Should You Pay to Play on Facebook?

The jig is up, Facebook.Facebook "like" icon with a dollar sign and question mark inside.

You’re probably aware by now that Facebook has decreased pages’ organic reach to only 10%. (For all of us non-math majors out there, that means only 10 out of every 100 people are guaranteed to see your page’s content in their newsfeed.)

Does anyone else feel their hearts breaking?

Just like a billboard or magazine ad, Facebook is becoming a marketing tool that organizations will have to start paying for if they want their content seen by their audiences. Unlike a billboard or magazine ad, Facebook marketing is still (thankfully) inexpensive, especially for small businesses/departments.

Why the extreme change in organic reach?

Easy. At the end of the day, Facebook is trying to create the best experience for its users by placing only the most important, relevant content in a user’s newsfeed.

And because they like seeing us in pain.


Kind of.

How does Facebook decide what content is most important to a user?

…And we’re moving right along.


Actually, hundreds of algorithms and factors go into what Facebook decides is the most important/relevant information for you personally. It’s like your S/O stalking your entire life to figure out what to get you for Valentine’s Day — it’s a little creepy and kind of sweet.

How do you know if you should try paying to play?

Answer this question: Does your organization/department have the budget? If your team can spare $10-15, why not? Make like Drake and YOLO. (I can’t be sorry for my outdated, annoying Twitter fads.)

Like I mentioned, Facebook can be used as inexpensive marketing with BIG returns. Below is an example of a post we recently boosted on the Veterinary Teaching Hospital’s Facebook page. We boosted the post by $40.00 and saw a return of an additional 29,000 people reached.

Chart showing the impact of a boosted post.

Why did we boost the post? This post announced the largest cash donation ($42.5 million) in CSU history. We felt the news was important for our friends and fans on social media to know about. We also knew this would be of interest to audiences outside of our Facebook fans, so we made sure to also target animal lovers and organizations beyond our own page.

What type of content should you promote?

So you have a budget. Don’t promote just any content. (Even though we all know that cat Vine is tempting…) Work with your team to figure out:

  • What information will be most helpful for your audience?
  • What content will align with your organization’s goals?
  • Are you trying to get more fans to go to your website?
  • Is targeting a specific audience important?
  • Is the audience you’re targeting using Facebook?

These are just to get you started. A strategy should follow.

Should I boost a post or promote it?

Here’s a quick explanation:

Boosting a post is a quick and easy way for your post to reach a larger audience over a specified amount of time.

Promoting is the same concept as boosting a post, but offers more targeting, pricing, and bidding options. This gives you more control over who sees your ad and how you pay for it.

There are lots of opinions on which is better. In my personal opinion, I’ve had success both boosting and promoting posts.

Learn more about the differences between boosting and promoting posts in this Social Media Examiner article.

Something to be aware of

When you pay to boost a post, you’ll notice your page’s engagement levels drop lower than normal for the next day or two. Make sure when you promote a post, you aren’t following it with equally important content the next day.

When should you start a like campaign?

Facebook "like" icon with a dollar sign and question mark inside.General rule of thumb: Don’t start a like campaign unless you have really rich content on your page that day/week.

The number of “likes” you have looks good to a lot of those “higher-ups,” but if you aren’t engaging your fans with your content, then the number of likes your page has is just that: a number. Remember, it’s more important to have people engaging with your page than it is to have millions of fans.


There’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to paying to play on Facebook.

What matters is determining whether putting money toward your organization’s social media channels will be beneficial to your organization and your clients/audience or not.