Facebook is an odd platform, isn’t it? It’s a multi-billion-dollar company whose main income—indeed, I believe its only income—is advertising. And yet, when was the last time you can honestly say that you bought something, be it goods or services, because you saw an ad for it on Facebook?
For me, it was at Christmas. I saw an ad for ‘personalised chocolate gifts’, clicked through to see what they had to offer and eventually, a few days later, bought my children a couple of things each. (A big bar of Dairy Milk and a box of Twirls each with their names on, since you ask).
But other than that I don’t think I’ve ever really bought something as a direct result of seeing an ad on Facebook.
Of course, the reason that companies spend so much money on the platform is less about the direct sales from click-through ads, and more about ‘brand awareness’—if you can get your name in front of your target market on a regular basis then when they need your product/service, they are more likely to think of you.
Which brings me to my own attempts to use Facebook to raise my “brand awareness”.
I have a Facebook user profile and a Facebook “page” – which is, essentially, a business profile. Pages are the main way that Facebook sells its advertising. Each and every time I create a post on the page (as opposed to the profile) I get the option to “boost” the post. In other words, I get the option to turn it into a paid advert.
Facebook are quite canny with this. The “reach” of non-boosted posts is quite small compared to what it could be if you paid to ‘boost’ the post.
Take a look at this table from my page’s admin sections, for example.
Over 2000 people have ‘liked’ my page, so you’d expect a lot more people to be seeing these posts than are. But it seems that ‘liking’ a page, is no guarantee of seeing that page’s posts in your Facebook feed when you log in.
Interestingly, the posts that have the largest “reach” are those with the highest “engagements”. In other words, the more people that click ‘like’ or share or even just to view the picture properly, the more Facebook will serve that post into people’s feed.
You can’t get people to engage with the post unless they see it. And they are less likely to see it if no-one is engaging with it. It’s a classic Catch-22 and that’s why companies end up paying to boost the posts.
It’s quite clever when you think about it.
My problem though it the nature of what I’m trying to sell. Erotica is not something that Facebook wants advertised on its platform. So even though they are currently offering to match my ad spend with an ad credit up to £20, each time I try to create an advert to take advantage of this, Facebook rejects it for being in breach of their advertising T&Cs.
So, I can’t get a decent reach without boosting posts and I can’t boost posts because Facebook is a prude.
Which makes me wonder what’s the point of having a ‘page’ at all.
The answer to that, of course, is scheduling. Pages allow you to schedule posts into the future, whereas a ‘regular person’ profile doesn’t.
Case in point, these were my facebook posts for the past week or so and all of them were scheduled in a couple of sittings.
It’s a real tricky one, this. On the one hand, I know that I have to engage with Facebook because that’s where the potential readers of my books are. But there’s no point engaging with Facebook if you’re posts aren’t being seen.
And the only way to get your posts seen is to either pay—which Facebook won’t let me do because they don’t like naughty stories—or keep plugging away in the hope that reach and engagement grows organically.
Yeah, it’s a tough one.