It’s Facebook Friday — each week we’ll offer one insight for leveraging Facebook to increase customer awareness of and engagement with your brand or business.

Facebook’s new Promote button has been available for a few weeks now for Business Pages with more than 400 fans. The feature does seem to have plenty of potential to increase the visibility of your brand’s content, especially considering the report by EdgeRank Checker that found the average post reaches just 17 percent of the Page’s fans.

So, clearly you can get the word out to more of your followers through the Promote button. But as the number of estimated viewers for a promoted post goes up, so does the cost. For example, using the feature can cost as much as $100 for just three days of featuring your post. At what point does the expense outweigh the benefits? Here are some things to help you decide whether promoting your Facebook updates with the Facebook Promote button is worth the cash.

Better Exposure

The cost of a promoted post varies by the number of estimated Facebook members you want the post to reach. For a smaller brand with fewer fans, promoting content might cost just $5, while a larger Page might have to pay $15 to reach the same percentage of readers. The costs for those first tiers of promoted material are pretty low, so it’s unlikely to break the bank for most companies.

There’s no way that all of your Facebook fans will see each of your posts just by casually reading their news feeds, so the Promote button’s ability to broaden the scope of your audience is a definite plus.

Also, if a higher percentage of your fans Like or comment on the promoted material, it will show up in their news feeds, becoming visible to their personal networks. The question with promoted material isn’t whether your reach will increase, but rather how much it will improve the targeting of your posts.

When to Promote

To figure out whether promoting posts is worth the investment, you’ll need to crunch some numbers through Facebook Insights. If you already have great numbers for the reach of your major posts, then it may be best for you to stick with organic sharing.

However, if only a small percentage of your followers see any given post, then it’s worth considering the service. To decide how much the post is worth to you, think about how many fans would realistically become paying customers after viewing a particular post. Also, consider how important the post is to highlighting your products or your mission.

An average status post probably doesn’t need to be promoted. But if you want all of your fans to know about a product launch date, or a contest deadline, or some other highly important piece of information, then the Promote button is probably worth the investment. Think about which content is most important for your followers to see, as well as the type of posts they are most likely to interact with.

Take Full Advantage of Analytics

If you decide to promote a post, be sure to track its reach over the course of the sponsored period. Facebook Page admins can view the number of people who see each post and how they saw it. That means you can assess the percentage of your followers and the overall Facebook population who saw the promoted post organically, virally, or from the paid post. Then, you can adjust your marketing strategy and budget accordingly.

Especially at the lower price points, it may be worth experimenting with how successful the Promote button is for your brand. Observe your numbers for different types of content, or for specific demographics. Since the Promote feature lets you target particular locations or languages, you can test out your strongest markets or your entire fan base.

Don’t Forget Engagement

The caveat about this new feature is that even though the reach of your posts may grow, that doesn’t automatically translate into new customers for you. As the adage goes, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. Just because someone sees a post doesn’t mean they will buy the respective product or respond to the solicited survey.

You’ll still need to work on developing a high level of engagement among your followers. Promoting posts alone won’t accomplish that. But it’s a good start.

What has your experience been with Promoted posts? Let us know in the comments!

[Image credits: Johannes Fuchs, Mark Probst, alexkerhead, Victor1558, Nomadic Lass]