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Promoted Facebook Posts for Nonprofits: The ROI of $30 Spent in Advertising

June 13, 2012
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Like nonprofits, I am generally thrifty. Spending $30 on one “Promoted Post” on the Nonprofit Organizations Facebook Page felt like a significant expense. Was it worth it? Would I do it again? Sorry Facebook. The answer is no. Not for $30 anyway. The Return on Investment (ROI) was not significant enough to make me a convert. For $3? Absolutely! But $30 for a 4% increase in exposure for one Status Update? Not worth it. Granted… it was just one Status Update. The Return on Investment (ROI) would perhaps be higher if I experimented with multiple posts and varying content, but again, being as thrifty as I am (and as most nonprofits are), it’s too expensive for me to want to experiment with a second or third promoted post.

The business sector and nonprofits with large advertising budgets should experiment with promoted posts, but small to medium-sized nonprofits with little-to-no marketing budgets? Your funds are likely better spent elsewhere. When it comes to nonprofits I honestly think Facebook would be better off offering discounted or free advertising (like the Google Grants Program) for the CSR, social good, and PR value rather than anticipating large numbers of nonprofits investing in your Promoted Post Advertising Program. That said, let’s have a look at the ROI:

Promoted Post Shared on Monday, June 11 at 9:30am EDT
As of Wednesday, June 13 at 9:30am EDT
52 Likes ::  14 Comments :: 5,812 People :: 16% Reach :: 37 Shares :: $30


4% of the 16% Reach Due to Promotion


Referral Traffic to Nonprofit Tech 2.0
410 Unique Visits


Now, let compare that data to a similar post shared exactly one week earlier:

Not Promoted Post Shared on Monday, June 4 at 9:30am EDT
As of Wednesday, June 13
52 Likes ::  3 Comments :: 5,191 People :: 14% Reach :: 18 Shares :: $0

Referral Traffic to Nonprofit Tech 2.0
416 Unique Visits

The promoted post received more Likes, more Comments, and a 2% higher Reach, but the referral traffic to Nonprofit Tech 2.0 from the unpromoted post was slightly higher. Again, not a significant enough difference to make me a convert at the $30 price point. I’d want that same result for $3 or less to make a me regular promoted poster. On average my Status Updates receive between 11 and 18% reach without promotion and I guess I am just going to have to be OK with that. 🙂

Related Links:
Five Recent Upgrades that Nonprofits Need to Know About
Webinar: Facebook and Facebook Apps for Nonprofits

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17 Comments leave one →
  1. Amy G permalink
    June 13, 2012 7:00 am

    Love the roundup on Facebook’s new advertising offer. I agree with you that it’s not worth doing for that high price point. I’m really interested in seeing Facebook offer a grants program for advertising. Every time I connect with someone from Facebook I ask that same question. How can we rally others to get a Facebook nonprofit advertising program started? One idea is to even start small and just offer discounts, it doesn’t even need to be free.

    • nonprofitorgs permalink
      June 13, 2012 7:12 am

      Thanks. Want to be an admin of this page? 🙂

      http://www.facebook.com/adsgrantsprogramfornonprofits

      Or start another one? I am happy to promote it.

      I really do think that Facebook would foster such good will with nonprofits if they offered it at less expensive rates and it seems as though lately, good will is something that Facebook needs. Business always underestimates the power of 1.3 million nonprofits online… in the U.S. alone.

      • Amy G permalink
        June 13, 2012 7:16 am

        I’m definitely interested in helping the cause and didn’t even know this group existed, how cool! Feel free to email me and let me know what you need help with.

    • nonprofitorgs permalink
      June 13, 2012 7:19 am

      Made you an admin. 🙂 If you ever want to post, feel free. I don’t have the time to run it… but surprisingly is steadily grows.

      • Amy G permalink
        June 13, 2012 7:21 am

        Thanks a bunch, I’ll recruit some new members from my org to the group and post when I find some good content.

  2. June 13, 2012 7:05 am

    Thanks for this post. I was toying with the idea of a Facebook advert. “$30 for a 4% increase in exposure for one Status Update?” That’s a good statistic to have, particularly for a small non-profit like us. I’ll be looking at alternatives. Great blog as always.

  3. June 13, 2012 7:23 am

    Great post! It is so easy for people to get caught up in the buzz around Facebook and its potential. It is always good when someone debunks the myths with actual hard data. I definitely agree with Amy G. that Facebook, and other sites (Pinterest), really need to start catering better to nonprofits instead of just lumping them with for-profits. I think these companies neglect the many benefits of helping nonprofits.

  4. June 13, 2012 12:02 pm

    Love it that you tried it out, because we ARE a nonprofit that was wondering this exact question. Thank you!!!

  5. June 18, 2012 12:11 pm

    How great that you test things and pass the information on to non-profits. I think facebook will continue to seek ways of making real money now that they are public, and although I don’t think good offers will be made to non-profits, you make a valid point about the powerful numbers. Thanks again for sharing your knowledge.

  6. Michele Guilford permalink
    June 25, 2012 10:07 am

    We took the dive for a $100 promoted post test that a Partner paid us to run. 36% increase in reach. Great engagement, but that’s not what we paid for. What was interesting to learn is that the reach included “likers” AND “friends of likers.” I wasn’t expecting that. And FBs array of metrics DO NOT COMPUTE. The test post was with a YouTube video link. We’re going whole hog this week and doing a link to the site we’re promoting – $200. That will max the funds we were given to test with. The whole thing makes my stomach turn. It is absolutely against the 100+ year culture of this organization to pay for advertising. Luckily, I have a call with FB Strategic Partnerships in July. I’ll be sharing this info with them at that time. -Michele

  7. June 25, 2012 11:04 am

    Thank you! I was waiting to see the results of this when you said you’d be trying it out on June 11. But it leaves me wondering, what now? Since FB has again changed the algorithm of Status Update exposure in the News Feed, quality content doesn’t seem to be enough. How can we reach our fans and increase engagement with Likes and Comments? Perhaps my content is not engaging enough… but I try a variety of shares, questions, photos, etc. If no one sees it, it doesn’t matter what the quality of the post is.

  8. October 16, 2012 3:44 pm

    Our page reach, which had been consistent for two years since launch (although it didn’t expand to accommodate growth) for our non profit page suddenly (within a week) plummeted about 75%. Now it is down to a bare minimum. Very discouraging and disheartening after all the work put into to building audience and content.

    We are also limited to photos on page and personal page – linked material disappears vs photos and now one must scroll through endless Activity Log on personal page to find a link reference. Photos are OK – but it ends up looking very generic and boring.

    LinkedIn is starting to support non profits in terms of new tools for Board development, etc. Is there any ROI for a non profit on Facebook? Doesn’t look like it.

  9. November 24, 2012 8:07 pm

    I have yet to test promoted posts, but I can tell you right now, you’d have gotten better results if you uploaded an image along with the link instead of letting facebook insert the image from the link. This results in the image appearing larger in the news stream. Larger images = more engagement!

Trackbacks

  1. שבעה חידושים בפייסבוק שיסייעו לכם בניהול עמוד הארגון | הבלוג של אנפיטק | NPTech Israel's Blog
  2. Activism on Facebook: Pay to play | Clicktivist
  3. Three Recent Facebook Upgrades That Nonprofits Need to Know About « Nonprofit Tech 2.0 Blog :: A Social Media Guide for Nonprofits

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