How Promoted Posts are Changing Facebook Advertising

In a recent earnings report, Facebook revealed that 23% of its earnings come from mobile advertising. But you can’t see traditional sidebar Facebook ads on Facebook’s mobile apps, so where is all this money coming from?

The answer: Promoted posts and promoted stories.

For the sake of this blog post, I’m going to focus on promoted posts.

The Skinny on Promoted Posts

Unlike sidebar ads, promoted posts show up on the Facebook wall for both desktop and mobile versions. But what’s really getting us excited is the performance metrics. Promoted posts are blowing sidebar ads out of the water, with 200-1,000 times higher CTR and extremely low CPCs.

Here’s a peek at one of our clients who’s had success with promoted posts.

For a higher education client of ours, we saw a nearly 3% CTR and a ridiculously low CPC of only $0.07. Compared to sidebar ads for the same client, which average around 0.05% CTR. And take a look at the CTRs on the promoted posts near the bottom; two posts have CTRs over 20%!

Promoted post success

Why They Work

Promoted posts encourage higher CTRs, naturally, because the post gets promoted to people who are already fans of your brand (with the option to also promote to “friends of fans”). So, your message is relevant to them, as opposed to the targeting used on most sidebar ads that usually focus more on a geo-targeted area. However, if your goal is to expose your message or brand to a wider audience, you may want to first run a sidebar ad to increase your fans, then begin promoting posts.

National Brands

Here’s a look at the discount that ecommerce site is running (March 2013):

Promoted post from Zulily

Take it Easy, Turbo

Before you get trigger happy and start promoting posts like a crazy person, consider the delicate dance you must do to not annoy your audience. Remember that you are reaching the same fan base (and possibly their friends) each time you promote, so carefully choose which ones are important (not only to you, but to your audience). Over-promoting posts is like sending email campaigns to the point of being considered a spammer. So take it easy and start by running a few tests, then formulate a plan to move forward.

What the future holds for Facebook sidebar ads is unclear, since we’re fairly certain everyone and their grandma will be browsing on a mobile device or tablet within the next few years (if they’re not already). But one thing remains true – advertising options on Facebook are going to continue to grow, and the less intrusive this experience feels to consumers, to more they’re going to continue interacting with your brand.