What You’ll Learn:
- The difference between boosted posts and ads
- Benefits of boosting your Facebook posts
- How Facebook ads target custom audiences
- Key features of Facebook ads you need to know
- How Facebook Pixel plays into boosted postsand ads
- Cost comparisons between the two
Facebook is also one of the top two paid channels with the highest ROI, right up there with Google Search advertising. Clearly, marketing on this mega-social platform is no joke.
Facebook ads vs boosted posts are both pay-to-play, but that doesn’t mean they’re the same game.
We’re giving you a comprehensive guide on all things boosted posts vs ads, so you can be confident when choosing which route to take.
Boosted Posts VS Ads: What’s the Difference?
On the surface, Facebook ads and boosted posts can seem like two sides of the same coin. Despite appearances, these avenues are unique versions of Facebook marketing. So what’s the difference, really?
When you publish a regular Facebook post on your business account, it shows up on your followers’ Facebook timelines. By paying to boost a post (either later on or at the time of creation) you’re increasing the post’s real estate on the timeline as well as the number of people who see the post. Boosting a post effectively manipulates the algorithm so your content gets center stage.
Boosted posts show up on the timeline like an ad — and since you pay for them, they are technically considered ads — but you don’t create them in Facebook Ads Manager. When boosting a post, you can select a basic target audience, your maximum budget for the campaign and the duration of the boost.
Businesses marketing to audiences on Facebook can enter the Facebook Ads Manager to create highly customized advertisements. The platform is geared toward businesses who are seeking to satisfy a range of objectives.
Similar to boosted posts, ads get premium real estate on your audience’s timeline. As you create the post, you customize it based on your own goals, ranging from Ecommerce shop orders to website conversions.
While both a boosted post and ad count as an advertisement, the two are not the same. Here are the key differences between the two:
- When it comes to targeting audiences, Facebook ads provide a more narrow approach than boosted posts. When boosting a post, you can choose to target audiences based on a few key factors. Facebook ads offer a more complex, holistic targeting method (more on this in a bit!).
- While boosting focuses on maximizing a post’s reach, ads focus on reaching the right
The Benefits of Boosting Your Posts
Only 9% of marketers who boost their posts on Facebook do so weekly or more often. When boosting Facebook posts vs ads, you should do so consistently. Consistency can lead to a couple of key benefits, including:
- Increased profile and web page visits: One of the primary benefits of a Facebook boost vs ad is more page visits (either to your Facebook profile or associated website). This has the potential to lead to more lucrative consumer moves like sales, downloads or installs.
- Enhanced engagement: Boosting your post is likely to increase post engagement, particularly for likes, comments and shares. Keep in mind: depending on your marketing objectives, these may only be vanity metrics. What you’re really going for is the right kind of engagement, so be sure to ask yourself whether boosting a Facebook post can help you achieve this.
Another benefit of boosted posts is basic customization. The customization options for boosted posts are simple. Still, you can set your maximum budget, develop a schedule and select your audience based on one of two options (advertise to your followers and their friends or target users through demographics, interests, behaviors and geography).
The Primary Benefit of Facebook Ads: Targeting Custom Audiences
Facebook ads offer much more narrow audience targeting than their boosted post counterparts. This is probably the most noteworthy benefit of ads, simply because of the widely known marketing dogma that it’s not a matter of how many people you reach, but who.
Within the Facebook Ads Manager, you can build custom audiences based on your website traffic, Facebook page, post engagement, Instagram traffic, email lists and more.
Image courtesy: Databox
For example, you can choose to market toward folks who have responded to a recent event you put on, as well as those users’ friends. If you manage other pages, you can pull those followers in as well.
There’s also a tool called Lookalike Audience, which creates a wider target audience based on those initial customizations. This is especially beneficial for businesses that are still working on growing their following in a targeted fashion. Basically, you get the chance to duplicate your existing engagers via Facebook’s advertising algorithm. If you’re going the ads route, you should definitely opt for this feature.
You can even weed out consumers who you don’t want to include in your targeting efforts. You can do this based on certain interactions they have taken with your page, interest groups they’re in and more.
One more thing: Facebook’s Overlapping Audiences tool ensures that your ads are not overlapping with one another.
Image courtesy: Facebook business
Obviously, you don’t want to use your marketing budget to compete with yourself. Pretty cool, huh?
Clearly, Facebook ads allots for a majorly nuanced approach to audience customization.
PRO TIP: Rather than picking and choosing your target market, be sure to base it on actual research. Conducting a customer profile analysis — and refreshing it every 6–12 months — will make your Facebook ads even more effective. In such a changing world, this only becomes more crucial.
