Paid Promotions: Has Facebook Turned into the Grinch?

Has Facebook Turned into the Grinch?
By Jody Hedlund, @JodyHedlund

As you know, your comments on Facebook (for both your Personal Accounts and Professional Pages) do NOT go out to all of your followers. In other words, if you share important updates or news on Facebook, only a fraction of friends and followers will actually have that update show up in their news feed. (If this is new information to you, go HERE to read all about it!)

Yes, this Facebook phenomena has long troubled me. But like everyone else, I've been helpless to change the downward spiral of Facebook's way of doing things.

What has become apparent over the past couple of years with the severe limitations in comment reach is that Facebook wants to make money. Their goal is to get people to PAY to "promote" or "boost" their comments (and yes, this is true even on your personal page!).

I've accepted that. And for the most part, I don't pay Facebook to promote any comments to my hard-earned followers (who by the way, follow me willingly and actually want to see my updates but usually don't realize they're not seeing them because of Facebook's stingy posting method).

Recently, however, my publisher put the ebook for A Noble Groom on sale for $3.49 during December (which is a good deal since the ebook is usually $9.99). I wanted my followers and friends to be aware of the sale and be able to get the book at the really good deal.

So I broke down and decided to pay for a Facebook comment boost.

I have over 5300 followers on my Page. So as I browsed through the costs of boosting a post, I picked a promotion I thought would reach the majority of my followers. I decided the $20 promotion would reach up to 6,400 people versus the $5 promotion which would only go to a maximum of 2,100 people.

Here's the promotion I picked:

Here's the 'boosted' comment I posted on Facebook:

So how did the promotion work?


The boosted post only reached 1738 people. When I paid the $20.00 I was under the impression that I would AT LEAST get within the range specified (2400-6400). Not only did it fall short, but it didn't even come close to reaching all my 5300 followers. The reach of 1,738 was in the range of the $5 promotion.

Here are the results:

I was REALLY disappointed. I felt like I wasted $20.00. Because the truth is, the boosted post didn't do ANY better than my usual posts. Most of the normal comments I make on my Page reach that many people or more.

Of course, I sent a complaint to Facebook about what happened and asked them either for a refund or to increase the reach of the promotion. I have to give them credit for responding within the day of my complaint. But I was extremely disappointed (again!) with how they handled the whole issue.

Here's how Facebook responded to my complaint:

"We appreciate you letting us know about the discrepancy you've been seeing between estimated and actual reach. We're aware of this issue and are working to make our reach estimates more accurate.

The reach you see when you promote your post is an estimate, not a guarantee. Your promotion may be seen by more or less people than indicated originally, but you'll only be charged for the actual reach of your promotion. 

We apologize for the confusion and appreciate your patience as we continue to improve our reach estimates.

I reviewed the details of your campaign to confirm that all advertising services you were charged for met the conditions you selected when you placed your ad. After reviewing your account I can see that your ads were delivered as requested, so we can't offer you a refund at this time." (Emphasis mine)

So, in summary, I was NOT given a refund. The post was NOT promoted to the range that they originally said. I was NOT just "charged for the actual reach" of my promotion. I was basically given an apology for the "confusion" but told it's MY fault and that I have to live with it.

Recently, I've had a slew of awesome customer service. I had to call Audible about a missing credit, and they responded positively and immediately. I was SUPER impressed with how they handled the problem.

I also had to return a song on iTunes because it wasn't what I expected. And even though I didn't talk to anyone live, they responded positively and immediately also, without ANY questions or haggling.

In light of such positive experiences, I'm not only frustrated with the stingy way Facebook boosted my paid post, but I'm also incredibly frustrated in how they responded to my complaint.

Shouldn't Facebook be in the business of making happy customers who want to continue using their services? If they have confusing advertising, shouldn't they go out of their way to correct their mistakes? If they give a range, shouldn't they try to promote it to the middle or high end? Why not be generous? How would that hurt them?

Maybe bigger companies and corporations have better luck with Facebook Paid Promotions because they can put more money behind the promotion. But if Facebook is offering lower costing promotions to those of us who have small businesses (like authors), then I for one think they need to be fair, don't you?

I'm sorry to say, that Facebook reminds me of the Grinch. And a very stingy Grinch at that.

What's your Facebook experience been like lately? Have you paid for a promotion of a comment? How did it work for you?

P.S. I've posted my annual Christmas Letter over on my family blog: Hedlund Happenings. I invite you to stop by for a personal glimpse of my family and life! In the meantime, have a Merry Christmas! I'll be taking a short blogging vacation. See you back here on Tuesday, January 6th!

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