Mastering a paid Facebook ad strategy isn’t just about creating killer content. It’s about knowing how to effectively promote your content to get the most out of your post engagement for maximum conversion and return on ad spent.
It means having a powerhouse distribution plan that can put that masterpiece in the right hands at the right time and increase post engagement and drive website conversions. So which is best for your potentially sponsored content? Boosted posts or Promoted Posts? Whether it’s likes, clicks, comments, contacts, or sales—this guide will help you learn how to gain more control over your Facebook ads. So don’t click that boost button just yet…
The Enduring Success of the Facebook Ad
Don’t believe anyone who’s told they heard Facebook marketing is dying—despite the sentiment, there’s never been a better time to advertise within its online universe.
Even though you can’t turn your head without hearing about TikTok or short format video, Facebook—the town square of social media—and its little village of Instagram, are still the most widely employed network for ad marketing.
Facebook boosted posts and promoted posts can both be shown on Instagram
Facebook has stopped acquiring new users and actually began loosing users for the first time in 2021, but you might say it has enough of the pie already.
What matters today is that Facebook ads, launched in November of 2007, have had time to develop, and they get results, which may be one reason it remains so successful for online marketing.
Facebook Advertising Is Still Growing
In 2021, Facebook saw a massive $28.6 billion haul—a 56% increase in ad revenue year over year. This despite its lessening social presence.
According to the 2021 Hubspot State of Marketing report, companies using Facebook ads have the highest ROI of all paid channels. More than 1 in 3 named Facebook ads as their top return on investment, ahead of Instagram, TikTok, and Google Ads.
Lurking in the shadows of these numbers, of course, is the change in Facebook’s algorithm which has drastically cut businesses’ organic post exposure. Today, most organic business Facebook get viewed by only about 1 in 19 of their fans—about 5%.
When the changes first happened in 2016, a company called SocialFlow found that organic reach dropped 42%.
It seems with every new update, Facebook changes algorithm again so
users see more of their friends and fewer brand pages.
So Facebook ads work! But do you have much of a choice? The good news is that a return on investment is likely, as long as you know what you’re doing.
Boosted Facebook Posts vs Promoted Facebook Posts
Having a Facebook page is free, but getting your Facebook posts seen isn’t. As a business, you need paid content in order to be seen, and boosted posts and promoted posts are your two main options.
Check out our blog post on how to leverage micro-influencers for more ways to advertise your brand on Facebook.
A simple way to understand the difference between a boosted Facebook post and one that is promoted:
- A boosted post is like a deli sandwich with just the bread and a protein
- A promoted post like that same sandwich plus different meat options, all the toppings, and whatever condiment you crave!
One key advantage of Facebook boosted posts vs Facebook ads is unlimited free audience research. They’re closely related but they’ve got some key differences and which you serve depends on what serves your goals best, and who you’ve invited over for lunch.
What Is a Boosted Post?
A boosted Facebook post is when you pay to show more people one of your regular Facebook post–one on your page’s timeline already. It’s the easiest to do, you simply need to click boost post, and you are done. Boosting is limited to two options–website visits and post engagements. This is where you select your followers, friends of your followers, or accounts chosen based on specific demographics, geolocations, and psychographic characteristics. You can choose to add a call-to-action button as well and you get a limited ability to track metrics.
Boosted Posts Pros:
- Helps harness the power of your best organic posts
- Easy to make—just use an existing post
- Looks less like an ad
- A modest amount of customization features
- Ability to track conversions with a Facebook pixel and other analytics
- Start one-on-one conversations
- Build your audience with likes and turn new followers into customers
- Market events
- Facebook offers
Boosted posts Cons:
- Content is seen in fewer places than promoted ads
- Targeting options may not be enough
- Limited CTA and conversion tools
- Can only serve one audience at a time
What Is a Promoted Post?
A promoted Facebook post is original content created through the Facebook ads manager. You get many more customization features and greater precision and flexibility in targeting.
So how do you choose? It all depends…
Promoted Post Pros:
- Wider placement potential
- More creative content creation tools
- Can run over longer periods
- Access to wider audiences
- Can target multiple audiences at once and put them within just a few clicks of your conversion page
- Ability to re-target website visitors
Promoted Post Cons:
- The learning curve can be steep—you can use an existing post but it is not recommended since that form of Facebook advertising is more like a boosted post
- Needs to be a regular part of your routine
- Time-consuming to set up and manage
There Are Big Differences Between Boosted Posts and Promoted Posts
Let’s zero in on some of the broader languages above about a Facebook boost post and content promoted with ads manager.
With a Facebook boosted post, you set a certain advertising budget depending on the number of people you want to serve the post and for how long.
A promoted post or Facebook ad, on the other hand, uses a cost-per-click basis. You set a maximum amount you want to pay per click, create a total budget, and enter an online bidding system that determines how much you end up paying for each click-through. There are a few different bidding options.
Which Is Better?
It’s easier to set it and forget it with the boost post feature, but cost-per-click gives you better mileage, especially if targeted just right. Both are adjustable at any time.
Ultimately, the return on investment rides on whether the content matches both the desire of the brand and the intended action of the online community.
Scope of placement is one of the strong suits of a Facebook ad campaign vs a boosted post.
Boosted posts are limited to Facebook NewsFeed, Messenger, and Instagram.
Content promoted with ads manager extends to the Facebook NewsFeed plus the side column, Messenger, Instagram, Instagram Stories, Instant Articles (branded and customizable article format content that renders fast on mobile), Audience Network (an off-Facebook, in-app advertising network for mobile apps).
