Raise your hand if this line has stopped your scroll before:
“This post is doing better than 95% of recent posts. Promote it to reach a wider audience.”
You may have seen it on Facebook or Instagram and maybe even both! It’s an adorable little pop-up that you’ll see on some of your more popular posts. It’s just a small suggestion, but once you see it for the first time, it really makes you start to think…should I boost it?
How tantalizing, right?
Or maybe I should go ahead and run a Facebook ads campaign?
In this post, I’ll discuss Facebook ads vs boosted posts and break down the pros and cons of each. Keep in mind that these are generalizations based on our team’s experience. Before making a decision, carefully consider your options and consider contacting a digital marketing expert for a customized (and FREE) consultation.
Before we get into the pros and cons of each, let’s define a Boosted Post and a Facebook ad.
A promoted, single post that can list various calls to action and target basic audiences. Often used to promote on-platform (on Facebook or Instagram) activity such as promoting events, Facebook/Instagram shops, improving engagement, gathering followers, etc.
A detailed targeting strategy with the ability to accomplish many off-platform goals such as improving website traffic, selling products on your site, promoting sign-ups, etc. Ads can also improve on-platform performance.
The short answer? Boosted posts are the more user-friendly option, but ultimately are a less targeted ad. Boosted Posts are useful for short-term solutions or goals while Facebook ads are often a part of robust and detailed campaigns.
To Boost or Not to Boost — Facebook Ads vs Boosted Posts
That breakdown feels pretty final, huh? Facebook ads, with their overlap in offering what boosted posts offer and their advanced targeting, seem to be the obvious choice.
But the answer to the question, “Ads or boosting?” really isn’t as straightforward as it may seem. Many digital marketing experts will immediately cry that ads are far superior, but the reality is, it depends.
Before you decide to jump headlong into an ads campaign, there are three key things to consider: your budget, your goals, and most importantly, but rarely discussed — your experience.
Let’s break it down by each category.
Boosting your Budget?
One of the distinct advantages boosted posts have over ads is that they’re cheaper. The only threshold for boosted posts is you have to be able to invest at least $10.00 or a dollar a day to be approved to boost a post. That’s a pretty low barrier to entry. Especially considering your boosted post can double or triple its reach and engagement within a week and only a $10 budget.
With Facebook ads, there is a lot more control over how and where your budget will be spent while the ads are running. BUT turning them on and off, only running ads for a week, or other such actions to save you money will only hurt the performance of your ads. You won’t be able to see the results you’re looking for with your ads if you don’t have a reasonable daily budget. This budget is unique to your industry and your business, but I can tell you — $1/day rarely performs.
One thing Facebook does have in its favor with regards to budget, if you have more than $100 to spend, you can have much more flexibility to adjust your budget delivery for maximum impact. You can choose between Standard or Accelerated Budget Delivery and Lifetime or Daily budgets. You can also implement Cost Controls like Cost Cap per link click or a Bid Cap to avoid over-bidding and over-spending. Each option is customizable and helps you accomplish your unique goals.
Give Your Goals a Boost
If your goals are currently focused on the performance of your organic social media presence, then Boosted posts may be the right route for you!
Boosting a post is easy to do and it’s a great way to give your organic strategy a leg up. Boosting a post a few times a month can help expand your reach, build your followers, and improve your engagement. Over time, combined with a strategic organic strategy, you’ll be well on your way to building a significant following. These goals can often be overlooked, but remember, especially if you’re starting a new brand, social proof matters. One of the simplest ways to gather social proof is through your presence on social media.
As mentioned above, Boosted posts can also act like ads, doing so much more than just improving engagement. You can use Boosted posts for the following calls to action:
- Learn more
- Shop now
- Contact Us
- And more!
You can also optimize your boosted posts for different goals as you would a Facebook ad. You won’t have as many options as Ads Manager offers, but you can still accomplish the more basic options young businesses usually need like Link Clicks to drive website traffic.
That being said, if you’re looking to create a new, custom image or if there is anything in your original post you’d like to change before boosting it — too bad. Boosted posts are exactly what you’re getting; your post, as-is, with money behind it. You won’t be able to update the headline, image, or copy. The only thing you can alter is your basic targeting, your budget amount, the days it will boost, and your call to action.
