Like, now. If you have a boosted post going on Facebook, go stop it, then come back to this article.

An image of Admiral Ackbar, with the quote "It's a Trap!" beside it. The title reads "Stop boosting facebook posts"

Listen: we’ve been there and done it ourselves. We understand. You added a great little organic post (that’s something you post without paying) to Facebook, some of your audience shared and commented on it, and it’s getting some real traction. You’re short on time (always!) and between the thirty other nagging to-do’s on your list, you could just click the little “Boost Post” button and move on.

But you really, really shouldn’t, and here’s why.

In Short: Your Boosted Post Should be an Ad

So often, we see organizations and individuals confuse a Facebook marketing strategy with what is actually just boosting posts. There is a difference between setting up a Facebook for Business account, going into Ads Manager, and creating an ad, and just clicking “boost post” on posts you write.

Here’s what taking the time to make an ad can get you that a boosted post can’t:

1. You can target the best audience for your message

Facebook Ads offer additional options in audience targeting, pricing mechanisms, and more. You gain significantly more control over almost every aspect of your promotion. You don’t just want a bunch of people to see your post. You want the people who are most likely engage deeply with your brand to see your post. While boosting a post will allow you to drill down on your audiences (for example, arts lovers in your geographic area), it won’t let you exclude audiences. So you might have a post intended to get people to sign up for your newsletter that is being shown to people who are already signed up for your newsletter. That’s money wasted.

Boosting posts also won’t let you get hyper-specific in acquiring new audiences the way Ads can. One example of a powerful tool available to you in ads is the ability to import your newsletter email list and to create a Lookalike Audience from it (that’s an audience that is not the audience you shared, but one that shares its attributes as determined by Facebook’s robotic sorcery). That means you’re reaching people who have a high conversion rate (who don’t currently interact with you but are highly likely to based on their attributes).

Smartphone Showing Facebook Application

2. It will look better

With a Facebook Ad, you get a preview of the placement on all devices (Facebook Stories, Marketplace Ads, etc.) and can edit the words and images to suit each placement individually. With a boosted post, you can see what they all look like, but you can’t edit them directly. This is yet another reason you’re less likely to resonate with the audience who sees it - your words or images might be cut off, you'll sacrifice a portion of your intended message, and you’ll look cheaper than you would otherwise.

3. You’ll get more detailed, meaningful data over time

Facebook ads will visualize your data via charts and graphs. The information is more detailed and organized than what you’ll find from boosting posts. Better yet, the dashboard will store this information, making it easily accessible for anyone who gets the keys to that account in the future. This is particularly important if you have turnover in your staff; if you onboard a new marketing role, you’ll have a convenient dashboard with context of what works and doesn’t work for your specific organization. (That’s more money saved!)

Silver Imac Displaying Line Graph Placed on Desk

4. You can A/B test

Say you have two photos and you’re not sure which is more compelling. With a boosted post you have to take your best guess and you’ll never really know which one would have done better. Sure, you can post the other photo later, but the conditions won’t be the same and your results will be tainted by the previous post. With Facebook Ads you can take the guesswork out of advertising by running an experiment that tests 2 or more variables (like the description, headline, audience, or creative). You’ll put down a small spend to test your theory, and then put the larger investment behind the winner. You’ll walk away from the test knowing more about your audience and what resonates with them, and you’ll save money by not investing in underperforming ads.

5. It’s just a better use of your limited marketing dollars

If you’re working with an already-constrained marketing budget, the last thing you want to do is waste any of it. The next time you get the urge to click that shiny “boost post” button, revisit this article and remind yourself that with a few extra steps, you can save money, reduce the loss in institutional knowledge when you have marketing turnover at your organization, reach more people who are more likely to engage with your brand, and get meaningful, automatic reports out of it.

Feeling overwhelmed?

Wish you could just throw your marketing budget up in the air and have it rain down on you as data-driven, wisely-allocated marketing decisions that grow your audience and engagement? Whether you need a second eye on something before you push go, an ongoing coach to meet with you every other week to review your plans and make strategic suggestions, or a team to tackle all your marketing goals and give you ongoing, comprehensive reports, we can help. Check out our services page and schedule a free 30 minute consultation to get started.

Get practical tips for your toughest tasks, hookups for arts and nonprofit opportunities, and more blog content like this by subscribing to our semi-monthly Workhorse newsletter here.

Online events We're actually excited about

When Covid-19 first hit I was starving for content - any content.

