One question I get asked almost every time I deliver a social media training session is, “what’s the difference between a Facebook ad campaign and a boosted post?” It’s a fair question, in a lot of ways they’re pretty similar. But here are some of the key advantages of an ad campaign over a boosted post:

  • Audience Targeting Options
  • Creative Testing
  • More Variety of Objectives
  • More Control over Budget
  • Better Reporting

Boosting posts is like a “mini” ad campaign. It’s faster, it’s easier, but you can do less. Like a go-kart compared to a car. For the right purpose, they’re great… but sometimes you need more.

Quick Summary of Boosting Posts on Facebook

First tip with boosting posts – it’s best to ensure that any post you boost is performing strongly organically first, ideally for around 6-24 hours. This sends signals to Facebook’s algorithm that it’s a strong post, and you’re likely to be rewarded with lower costs and better results.

When you click Boost Post it will give you a few limited options for what you want to achieve. For example, if it’s a video, you can choose between driving Video Views or attracting Messages. You will be able to add a button to the post to encourage users to take action. The button options you are given will be more limited than in Ads Manager.

You need to choose who you want to reach, how much you want to spend, and how long you want the post to run for. You can also choose whether you want the post to run on Facebook, Instagram or Messenger (or all three). The audience network is not an option for boosted posts. It also wouldn’t appear in Stories.

The advantages of boosting posts is that the post often looks more natural in a newsfeed rather than like an ad. It’s quicker and easier, and you can spend less.

The disadvantages are that you can’t optimise or compare different creatives, and your creative formats and targeting options are more limited. You also don’t get as strong reporting afterwards.

 

Why Facebook Ad Campaigns are Better

As mentioned at the start, there are five key advantages of a Facebook ad campaign over a boosted post:

  • Audience Targeting Options
  • Creative Testing
  • More Variety of Objectives
  • More Control over Budget
  • Better Reporting

Let’s go through them briefly…

Audience Targeting Options

Facebook is an incredibly powerful tool for targeting the right audiences. For example, in an ad campaign, I could target women turning 50 in the next week, who have visited my website recently, who like dogs, who watched at least 50% of recent video I shared, who weren’t university educated and who aren’t a fan of my page. You can add layers and layers of targeting including basics like age, sex, location, interests, but also whether they are current fans, similar to your current fans, have interacted with your website, have interacted with your content, who have purchased from you recently – the world is your oyster. Boosted posts scrape the surface of this functionality. They have the basics of audience targeting, but nowhere near this level of depth. Ask yourself who are you trying to reach, do you need this level of depth? If you don’t, then there’s nothing wrong with the basics of a boosted post.

Creative Testing

Within Facebook Ads you can run “true” AB tests, as well as the standard option of running multiple creatives at the same time to see which performs best. This can mean different versions of the same ad, but different call to action buttons, or different images, or different texts, or video vs. image (for example). Or it can mean testing completely different creative messages and styles. There are two ways of trying different creatives:

1. True AB tests: Your audience is divided into two equal halves and each half will only see one ad in order to measure accurately which ad is better.

2. Self-optimising creative variants: Facebook runs all your ads, it’s possible that the same people will see all your variants, and it will start showing your best ad to more people, and potentially stop serving your weaker ad altogether.

Currently, none of this is possible with a boosted post.

 

More Variety of Objectives

When you advertise on Facebook, you always choose an advertising objective. This might be sales, website traffic, to reach as many people as possible, to attract page likes, or to drive engagement with your content (as a few examples). Facebook will optimise towards your objective, meaning that within the potential pool of people you want to target, it will try to only show your ad to those people more likely to fit with your objectives. Boosted posts have a more much limited range of objectives, making it more difficult to achieve your goals cost effectively.

 

More control over budget

With a boosted post, you generally set the amount you are willing to spend in total, and how many days you wish to run it for, and that’s that. With a full ad campaign, you can limit how much you’re likely to pay for a click, purchase or like. You can allow your budget to flow freely between different audiences depending on what’s performing best. You can schedule your budget to spend more at specific times of day. In general, you can be a lot more creative with how your budget is invested. Again, this might be relevant to your goals, or it might not be.

