Yesterday, I wrote briefly about some of the changes to Facebook pages. Today, guest author Sara Croft takes a closer look at the promoted post.

I’m always intrigued by new features that Facebook rolls out, so when the promoted posts update became available for fan pages I was quick to give it a shot. Roughly 16% of your Facebook page’s fans will see any status update you enter on your page, and the promoted posts claimed to help you reach more of your current audience.

Paying for my fans to see a post isn’t something I would do every day, however I had a specific reason for trying it out – volunteers. We needed to find 60 people to work the Tap N Run beer race in Broad Ripple on Saturday, June 9th . My hope was for this post to get in front of the 84% of my fans who weren’t seeing my updates.

Facebook Promoted Posts Image 1

I created my post on May 31, a little less than 2 weeks away from Tap N Run. Knowing that Facebook favors photos in status updates, I added a picture of people hanging out at the finish line from a previous race so that my potential volunteers could see the fun they would have if they participated. Setting up and purchasing the post was fairly easy ( I could choose to pay $5 to reach 500 fans or $10 to reach 1,000 fans, so I chose $10.

Promoted posts will be highlighted for 3 days. At first I saw little to nothing happen other than what I regularly expect from my viewers. Our posts generally reach between 150 and 400 people, and we have just over 700 Facebook fans.

Facebook Promoted Posts Image 2

As time went on I would see small increments of 10 and 15 cents being spent on the advertising. You can click on the “Promotion” area at the bottom of the update to see real-time details of clicks and impressions. Even though I asked for $10 of promotion, only $5.26 was charged to my card and applied towards the post.

You can see in the screenshot below that I only reached 665 people. Considering I also reached out to people personally who shared this post on their Facebook page, I can’t accurately tell how many of my “reach” came from their shares or the promotion. I also don’t know why I never fully reached 1,000 people. As an admin of the page I never saw the promoted posts in my news feed and wish I could go back and have a friend screenshot it for me. After a few days I received a detailed outline from Facebook on how many impressions I received each day throughout the promotion and how the money was spent to reach them.

So, was it effective? Did I get a single volunteer from the promotion? No. But, I found the process way easier compared to creating a Facebook advertisement and considerable flexibility in what I wanted to promote. My advice would be to pick a very clear call-to-action for your promotion and add a photo. Have a link in the status update that you can measure or get people to fill out a form or surrender an email so you can track results in different ways. Don’t hesitate to try it, but be reasonable with your expectations.

About Sara Coft

Sara Croft is the social media and event coordinator at Easter Seals Crossroads, a nonprofit in Indianapolis that provides programs and services for children and adults with disabilities.

Sara spearheaded all social media efforts at the organization during the fall of 2010 and continues to maintain the organization’s Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and blog. When offline, Sara coordinates a young professional group to promote awareness of Easter Seals Crossroads in the community and actively researches fundraising partnerships with local businesses. Be sure to attend Blog Indiana this August to hear her session with Nathan Hand on “Social Media for Social Good.”