I flocked to Zoom trivia, played virtual games, and eagerly watched my favorite entertainers attempt to livestream their performances (without the help of their production crew). In those early days, I embraced every tired webinar, every boring online lecture, and every virtual event no matter how lame. I was home alone with a one-year-old and I was desperately clinging to any scrap of adult interaction I could get.

Now it’s 8 months later, and although the novelty of digital events has worn off, the virus hasn’t. So if you’re like me and you’re looking for some truly unique and exciting online events, you've come to the right place.

The Highland Adventure

I found this little gem on No Proscenium: The Guide to Everything Immersive while perusing their reviews on online immersive experiences. The Highland Adventure (which received a rave review from No Pro by the way) is an interactive role-playing game that takes place in the Scottish Highlands. You and 9 of your friends embark on an adventure that progresses based on the decisions you make and the roll of a dice. (Think Zoom Dungeons & Dragons meets Outlander.) Online immersive experiences are always risky, but with a thumbs up from No Proscenium and a price tag coming out to just $10 a head I think it’s worth a try.

The Deets: / Ongoing private appointments / $100 per group of 10 / Book it

Handmade Arcade Virtual Marketplace

Before I tell you about this next event, I should disclose that Handmade Arcade is a Workhorse client and I am currently handling the marketing for the virtual marketplace. With that bias aside, this event is legitimately exciting! I’ve been an avid fan of Handmade’s annual winter conventions for years and this virtual version does everything possible to preserve the fun and excitement of the in-person event. With live demonstrations, craft classes, and Meet the Maker Q & A’s, the marketplace will feature 9 days of free, interactive events. Also, SHOPPING! The marketplace will feature over 130 regional artists with products ranging from colorful cat-themed underwear to repurposed wood decor.

The Deets:

Handmade Arcade / November 28- December 6, 2020 / Free! / Learn more

Womb Werk Yoga

As someone who hates exercise, I am strangely excited about this class, which focuses on “pelvic floor toning, twerking, and gentle yoga movement to invite strength into your body, laughter into your lungs, and healing in your hips.” This is something I might not attempt in public, but would happily explore in the comfort and privacy of my own home. Womb Werk Yoga is one of two ongoing virtual yoga classes run by YOGAMOTIF (the other one is prenatal yoga so if you’re pregnant, check it out!). It's a Pittsburgh-based studio that focuses on prenatal and art-based yoga with a creative flair and an eye towards healing versus “getting fit.”

The Deets:

YOGAMOTIF / November 10, 2020 / $12 / Book it

Brushes & Birds Virtual Art Class

Our family really enjoys visiting the National Aviary (especially my daughter) so I was excited to see they are offering virtual events via Zoom. The Aviary’s Brushes and Birds Class is directed by local Pittsburgh artist Maria DeSimone Prascak, and is suitable for all skill levels according to the event description. December’s edition features the African Penguin, my favorite bird (are they really birds?) at the Aviary. The event description says participants will get a ”behind-the-scenes look into each animal species” and I will be sorely disappointed if this does not take the form of a live zoom call with an actual penguin.

The Deets:

The National Aviary / December 19, 2020 / $25 / Book it

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

In case you're still struggling to get into the idea of Zoom events but are happily bingeing series after series at home, mark your calendar for the December release of this Netflix movie. Ma Rainey's Black Bottom is an August Wilson story (a Pittsburgh-based playwright from the Hill District whose name is on the August Wilson Center for African American Cultural Center downtown). The movie features Viola Davis and the late Chadwick Boseman, and last summer the film transformed Pittsburgh's North Side, where it was filmed, into 1927 Chicago.

The Deets:

Netflix / December 18, 2020 / Free with subscription (free trial available) / View Trailer

Have an exciting digital event coming up that you're excited about? We want to hear about it! Leave us a note below or drop it into our Contact Form.

Get practical tips for your toughest tasks, hookups for arts and nonprofit opportunities, and more blog content like this by subscribing to our semi-monthly Workhorse newsletter here.

Six easy and effective ways to make your news feed a less miserable place to be.

I think about cutting the cord on Facebook a lot. My anxiety would go down. I would have more privacy. I wouldn’t have to look at ads hawking facials for my butt cheeks anymore.

But there are a few reasons I just can't quit the juice: it’s the easiest way to stay connected to my friends and organizations I care about, it’s where I get the skinny on things I wouldn’t know about otherwise (like the last-known location of my neighborhood's suspected rabid raccoon), and (the biggest hurdle): I’m a marketer - I have to be on there for work.

