How to Get the Most Out of Paid Social Media Posts
At the start of 2018, Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, announced his company would be altering its algorithm to prioritize content from “friends, family and groups.”
“As we roll this out,” Zuckerberg wrote, “you’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands and media. And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard. It should encourage meaningful interactions between people.”
As the changes have materialized these last few months, businesses have experienced significant decreases in organic reach. But this is only the latest in a stream of iterations made on Facebook’s algorithms determining who sees what, and when.
“There are always subtle changes to visibility, to reach, paid reach, paid engagement; that’s become normal,” observes Eric Elkins, CEO and founder of WideFoc.us, a PR and social media firm. For that reason, “It’s just really impossible to track and test what types of posts do better and why.”
Elkins recalls that nearly three years ago, Facebook ratcheted down organic reach to posts, fan pages and business pages, bringing visibility down to 1.5 percent. And yet, “All Facebook wants is eyeballs on Facebook,” he says.
“Fortunately for Mark Zuckerberg, he figured out a way to monetize his platform,” says Aubrey Gordon, president of Sprocket Communications, a PR and digital marketing firm that counts a handful of restaurants among its client portfolio. “If you’re a brand, you have to have a paid budget to put behind your posts.”
Gordon says restaurants can start as small as $200 per month.
With paid posts, “There’s so much you can do to get super targeted using geographic parameters and demographic information,” she explains.
Elkins agrees: “For a little bit, you can get a ton of visibility and get in front of your target audience,” or, as he calls them, “highly qualified leads.”
“The most important aspect of a strong social media strategy is storytelling and authenticity.”
- Lauren Cook, Senior Director of social media and digital at FEED media
With the algorithm change, Elkins expected heightened cost per engagement, but that hasn’t transpired.
He recommends restaurant clients, among others, set a monthly ad spend budget that’s broken into thirds: one-third for building a fan base and establishing credibility; one-third for boosting posts; and one-third for spend that drives social media followers to your website, be it through directing customers to the menu, an email newsletter signup, online ordering platform or other content channels.
Regardless of the algorithm, “The most important aspect of a strong social media strategy is storytelling and authenticity,” says Lauren Cook, senior director of social media and digital for FEED Media. “If operators are already creating content, extending their restaurant experience past the doors of their locations and into the social media space. … they’re already combating the changing algorithm on Facebook.”
Cook contends that Instagram is the ideal platform for restaurants, with the ability to focus on imagery from the menu, space and experience.
Gordon adds that diverse content engages audiences best, enticing them to comment or share.
“You don’t want an overhead shot of a menu item or cocktail porn every single day,” she advises. “Instead, give your followers a boomerang, or a short video, or a survey to mix it up.”
Elkins also recommends curating content from other, relevant sources—a time-saving technique and a way to provide distinct experiences for followers.
“Get your routine and then supplement with unpredictability,” Elkins says.