Facebook’s new “Promoted Posts” paid advertising product gives brands the ability to promote posts and put more of their content on fans’ News Feeds. This is different from Facebook’s existing advertising products because, instead of pushing the ads to users who don’t already follow the brand as a way of eliciting Likes and traffic to a brand page, Promoted Posts are meant to serve the content to a greater percentage of the brand’s existing followers.

First a note about EdgeRank. EdgeRank is Facebook’s algorithmic formula that determines which stories and posts appear in a user’s News Feed. It is based on three main factors:

1. Affinity (between the content’s creator and the person viewing the content): Users who engage with a brand or person regularly—liking posts, commenting on photos, posting on the Timeline, etc.—have a higher affinity score than those who haven’t interacted in a while.

2. Engagement type: Think of each engagement with a Facebook post as a “vote”; however not all “votes” are equal. A comment carries more weight than a like, for example. Therefore, the more comments, likes, video views, clicks and shares that a piece of content gets, the more “votes” it gets, and the better it performs in the News Feed, being served to more users.

3. Time: The older a piece of content is, the less important it becomes as a factor in the EdgeRank calculation.

These factors combine to determine which pieces of content are served up on the News Feeds of individual users.

Facebook’s Promoted Posts product pushes content beyond EdgeRank, and allows brands to extend messaging reach to a greater percentage of people who Like the page. As well, brands are able to use this product to target members of the community based on location and language.

A page administrator can elect to promote a post before it goes live; or can promote an already-shared post no more than three days old.

This self-serve promotion tool appears directly on the Facebook post that is being edited for posting. Brands can select how much money they would like to put towards promotion, and the tool will estimate how many people will be reached by the promoted content.  If payment details have not yet been provided, Facebook will prompt the page administrator to enter the particulars.

Once the Promoted Post goes live, the page administrator can track the progress and reach of the piece of content, and also shows the cost. In users’ News Feeds, the content appears as “Sponsored”. In our research, we noted that some brands observed that they did not see a “Sponsored” disclaimer. Presumably, if the “Sponsored” message does not appear on the post, then EdgeRank had served that person the content organically; the word “Sponsored” is published on the feeds of those who wouldn’t have otherwise been served the piece of content.

This new functionality also enables real-time monitoring of how a post is performing—regardless of whether the post has been promoted or not. Page administrators are able to see how many unique people saw a post organically (on their News Feed or ticker per EdgeRank), virally (via a friend’s activity) and paid (via Promoted Posts). Additionally, the page administrator is able to see what percentage of the brand’s community has seen the post—organically and paid. These real-time results are useful to get a sense of how posts are resonating (without the delay from which Facebook Insights previously suffered).

New Facebook Admin Roles

Facebook has created five different page administration roles, each with different levels of ability to access and manipulate the Facebook Page. This is especially useful for brands and organizations that have a number of different community managers with varying responsibilities. Administration access can be changed by accessing the admin panel, clicking “Admin Roles” and then making and saving the changes.

Scheduling Posts

Facebook has enabled the ability to schedule posts. There is now a small clock icon that appears in the content sharing page. This allows the administrator to select the year, month, hour and minute (in 10-minute increments). They can be scheduled up to six months in advance. Also, if a date in the past is selected, the corresponding post will be slotted into the appropriate moment in the brand Timeline.