I recently tried my first Facebook Promoted Post on the fan page for my book Little Boy Blue. We have a new program in partnership with my publisher, Barron’s, that gives free lesson plans to 11th- and 12th-grade English and Journalism teachers who want to add the book to their student reading lists and meet Core Curriculum Standards. I figured this was a good type of post to promote, as Facebook offers, to “people who like your page and their friends.”
My post was straightforward. It read: “Would you like to see Little Boy Blue and the message of rescue on your local high school’s reading list? Please help us spread the word about our new program of free lesson plans for 11th- and 12th-grade English and Journalism teachers.” It also included a link to the dedicated website for the Little Boy Blue Schools Program.
Facebook offered me three choices to promote the post. I could spend $5, $10, or $15 to reach an increasing number of people. I went for the big time and authorized $15 to reach an estimated 4,000 to 6,000 people.That would be double or triple the number we’ve reached with any of our previous posts that went viral, including one post just three days earlier that reached 2,282 people without any type of paid promotion.
When the Promoted Post phase began, 376 people had seen my post about the Little Boy Blue Schools Program. I expected to see that number jump to about 1,500 the first day, about 3,000 the second day, and at minimum 4,000 the third day, to reach the low end of Facebook’s estimate.
Instead, I watched as Facebook continually adjusted the “estimated reach” downward throughout the three-day promotion. The site was still taking my full $15, but my post wasn’t reaching nearly as many people as originally advertised.
At the end of the promotion, my $15 was fully spent and my post had not reached the high end of 6,000 people, nor even the low end of 4,000 people. It had barely reached half of that low end, just 2,065 people in total—fewer than my own, non-promoted post reached a few days earlier going viral on its own. Even worse, as you can see in the screen shot above, only 1,618 of those 2,065 people who saw my Promoted Post were reached through the paid service. That’s about 40 percent of the low end that Facebook promised in exchange for my $15 investment.
I sent an e-mail last week via the feedback option to let Facebook know that I felt ripped off. The only reply I received came this morning, an automated e-mail letting me know that my credit card had been charged in full.
There is no way to describe my experience with Facebook Promoted Posts as anything other than pitiful. The service is a bait-and-switch con game based on false advertising, plain and simple. I won’t be using Facebook Promoted Posts ever again.