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Sponsored posts: To sponsor or not to sponsor, now that is the question!

Whether you call it boosting or sponsoring a post, it basically boils down to the same thing. But does it do what is says on the tin, does your money actually equal exposure? We investigated:


What Facebook has to say about their post 'boosting' feature:

“Boosting posts is an effective and inexpensive way to get more exposure for your content. It's a simple and easy process – posts are boosted directly from your Facebook Page – and you can boost a post for as much or as little as you want. It's a great way to get more people to see your posts, to promote special events, offers and news, and to reach new audiences through targeting.”

I have spoken about this a lot with clients who have had mixed success from this feature. There is definitely some confusion of whether or not your post gets boosted to new people or your paying for their algorithm to be favourable to your page and place you close to the top of your followers feeds. The answer? You can choose, Facebook gives you the three options 'People you choose through targeting', 'People who like your page' & 'People who like your page & friends'. You then have the option of duration & budget. The idea is the more you spend the more exposure to your chosen target audience.

If you are doing this instead of an banner ad then I would highly recommend sponsored posts as you have a much higher chance of reaching your target audience than with banner ads, as shown in the pictures below from the Nielsen Norman Groups 2007 eye tracking study. When you click that boost button you may get more likes or even comments on that post but if your trying to get people on your website or buy something the conversion is low. As Facebook focus on getting you more engagement (likes, comments & shares) not conversion to your website.

Nielsen Norman Banner


What Twitter has to say about their post 'promoted tweet' feature:

“Promoted Tweets are ordinary Tweets purchased by advertisers who want to reach a wider group of users or to spark engagement from their existing followers. Promoted Tweets are clearly labelled as Promoted when an advertiser is paying for their placement on Twitter. In every other respect, Promoted Tweets act just like regular Tweets and can be retweeted, replied to, liked, and more.”

I tried purchasing a promoted tweet through my account & clients accounts, each time I only got two choices of location 'United Kingdom' & 'England, Liverpool – Manchester'. This is a very limited choice compared to Facebook's choice of location targeting & would not be a great option if it was a local event/service you are trying to advertise. The budget is £50 - £5,000. £50 is still a quite steep price to pay for an unknown outcome compared to Facebook's minimum of £1 a day.

If you choose to promote a tweet, don't expect the phone to be ringing off the hook or your website to get loads of hits. Promoted tweets purpose is to up engagement (Retweets, likes & comments), so is a good option to get more popular online but not to exactly sell a product, as conversion rate is relatively low.

With the practically no choice of targeting a location & the high pricing, I would not recommend Twitter promoting feature at this time.


What Instagram has to say about its post 'promote' feature:

“Instagram uses the same powerful advertising tools as Facebook. This way, you can set up, run and track campaigns in the same way as for Facebook ads. If you're new to advertising on Instagram or even Facebook, here's how to get started.”

As Instagram is owned by Facebook it has a very similar promotion feature. First thing it asks you is what you want from your promotion, there are three options: 'Get more profile visits', Get more website visits' & Reach people near an address'. The minimum budget is £1 & you are able to target audiences through location & other demographics (same as Facebook). The action button changes with the options you choose at the start, which allows the ad to try to convert the views into your desired action. Once again I've had mixed reviews from clients over this feature, but more success stories than the other social media promotion options. This Instagram is simple to use & gives a clear visual element to your advert, out of the three I would recommend this on the most.

In a way sponsored posts go against the whole point of having people like or follow your page, they follow to see your content! But with new algorithms & organic posts not reaching many people, sponsored posts may be a way to beat it, just spend wisely!

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