How facebook wants you to waste your money

afishayRecently, I posted about how it was a waste of time to post anything in-depth directly to sites like facebook. You might think that it would be ok to do that, if you had a bottomless source of funds to pay to “boost” your posts.

It’s still a waste of time.

As things stand, people can follow or “like” you or your page on fb. About ten percent of those people will see anything you post- the site uses a specific algorhythm to prevent everyone who followed from seeing your posts. They want you to pay for that.

People following your page probably don’t realize this; they think you just rarely, or never, post. But facebook makes sure you know that you can pay them for the privilege of letting your posts get through.


I personally can’t afford to pay facebook for anything- especially can’t afford to pay them to reach the people I personally know, my friends and family and fans of my work. People who’ve already gone out of their way to add me or follow me. I could technically let each of them individually know that they have to click some obscure combination of things and  then my posts would show up- but they’re already done enough. And, since they won’t see it if I just post it to my page, the only way to tell them would be to message them all individually- something facebook doesn’t allow. Mass messages there are limited too.

Since I have no money for this, it wasn’t until a kindly anonymous benefactor offered to “boost” several posts for me that I was able to write about it.

Here is a post that I boosted. I boosted it on my fanpage; it’s a link I posted there to my horror coloring book (which you should go check out)

I boosted it for $13, over two days. I limited it to four countries (US, UK, Canada and Australia) and to people interested in “horror, horror movies, cryptids”. The dropdown claimed it could reach between 12,000 and 17,000 people. Considering the site’s history of ripping people off as much as possible, I assumed correctly that my post would only ever reach the lowest number they gave.


So let’s see what my precious $13 bought me. 13,737 views- that’s how many newsfeeds this was on.  That isn’t how many people looked at it- just how many times it showed up in a feed. Out of that many views, 33 clicks. 9 likes. 2 shares.

I paid a little more than a dollar per like or share.

This is incredibly shitty return on a post that could easily have been seen by all 1,637 of my actual fans for free. I’d rather have 1600 people that followed my work on purpose see a post, than 13,000 strangers who are completely uninterested. See, the basic wisdom of advertising is that you target your ads to your audience. I am not some big national brand or corporation, so my work has its own specific audience. And a lot of that audience followed my page or added me on facebook already- because they wanted to see what I post. The fact that facebook is blocking that intentionally, means that this sorry solution is all we have.


The only other option is to post to your personal page, then promote that post. I’m using the rest of my experimental ad money for this. (I’m not going to review the ads you can create for facebook, as those are for buying page followers- and that is pretty useless, since facebook won’t show your posts to the new followers you paid for)

When you promote a post from a personal page, it doesn’t show up in any new places it wouldn’t have if facebook hadn’t prevented your friends from seeing it in the first place. This seven bucks just makes them stop hiding you, for a day, for that one post. They don’t guarantee that, either- they just say that it will “probably reach more of your friends” and that it will also be marked as “sponsored”. So now all the people who went out of their way to follow your page, don’t ever see your page- just what look like ads from you.

There’s no way to see who the 13,000 people were who simply saw the page and did nothing. For all I know, 12,999 fake profiles were shown the ad, and facebook paid some infinitesmal percentage of a penny to some impoverished workers in India to build fake profiles and open them every day. For all I know, they didn’t even bother with that much- they just said “probably will get seen by”- no guarantees.

In short, the ads don’t help, and you can’t trust facebook to begin with.

Now, other people have explained why the cost-per-click for stuff on facebook is insanely high. And others have explained why facebook LOVES hiding your content. It makes you tempted to pay them. And what do we get? Fake profiles. Facebook seems to have a huge network of fake profiles which “view” your ad, or click it, to use up your money faster. This shows your ad to far less actual interested human beings, and nabs them a little extra money each time someone gives in to temptation.


As you can see, for the day I sponsored and boosted, the most views on any post I made…wait, they were on one I didn’t promote at all. Just a simple post that I wrote and posted, that got autoposted over to facebook. Almost half of those views are from facebook. They’re natural. The people that followed me there are actually interested in seeing what I post- the paid boosts do almost nothing for follow-through.

Let’s check that post out.


Only 93 of my 1600 fans even saw this, but it already has ten times the likes, shares, and click throughs as the one I paid for.

There are a big handful of reasons I no longer engage in discussion or directly post to facebook, but the unnatural restriction on who sees my posts, combined with the fake moneymaker profiles they’re using to game the ads to get more money, are the two biggest.

Facebook thrives because people like me, who write and draw and create content, post our work there. If they are going to suck us dry, the least we can do is let them become a desert. Post your work- written or visual or audio- to your own site, and merely share the links on facebook (or any other social network site)

(more about this can be found here:

I’ve spent time checking out the profiles for a lot of these users, and while there are a few legitimate users in this list, we also received a large amount of Likes from profiles in Malaysia and Thailand, many with no connection to digital marketing, and alarmingly, many appeared to be fake profiles.

Now, I’m a big fan of triple-checking everything, as things on Facebook are rarely what they seem, but if this is indeed the case, then we’re left with a problem. At this point it seems that either:

  • Facebook’s targeting is utterly, irredeemably borked, or
  • Something far worse: that promoted post interactions are falsely buoyed by fake profiles.

I’m not about to pit myself against the legal department of one of the world’s largest companies here, but this does have some disturbing implications if Facebook is serious about building an ad network.

Incidentally, I’ve also seen several posts on various forums recently (including our own) saying that geo-targeting options have disappeared for some users, and again, that promoted posts have been overwhelmed by users from Indonesia, so it seems I’m not alone in this.

This has also affected our publically displayed Likes figure – with Bangkok now being our ‘most popular city’ –previously this was London, followed by New York:)

If you want to check out some real talk, look at their stats- they’re incredibly popular in bangkok, but nobody from bangkok has ever clicked through to their site.