According to Facebook’s official investor relations database, there are over 2.32 billion monthly active users (MAU) as of 2019. Instagram’s MAU is approximately 1 billion, with nearly half using the platform every single day. With access to such a large audience, you may assume that organic (unpaid) posting will be enough to spread social word of mouth about your business. Is it? Maybe, maybe not. Let’s investigate.
4 Reasons to Consider Complementing Your Facebook and Instagram Posts with Paid Ads
1. Your Facebook Audience Isn’t As Big As You Think It Is
There are currently an estimated 3.5 trillion fish in the ocean. If you throw a line and hook into the sea what are the odds of catching more than one? That’s about as effective as most Facebook Page posts are. Instead, you need to cast a net. The bigger the net, the greater the catch. The net, is paid advertising.
You see, when you release an organic post into the wild on Facebook, it is at the mercy of your current Page following. If you only have 500 followers, only a small percentage of those followers will ever see it. Why not all? Because the Facebook algorithm filters Page posts into a user’s newsfeed based on their preferences and past behavior. Unless you’ve been engaging the heck out of these 500 followers over the past few years, only a small percentage will see your posts.
HubSpot reports that after recent algorithm updates, that number may be lower than 2% for active Facebook Pages. Assuming you are active and posting daily, you might (a big might) have 10 out of those 500 followers see your post. And here’s another kicker. It will only be the followers who have already engaged with your business (as per “preferences and past behavior”). That does little to help you with new customer acquisition via this social media channel.
Unless you’re good buddies with a social media influencer and you can convince them (swag?) to share your content with their following, the only way to increase the Reach (the number of people your Facebook post/ad is shown to) is by paying to make it happen. That’s right, Facebook’s pesky little algorithm is essentially bypassed when a post is promoted, and the audience extends beyond your following.
2. Hashtags Only Get You So Far
What about Instagram? Through savvy hashtagging you can put your post in front of the eyes of many more people through the Recent feed which is based on the timing of the post, vs the Top feed, which is dictated by an algorithm that considers popularity and user preferences. In fact, you can grow your audience quite quickly with high quality photos/graphics and witty commentary (assuming you have both). In this sense, organic posting on Instagram can be VERY effective. But this effectiveness extends only to growing the number of post likes, comments, and profile followers. What is that really worth to you? If you’re only about building brand recognition, it’s great. But most SMBs need action. You need followers and the others who like your posts to contact you, visit your website, and/or make a purchase.
Yes, both followers and people who have been exposed to your posts for the first time can message you directly through the app, and can visit the link in your bio. The problem, is that you only get the option to add one link in your bio. This will typically be the homepage. If you’ve ever done Google AdWords (or other forms of paid search) then you know that the more relevant the target page is to the listing (or post), the more likely users are to click through and take the action (purchase or contact) you want them to take. But when you send them to a generic “catch all” type of web page, the Bounce Rate (rate at which visitors arrive at, then promptly leave your website) is high. Unless you plan on changing your Instagram bio link every time you post a new image, this tactic is simply not enough to get users to visit your website and take action.
With paid/sponsored Instagram ads, your options increase exponentially. Users can shop all products directly from Instagram, and if they want to learn more or make a purchase, they can be taken to the specific product page on your website. Sponsored posts also allow users to email you (or your customer service department, etc.) directly from the app (opens their connected email service). In addition, sponsored posts get preference in your followers’ feed, and even get dropped into the feed of non-followers when your product/service is relevant to their preferences and past behavior.
In the end, sponsored Instagram posts will increase your Reach, allow followers and non-followers to email you and/or make a purchase, and will also grow your following, creating a positive cycle of consumer activity.
3. You Need to Target Your Audience
With great content and commentary you can grow your Facebook (slowly) and Instagram (more quickly) following and per post engagement levels organically over time. But even if you do so to great success, you cannot truly dictate the demographic makeup of those who will be exposed to your posts. While it’s nice that your posts are organically doing great with empty nesters aged 55-65, is that your target audience? Would you instead prefer that your posts be seen by young professionals aged 35-45? Are your posts killing it with audiences in the U.S., but your Alberta business doesn’t ship products south of the Montana border? You see where we’re going with this. When you post organically, you have little control over your audience. But when you use paid ads on Facebook and Instagram, you can target by the following:
- Demographics (age, gender, education, relationship status, job title and more)
View more on targeting options. and how they can help you get more qualified engagement.
4. Access to Data, and Knowing What to Do With It
Organic activity on Facebook and Instagram provides you with some useful data. For instance, under the Insights tab on your Facebook Page, you can access up to 28 days of data, with insight into Page Actions, Views, Likes, Reach, Engagements, and more. While it’s nice to have this information for general reporting purposes, it doesn’t allow you the option to dive much deeper, or more importantly, to better target your content (as per item #3 above).
We live in a data-driven world, and the greater your access to data, and the greater your options to act on this data, the greater the opportunity to increase business because of it. Once again the conclusion is clear – it’s time to increase your investment in social media, or leave it to your competitors and let them walk away with new customers/clients.
You now have a clear picture of how paid/sponsored posting on Facebook and Instagram can grow a more qualified audience for your business and afford you tools to increase sales, estimate requests, contacts, or any other action you need the audience to take. You can also see that organic posting on Facebook, Instagram, or any social network for that matter, puts handcuffs on your ability to promote your brand and bring in sales. By investing in sponsored posts and social media management, your opportunity to see ROI from social increases exponentially. Contact Digital Marketing Collective today for a consultation regarding what you can do for you.