As a manager of Vendasta’s social ad program, I was recently approached by our Director of Product for some info about the different types of Facebook ads, namely Facebook sponsored posts. Our development team is working on some awesome new Facebook features for our Social Marketing and Digital Advertising products, and he wanted to know the nuances between Facebook boosted posts and Facebook news feed ads.

We cracked the code on Facebook paid advertising and are raking in the leads. See how you can too. 

It’s a great topic, and it got me thinking... “I bet a lot of agencies and small businesses out there are wondering the same.” Facebook’s Advertiser Help Center rarely provides the answers you’re after on Facebook paid advertising, and true to form, it doesn’t provide a lot of guidance on the differences between boosting posts vs ads either.

So in this article, I’m going to explain the differences between the types of sponsored ads on Facebook — a Facebook boost and a Facebook news feed ad—and which I think is better.

Related Reading: How We Generated 2,000 SQLs in Two Months with Facebook Paid Advertising

What are Facebook sponsored posts?

Facebook sponsored posts are promoted posts that receive additional paid reach. Simply put, users have the option of boosting a post or creating an ad: boosting increases the chances a post will be seen by followers (increasing loyalty), while news feed ads target users based on select criteria, external from followers (increasing leads).

Wait, why sponsor ads on Facebook when you can post for free?

If you’re reading this article, I’m guessing you know organic posts don’t go very far in today’s Facebook world. And you’re right to think that—unless you've got 50K+ fans, achieving favorable marketing outcomes through organic content in a 1.6B user world is futile. Based on Facebook’s current algorithms, organic reach has plummeted over recent years to the point where 50 million businesses are posting 1.5 times per day, reaching an average of 2% of their audience (DMR). That’s messed up.

Should we be surprised though? As the world’s largest social network, it was simply clockwork until Facebook turned to a Pay-to-Play model resulting in paid advertising on the social network giant. But before you start shouting big corporate obscenities, it's in my opinion that Facebook provides the best advertising platform on the web or anywhere else in the business world. It’s just so damn sophisticated (in a good way).

Advertising on Facebook requires a solid ROI strategy

Am I saying you should tell your clients to create a Facebook sponsored ad for each piece of their content or boost twice a day? Of course not, they’ll run out of budget in no time without much to show for it. Like anything, they need a strategy when tackling Facebook paid advertising. Depending on what their goals are, my quick advice is to put money on posts that have measurable ROI, like lead capture, promotions, contests and top of the funnel articles.

I also advise that your clients should only and always promote their own content. Even if it’s great material and relates to their business, never pay to send traffic to someone else’s website.

Now, with all that said, let’s figure out which Facebook paid advertising delivery method works best... Facebook boosts or Facebook sponsored ads.

What are Facebook boosted posts?

Facebook boosted posts are promoted posts that appear higher on news feeds, giving a post a higher chance that friends and followers will see it. While boosted posts can be targeted by location, interest, age and gender, more advanced targeting options is reserved for ads on Facebook.

How to boost a Facebook post (4 steps)

You’ve probably seen the "Boost Post" button on the bottom right corner on Facebook posts as seen in the example below. Yup, this is where the boosting journey begins.

Step 1: Click the "boost post" button.

Click the "boost post" button to start.

sponsored ads on Facebook boosting example

Step 2: Select targeting criteria and build a post audience.

After clicking through, the boost creation menu pops up. This is where users are able to select their targeting criteria (demographics and interests) and build an audience for the post to reach. Set the audience you want to reach by inputting the location, age, gender and interests (whatever is applicable).

how to create audience with Facebook post boost

Step 3: Set a budget and how long you want your boosted post to run.

Now set a budget and duration of your boosted post (simply typing in an amount and how long you want it to run for).

Step 4: Select the publish button to finish boosting the post.

After setting the audience and creating a budget, the post is ready to publish. Select the "publish" button.

You are done! Congratulations for boosting your first Facebook post. The boost juice will spread across the target audience near and far, appearing in their news feed organically—without the Sponsored tag. You are one step closer to becoming a Facebook ad master. 

