Social Media Workshop | Paid Solutions


Two of the most visible social media platforms, Facebook and Instagram, are increasing becoming “pay to play” environments. By selectively supporting social content with skillfully targeted ad spends, we can insure that our great social content continues to be seen by appropriate audiences. BCO can work with you in developing and deploying an effective social media strategy.


On Thursday, November 9th 2017, Dave Ernst, Bates’ Digital Content Specialist, hosted a Social Media Workshop as part of our Communications Community of Practice. Dave’s workshop was focused on benefits and mechanics of paid content promotions with Facebook and Instagram.

Why pay to make content more visible?

Dave started by explaining how organic reach – the visibility of standard, un-paid content – in social media is on the decline. Social media platforms, such as Facebook, are shifting users’ feeds away from displaying the content of brands (like Bates) and surfacing more content from friends and family. This shift requires brands to essentially buy ad space to ensure their content is continuing to reach their intended audiences.

How paid promotion works

Boost, Ad Manager, and Power Editor are three types of paid advertising tools within Facebook that allow users to effectively target their audience and deliver content.  Boost, “a one-time sponsored push of organic content on one’s page,” was the focus of the presentation. By using Boost to promote high-performing posts or key events, departments, programs, and offices can target their audiences using custom settings such as age, interests, location, and behavioral affinities. This audience targeting ultimately allows posts to get more visibility.

The mechanics of paid promotion

The presentation then shifted focus to Facebook’s user-friendly ad creation and analytics dashboard, Ad Manager. The structure of an ad has three phases: campaign, ad set, and the ads themselves. When selecting your campaign you are choosing your goal which can be broadly split up into three main categories: awareness, consideration, and conversion. For example, each campaign goal includes related tactics such as reach for awareness, traffic referral for consideration and form submission or event registration for a conversion.  In an ad set, users should focus on their target audience and placements (the who, how, and where of their posts). Finally, an ad is made up of an asset (image or video), ad copy, and a display link. It is important to keep ad copy concise. When creating or selecting a visual asset for your ad, it is also important to remember Facebook’s 20% Text Rule, which means that only 20% of an image can be covered in text or graphics.

Since developing and deploying ads in Facebook is such a technical process, it benefits from experience and keen judgement. Whether you’re building a single ad, or have a consistent need for ads, collaborating with BCO on the development and deployment of ads is recommended.

Find a balance with skillful targeting

When determining the budget of ads on social media, Dave said to look at your desired reach, advising the formula: size of audience + ad duration = potential maximum reach/budget.

When asked how expensive would it be to target the whole Bates College affinity with Boost in one day, Dave’s response was it would be expensive, but the goal should not be to target the whole audience, but rather to target those who are likely to engage with the content. He advised departments, such as the College Store, to cross-reference any data they may already have – such as an email list – and determine who to target based on either groups that are already highly engaged or groups that need increased engagement.

How you can get involved

Paying to promote content through Facebook and Instagram is a powerful tactic that can bolster your existing promotion efforts. In recent months, Facebook ads have helped secure large audiences for Amy Dickinson’s and Ibram Kendi’s campus events, and the launch events for The Bates Campaign. If you think paying to promote content through Facebook and instagram can help you achieve your goals, please reach out to us at