 

Better Reporting

At the end of your spend, you’ll want to know – did I achieve what I wanted to? Facebook Ads Manager lets you cut and slice and pivot your data in so many ways to see understand how it performed and why. You can set daily reports to run and send to others in your organisation. You can compare engagement rates between different creatives, see whether men or women were more likely to buy, or whether younger people cost more to reach. You can see how your ad performed on Facebook vs. Instagram, or on desktops vs. mobiles. For higher spending campaigns, this sort of information is essential to improve on performance with each campaign.

So that’s it in a nutshell! Any key functional differences between the two that we’ve missed, let us know! Or if you want to hand with paid advertising on Facebook – get in touch.

        We get it – if you’re working in marketing at a non-profit you’re probably wearing a million different hats. You can’t possibly be an expert in everything, and you often don’t have time to learn. This post is for you – the time-poor, the many-hat wearing marketing unicorns who choose to follow the path of non-profit marketing for the greater good.

 

1. Confusion Between Narrow/Expand audience

When you’re setting up an audience in Facebook ads, you can choose from so many different options to reach your perfect audience. However, I’ve seen a few campaigns where all the ideas about audience targeting are dumped into the one box. This means that anyone who meets just one of these criteria would be reached by your campaigns. Use the Narrow Audience option underneath to define more criteria – a person will have to meet at least one thing in the first box, and something else in the second box in order to be targeted. Think of it as anything within a box means “or” and adding a second or third separate boxes means “and”.

2. Not addressing the comments on ads

Non profit ads can received a LOT of comments, especially if you’re using particularly poignant imagery. If you go to your page, and then Notifications, anyone who comments on an ad will be listed here, along with people who comment on your organic posts. If the ad is stirring up a lot of conversation (lucky you), you can filter by “most recent” at the top to make sure you’re responding to each comment as they come in. Everything should be replied to, even anything negative or difficult, or people could be put off making that valuable donation.

3. Excluding / including Fans

This depends entirely on the objective of your campaign. If you’re trying to acquire new people to your charity, remember to Exclude Fans (right at the bottom of your ad set creation window). However, if you have an urgent campaign where warm audiences would be most receptive, you may wish to run a small campaign exclusively targeted at fans specifically. Just remember, an existing fan is likely to respond very differently to a cold audience, so focus on the objective of your campaign, and don’t waste budget on the wrong audience.

4. Use of images only

The Facebook algorithm much prefers carousel ads (where you click to scroll across multiple images) and video ads to single image ads. And they’re so easy to create nowadays. You can create a Slideshow ad to function as a video simply by choosing up to 10 images and allowing Facebook to fade in and out of each image. You’ll reach more people for less budget, and potentially even see higher click through rates with these ad types.

5. Looooooooooooooong ad captions

It’s tempting to tell your whole story in a Facebook ad, but it’s just not the place. Think of it like a billboard above a motorway – you only have a second or two of focus to grab attention, so make your point quickly and succinctly. Facebook recommends 90 characters, and while you can go on for longer, you don’t want your main point to disappear below the dreaded “Read More” tag.

Any other common errors you’d add to this list?

Or let us know if you need a hand with your non-profit marketing.

Obviously the biggest news of this week is IT’S WARM. So in case you’ve spent this week “working from home” to catch the most of the sun, here’s what you might have missed in digital marketing news…

YouTube launches video banner ads

YouTube has launched a new ad product… “Outstream Video Ads”. The benefit is that with this service advertisers can place YouTube video ads on websites even without a YouTube video. Personally, I’m skeptical. In the past I’ve had clients interested in video banner ads, and a well known programmatic advertiser advised me, “they don’t really work”. While pre-roll and in-stream reaches people at a moment where they’re ready to consume video content, outside of this context, video can be intrusive and annoying. One clue that shows how much YouTube care about a non-intrusive experience is that they’re allowing them to be bought on an interstitial basis (basically a pop up). I’m not holding my breath. More info here.