The other big advantage to boosting is that it’s easier and more accessible to do compared to a news feed ad. The downside of boosting is that it has limited targeting capabilities4-10 interests maxand no goal setting ability (context below in the news feed ads section).

What are Facebook newsfeed ads?

Facebook news feed ads are sponsored ads that appear right on the news feed of readers. Newsfeed ads denoted "sponsored" directly underneath the company's name on the post as shown in the example below.

example sponsored facebook ad for news feed

Newsfeed ads live in Facebook Ads Manager (or Power Editor). Creating a Facebook sponsored ads is more involved than boosting posts, but more work often leads to more reward.

With news feed ads, users are able to set a specific objective that directly aligns to their marketing goals. They can choose from 12 objectives from three different categories: Awareness, Consideration and Conversion.

Notice how these three categories represent different areas of the sales and marketing funnel:

  • Awareness: for boosting posts, promoting a Facebook page, targeting people near the business's location and increasing brand awareness
  • Consideration: to send people to a website, getting app installs, increase event attendance or get views on videos and collect business leads
  • Conversion: for increasing website conversions, engagement to an app, or to have an offer claimed

How to create a Facebook news feed sponsored ad (6 steps)

Step 1: Use the ads create tool to choose an objective for your news feed ad.

Using the ads create tool, choose an objective for your news feed ad that directly aligns with your marketing goals.

facebook newsfeed ad how to choose marketing objective

Each objective has its own targeting criteria, called an ad set. This is where users create their audience. Creating an ad set is similar to creating a boost audience, but it has deeper targeting functionality that really narrows down the people who are seeing the ad. Users can choose an unlimited amount of interests, job titles, field of studies, schools, employers and behaviors.

Step 2: Select your ad set audiences you want to reach based on interests, job titles, behaviors, etc.

Organize your ad sets by the audiences you want to reach. Each audience is called an "ad set". Choose who you want to reach on your ad based on interests, job titles, field of study, schools, employers and behaviors. Don't worry, the more you practice creating a Facebook ad, the better you will get at targeting your audience.

detailed targeting with sponsored ads on Facebook

You can drill even deeper with your Facebook ad targeting by using the Narrow Further feature. The targeting uses filters to reach a very specific audience.

narrow further feature facebook paid advertising

Step 3: Set your news feed ad budget, duration, bidding and placement for your ad sets.

Set your budget, duration or schedule of your ad, bidding for your ad and placement for each of your ad sets that you previously determined. If you only selected one audience you will only have one ad set to worry about.

Step 4: Develop the ad by writing effective ad copy and using a strong ad image.

After creating the Facebook ad set, developing the ad itself is next, which is a lot like creating a post. Write some killer copy that’s going to sell the story and use an image that stands out in the news feed to catch people’s attention.

Also see here: Advertise on Facebook: 7 Tips for Facebook Success


example sponsored facebook ad for news feed

Step 5: Publish the ad.

After you are happy with all of the copy and the ad image you uploaded, hit "publish" to make the news feed ad go live.

Step 6: Track news feed ad performance.

Remember to check in and see how each Facebook news feed sponsored ad is performing if you have decided to run more than one. Kill the poor performers and reallocate your budgets to the ads that are the most effective.

Facebook aid advertising showdown: who is the winner?

So you’ve probably come to the conclusion that Facebook news feed ads have a lot more power behind them and are geared toward ROI—especially seeing how there’s no price difference between the two formats.

Boosted posts do have a place—if your clients are looking for a quick and convenient way to create awareness and drive profile traffic, then I say go for it, especially if they want to hit existing fans/customers. It takes all of five minutes to start raking in thousands of impressions for as little as $5.00.

If your clients are looking to achieve tangible marketing results, like capturing leads and driving revenue, my money is on sponsored news feed ads. If you want to really capture leads through Facebook paid advertising however, I suggest using Facebook lead ads. 

Also see here: How to Get Instant Presentations from Facebook Lead Ads

But hey, if you have a different outlook on Facebook sponsored posts or ads. Namely the debate between who wins the fight between boosted posts vs news feed ads, I’d love to hear your take