Other Beneficial Features of Facebook Ads
“Facebook ads are more effective when you want better reporting, better targeting, and better analytics — but they’re also better organized. You can log into your Ads Manager and see them all in one place.” – James Pollard, The Advisor Coach
Facebook ads have even more benefits, including:
- Dayparting: Unlike boosting posts, Facebook ads allow you to select which time of day you want your ad to show. This means you can customize it based on your audience’s most active times, ultimately boosting your ROI. Using the Ad Scheduling tool, you can turn your ad on or off during a specified timeframe. Ultimately, this should be based on your unique needs, but the fact that you have the option is wild.
- Placement options: Yes, a boosted post allots for some placement customization (think Facebook vs Instagram, mobile vs desktop), Facebook ads really get into the nitty gritty. Here, you can be super specific on where your ad shows up, basing your decision off of your own marketing research and preferences. For some, this may mean Facebook Messenger. For others, Instagram stories. You can also utilize news feed side ads, mobile/desktop news feeds, instant articles (AKA quickly loading news articles on Facebook that minimize bounce rates) and even the Facebook Audience Network. Your ad, your choice.
- Split testing: Not quite sure which version of an ad you want to publish? Why not try both? When using Facebook ads with large audiences, you have the option to perform a split test, or A/B test. Whether you’re stuck on the caption, image or description, a split test tries out version A on a small percentage of your audience and version B on another small percentage. Whichever one performs better is the winner and gets distributed to the remaining audience, ultimately maximizing your ad’s success.
- Custom conversion tracking: If you’ve already created and installed a Facebook Pixel (more on that below!), you can really dig into your consumers’ activity on your website. For example, you can determine which products people viewed or who finalized the sign-up process. Using more than 40 custom conversion values on Facebook Ads Manager lets you develop a zoomed-in view of behavior and activity. If you want to place an ad for anyone who’s viewed or read a certain piece of content, you can.
- Advanced ad objectives: Clicks and engagement are great objectives to start with, but they’re just the beginning. With Facebook ads, you can really hone in on those marketing goals (think conversions, lead generation and more). This is perfect for a marketing specialist or team who wants to go above and beyond.
- Creative capacity: Within the Facebook Ads Manager console, you have tons of options for visual customization. This includes switching out the descriptions, creating a carousel, adding CTA buttons and more.
More On Facebook Pixel
If you decide to go with Facebook ads vs boosted posts, you’ll really benefit from creating and installing a Facebook Pixel. The pixel is a code you install on your website to track conversions from your Facebook ads. This helps you analyze the campaign and develop a more strategic approach for future campaigns.
Image courtesy: WPBlog
Since the pixel helps you direct ads toward the people who are most likely to take the desired action, they end up helping you improve your conversion rate and increase your ROI for Facebook marketing.
How Does the Cost Compare?
Biteable performed a simple experiment to compare costs for Facebook ads vs boosted posts using one of their videos, and the results were interesting. Basically, they created a single video and ran it twice, once through the Facebook ads platform and once via a boosted post. Here’s the video for your reference:
This video starred in both the boosted post and the Ads Manager post.
They found that the boosted post cost less per 1,000 views (boost: $2.63, ad: $7.72). But views are far from the only metric you should be analyzing.
In terms of ROI, the ad received 230% more clicks than the boosted post. This made the ad’s cost per click just $1.04 (the average is $0.97). The boosted post’s cost per click came out to $3.09.
Biteable noted a couple more noteworthy tidbits during their experiment:
- The ad’s watch metrics were higher than the boosted post.
- The ad experienced about twice as many engagement-related interactions.
Biteable’s experiment isn’t alone. In general, the consensus is that boosted posts do better with engagement, but engagement doesn’t necessarily translate to conversions. In fact, too much engagement can mess with your conversion rate, which is a whole different problem.
NOTE: If you’re a small business with a limited marketing budget, you may feel more comfortable with the fact that you can set a maximum campaign budget on boosted posts. There’s nothing wrong with that; just know that you may not see the same return on your investment. However, if you’ve received any sort of grant or loan during the COVID-19 pandemic, now may be a good time to delve into the Facebook Ads Manager.
Boosted Posts VS Ads: One’s a More Robust Marketing Tool, but Your Choice Depends on Your Objectives
By using Facebook ads, you’re entering an arena of customizable, diverse features that truly cover the bases. As a marketing professional, it’s only responsible to recognize a Facebook ad’s heightened potential for return. But that’s not to say that boosted posts are worthless.
In the Facebook ads vs boosted posts debate, you must consider your business’ marketing objectives. If those goals go beyond increased page traffic and engagement, you’re likely better off heading straight for Facebook ads. If you’re satisfied with more visits, comments and shares, well — a boosted post may be all you need.
With about 2.6 billion active monthly users — 1.6 billion of whom are connected to a small business — you’d be remiss not to take part in Facebook’s advertising options. If there’s one thing you take from this comprehensive guide on boosted posts vs ads, make it this:
However you advertise on Facebook, just make sure to advertise.