 

Facebook trials allowing pre-recorded video as “live” video

Busy week for video producers – Facebook is rolling out a trial where some businesses will be able to publish pre-recorded video segments as a “live” video with its new “Premiere” feature. With live video receiving such visibility within the algorithm at the moment, this is an interesting development.  Will we all see our feeds fill with pre-recorded “live” video? It’s being trialled with a small group of advertisers at the moment, but they expect to roll out more widely soon. More info here.

 

Snapchat continues to roll out new advertising

Over the last few weeks, Snapchat have made a lot of changes. The latest one, Shoppable lenses, allows advertisers to place a Lens in a users’ feed with three calls to action options: Buy Now, Install Now (for apps) or Watch Now (for game or movie trailers). Previous ad formats have allowed advertisers to place ads in Stories and to sponsor lenses, but this takes the platform to a new level in terms of driving user action. Snapchat still suffers from being difficult to access for smaller organisations, and whether they’ll solve this issue (or even want to solve the issue) is another matter. Some more info at Mashable.

View last week’s update.

 

 

 

We took a cheeky day off last week to allow more time for dairy-free chocolate eggs, but we’re back in action now, so let’s hop to it…

1. Facebook shuts down Partner Categories

Behind the scenes at Facebook, there are different ways to target your audiences. The most basic is based on what users do within Facebook – if you target “dog lovers”, for example, they’re users who have liked other pages about dogs. However, Facebook also allows you to target based on third party data, such as from Experian. A lot of this data relates to purchases and buying history, for example, luxury purchasers, or charitable donors. Seedling works in this sector, and “gives to charity” is a useful, albeit intrusive, targeting technique to find new audiences. Facebook has made the move to try to regain some ground after trust in their privacy and consumer data hit an all time low. These options will be “winding down over the next six months“.

2. AdWords updates Keyword Planner

In line with the new version of AdWords, Google has now updated Keyword Planner. Visually, it feels a bit like Google Trends, which isn’t a bad thing. One benefit is that getting that top level forecast is quicker and easier, but there are mixed reviews – you can no longer download data on a month-by-month level. This a really useful feature I’ve used before when building forecast models. So, like the new AdWords itself, reactions are mixed. More info at SEORoundtable.

3. Business Descriptions in Google My Business

Standing out in local search is still a source of frustration for many local businesses. Now you can add “business descriptions” in your Google Business profile to help. For now, any keywords appearing in this description don’t appear to help you be discovered for generic queries though. Google suggests your descriptions should focus on your business’ history, and what sets you apart from competitors. I’m using it to list features and services. Info at Google.

Missed the last weekly round up? Find it here.

 

There’s only really been one story in the digital marketing news, as well as general news this week: Cambridge Analytica.  However, there have been other developments that it’s worth checking in with. And I guess we’ll give a nod to the CA story.

1. Google Mobile Speed Update is on Schedule for July

While the Mobile Speed Update was announced in January so isn’t technically this week’s news, Google confirmed this week it’s still on track to roll out in July. This update to the algorithm will focus specifically on mobile pagespeed. Pages that are slow to load will likely see a drop in rankings. This confirmation is significant, seeing as the Mobile First Index has seen multiple delays in rolling out. The update will only affect “a small percentage of queries”, but all sites are encouraged to check their mobile pagespeeds and get to work now. More about the update and tools to help.

2. AdWords launches Shopping actions

Some might see this as a continuation of Google creeping its way in to every aspect of your life. Quick background: Google Express is a function within Google that allows users to search for a product and purchase it directly in Google Search results – bypassing the need to visit your site at all. Shopping Actions is a trial that Google have been working on with some US retailers like Target, allowing them to bid on a cost-per-sale basis for relevant searches, based on purchasing the products within Google Express.

