Some folks recently said that there was no correlation between amplifying a post and the number of organic impressions. The analysis had 5,000 posts from 1,500 pages, which should be a decent sample size.

But there are a bunch of arguments to make against this position; I’ll outline just a few of them here.

1)     Paid posts drive fan growth in the long run, which means that over time, the audience base grows. All else equal, you’re getting more impressions from a larger base.

How this works outside of Facebook: If your email list grows over time and has decent quality, aren’t you going to get more clicks?

2)     Correlation is not causation.  Brands tend to select sales-oriented posts to promote, which get less engagement. A new product announcement is less engaging than a funny picture– so if anything, we should see a negative correlation.

How this works outside of Facebook: Patients who take medicine for an illness are more likely to die than people who do not take medicine. Well, only ill people will be taking medicine. Only posts that brands want to assist get promoted.

3)     Micro-targeting drives the right audience. Certainly boosting a post is ridiculous, unless you sell a product that everyone uses (soap and other CPGs).

How this works outside of Facebook: Just because a few newbie drivers crash their cars into a wall doesn’t mean that cars are bad.


A proper study means that we randomly divide posts into those we promote vs. those we do not. (Imagine that a drug manufacturer could choose which patients to give his drugs to vs. who to give the placebo.)

We have a long way to measure the impact of Facebook ads.  It’s more than impressions, for sure. Any single metric can be gamed.  So if you see a “study” like this that doesn’t have a counter-balancing metric, look for the loopholes.

In this case, we have selection bias, not looking over the long-run at the impact, and not measuring multiple metrics.

Imagine if Red Bull, who has produced some amazingly awesome content, measured their sales of beverages only within the 24 hours following Felix’s epic jump from space?

Would they conclude it was an unsuccessful campaign?

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Dennis Yu
Dennis Yu is the Chief Technology Officer of BlitzMetrics, a digital marketing company which partners with schools to train young adults. Dennis’s program centers around mentorship, helping students grow their expertise to manage social campaigns for enterprise clients like the Golden State Warriors, Nike, and Rosetta Stone. He’s an internationally recognized lecturer in Facebook Marketing and has spoken in 17 countries, spanning 5 continents, including keynotes at L2E, Gultaggen, and Marketo Summit. Dennis has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, LA Times, National Public Radio, TechCrunch, Fox News, CBS Evening News and is co-author of Facebook Nation – a textbook taught in over 700 colleges and universities. He’s a regular contributor for Adweek’s SocialTimes column and has published in Social Media Examiner, Social Media Club, Tweak Your Biz, B2C, Social Fresh, and Heyo. He held leadership positions at Yahoo! and American Airlines and studied Finance and Economics at Southern Methodist University as well as London School of Economics. He ran collegiate cross-country at SMU and has competed in over 20 marathons including a 70 mile ultramarathon. Besides being a Facebook data and ad geek, you can find him eating chicken wings or playing Ultimate Frisbee in a city near you. You can contact him at, his blog, or on Facebook.