How effective is increasing your Facebook page following via paid ads?

Recently me and my colleague discussed a digital marketing strategy for increasing long-term organic engagement and reach on Facebook. The idea being that you can use paid advertising to increase the following on a Facebook page, which will result in better organic reach and engagement in the long-run (as those who have liked your page will now see your posts in their newsfeed).

Whilst the concept is sound, it doesn’t work as you’d expect (unfortunately).

I actually had previous experience with this strategy and thought I should share how it went, as there are others that are promoting this as an effective strategy.

What happened when I tried this strategy?

I executed this strategy when helping a client launch a new spin-off brand.

As the brand was completely new, the objective of increasing the Facebook page’s following had two objectives:

  • To increase each post’s organic reach and engagement
  • To help the brand appear more established

Over the course of the campaign I achieved around 1,130 page likes. Overall, the Facebook page now has a following of 1,195.

How much reach does this amount of followers grant you?

  • The page’s best reaching post so far this year reached 190 people.
  • Of their last 4 posts, 3 reached around 25 people and the other 1 reached 55 people.

Which means that at its best the page had reached 16% of its following, but more commonly only reaching between 1.7 – 5% of the following.

How does this compare to an organically grown following?

Another Facebook page I’ve worked on has grown an organic following of around 1,650 people.

It’s worth mentioning that we’re comparing two different industries, but both have content which I believe should achieve a similar amount of engagement from the audience.

How much reach does this amount of organic followers grant you?

  • Their best reaching post this year so far reached 5,800 people.
  • Their last 4 posts (excluding the best reaching one mentioned above) reached 540, 1,200, 1,900 and 600 people.

Which means at its best the post’s reach has exceeded the follower count of the page significantly, and the page at its worst reached around 33% of its follower count.

Why is the difference in reach so substantial?

Part of why I believe there is such a substantial difference in reach is because of how people have liked the page.

Receiving a like through paid promotion means they’ve followed the page with no prior post engagement. Whereas organically achieved likes will often be after them engaging with your posts.

Potentially (and very likely) the Facebook algorithm uses prior post engagement data to decide the likelihood of them seeing your future posts. So, if that individual has never engaged with a post prior to them liking the page, they’re unlikely to see future posts.

That does not mean that growing page likes using paid promotion is completely unjustified. For instance, you could retarget these likes with further paid promotions, whether that be for post engagement or simply for promoting services/products.

One alternative way of using paid promotion to increase page likes is through targeting post engagement (such as “post reactions) and then inviting the individuals who engage to like the page.

I’ve tried this with a couple of different pages with mixed results. It has worked and helped increase organic reach, but it also isn’t guaranteed to work and I’ve seen the additional page likes have no effect on the future posts reach.

Ultimately, though, organic page likes will always be significantly more effective than ones gained via promotion.

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