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Facebook rolls out Promoted Post testing to the U.S., and so far, users like

Today, Facebook announced that its Promoted Posts feature will begin testing in the U.S. for a handful of users with fewer than 5,000 friends and subscribers.

The controversial move that offers users the option to pay their way to a prominent position on their friend’s Facebook News Feed was first noticed in New Zealand. At the time, the feature was named Highlight but it has since been renamed to Promoted Posts and was gradually rolled out to 20 other countries — now including the U.S. We reached out to Facebook to get a better sense of how many international users have been paying to promote their content, and how they’ve been responding, but a Facebook spokesperson declined to comment.

facebook promoted post

If you’re among the participants selected for the U.S. trial run, you’ll notice a “Promote” link in each post. You can find the link inline next to the “Share,” “Comment,” and “Like” buttons. When you select “Promote,” a box will pop up confirming the price that you’d like to charge to your card to better advertise your content. Promoting a post will run you approximately $7 each time. You can then select “Pay to Promote” to finalize the purchase.

Promoted posts are tagged as “Sponsored,” and you can click on this tag to open up a window that displays easily digestible metrics about a post’s reach.

It’s a small revenue generating operation for Facebook, and for users it should provide a way to grab the attention of your connections, should you really want or need that. But with Facebook posts only reaching 12 percent of your Facebook friends, there is a valid argument we need a better way to get visibility.

When Highlight was first reported in May, users were confused about what exactly they would be paying for. To clarify this matter we talked to Facebook, whose spokesperson explained to Digital Trends that users will not be paying to increase the percentage of friend’s News Feeds that the post would appear on. That variable remains fixed at around 12 percent. Instead what you’re paying for is for the post to be “bumped” higher and to stay on friends’ News Feeds longer, “so there is a higher chance your friends may notice them.” 

So if you’re not a brand or don’t have subscribers, what are some reasons for promoting a post? Facebook’s spokesperson offered us a list of practical scenarios for uses of its promoted posts:

  • People looking for roommates in their friend networks
  • Advertising garage sales
  • Promoting events they’re managing
  • Fundraising for political or charitable causes that they care about
  • Promoting their work, such as articles or art
  • Sharing big news, like updates about jobs or relationships
  • Posting important photos they want more of their friends to see, like wedding photos or baby pictures
feedback for usersUser Chris Barrett, founder of PRserve, was one of the few early testers whose had access to Promoted Posts, and gave it a shot. “I was surprised to see that my promoted post had 38 times what it would have had if I had not paid for the sponsorship,” he tells us. By all accounts, it seems like Promoted Posts must be working if Barrett’s first try, as simple as it is — seen below — was able to gain the sort of traction it did. 

 

chris example promoted postAnother early Promoted Post participant, Fright Factory (a brand page), shared some feedback with us. “I promoted a CTA image post, inviting users to comment for a chance to win tickets to my attraction,” user Tom Knobe says via email. “I did the $10 promotion — 1-2k reach: People who like your page and their friends. At the time of writing this I have only consumed $0.35.” 

 

“So far, this is 1000% more effective then the targeted ads,” he says. “I have only reached 80 people thus far. However, eight of them have actually commented on the post.  That’s 10 percent interaction. This is beyond amazing, and at the cost of 35 cents!?. I run a local business so I’m shooting for a local demographic. All of my fans are local users and having the ability to reach to my fans friends feeds is great. If this interaction rate continues I will be using this feature a lot more!”

 

Lately, Facebook has been keen on emphasizing the importance of engagement, despite its click oriented advertising model. The social network has come to the realization that users are more inclined to pay attention to content from within their News Feeds rather than content anywhere else — like, say, traditional sidebar Facebook ads. As we reported earlier, the click through rates for paid coupons that are published to user’s News Feeds garnered between five and 10 times more clicks than traditional Facebook ads. In fact, Facebook’s Head of Measurement and Insights, Brad Smallwood, defended Facebook’s focus on impressions, reach, and frequency by revealing that as many as 99 percent of sales from ads came from users that didn’t interact with the ad but saw it.

There’s also a treasure trove of important data from Promoted Posts that Facebook can collect, including what types of content users are willing to pay to promote to what types of posts users are more likely to engage with. By learning about what does and doesn’t work, Facebook can build more engaging advertising products that target the News Feed for a premium price.