Monthly Marketing: Free Isn’t Always Best

By Amanda Bradley posted 10-03-2017 09:27


In these monthly installments, I’ll being giving you some quick how-tos or updates on marketing strategies that can help your career team in your outreach efforts. Whether you have a team of marketing professionals (or students) at your disposal or a brave career counselor doubling as your marketing guru, these blogs can help keep your marketing on trend.

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We’ve been hearing it for a while now—Facebook is dead among our young Millennials and the rising Gen Z. But is it? Facebook’s user data paints a very different picture. Facebook is still seeing an increase in users, reaching over two billion this summer.

What has changed about Facebook? You have to pay to play. (I know I hit a sore subject—budgets. But with the decline in reach of organic posts, it may be worth it.)

Let’s back up for a minute and review the basics.

An organic post on Facebook is anything you post to your career center’s page for free. Although you may think that what you post gets seen by all your followers, I’m sorry to tell you that you’re wrong. In fact, because of Facebook’s algorithm, your posts only show up in the newsfeeds of a small number of your overall followers. 

The number of people who see your post is referred to as reach. In the example below, you can see that this organic post only reached 107 of our 1,683 followers. That’s about 6 percent.

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Six percent probably isn’t worth the time and effort you put into your social media strategy. One way to make sure your material is viewed by your students is using boosted posts and paid ads. And don’t worry—it’s a lot cheaper than you think!


Boosted Posts

Boosted posts are the more basic form of paid advertising available on Facebook. Boosted posts differ from Facebook ads in that they only appear in the newsfeed and can only be created using a previous post to Facebook. Boosted posts simply take what started as an organic post and pushes it higher on your followers’ newsfeeds. Boosting will increase your overall reach and allows you to target users based on location, interests, age, and gender. 

To boost a post, all you need to do is click on the blue “Boost Post” button at the bottom of any of your previous posts. 

My tip: Boost posts that are performing well organically to maximize reach and that link back to relevant content, like your department’s website or blog.


Facebook Ads

Facebook ads are more advanced than boosted posts, and can come with a greater number of options. In addition to targeting users based on location, interests, age, and gender, you can also select even more specific demographic information, such as education, ethnic affinity, generation, life events, behaviors, and connections. You also can exclude any demographics to make sure you are reaching the right people. 

Unlike a boosted post, Facebook ads do not start out as an organic post and will not show up on your career center’s page—only in the newsfeed or side banner of users’ newsfeeds. 

One thing that has been great with our students is the ability to automatically push your Facebook ad to Instagram. With Instagram being one of the growing social media platforms on our campus, in terms of popularity, this has been such a beneficial and time saving feature. 

My tip: Use Facebook’s split testing to see what demographics respond better to your content.

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The Cost

The best part of advertising on Facebook is that it can cost you as little as $1 a day. You read that right. The coffee you bought on your way in cost more than your social media advertising budget. Take, for example, an ad we are running right now. The ad is costing us an average of $4.50 per 1,000 reached. I set the lifetime budget (the maximum you'll spend during the lifetime of your ad set) to $10 and set the start and end date of the campaign for three days. This means I can reach more than 2,000 people with my ad over the three days if I spend my entire budget. Not bad compared to the 107 people reached from my organic post. And if you remember from the beginning of this post, we only have 1,683 followers. With paid ads, we are able to reach beyond our followers to the friends of our followers who fit in the demographic.  

Still not convinced this is worth your budget? There are some ways that have been successful in increasing the reach of organic posts. This includes encouraging your followers to engage with your posts (asking for shares or likes), uploading videos rather than photos or plain text (they encourage interaction), going live, or asking followers to update their notification settings on your page.

 Have a marketing topic you would like featured in an upcoming installment of Monthly Marketing? Add it to the comments below.