At work, I've been working on boosting our social media following. After spending weeks trying various ways to cultivate more organic Facebook likes, we said 'what the hey' and paid for 7 days of targeted ads.
Important point here: we didn't pay for fake likes.
No, those are useless. They're okay for show, to bulk up the numbers, but we needed to tap into the actual customer base. We made an ad with a 'Like' button on it, Facebook showed it to real users, and it was up to those people whether they clicked 'Like this page' or not.
Spoiler alert: they did. In droves.
After that single week of Facebook ads, we had over 3x more page likes than we did 7 days prior. All likes we've received are genuine, from legit FB users who are interested in what we do. They're already starting to like and interact with more recent page posts.
Why and how on earth did that happen?
The power of a Facebook network vs. the power of Facebook itself
What I wanted was for people to enjoy and share the content they saw from the page. They did that, yes, from the start. Even so, Facebook's algorithm (and everyone's personal privacy settings) mean that shares don't automatically give us more visibility.
And a shared post doesn't automatically lead to a page like. Maybe they'll just like that one post and move on. Organic reach is tough to achieve.
For the ad, FB took our target countries and interests and said 'okay, depending how much you pay we'll show this to up to... 23 million people'.
Hey, you might not know that you like this but you do, okay?
Almost every page I like on Facebook was shared with me or shown to me. I didn't go seeking out a bunch of companies and things to like, they came along to beat down my door.
But I do like those things, really. I would never have thought to try looking them up.
Sometimes, people don't know something exists until it's dangling in their face. Taking the page to the people made sense. The positive results of doing that made perfect sense.
Money talks - to whoever you want it to talk to
I think everyone expects something to be more effective when you're paying for it.
Organic networking and community building can have a snowball effect, for sure. Word of mouth's effective for a lot of businesses. You know what else is effective? Cash.
There's no denying that we'd have reached an even higher number of likes if we'd paid more. As with the power of Facebook's own reach above, it was down to what we were willing to cough up.
In this sense, Facebook has been holding businesses hostage for a long time. It's an open secret in social media marketing that if you don't pay, you don't get seen.
A week of paid promo can be - cough, almost always is - more effective than months of trying to get by on free methods. I don't exactly feel like we learned this the hard way, but the difference in black and white has been stunning.
It's easy to assume that, with no costs to make an account, social presences on Twitter and Facebook are essentially free marketing. If you've got the budget, the big thing that can make social platforms more effective is still money.