This update is to help advertisers make the most of this improved user flow, integrating voice search, saved payment details and instant checkouts for users, supposedly making their lives easier.  Here’s Google’s take on it. The losers to this new flow are likely to be retailers who rely on impulse purchases or glossy editorial style photography (i.e. actual website visits) to sell. In addition, retailers who rely on upsells and cross sells at basket stage on their sites will likely see a drop in revenue if this shopping behaviour becomes the norm. No doubt Google will create their own tools for this at some point in the future.

3. We Should Mention Cambridge Analytica

So far we’ve seen a whole lot of outrage and not a lot of action. Keeping it digital marketing focussed and not politically focussed, there are two issues under question. The first issue is Facebook’s reputation being severely tarnished due to its failure to protect user data (especially with GDPR looming…) Mozilla have been the first to pull their advertising, but unlike in the recent YouTube scandal, there hasn’t been a stampede of other advertisers following suit. The second issue under question is the way that users can be so psychologically targeted, based on fears, anxieties and other personality traits. However, Facebook aren’t the only platform to target in this way, with most programmatic advertising platforms openly discussing these technologies. This is a great example of technology moving much faster than legislation, or even informed debate, and we’re likely to see more and more debate of this nature being sparked – which can only be a good thing.

Bonus story: Zero Results Follow Up

Following on from last week’s controversial announcement on Zero results search – Google have now ended the experiment:

Hello readers old and new – and what a week it’s been, both in and outside digital marketing. But let’s cut to the chase, your 90 seconds starts now:

1. Google delivers a zero results search results page (shock horror)

This news has had the SEO world in a frenzy. Traditionally, Google delivers 10 organic results for a search query (commonly called “10 blue links”). However, this has been dying for a while now, with News articles, Map results etc. all making the results page more complex. Now for the first time, for a very small number of queries that have a single definitive answer, e.g. what time is it, Google is experimenting with delivering only that single definitive answer, and not 10 links to other pages about the answer.

Moz have written about this in pretty great detail – the consensus is, this has been coming for a while, and if your business depends on receiving traffic from what time is it queries, or maths calculations or metric/imperial conversions… it’s time to change your strategy.

2. YouTube launches more targeting options

YouTube is still one of the most underused channels I see. Its power in storytelling, creating emotion, informing and educating is unparalleled in digital marketing. Plus, it’s currently pretty cheap (especially considering Facebook’s costs continue to rise). This week Google announced an exciting new targeting method: Custom Intent Audiences. This basically means you can reach users in YouTube who have performed specific searches in Google search recently. So let’s say you want to reach users interested in finding out more about social housing, animal conservation, or how to go vegan. Now you can target those users with video ads in YouTube. This is an exciting development for bridging that gap between top of the funnel, wide reach, less targeted campaigns and bottom of the funnel, high intent targeting.

More info at Search Marketing Land.

3. Google confirms core algorithm update

This feels like minor news after the “zero results” debacle, but some sites have seen fluctuations in their organic traffic recently and now Google has confirmed it: there was a “broad, core algorithm update” rolled out week of 5 March. It wasn’t aimed to fix a specific problem like some updates that focus on rewarding good content, or mobile performance, for example. Sites that have seen drops have been given no advice on “fixing” these losses. But at least you know own you’re not the only one. Limited details but a longer version of this story is available at SEO Roundtable.

Hello!

Unless you were under a rock this week, you’ll know it has been International Women’s Day. To celebrate/highlight ongoing issues in the tech sector, our good friends over at TechForGoodLive have done an excellent podcast on female experiences in tech . And for anyone worried about when’s International Men’s Day, Richard Herring has your answer.  PS It’s November 19th.

Aside from that entertainment, here’s the stories you need-to-know-but-might-have-missed.

Evidence that Facebook’s Algorithm Update has increased advertising costs

It’s what everyone expected, and now it’s confirmed. With the reduction of page content in users’ newsfeeds, fewer ad impressions are available to buy, and so the cost has gone up. See this chart below mapping the change, courtesy of Recode:

 

Facebook impression costs

There are a lot of other factors at play, as the number of advertisers has continued to grow anyway, even without this algorithm change. But it certainly looks like what was foretold has come to pass.

