Here’s a question we often hear from our social media marketing clients: “How do I know when to boost a post?” The purpose of boosting was pretty nebulous in the past, and the answer has gotten more complicated in the Facebook Zero era. Boosting is a helpful tool that’s easy to misuse. A boosted post looks like a regular organic post, but it has the power to reach more, specific people. And unlike an ad, a boosted post is limited in its format, scope and capabilities.
If you’re trying to decide whether a certain post is worth slapping a few dollars behind, ask yourself these questions:
1. Is your goal to get this post in front of as many people as possible, so it can rack up as much engagement as possible?
Because this is precisely what boosting does, and if that’s not what you’re after then you probably need to use a more appropriate ad format. Sure, you can set your “boosting objective” as “website visits” and hope for the best, but we all know that Facebook wants to keep their captive audience on their platform. Boosting allows you play into Facebook’s game while managing to garner some comments, shares and eyeballs for your business. And with the new algorithm, boosting a Facebook post to encourage engagement is essentially an end in itself. (On that note, selecting the “messages” objective when relevant can also boost your engagement because it’s encouraging people to use Messenger, another Facebook product.)
So if boosting fits your prerogative, let’s evaluate whether your individual post is worthy of this task.
2. Does this post make a good first impression of your business?
The whole point of boosting in today’s Facebook world is to make your content visible to people who aren’t already following your Page and aren’t seeing your posts…which, let’s be honest, is most people. As a result, it’s one of the only ways to reach potential customers who might not be familiar with your business, hence the importance of making a good first impression. Try to view your post from the perspective of someone who knows nothing about your brand or offerings.
Also, when you’re evaluating a post for it’s boost-ability, the visual component is extra important. For starters, does this post even look good? We know by now that videos and photos are pretty much the only content Facebook deems worthy, so it makes sense to put your best visuals forward. Sloppy copy, vestigial URLs and unintentional image cropping all scream “amateur,” which probably isn’t the look you’re going for.
Speaking of first impressions: Take advantage of targeting. If you’ve already created audiences for your ads, plug the most relevant one into your boosted post. Make sure that you’re paying reach people who are (hopefully) receptive to your content based on their interests, location, and other relevant factors.
So you’ve clarified your goal and perfected the post in question, but ultimately the most important deciding factor is…
3. Will spending money on this post support a meaningful business goal?
At the end of the day you’re spending money on this stuff, so it needs to deliver results that matter to your business. And since we’ve established that the most appropriate goal for boosting is to increase engagement through reach, you want each boosted post to be engineered for engagement. This could mean including a strong call to action, or visuals that use humor or emotion to convey your message. A safe approach for most businesses is to create “infotainment” content that ultimately offers something useful, such as an instructional video, a blog post answering common questions, a tutorial for a new product, etc. This goes back to the basics of content marketing: Share something of value, for free, to gain the interest, trust and respect of people in hopes they might want to do business with you.
Note: You can boost link posts – I do it all the time for B2B audiences, because they like to read. But it’s the hardest post type to get significant engagement on, and it’s easily misused when it’s not tied to a strategy. For example, one thing that grinds my gears is when an organization boosts a link post that sends users to a website other than their own. Maybe they’re reasoning that their audience will enjoy that content, but are they going to benefit from spending part of their advertising budget to promote someone else’s link? Imagine if your post were a Google ad – would you pay money to give another website your traffic? There are exceptions, of course: Maybe you want to promote a partner, or your business gets compensated for referral traffic, etc. But generally speaking, it doesn’t benefit your business to boost a post that links to another website, so only do this if it truly makes sense.
The bottom line for boosting
The quality of your results will depend on the quality of the content you’re putting forth. Boosting is most effective when used on a high-quality post that is engaging and effective on its own, because boosting simply maximizes the visibility of that post so it can garner as much engagement as possible. Boosting an amazing organic post could help it spread rapidly, but boosting a crummy post won’t make it perform much better. To avoid wasting money, only boost your best. And if you can’t come up with a compelling reason to boost a post, maybe put that ad spend into your traffic campaign budget instead.
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