As a manager of Vendasta’s social ad program, I was recently approached by our Director of Product for some info about Facebook sponsored posts. Our development team is working on some awesome new Facebook features for our Social Marketing product, and he wanted to know the nuances between boosted posts and newsfeed ads.
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, and true to form, it doesn’t provide a lot of guidance on boosting posts vs ads either.
So in this article, I’m going to explain the differences between a boost and an ad—and which I think is better.
Wait, why pay 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. And you’re right to think that—unless you’ve got 50K+ fans, achieving favourable 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. 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).
Am I saying you should tell your clients to create ads for all 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. 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 they 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 delivery method works best… boosts or ads.
What are boosted posts?
You’ve probably seen the Boost Post button on the bottom right corner on Facebook posts. Yup, this is where the boosting journey begins. Simply click it to start.
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.
After setting the audience and creating a budget (simply typing in an amount and duration), the post is ready to publish. The boost juice will spread across the target audience near and far, appearing in their newsfeed organically—without the Sponsored tag.
The other big advantage to boosting is that it’s easier and more accessible to do compared to a newsfeed ad. The downside of boosting is that it has limited targeting capabilities—4-10 interests max—and no goal setting ability (context below in the newsfeed ads section).
What are newsfeed ads?
Newsfeed ads live in Ads Manager (or Power Editor). Creating them is more involved than boosting posts, but more work often leads to more reward.
With newsfeed 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.
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 Behaviours.
You can drill even deeper by using the Narrow Further feature. The targeting uses filters to reach a very specific audience.
After creating the 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 newsfeed to catch people’s attention.
So you’ve probably come to the conclusion newsfeed 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 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 they’re looking to achieve tangible marketing results, like capturing leads and driving revenue, my money is on newsfeed ads.
But hey, if you have a different outlook on boosted posts vs newsfeed ads, I’d love to hear your take firstname.lastname@example.org.