 

Google My Business creates “Woman Led” attribute in Maps

The day before International Women’s Day, Google announced a new attribute that local businesses could add – “Women led”. One of Seedling’s clients is Siren Asylum, a female only gym and fitness studio, so for them it’s perfect to stand out when potential new customers are browsing Maps results. How many other businesses this will be relevant or advantageous for, I’m not sure. More info on how to set up here.

 

Twitter investigating ways to verify all accounts

You’ve seen that little blue tick against celebrities’ Twitter accounts to confirm they’re the real deal? Twitter have confirmed they’re looking for a scalable way to roll this out to all users, likely due to issues with hate speech and bots that has often made the platform a frustrating place to communicate. What this means for popular “character” accounts like @SICKOFWOLVES or @Queen_UK remains to be seen. It doesn’t sound like this is likely to roll out any time soon, as no details have been confirmed. More info.

 

 

 

Welcome! It may not feel like it, but it’s now meteorological springtime. If you’ve had a busy week hiding from the snow and not managed to catch the biggest digital marketing news of the week – never fear! Here’s a quick round up of the most important updates that you may have missed.

1. Google launches two new tools to help organic search performance

With site speed so critical in reducing bounce rate and improving conversion rate, Google has launched two new tools: the Mobile Speed Scorecard and Impact Calculator.

Mobile Speed Scorecard is a super quick and easy tool that allows you to compare your site speed against competitors, to see how you stack up. The Impact Calculator estimates how much revenue you could be losing based on a slow site speed. You need to input your average monthly visitors, estimated average order value and current conversion rate. Great for building a business case and getting site speed to the top of your dev queue. You can access both tools here.

2. Facebook ends its double newsfeed test

You may have heard a few months ago how Facebook was splitting its newsfeed in two, a normal newsfeed focused on friends and family, and a separate newsfeed called “Explore” to house publisher content, where users would have to actively click to access. Armageddon would surely ensue, and no user would ever see any publisher content again ever. The test ran in six different countries, but user feedback wasn’t positive – they didn’t find that it helped them “connect more with friends and family” as was Facebook’s stated goal. Facebook have ended the test and admitted, “People don’t want two separate feeds”. The most recent algorithm update has ended up superseding what they were aiming for with that test anyway. Mashable has more info.

3. Snapchat rallies after an awkward week

First with Kylie Jenner’s tweet “sooo does anyone else not open Snapchat anymore” wiping £1.3 billion off its market value, then with an extremely unpopular interface update, it seemed like a bad week for Snapchat. However, the volume of complaints and discussion over its layout update appears to have stimulated an increase in downloads… possibly to see what all the fuss is about. According to Techcrunch, the app saw an additional 322,000 vs. the previous week. So maybe for Snapchat, any publicity is good publicity? Snapchat certainly isn’t dead yet. More info over at Techcrunch

Did you know, for eligible applicants, Google will donate up to $10,000 in paid search spend per month (around £7,500)? That could mean hundreds of additional visitors to your site, discovering your services, volunteering more time, or making more donations. Read More

Yesterday, Mark Zuckerberg announced that posts from business pages (including charities) would begin to see less visibility in the Facebook newsfeed, favouring content from friends and family instead, particularly content that is more likely to stimulate conversation. So what does this mean for small businesses and charities, many of whom are only just getting to grips with the potential of social media, and don’t have much budget? Read More

If you’re a small business, chances are, you’ve already set up a Google My Business profile. If not, stop reading this and immediately set one up. Read More

It feels like supermarkets have reached a turning point this Christmas. With seasonal ranges only on shelf for a matter of weeks, it’s the perfect time to trial new products and inform your NPD for the rest of the year. And this is exactly what we’ve seen, with an explosion of vegan and free from products on shelf. My personal favourite so far has to be the Lazy Day Vegan Tiffin Box (tastes as good as it looks). But as we sit down to feast, it’s a good time to reflect on how NOT to market to cruelty-free, ethical and vegan shoppers. Read More