You Can Have Free Exposure For Your Business on Facebook, But There Is One Catch


You Can Have Free Exposure For Your Business on Facebook, But There Is One Catch

I come across so many people who still think social media should be free advertising for their business. They lament it a lot … on social media. They know they have to pay, but people are always looking for that way to game the system to still get it for free.  I have the answer and it works every time.

The good news is you don’t have to analyse the best time of day to post, or the best day for that matter. You don’t have to make snappy photo quotes, or content schedules, or anything that’s particularly onerous. But before I give you the answer, you need to understand how Facebook works.

When Facebook invited me to their Australian HQ I had a really interesting chat with the boss of the region. I asked him why really good ads were cheaper than really bad ones. Surely the auction system that it employs would mean the advertiser with the deeper pockets would win. His response made a lot of sense to me.

Basically, they know that if ads are irrelevant to people, eventually they’ll just switch off to them and possibly the whole platform. So while it may seem like a great idea to take the cash, to keep the whole thing sustainable, the best ad for the person needs to be seen. Facebook rewards good ads by showing it to more people, thus having a bigger impact and getting more value for your money.

That’s great in theory, but did they actually practise what they preach? I had to devise a Facebook litmus test to work this out. So here’s what I did.

  1. Pick an account that had free (organic) posts and also paid posts for a period longer than a year
  2. Separate all the organic posts (ie remove boosted post results)
  3. Create a spreadsheet with each post’s date, reach, and actions
  4. Pick a graph that would easily show the trend

I really like this as a litmus test because we all know that Facebook won’t show a free post to anyone unless you either pay for it, or they think someone will really want to see it. By choosing to graph only the organic posts reach, when it’s consistently high, Facebook thinks you’re hot. When it’s low, Facebook thinks you’re not.

Luckily I have a lot of clients data to choose from, and this what the litmus test looks like for one of them:


This client runs seminar type events throughout the year. The goal of the ads is to put bums on seats. For the period’s 1 and 2 the client was running campaigns themselves. I took over in period 3 and handed it back for period 4. It’s an interesting picture.

Period 1

While the client was doing their own ads, they didn’t have an event on in this period, so they weren’t doing any paid posts.  What we can see is that Facebook isn’t really showing their organic posts to anyone.  It doesn’t think they’re hot for the fans.

Period 2

There are a lot of events in this period, and the client does a combination of boost posts and manual paid posts.  We can clearly see that by getting the word out there, Facebook has found them to be hotter and the organic posts are starting to be shown to the fans generally a lot more.

The nature of the posts are direct selling.  “Here’s our event, click here” sort of thing.  It never breaks the 1500 people reached ceiling.

Period 3

We can see clearly that reach shoots up to 1500 and then never falls below it as it trends higher over the period.  The nature of the ads that  were running in this period was to attract people with great content, then direct sell to those who were reading with our “Here’s our event, click here” posts.

Period 4

We handed the account back over to the client.  The trend falls over and the organic posts are rarely to reach the ceiling again.

What we can all learn from this is that Facebook definitely will share your organic posts for free.  I see it over and over again with my clients.

The catch is that you have to prove that people like what you have to say first.  That means stop selling directly to people as your only form of talking to them.  Start softer by giving of yourself first.  Like telling stories, solving problems, being interesting.

Unfortunately, the catch means you have to pay for some people to see your great content first, and you have to think of something to write about that is interesting.  But in my experience,everyone has something about their business they’re passionate about.  Why they do it.

When you do that, Facebook will think you’re hot, you’re ads will be super cheap, and you’ll be rewarded with lots of free exposure too.

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  • Cassie Head

    Love your work Phil. Your meticulous research on behalf of business is truly appreciated. I can see that you delight in finding answers and sharing important results. You save us so much time and money. It all makes sense when you point it out and add evidence to back it up. You truly are a charitable individual. THANK YOU xx

  • Rodney Bukuya

    Great Post Phil. Thanks

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