The question we get asked on a regular basis is, “How much should I spend on Facebook promotion?” This is akin to asking, “How much should I eat?” or “How much should a hotel room in NYC cost?”
Obviously, the answer is, “It depends” – but that doesn’t help you plan, does it? So we’d like to help you think through how to budget your Facebook promotion dollars, either for a single post, a campaign, or an entire year.
As you no doubt know, Facebook is not the place to get your message into the world to a million people for free. Even a viral sensation like “What color is this dress?” was not 100% organic, in that it got a huge push from one of the biggest publishers on the web to initially get seen by tens of thousands before it began its stratospheric rise.
Facebook is a media channel almost like any other. You pay to get your message seen and/or clicked on. Facebook is different in that it has a huge amount of collected and self-reported data about people (what their favorite TV shows are, what they studied in college, if they are cat or dog people, etc.), but it is still pay per click.
When you post to Facebook, only 1-3% of all your followers will see your post. If you want to reach more, you need to put money behind it. So let’s try to answer the “How much money?” question.
Step One: Audience size
The first thing you need to decide is how many people you want to reach. Unlike banner ads of old, costs are based on a per-click basis. So if you have ten people click from Facebook to your career site and one applies, the question is: how many people do you want to apply? Take that number, multiply it by ten, and you know how many clicks you need to buy.
But of course, it’s not easy to know that you need ten clicks to get one application. Facebook tends to work best as a means of supporting research in a company rather than as a means to attract applications. Social clicks tend to still be pretty high up in the funnel, so there’s usually a fairly low conversion rate.
Please note that in no way does this have anything to do with reach, engagement rates or impressions. If you are going to promote something online versus radio and billboards, you are promoting something with a direct call to action. Phrases like “click here for more” or “click to apply” are clear calls to action that radio can’t supply. Radio and billboards and most TV ads in prime time are brand marketing, which rely on showing you an ad a dozen times before you take action. Brand marketing relies on terms like impressions and reach, whereas direct requests for action like you are making should only focus on how many people took action. While there is value in these ideas for your organic posts, your focus should be exclusively on clicks for your promoted posts.
Step One A: Audience targeting
Your goal is to make sure that you are getting clicks from people who matter to you. This is where targeting plays such an important role.
If you post a pharmacy job to all people on Facebook, the vast majority of your viewers will not have pharmacy experience, will be either too junior or too senior to apply for the role, or just not won’t live close enough to bother applying. You might assume that this doesn’t matter, because only people who are interested in that kind of pharmacy role will click.
That’s not 100% true, as a huge number of people click accidentally on ads. This means you will be paying money to attract people you simply can’t hire.
On top of that, by ignoring targeting, you are competing with everyone for the view. For example, if you don’t target your ad, you might be competing with lawyers and real estate agents (notoriously high-spending ad buyers because it is hard to distinguish between any two lawyers or real estate agents). These people might be spending two to four times as much as you are per click.
So you need to focus your targets on those most likely to be good fits within your company. Otherwise, you’ll be spending money to reach people you can’t convert.
Good targeting means that you will need eight clicks to get an application instead of twelve or fifteen. That’s a clear business case for targeting.
Step Two: Does this audience know you?
Once you know how many people to reach and who they are, you need to know if these people already know you.
For a long time, Facebook convinced us that the best way to use Facebook was to spend money on ads to get people to follow you. Then, you could talk to them all you wanted for free. Of course, that didn’t happen, and Facebook started to throttle how many followers your posts would reach organically. Others can argue whether this constitutes “bait and switch,” but the reality is that you have to pay to reach most of your followers.
The only way that followers matter is that it is cheaper to reach people who follow you. In our experience, we assume a rough cost per click of existing followers within the $0.50-$1.50 range. This is a lot cheaper than the estimate of $1.50-$3.00 per click to reach brand-new audiences.
So if you need to get 100 clicks for your message and they come from your follower base, you can anticipate a budget of $100, give or take. If you need to get 100 clicks from people you have no connection with, you can expect to pay $250 to $300 for the same number.
Of course, if an audience already knows you, you don’t have to explain who you are. Your call to action can be more direct. For an audience who may not have a clear understanding of your employer brand, you will likely have to define it for them before you can pitch them on a job. This means that reaching this audience and getting the click isn’t the end of the story. You’ll need to keep talking to them in order to move them down the funnel.
These are the two and a half factors that go into determining a Facebook promotional budget. We’ve seen success with small $50 budgets against a tightly focused audience and precise call to action, and budgets in the three figures grow brand awareness and drive massive seasonal hiring. But these rules will help you decide what kind of budget scope you need to achieve your goals.
Special Thanks to Anita Brown, Matt Rodgers, Brittany Galia, Stephen Chambers, Gianna Sutley, Carly Petertyl and Melinda Benoit of TMP Worldwide in Chicago for strategic and technical thinking behind this article.