I’ve accepted, for now, that Facebook is a necessary evil for me and have become increasingly interested in how I can make it suck less. (Alas, surely, it shall always suck.) Whether you take ten minutes now and apply these tips or keep them in mind to employ the next time you're mindlessly scrolling, here are six easy and effective ways to make your feed a less miserable place to be.

1. Unfollow instead of unfriending

Some humans continue to follow people and content that make them frustrated on a regular basis because they don’t want anyone to notice they’ve unfriended them. There’s an easy fix for this: unfollow them instead. You’ll remain friends, they’ll continue to see your content (which might be one of the only differences in perspective they get in their feed - more about that in #4), and you can still visit their profile and feed anytime you’d like - but their posts will no longer be randomly inserted into your scrolling adventure. The next time you see a post that reminds you how much you always hate to see content from a particular jagoff, click the three dots at the top right side of the post and click “Unfollow jagoff”

2. Try Snoozing and Hiding content

Unfollowing might still be too drastic for you. Maybe you’d just like a short break, or to see content from a person less often. You can take both of these magical steps by clicking the same three dots on the top right side of a post. If you select “Snooze for 30 Days,” you’ll get a break from content posted by that person for a full month. Usually, when they come back into your feed after that, you’ll know if you missed hearing from them or it’s time to unfollow them altogether. If you just want to see less from that person, try clicking “Hide Post” - a new option should appear that allows you to select to “See Less” from that poster, leaving room for more of the content you actually want.

A harsh blue light illuminates a hand giving a thumbs up sign against a pink and peach gradient background. Above the thumbs up, the quote "Follow people who post content that makes you uneasy"

3. Follow the organizations, groups, and causes you care about

Now that you’ve dumped some dead weight from your news feed, start following content you actually want to get. If you have favorite organizations, causes, or thought leaders, make sure you enter them into the search bar to find and follow them. Your feed can be full of articles and information straight from the sources you care about. Want to laugh more? Get more independent news? Know what your favorite nonprofit is doing? You can follow all of that and more. You’re the curator of your feed; make it something fulfilling and useful.

4. Follow people who are drastically different than you

At the 2019 Inclusive Innovation Summit, I was given a piece of advice that continually challenges my perspectives and broke me out of my own echo chamber: follow people whose identities, locations, lives, ambitions, work sectors are completely unlike yours. You are moderately in control of who is allowed in your feed, and you have the ability to show yourself content that you don’t see in mainstream media or around your neighborhood. Follow people who have a job you would never dream of trying. Follow people who you find suspicious or off-putting. Follow people who post content that makes you uneasy. Follow perspectives you don’t hear represented in conversations with your friends. Make sure you add people who don’t have your skin color, your geographic location, your level of income, your level of physical ability. It will make you smarter, more empathetic, more culturally competent, and a generally radder person.

5. Make Facebook prioritize content you actually want to see

Some time ago, I realized I had a lot of content in my feed from people I barely talk to, but had no idea what my best friend had posted. Sure, I still want to stay connected to my friends from high school, but I don't really care what they did last weekend. My best friend, however? Show me the box of macaroni they just downed for their dinner: I’m here for it. You can fix this by clicking the drop down menu on the top right corner of the Facebook window. Click on “Settings and Privacy” and navigate to your “News Feed Preferences.” Here’s a handy tool called “See First” that lets you put a star beside the posters you want to see content from at the top of your page. This is where you want to take time to mark the organizations and people you are about most so that every time you start scrolling, you see the things you want to see first.

6. Turn mindless scrolling into mindful scrolling

I find the best way to make these changes is to pay attention to how I feel while I’m scrolling. If a post is beneficial to my day, I make sure I’m prioritizing content from that poster. If a post is a real drag (and a lot of that poster’s content tends to be a drag), I’ll stop scrolling and Snooze, Hide, or Unfollow right there on the spot. If you curate as you go, you’ll have a news feed that feels more personal and more helpful in just a few days. Finally, if you’re the kind of person who sits down to browse and comes out of a fog 2 hours later, it might be time to set a timer for yourself. In “Settings and Privacy”, you can select a daily time reminder so that Facebook lets you know when you’ve been staring endlessly into the void longer than you’d like. This feature also comes native to some phones (and lets you put timers and restrictions on each individual app). Take your time back and consider using it to take a walk or stare at your pet, or read an old school paperback like back in the old days. Your mental health will be better for it.

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