Ever wonder, Facebook ads vs boosted posts? When you post something that proves popular with your followers, Facebook encourages you to “boost” it. This is by far the quickest and simplest way of advertising on Facebook. There is, however, another way. You can use Facebook’s Ad Manager to create and target an ad from scratch. There are advantages and disadvantages to both methods. Deciding which route to take can be a complex and sometimes challenging issue. Let’s look at this a little more closely and examine the difference between Facebook ads and boosted posts.
The big advantage of doing this is that you already have the content prepared and Facebook has identified that it has proven popular. This does not guarantee that it will achieve a wide reach or lots of clicks, but it does stand a good chance. You can improve the post’s chances of doing so by adjusting three variables: audience, schedule, and budget.
You’ll be given the option to target:
- people who like your page
- people who like your page and their friends
- People in your local area
- people you choose through targeting
Unless you’re merely advertising a new release to existing followers or expanding your reach slightly, you’ll always be better off choosing one of the last two options. Choosing people local to you is great if your business requires drawing people to a specific location – a shop, cafe, or event. If your business model is not so location-specific, the last option is the best. It allows you to shape your potential audience within the following categories:
- Gender – note that there are only three options – “male”, “female” and “all”.
- Age – you cannot advertise legally to children under 18. Otherwise, the range is as wide as you make it
- Locations – based upon a city or country and a chosen radius. You can add up to 25 countries or 250 cities.
The last category is Detailed Targeting. This is where it gets interesting. Click on this option and you’ll be presented with a suite of options under the headings of:
- Demographics: Education, income, relationship status, work, and more
- Interests: Entertainment, Shopping, Sports, Technology, and more, with sub-categories for each one
- Behaviors: Users who, for instance, use Facebook payments or are early technology adopters, and many more
The latter category is where Facebook mines both its algorithms and a huge pool of data to target very specific behaviors. Facebook is getting more and more specific with its ad placements to improve its user experience and ad revenue. Where boosting a post used to be a rather hit-and-miss affair, with this in-depth targeting, you can really zoom in on a niche audience.
If you have a Facebook Ad account, you’ll also have the options with Boost to select a goal for your ad and add an action button (such as “learn more”, “shop now” or “sign up”. For more on goals, see below.
You can choose any number of days but note that this will spread out your budget so that you reach fewer people per day. How long to run your campaign will depend on how time-sensitive it is, and the nature of your goal. Long campaigns can seed awareness and short ones can create a feeling of urgency – it’s very much up to you which strategy to adopt.
In Boosting a post, you don’t have many options. Facebook will calculate your potential reach based on your total budget, selected audience, and run time. Helpfully, though, it will display an estimate of both reach (how many people see your ad) and clicks (how many engage with it), helping you to set a sensible limit. Your Facebook boost post cost will not exceed this limit, which makes it easier to manage your ad budget.
Facebook will summarize what your post boost achieved, in terms of engagement and clicks. Boosted post statistics are limited, however – for more insight into how your campaign performed, you’d need an Ad Account.
Using Facebook’s Ad Manager is a lot more complex than boosting a post. However, doing so allows you to create an eye-catching, well-designed ad from the ground up. The recent redesign of Facebook has added something called “Ad Center” to allow greater flexibility for people who do not have a Facebook Ads Account. But if you really want to unleash the power of Facebook Ads, you should consider linking an Ads Account to your page. This article gives a helpful summary of the process. In addition, here are directions on how to create a Facebook Business Page.
Once you have logged in to Ads Manager, you can start to create your bespoke ad.
First, you’ll be able to select the goal of your campaign. These fit into three categories:
- Awareness – get the word out about your brand, product, or service
- Consideration – give people more information about what you’re offering
- Conversion – obtain leads or actual sales from interested parties
The specific goals within these categories are:
- Boost a post – good if you are using blog-style articles to sell your product or service
- Get more messages – if you are inviting engagement or feedback this might suit you
- Promote your page – good for building brand awareness
- Get more button clicks – the simplest option for direct sales
- Receive more website visitors – good for driving visitors to your sales portal
- Get more leads – great for building a mailing list, or soliciting feedback
Depending on which goal you select, you’ll be able to choose different types of ad, with different creative elements. More specifically, these are:
- Image: The most basic kind of ad is a simple, forceful image.
- Video: Video is always more engaging than a simple still. Moving content catches the eye and encourages hesitation. It’s also more expensive, both in terms of content production and the price charged by Facebook. Canva’s video editor is a great way to create engaging videos while keeping cost low.
- Slideshow: As its name suggests, this is a sequence of stills that cycle, with a choice of transitions (hard cut, fade, etc.). The option does not currently support music, and you are permitted between 3 and 10 images.
- Carousel: This is a horizontal strip of stills or videos that the viewer interacts with. Similarly, think of it as a miniature virtual shopfront.
- Instant Experience: Facebook has extended its ad provision to include a suite of off-site, full-screen experiences. For example, video, carousels of images, forms, and clickable buttons.
- Collection: This is a specialized type of Instant Experience based upon a product range. When the user clicks on your image ad, the instant experience opens up showing a range of products, rather like a miniature store within Facebook.
As well as those described above, you’ll have access to Lookalike Audiences. This option uses the individuals who interact with your Facebook page as a template for the new customers you’ll pursue. If your product or service is niche, this would be a great way of finding more of these highly motivated potential customers.
Facebook’s Ad Manager gives you the option to control your spend more effectively. You can also run your ad continuously, or for a specified range of time. Moreover, if you’re advertising for the first time, launching a new product, or experimenting with a new campaign format, it might be a good idea to run a time-limited campaign.
You can set a daily spend limit within a set time frame or allow Facebook to optimize your ad spend per day until the budget is exhausted. This is a good option for a beginner since Facebook knows best the patterns of traffic flow of its users. You may find you get more engagements on a Monday evening than on Friday morning. Facebook’s algorithms will adjust the number of times your ad is shown to maximize engagement.
Not to be forgotten, Facebook Ads allows you to utilize the following features:
- Firstly, the Facebook Pixel — a plug-in that tracks traffic to and from your website, giving detailed feedback on how your campaign is working
- Secondly, the Facebook Audience Insights — breaks down Facebook’s user base according to parameters you set, giving statistical insight
Let’s summarize the pros and cons of Facebook ads vs boosted posts:
- It’s fast and simple
- Targeting options are reasonably sophisticated
- Does not require a Facebook Ad Account
- Readily understood budgeting options
- No control over the creative elements
- Some limitations on audience targeting
- Limited budgeting options
- Limited analytical data
- More detailed audience targeting
- Total control over creative content
- More detailed feedback on performance
- Access to helpful tools such as Pixel and Audience Insights
- Requires a Facebook Ad Account
- Is a more complicated procedure
In summary, there really aren’t many reasons not to opt for a Facebook Ad approach, provided you have the time and inclination to learn how to use it.
Let’s connect on how and when to implement Facebook ads vs boosted posts into your paid social strategy.