Frequently, we get asked the question “Should I be using Facebook Ads or a Boosted Post?”. To the common person looking to take advantage of Facebook’s various advertising features, the overlap and commonalities between the two can cause confusion and uncertainty. While both Boosting and Ads on Facebook have many similarities and can allow you to increase the reach of your business, there are key differences that will make one more suitable than the other in certain situations.
According to Facebook, a boosted post is a post to your Page's timeline that you can apply money to in order to “boost” it to an audience of your choosing. Boosted posts were designed to combat the learning curve and hesitation that comes along with running a Facebook Ad for the first time. A Boosted Post IS a Facebook Ad, just simplified for the business operator on the run.
While the simplicity of a Boosted Post is enticing, when compared to a full-blown Facebook Ad, their targeting options and control are more limiting. This is while you’ll hear many marketing gurus say, “Boosted Posts are a waste of money”. However, in recent months, Facebook has made an effort to add more control to Boosted Posts, without overcomplicating the process of getting your promotion out there. I believe Facebook has done a good job here, giving you the most important targeting features, but stripping away the unnecessary (for most, that is).
The trouble with Boost Posts, even with the additional control, is that businesses use the default targeting options that Facebook has set for them, which is almost always WAY too broad. For example, if you’re a golf course in Austin, TX, Facebook will likely have the default Audience set to “people living in Texas”. This reduces the effectiveness of the Boosted Post and typically won’t yield the results you’re looking for. This is where the “waste of money” stigma stems from when talking about Boosted Posts.
Facebook Ads are created and controlled through Ads Manager. Ads Manager allows you much more control than what is provided in the Boosted Post dashboard, which is why experienced advertisers will prefer it in almost every way. With Boosted Posts, Facebook will make some assumptions for you. For instance, Boosted Posts will do things like automatically “optimize” and adjust bids to yield more likes, comments, and shares. A feature that is enabled, whether you like it or not. Not so with a legitimate Facebook Ad.
Ads Manager allows you to control:
- Adjust ad delivery for more clicks, page views, reach, or impressions
- Set bid caps
- Modify ad schedule
- Choose between different ad objectives
- Choose between ad placements
- Create Carousel Ad layouts
- Create Instance Experiences (Facebook’s full-screen ad layout)
- Modify/crop images
- Create Slideshows
- Choose specific video thumbnails
- Allow multiple campaigns to use a single budget
- Use continual daily ad budgets
- Use built-in Lead Generation forms
- Target specific devices
- Upload and promote product catalogs
- Leverage URL parameters for tracking purposes
- Create and manage Custom Audiences
That’s a long list of possible control that you’re missing out on by using Boosted Posts, rather than Facebook Ads. However, for the average business, many of these options just muddy the water, making running a Facebook Ad more confusing and time-consuming.
Should You Be Using Facebook Ads or Boosted Posts?
When you pay attention to the details, both Boosted Posts and Facebook Ads can be successful. If setup improperly, either one can be a waste of money. However, when used correctly and for the right objective, we’ve seen equal success with both.
For one-time promotions, where the objective is to bring awareness to an upcoming event, restaurant special, or course update, use Boosted Posts. Bear in mind that you’ll need to adjust the Audience to something appropriate, whether that be people that are in close proximity to your course that is interested in golf, people that like your page, or pre-defined customer audience (i.e. Users from an email database). Don’t use the default Audience unless you’ve reviewed it and it’s appropriate for your promotion. We typically don’t schedule a Boosted Post to run for more than 7-10 days, using budgets around $250 or less for the entire campaign. Oftentimes, we’ll use Boosted Posts from 1-2 day time spans, using a $20-40 budget. This is a great way to keep costs down and engagements up.
For promotions that you intend to run for a longer period of time and have allocated a larger budget towards, Facebook Ads will be more ideal. The ability to duplicate Ad Sets, while A/B testing different layouts and audiences will help you develop better performing campaigns. Adjusting settings like ad scheduling, bid caps and targeting certain devices can be beneficial and critical to the success of some campaigns. When the campaign objectives become more specific like generating more leads for a wedding venue or selling more products from your online store, Facebook Ads will be your best friend.
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