Facebook Marketing 101: Facebook Ads vs. Boosted Posts

Advertising your business on Facebook can be a daunting prospect at first glance — the platform can quickly overwhelm new users with an abundance of tools and features.

Don’t panic. Understanding the basics is all it takes to reach thousands of potential new customers.

Whether you’re trying to raise brand awareness, drive more traffic to your website, or simply make a sale, having a clear goal in mind is key to creating the Facebook ad that will best serve your business.

Facebook’s Ad Manager is complicated to use, and offers 11 different formats for the advertisements you can post on the site. These include videos, product carousels, slideshows, boosted posts, and more. Pinpointing your advertising goals and developing a clear strategy in advance make it easy to pick the format and placement that is right for you.

In our previous post on this topic, we went over the basics requirements to get started with Facebook advertising and the CallRail integration. This time, we’ll focus on a few of the ad options that are available to you on Facebook, and explore how each one can help you reach your marketing goals.

A simple boost

Paying to “boost” one of your posts on Facebook is the most straightforward method of advertising on the site. Just click the little blue button next to any post on your business page, choose a target audience, and set a budget. Once you’re done, Facebook will automatically convert your original post into an advertisement complete with a “sponsored” label in the top-left corner.

Boost a post on facebook

However, your success with boosted posts depends on who you target and what your exact goals are. When you choose to boost a post, Facebook asks what results you’d like from that advertisement. The way you answer this question determines how Facebook will present your boosted post on the newsfeed.

Choosing to target “People who like your page and their friends” is best if your goals are centered around growth on Facebook. This option is often used to drive your existing audience to like, comment, share, and engage with the content you are posting to your business page. Facebook’s algorithm won’t always show your posts to every single person follows your page. Giving posts a boost assures that far more members of your core audience are exposed to them.

If your goal is to drive more traffic to your own site or get new visitors to check out your page, select “People you choose through targeting” to zero in on the users you think are most likely to interact with your brand. Any time you choose this option, Facebook will save your “target audience” settings so that you can easily advertise to the same group in the future:

Target Audience setting within Facebook

It’s important to remember that your boosted posts all start as organic posts. Before clicking that little blue button, make sure to let your post live on Facebook for at least a few hours. This gives your content time to get some love from your core audience, and can help you gauge how successful the post is before you spend money trying to promote it.

A custom creation

Creating a custom Facebook Ad takes a bit more legwork than boosting a post. But if you’re willing to navigate Facebook’s complex Ad Manager, an all-you-can-eat buffet of advertising options awaits.

Traditional Facebook advertisements offer you more targeting options than boosted posts and go into greater detail about the people who are exposed to your ads. You can target Facebook users based on broad factors like age, gender, and location, or more specific ones like device usage, job title, and relationship status.

Facebook will even give you an estimate of just how many people are going to end up in the target audience based on your selections:

Estimated Target Audience Size in Facebook settings

Custom ads you’ve created can also appear in more places across the Facebook network compared to boosted posts. These locations include desktop and mobile newsfeeds, Instagram, Audience Network, and Messenger. Once you’ve decided on the platform that’s best for your ad, Facebook Ad Manager offers specific placement options like Instagram Stories, Facebook instant articles, right column ads, suggested videos, and more:

Customs Facebook ads showing on mobile devices

When you create a custom ad, Facebook asks you about your marketing objective for the campaign. If you’ve thought carefully about your goals, Ad Manager is well-equipped to handle the rest of heavy lifting on your advertisements while still leaving plenty of room for users who want to experiment with every customization knob available.

The bottom line

When it comes to ad spend, custom ads and boosted posts have a lot in common. The pricing structure for both of these Facebook advertisements is largely the same, with custom ads offering just a few additional options.

Boosted posts ask you for a total budget and the duration for your campaign. Based on these parameters, Facebook automatically determines your average daily spend amount. The platform then estimates your post’s total reach relative to your budget:

Facebook ads and budget settings

Custom ads also require you to configure a budget, but give you the ability to choose between a Lifetime Spend and an Average Daily Spend. The advanced budget options in Facebook Ad Manager also allow you to set bid caps on your campaigns. This option sets a maximum bid amount for individual actions like link clicks, landing page views, and more. You can also let Facebook automatically bid on your behalf based on the budget you’ve set.

If you want to get hyper-specific about what a single link click is worth to your business, this is the place to go.

The choice is yours

Boosted posts and custom advertisements each come with their own set of benefits. If you’re in a hurry to get your business more exposure and reach new audiences, a boosted post can help you in a moment’s notice. Boosted posts are far and away the easiest way to advertise on Facebook, but this comes at the cost of rich customization options and fine-tuned budgeting.

If you’ve got the time and resources to build a new advertisement from the ground up, Facebook’s Ad Manager is a powerful tool that can help you present your business to the world in almost any way imaginable. The features available within the platform give you complete freedom to advertise however you see fit making it the best option for major marketing campaigns on the site.

Once you’ve had some time to figure out what your goals are, consider combining the two formats. Many marketers find it useful to boost a few of their organic posts, gauge which ones performed the best, and then turn that content into full new advertisements.