Posted by Justin_Vanning

There's been a lot of buzz around Facebook's Promoted Post feature over the past few months. I've read several blog posts (the HasOffers post was great) who have tried testing the effectiveness of Promoted Posts vs Facebook's Sponsored Story ads, and thought it would be interesting to do a similar test here at SEOmoz. Before I jump in to the results of my test, I'll give a quick overview on Promoted Posts for those who aren't familiar.

What's the Difference Between a Promoted Post and a Sponsored Story?

Facebook rolled out their Promoted Post feature at the end of May, allowing Brand Page owners to pay to push content to a broader audience than normal. What some people don't know is that when you publish content on your Facebook Brand Page, only a small percentage of your fans are seeing that content appear in their news feeds. 

Facebook uses its complex EdgeRank algorithm to determine which content each user sees in their news feed. Facebook estimates that only 16% of a company's fans will see every post they generate in their news feed. Some companies will obviously have a much higher percentage of engaged fans than others, but it shows that simply publishing content on your Brand Page won't get it seen by 100% of your audience. 

So, this is where Promoted Posts come in handy. You now can dedicate up to $100 to "promote" a recent post on your Facebook Brand Page. Facebook says, "Your promoted posts will be seen by a larger percentage of the people who like your page than would normally see it. It will also be seen by a larger percentage of the friends of people who interact with your post."  What this means is that Facebook will distribute your content to a much broader segment of your fan base instead of just the fans who are already engaged with your brand. Sounds interesting, right? 

Now, let's quickly discuss another tool for distributing your content on Facebook to a broad audience. Facebook's Sponsored Story is created within the Facebook Ad Platform and functions just like a Facebook Ad. You can set this up the same way as you set up Facebook Ads and select your targeting from the large list of available targeting and interest category options that Facebook provides. You'll create an ad image, write your ad copy, link to your content, assign a budget, set your bid, and then activate it. The main difference is that Sponsored Stories look like Facebook ads so they only appear in the right side of the Facebook Page where all the other ads are, and they will mainly target people who aren't fans of your Brand Page.

The Test: Promoted Post vs Sponsored Story

Show me the results, baby! We decided to use a recent update to our Beginner's Guide to SEO as the content piece that we would Promote and run in our Sponsored Story. For the Promoted Post, we created a simple post on our Brand Page linking to the Beginner's Guide and dedicated $100 to it. This Post had a reach of 26,275. It generated 198 actions, 1,311 clicks and had a CTR of 4.99%. The CPC was $.076. 

For the Sponsored Story, we targeted 266,580 people who live in the US, Canada, UK, or Australia and like SEO related topics and websites. The actual reach of the campaign was 44,247 with a frequency of 6.2. This Sponsored Story generated 16 actions, 162 clicks, had a CTR of 0.366% and a CPC of $1.44. 

As you can see from our test results, the Promoted Post generated far more engagement than the Sponsored Story, had a higher CTR, and had a significantly lower CPC! 

  Campaign Reach Actions Clicks CTR Spend CPC
Promoted Post  26,275 198  1,311 4.990%  $100.00  $0.076
Sponsored Story  44,247 16  162 0.366%  $233.47  $1.441

The only area that the Sponsored Story out-performed the Promoted Post was in campaign reach. This makes sense since we were targeting a large group of SEO professionals and enthusiasts through Facebook Ads' interest targeting. At the end of the day, our Promoted Post to our fans who had not engaged with us in a significant amount of time generated a huge amount of interest in our content and drove a majority of the actions and clicks on our post. 

To conclude, the combination of a Promoted Post and a Sponsored Story helped us to achieve metrics on our post that we have never seen before on our Brand Page.

This was our most viewed post ever (more than 5x's the previous record and was also the most liked and most shared)! While this didn't necessarily generate revenue for us, it was great to see how the Promoted Post and Sponsored Story can work together to achieve massive reach and engagement. The next step will be to see how the Promoted Post and Sponsored Story tools perform when driving a promotional offer or direct CTA type of content. 

In the end, the main thing this test taught us was that it's important for every advertiser and brand to test things on their own. Just because one company sees a certain set of results doesn't mean that your company will see the same. Every brand, fan base, target audience, and customer base is different and will react differently so what it boils down to in my opinion is test, test, and test again. 

I hope this analysis was helpful, and I'd love to hear from any of you who've run similar tests or messed around with the Promoted Post and Sponsored Story to see what types of results you've experienced. 

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