3 Strategies for Using Facebook's Promoted PostsAre you willing to pay so your Facebook posts reach more eyes? Maybe you should be.

One of the newest Facebook features, called Promoted Posts, allows business pages with 400 or more "likes" to pay from $5 to $100 so that more fans -- and friends of fans -- see their posts in their News Feeds on computers and mobile devices.

Using page posts in a regular Facebook ad can be effective for ramping up engagement -- and engagement is critical for brands whose ideal customers already "like" their page. With Promoted Posts, Facebook is taking the idea one step further.

The problem is that many regular page posts go unseen. Facebook itself estimates that only 16 percent of a page's fans see a given post, on average, though it varies depending on how engaged your fans are. You can look at the bottom of any recent update on your page to see the number of people reached. If your numbers are consistently low, Promoted Posts can help. You can set one up, select a budget and see estimated reach right from the post itself. Other than a gray "Sponsored" tag, it looks much like other news feed content.

Facebook Promoted

Related: How to Make Facebook Ads Work for You

For example, Meredith Manor, an equestrian college in West Virginia, used Promoted Posts to spotlight its student successes and attract new people. The school found that it reached four times more users through Promoted Posts and 3.5 times more engaged users.

Here are a few strategies to test-drive the new feature -- and make sure your investment is well spent:

1. Don't confuse "Promoted Post" with sales pitches.
Just because you paid for it, don't expect fans to be any more receptive to hard sales tactics. Your fans are on Facebook for fun. They "liked" your page because they connect with your brand, but but they don't want product pitches, especially in their News Feeds.

Think about ways to genuinely engage them, just as you do every time you write a regular post. What do they care about? Here are a few ideas:

  • Promote discounts or special offers. These drive traffic back to your store or site, leading to sales
     
  • Collect leads with value-added giveaways or contests. Send fans to download something free or enter a contest in exchange for their contact information.

2. Craft your Promoted Post with care. 
As you probably already know, plenty of Facebook page posts hover well under that 16 percent viewership mark. Usually, the problem isn't that no one paid to promote the post. It's that no one wants to engage with the content. 

No matter how good the offer or content is, it's up to you to make sure fans are inspired to take action on it with clicks, "likes" and comments. Here are some suggestions:

  • Use a clear, strong call to action. "Click like if you agree!" "Share this photo with a friend!" These simple phrases make all the difference in influencing your fans to act, as well as increasing the chances their friends will see your post, too.
     
  • Include a photo or video. Use Facebook's bigger, bolder Timeline look to your advantage and post a funny, entertaining or helpful photo or video. But first, ask yourself, "Would I share this photo or video with my friends?" 
     
  • Don't forget to link. If you need to move your fans beyond Facebook to a webinar, online class, blog post or survey, include the hyperlink and clear instructions in your post.

Related: 3 Critical Questions to Ask Yourself Before Posting to Facebook

3. Measure your progress. 

If you're paying to promote a post, treat it just as you would an ad. Track your results so you can see what works. 

Luckily, Facebook has made tracking Promoted Posts easy. At the bottom of each Promoted Post you'll see the number of people you reached with the post. Hover over that number and you can see more details, including how many friends of fans you reached.

Facebook Metrics

If you use both Sponsored Page Post ads for fans and Promoted Posts, you can split-test to see which works better. Measure clicks, "likes," comments and actual sign-ups. Did you see better results with a Promoted Post? If not, it's time to rethink the next promotion.

Compare Promoted Posts to each other. Which posts work best? Those with a question? Funny posts, or serious posts? And is your percentage reached number increasing over time? Be prepared to revise your strategy.

And, of course, make sure to track your costs. How do your results and exposure compare to other paid strategies you've used online? Even if you don't have a direct corollary to split-test, check that each dollar spent is yielding results in "likes," leads, traffic or actual sales that are worth the price.

Related: 3 Little-Known Metrics That Can Help Optimize Your Facebook Page