If you’ve ever peeked at Facebook’s Ads Manager, it may have been a little intimidating, but there’s a reason! Facebook ads manager is incredibly detailed with tons of options to customize your campaigns. While daunting, that means that a Facebook ads campaign can help you accomplish all the goals of a boosted post can — and so much more!
Facebook Ads Manager offers users much more control and flexibility (not to mention tracking) so your campaigns can accomplish so many more goals and target a wider variety or more specific audiences.The most stand-out feature of Facebook ads is the ability to target your customers through every step of their buyer journey. Facebook has organized its campaigns with this in mind. You can choose from the following campaign objectives to meet your audience where they are in their journey:
Awareness (Brand Awareness and Reach),
Consideration (Traffic, Engagement, App Installs, Video Views, Lead Generation, and Messages),
Conversion (Conversions, Catalog Sales, or Store Traffic)
You can also get extremely detailed in your customer targeting, looking at self-identifying features, interests, purchase history/tendencies, off and on platform behaviors as well. You can also exclude specific audiences, ensuring only the most qualified leads are seeing your ads.
Other customizable optimization options include ad delivery, including “Unique Reach”, and Ad Placements. Ad Placements allow your ads to be displayed across Facebook’s many tools.
The most significant difference between Boosted Posts and Facebook Ads is the experience required to set them up and effectively run them.
Boosted posts are simple; once you give in to the temptation to click that chipper little blue button crying “Boost Post!” you’ll be guided through the next steps. Facebook makes it extremely simple, guiding you through the process.
Once your post is boosted there is no additional optimization; it either performs or it doesn’t. You just have to sit back and watch. You can turn the boost off once it’s started, but other than that there aren’t many options to influence the post once published.
Facebook Ads Manager on the other hand, because it provides so many options at every stage of running your ads, there is a steep learning curve. Sure, anyone can watch a tutorial to see how to create and turn on an ad, but the finer points of effectively navigating ads manager can take time and significant trial and error to learn. While there are a lot of resources readily available online to help you learn to navigate Facebook ads, remember that Facebook is updating its platform, its targeting, and its rules regularly. Helpful tutorials aren’t always current for long. Additionally, your business and audiences aren’t the same as the instructors, which means strategies they can employ with great success may not work for you.
It’s important to approach everything in Facebook Ads manager as a test — something a true Facebook ads expert will be able to tell you is; nothing is a sure thing. You need to have the mindset with every optimization that this is a test. That means it needs to run long enough to gather statistically significant results (or not) before updating your test.
This kind of testing is both a significant time and monetary investment that not all businesses are prepared to make. Especially if you’re attempting to do it on your own.
Facebook ads vs boosted posts—who’s the winner? It all depends on where you want to go and what you’re willing to invest in.
If you’re just getting started and experimenting with your organic content, Boosted Posts are for you. If you’re not ready to set up a pixel, analyze data regularly, and take the time to learn Ads Manager — investing in Boosted Posts can greatly benefit your business. I recommend this option for businesses still working on their site, building their organic social media presence, and their messaging. Boosted posts are the perfect way to accelerate all of those efforts without pulling the business owner away from their top priorities. Boosted posts can be a great way to validate your business idea, especially in the early stages.
If you’re looking to tackle your next goal and you’re ready to invest the time and money into learning Facebook Ads Manager — ads are the option for you. You’re probably looking for more control over your marketing efforts and you’re ready to gather and strategize based on the data. If so, ignore that tantalizing “Boost Post” button and go ahead and build your first campaign! (Make sure you have your Business Manager set up first!)
I do not recommend ads for businesses looking to validate their business idea. I usually recommend this option for businesses who have their shopping experience, messaging, and organic presence dialed in. They’re looking to magnify all of their efforts.
Facebook ads are, without a doubt, the superior tool to Boosted Posts, offering what Boosted Posts offer and so much more. BUT — and this is a big “but”; a tool is only as good as its user
If you’re looking for more direction or a customized review based on your business’s needs, reach out and get your free consultation today. We’d be happy to discuss your business goals and needs with you to make sure you’re getting the most out of your marketing!