How Big An Audience Does Paid Post Promotion On Facebook Buy?

The impact that any single marketer achieves thanks to paid promotion of a Facebook post isn’t typically made public.

Unless that marketer is the U.S. government.

Recently, a U.S. State Department program underwent scrutiny after spending over $US630,000 on Facebook marketing over the course of two years, in a P.R. effort to attract foreign audiences to its Facebook pages and posts.

Why did the U.S. government spend so much on Facebook?

The Bureau Of International Information Programs, like many Facebook marketers, found itself having to fork over much more money after September 2012, when Facebook made changes to its algorithm, which decides the posts that show up on user news feeds. (Facebook made similar changes more recently related to “story bumping,” which mean brands have to compete with a greater number of older posts for user News Feed spots.)

In any case, the 2012 changes meant it was much less likely that the bureau’s content, like a March 2013 story on “Cyber Censorship,” would show up in user news feeds and be seen by the bureau’s fans. The bureau’s English-language pages had anywhere between 100,000 and 2 million fans.

So how much added reach did the U.S. State Department achieve when they did pay up?

In an audit of the Facebook campaign, the U.S. State Department Inspector General revealed that with paid promotion, two posts from 2013 gained a 1,000% larger audience than they would have attracted as unpaid media.

The findings reveal just how high the stakes are for content marketers are on Facebook as they try to decide whether to put dollars behind their content. If they don’t pay up, their audiences are significantly reduced.

Click here to download the dataset for this chart in Excel.

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