Which Is Better?
If you want to reach more people, go through ads manager. But if all you want is your post to show up in your feed, you get the most bang for the buck with Facebook boosted post offerings.
Facebook promoted posts have more creative options, but a boosted post lets your organic talents shine.
Boosted posts will look almost exactly like the original post but it will be tagged as boosted and display a CTA button based on a selection provided by Facebook based on your objectives.
CTAs on a Facebook Boosted Posts:
- Book Now
- Learn More
- Shop Now
- Sign Up
- Send Message
- Send WhatsApp Message
- No Button
Promoting posts through Facebook ad manager, on the other hand, offer several options:
- Carousel (up to 10 images in one ad)
Which Is Better?
It depends on your goals. Generally boosted ads are good for encouraging likes, comments, and other interactions—much like a regular organic post. Promoted post formats are built to encourage economic activity and are often more eye-catching, for example, this Artsy ad announcing the launch of their newest gallery.
There’s no doubt that Facebook-promoted posts have significantly stronger targeting abilities but don’t count out the capabilities of boosted posts.
There are three overlapping audience types with targeting available.
- Core audience—audience engagement that you reach the most
- Custom audiences—for specific campaigns or sub-sections of your core audience
- Lookalike audiences—people who don’t currently follow you but highly resemble those who do
With a boosted post you can reach your fans, friends of fans, and people you serve through demographic and psychographic targeting options.
But you can reach a wider audience through ads manager—really boost your Facebook ad spend to grow your customer base by creating lookalike audiences.
Which Is Better?
The ability to target multiple audiences at a time through ads manager makes it second to none.
In general, if you think your content will resonate with your fans and their friends, or you have a good instinct for targeting, boosting could be just what you need.
But sometimes the friends of your fans just aren’t interested and manual targeting doesn’t work. Then, it makes more sense to use a brand new lookalike target audience that resembles your fan base.
Every Facebook ad has an objective, but they don’t work the same for boosted posts and promoted posts.
Boosted posts work a lot like organic posts. They encourage engagement and likes, which are ideal for top-of-funnel content and brand awareness.
For example, Maersk boosted this video ad to announce the launch of a partnership with Ocean Cleanup to let engage their audience network.
They can make sense for lead generation if used tactfully—it can be quite direct if the ad is served in Messenger.
Promoted posts give you many more options that empower you to build brand awareness, but also drive conversions, store visits, sales, web traffic, app installs video views, etc.
B2B company Dropbox, for example, ran a video tugging on the heartstrings of its customers in this 30-second video with a CTA leading to learning more about their file-saving plans.
Which Is Better?
It’s a safe bet to say you can be more direct sales focused in a promoted post vs the informative or entertaining nature of a boosted organic post. But if you’re just trying to keep your fans cheering, you may not need all the robust conversion tools available in promoted posts.
Boosted Posts and Facebook Ads Manager: Pro Tips
What are the text-to-image limitations in ads vs boosts?
The famed Facebook 20% rule rejected Facebook ads with 20% or more text on an image, eliminating many ads. Good news—the rule is no longer active! However, Facebook still recommends including a 20% text-to-image ratio.
How you can edit your ad once it's been published?
Editing an ad isn’t a good idea, but if you wake up at 2 am, look at your phone, and notice a typo in a boosted post, there is something you can do about it.
- Click “View Results” on your boosted post.
- Look for the three dots at the top right and then click delete the ad. This cancels the post and eliminates the analytics while saving the actual asset.
- Return to the original post, find the three dots, tap edit, and correct the error.
- Reboost as you did originally.
You can change a lot more through Facebook Ad Manager:
- Campaign level: Name, spending limit, CBO
- Ad level: Name, budget, schedule, bid cap, audience, optimization, and delivery
- Creative level: Name, identity, headline, text, image, CTA
Although you can change all these items, be aware you could end up losing data.
How to use "dark posts"
A dark Facebook post is unpublished content promoted as an ad to a specific audience that cannot be found on your brand’s timeline.
Your followers won’t see the ad organically in their news feed or on your Facebook page just as an ad—useful for taking it easy on your audience while split testing.
Dark posts are also a good solution if you want to build on an organic post without losing the original content.
How does Facebook boost post work?
- Find the “boost post button” on your organic post
- Select your goal according to your business objectives: messages, audience engagement, drive traffic to your website, leads, calls, or Facebook will choose for you
- Choose your call to action
- Choose your audience
- Select how long and when you want the ad set to run
- Select your budget
- Choose where you want the ad to run
- Preview and post
How does ads manager work?
- First, come up with a concept and the creative
- In ads manager, choose a campaign objective that matches your advertising goals: brand awareness, reach, traffic, engagement, app installs, video views, leads, messages, conversions, catalog sales, foot traffic
- Name the campaign
- Select ad categories, A/B testing, and optimize your budget
- Set your ad campaign budget and bidding
- Select audience targeting
- Select your placements
- Then click create ad, connect your content and fill in the text, headline, and description
- Preview and publish
The Wrap Up: Facebook Ads and Boost Posts Get Results But...
It’s time-consuming and there are a lot of variables. From content strategy to distribution, both Facebook promoted ads take dedication and experience, and the learning curve is steep.
That’s why a lot of brands rely primarily on boosted posts, which are effective but are not always appropriate.
Most businesses need a combination approach but success is defined in the details. Consultants and experts can help you figure out how to design a Facebook ad strategy that meets your goals and needs.