Thursday, August 04, 2016

My Experiments with Facebook Ad

When I asked my readers to indicate which topic they would like to read the most, this topic got maximum votes, so here we go...

I had never advertised my blog posts anywhere. Only last month spent a small amount experimenting with facebook ads on my Facebook Page. This post shares some of my findings and thoughts.

Compared to Google, Facebook seems to be a bit unethical in the way it goes about to do business. Facebook seems to be using several tricky techniques to force people spend more and more on ads or paid promotion of their content.

1) Facebook is believed to made changes to algorithms that reduces organic reach of a post made on facebook page, apparently to force page owners to spend on ads. My page has 500+ fans, but most of the updates do not reach even 10% of them.

In below example, a  FB page post with a link to my blog got viewed by only 8 people over 15 days, while another post with just an image reached 418 people within 24 hours.(These were the min and max organic reach I got in recent time, other posts have got a number in between) My guess is, FB is suppressing the organic reach if you are trying to take users away from facebook, for reading a blog post or sign up etc.

I learnt that if each fan can change setting to "See First" (available when you click on down arrow next to Liked button) then they will see all updates from the page on their timelines. But making all your fans do this is a near impossible task.
I spent 200 Rs to promote a post I had written about Changi Airport. I targeted Indians between 18 to 40 years of age with interests related to travel. Below is the result I got.
My findings
1) Apparently 721 people liked the post but only 16 people clicked on the link. I understand had it been other way round- that 721 people clicked and read the post but out of that only 16 people liked it. But No, about 705 people hit "Like button" purely based on the title, image and brief description that was displayed in the ad. The group photo image was not the most attractive one- if I had used photo of a beautiful girl may be I would have got much more likes. But these likes do not serve my purpose in any way. They don't add to blog traffic, the users are not reading or engaging in any way.

Apparently there are huge % of facebook users - real or fake, happy to click on like button for anything that comes in front of them- without reading the content or without using any discretion if the content is worth their like. I feel chasing these likes are useless, as they don't help in any way beyond may be a feel good factor.

Indiblogger has a smart way for this-in Indivine, one should click the link before they can promote it.

2) I scanned few profiles of people who liked- about half of them seemed genuine but the rest I wasn't very convinced. Rumor has it that there are several click farms- large teams of people whose full time job is to like and click on ads who are paid a few dollars for every 1000 clicks. Not sure what step facebook is taking to curb these, as they add no value at all.

Everyone says selecting right target audience is the key. But there is no magic formula for this. Each business owner should identify and fine tune audience selection based on experience. Facebook doesn't offer controls like:
a) show this ad to anyone who has mentioned Singapore in his/her status update in past 10 days
a) show this ad to anyone who has installed Prisma app or posted prisma pictures
a) show this ad to only those who have checked in to Changi airport during past 2 hours
So our options are limited to age, gender, location and interests, which are not sharp enough.

The idea of targeting friends for ads seems stupid to me. My friends should see my content via organic reach. Me paying FB to show my content to my own friends is like a bus conductor asking its driver to buy a ticket for himself.

Google is probably more effective in this- like if I search for Chennai-Mumbai flight, next few days it shows me ads related to Chennai Mumbai flight or Mumbai hotels etc. That way, I see ads that are relevant to me at that moment.

If I spend my money to promote something on FB, I would need target audience to come out of FB, read my stuff and hopefully engage by commenting, sharing, subscribing etc. If only outcome is that some random people like the post without even opening it, I am not sure why we should spend on FB ads.

3) I have not yet reached 5000 friends limit on Facebook, so for now, my own profile is doing relatively better than my page in terms of engagement.

Of course, I have spent a small amount on this experiment. Read about this man who lost USD 600000 on FB ads

What has been your experience w.rt FB ad? How do you go about selecting target audience? What kind of results excite you? (likes, clicks, comments etc) Any tips or tricks from your experience? What other alternate options we have instead of FB ads? Do share

Similar: What happened when I complained about an AD * Honda Mobilio Misleading print ad


Divya Srinivasan said...

Great analysis .. Loved reading it

Ameeta said...

Bang on blog post. I really appreciate the time and the logic you have used to put your point across. Thank you.

Muthu Alagappan said...

Excellent and you are correct!

I faced the same with my page. I spend around 60 Rs for my post for my online chess store. I have around 800 friends who play professional chess. For that 60 Rs I got some 75 likes for the post.

But the shocking news is, none of that 75 likes was not having even a single mutual friend with me.

I have chosen the target people specific to professional chess players who follow top level chess. So having 800 chess friend with at least each of them having 100 mutual fiends will be 80000... Of course there will be duplicate. So, we we can have a rough estimate of 10000 chess people I would have at least a single mutual friend. But this 75 likes never had even a single mutual friend and had a 0 conversion rate to my website.

That day I felt facebook ad is somewhat tricky.

satheesh said...

When you for likes campaign it happenes, but if you see Facebook as a lead generation channel it work immensely, personally I handles a monthly budget of around 15 lakhs for lead generation, 5 lakhs only for mobile app campaigns. It depends on the objective you choose while creating ad

Destination Infinity said...

I am not convinced with the concept of Facebook pages. I prefer promoting a FB group instead where most of the posts reach people, had they opted to get notifications from that group. Unfortunately, we are not allowed to promote groups! Interesting experiment, though.

Destination Infinity

Alice Brown said...

Great post!

Govind Vyas said...

Worth reading analysis, Thank you for putting a value experimental efforts!

Shrinidhi Hande said...

@Govind Vyas, Alice, Ameeeta and Divya: Thanks very much.

@Rajesh: noted- yes groups are far more interactive than a page.

@Satheesh- Thanks for your insights. Yes, depending on the objectives results may vary. Eventually we need our target audience to come out of facebook and do some real business/transaction/download/inquiry etc if that can be realized, then great

@Muthu- Thanks for sharing your experience. Yes, sometimes FB's results can be defying and against human logic. Good that you experimented only with a small amount.

@Rajiv Verma- where did your comment go?

Atulmaharaj said...

You've shared your experiences perfectly. I've been using it for quite sometime and one thing that I've observed is instead of link visits I do get page likes along with posts like. But that all depends on time and other factors too. Here was a post I had written about Facebook ads for beginners:

Shrinidhi Hande said...

@Atul- yes, I understand time, content etc also matter. Have a lot to learn.

Thanks for sharing your post.

divsi said...

Brilliant and spot-on analysis! FB ads are nothing short of a scam. Thanks to the algorithm posts hardly reach the people who have liked the page, unlike personal profile posts. Thereby forcing the page owner to boost all posts.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Divsi...

devashish said...

Awesome blog post. I was trying to find some useful information, on how useful is facebook as targeting for my website, and your analysis provides a very good insight.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Devashish