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A boosted post (or sponsored post) is the most basic type of advertising you can achieve with Facebook. In a nutshell, you pay to have one of your published Facebook posts appear in more of your Facebook followers’ news feeds. There’s limited audience targeting and far less creative control, because these posts are not created in Ads Manager.
A paid ad, on the other hand, is designed not just to be seen — but to drive an action. For example, that action could be:
Paid ads achieve this by providing a call to action and linking out to your website, an external site (such as a listing on a portal), or a contact form — whatever works for you.
Of course, there’s a little more to it than that. Let’s dig deeper to understand how your business could benefit
“Boosting” simply means to take a post that’s already on your page, and make it visible to a wider audience. You’ve likely noticed them in your news feed before. A boosted post looks like this.
You’ve probably noticed that Facebook will occasionally encourage you to boost one of your posts. This happens when:
Boosting a post is as easy as clicking a button and putting a few dollars behind it. Not only can it help you make up for the organic reach you’ve lost from Facebook’s ongoing algorithmic changes, but it can increase brand visibility that ultimately generates traffic to your website or bricks and mortar business.
Sometimes, all you need is a few clicks to get things going.
Facebook ads are created through Ads Manager. They are a more advanced version of digital marketing than boosted posts — but they don’t need to be confusing or expensive.
Instead of solely working to increase brand awareness and engagement, like boosted posts, Facebook asks you to pick a marketing objective: awareness, reach, traffic, conversions… the list goes on. Basically, this is the action you want a person to take after seeing your ad. Facebook will show your ads to a slightly different audience, depending on which objective you select.
Paid ads include a:
and look a little something like this.
You can even decide where they are displayed, whether it be suggested videos on Facebook or Instagram stories — it’s completely customisable.
Paid ads never appear on your business page. You can also choose whether they’re displayed on your audience’s Facebook new feed, Instagram, Messenger or Audience Network. This means that you’re able to grow your reach with precision. It also means that you can create a multi-touch point plan.
Unlike Boosted Posts, you can decide what time your paid ads are shown — meaning you’re not wasting ad spend while your target audience is counting sheep. For example, a restaurant might advertise a dinner special from 5pm onwards — as this is when the typical worker will mostly likely be scrolling through Facebook on their commute home, thinking about what to eat.
The main reason why Facebook ads are so effective is the array of targeting options you have at your fingertips. You can target your ads:
It all depends on what you’re trying to achieve.
If you're in a hurry to get more exposure for your business and reach new online audiences, a boosted post can help at a moment's notice. Boosted posts are also useful for generating social proof. When users come to your Facebook page, they’ll be more likely to engage through likes, comments and shares if they see that other people are too. However, boosted posts are typically less useful for turning your Facebook audience into paying customers than a paid ad campaign.
For a start, there are very few ways to target a boosted post. You have the option to boost your post to people who have liked your page, friends of people who have liked your page, and people who you choose through a few basic targeting options. These limitations also curtail the effectiveness of your post; you’re not reaching the most interested audience.
Secondly, boosted posts aren’t as effective as paid ads at turning followers into customers because that’s not what the functionality was designed to do. Boosted posts are designed to generate likes and comments — not drive action (eg. a click through to your website). So, while boosting can sometimes be useful for blog posts (where you’re aiming to get more eyes on your brand), it’s not as useful for advertising your business.
It’s also worth noting that a post can only be boosted for one to seven days, which means the people who you want to see your boosted post might miss it, if they’re not active during that time. Your audience is also less likely to see your brand multiple times. This can be a problem, as you need multiple touch points to make an impact.
There are pros and cons to both boosted posts and Facebook ads. To get the most value for your marketing spend, try using them in conjunction.
First, boost a relevant blog post for one week. Preparing your home for summer storms is a perfect example. Then, run a paid ad campaign advertising your gutter cleaning special. You’ll plant the seed with your blog post, then convert the reader into a customer with your paid ad.
Not everyone will immediately become a customer of course, but Facebook has remarkable retargeting abilities. Once someone has shown interest in your paid ad, you can keep showing them more, different ads to remind them about your business until you win them as a customer.
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