I can tell, most of the negativity about this change is from people that think their posts should be seen by 100% of fans. This, however, is a ridiculous argument and is summed up in the comments section of that Mashable article very well by Mike Morrison:

“When was the last time you had 100% open rate on your email newsletter? Those people have opted in to receive information from you, just like your facebook fans, but you would never expect that sort of return.”

In my own comment, I tried to explain the difference between Facebook and Twitter. If users saw every single update from everyone they follow, Facebook would essentially be the same as Twitter. However, in a given user’s Twitter feed, there are so many updates that they are scrolled through very quickly and many of them are ignored or not seen by the follower. For this reason, I would guess that Facebook has a higher engagement per impression rating than Twitter. It’s simple, really:

If a fan isn’t inundated by as many posts, the posts that he or she sees is more valuable.

I will admit, though, that Promoted Posts are another rest-stop on a very risky road that Facebook, and social media sites in general, are traveling on. It terrifies me that Facebook will eventually turn into nothing more than businesses paying to put their content in front of people’s eyes, just like traditional advertising. A word of caution to Zuckerberg & Co – if that were to happen, it would be the end of Facebook; No one would use it.

All in all, I think I’m a fan of Promoted Posts. I think that it can be a great way for a business to disperse its most important information to a higher number of people. As long as the change doesn’t result in a lower organic visibility (unpaid), the update sounds like an authentic, helpful feature that Facebook is providing to marketers that use the site.

What do you think? Are Promoted Posts helpful to social media marketing, or is Facebook doomed to be, essentially, an expensive, traditional advertising platform?

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