Facebook Ads vs Boosted Posts: How To Get The Biggest Bang For The Buck


Advertising on Facebook can be intimidating, we know. It feels like every option you select can have existential consequences. And oftentimes it starts with this choice: Facebook Ads vs Boosted Posts.

But doesn’t have to be that hard. In this post, we’ll take a deep dive into what Facebook Ads and Boosted Posts are, what are their benefits and limitations, and how to create them.

Finally, we’ll see four tried and tested strategies that you can use today to start advertising on Facebook using either Facebook Ads or boosted posts – to get the biggest bang for your buck.

Let’s start!

Facebook Ads vs Boosted Posts: What Is The Difference?

As a user, when you look at your Facebook feed – either on desktop or on mobile – it’s very hard to distinguish if the ad you are seeing is a dark post (aka Facebook Ads) or a boosted post.

It isalso difficult to make out whether what you are seeing is organic or paid posts.

Facebook Ads vs Boosted Posts - Sponsored content
Paid posts are marked “Sponsored” on Facebook. But that’s the only difference with organic posts.

In this way, the sponsored content is not seen as a disruption but fits in naturally with how Facebook users experience the platform. This is great for brands, as they’ll be able to communicate with people through paid posts seamlessly, but it can also be a bit confusing.

Beneath the lid, there are some important differences between Facebook Ads vs boosted posts.

What Is A Boosted Post?

As per Facebook’s definition, “boosted posts are ads you create from posts on your Facebook Page.”

In other words, it involves taking a post that is published on your Facebook Page and putting some advertising money behind it to expand its reach. When you look at your organic posts, you may find something similar to this image:

Facebook Ads vs Boosted Post: Boost Post Button
Use Boost Post to boost one of your organic posts.

In order to boost your post, you’d just need to click on the “Boost Post” button, specify a few other options and that’s it. Your ad is created.

What Is a Facebook Ads Campaign?

Facebook Ads campaigns, on the other hand, will require a little bit more work. This is because the ads that you would create are made from scratch – commonly called dark posts.

The “ dark” here is nothing sinister. It only means that the post you’ll be creating won’t be available organically on your Facebook Page feed, but it will only be visible for the audience you choose to target.

For starters, when you get to the first step of the Facebook campaign creation, you’ll find no less than 11 different options to choose from:

Facebook Ads vs Boosted Posts - Ads Manager Objectives
Choosing the objective of your Facebook campaign can be challenging.

As you move down the campaign creation flow, you’ll face similar (sometimes philosophical) choices.

To the point that you may wonder: is it worth studying? Or is it enough to click a few buttons and boost my organic posts to a wider audience?

The next paragraph will answer these (and more!) questions on Facebook Ads vs Boosted posts.

Read on!

Facebook Ads vs Boosted Posts: Benefits and Limitations

As for pretty much anything in life, each option brings benefits and limitations. That’s also true for the choice we are discussing today: Facebook Ads vs boosted posts.

Depending on what you wish to achieve with your next Facebook advertising initiative, you should be aware of which is the best option for you.

Pros and Cons of Facebook Boosted Posts

When you choose the option of boosting your organic Facebook posts, there are some benefits and limitations you should consider.

Pros of Facebook boosted posts:

  • Ease of creation. As we’ll see in the next paragraph, start boosting your posts is a matter of a few clicks. If you don’t have time or are overwhelmed by Facebook’s options, this may be right for you.
  • Increased visibility. Your boosted post will also appear on your Facebook page feed, and it will be seen both by people who like your page and the people you choose to target.
  • Social proof in one place. Your post will definitely have more social proof because it will include your organic and your paid one and it won’t be scattered in different ad variations.
  • Relevance score. Usually, boosted posts have a higher relevance score and this, in turn, means that you’ll likely have lower CPM (cost per 1K impressions) and CPC (cost per click.)

Cons of Facebook boosted posts:

  • Few options (and objectives.) Ease of creation comes at a cost. You’ll have fewer options when setting up your campaigns and this can limit the results you could have as compared with Facebook Ads campaigns.
  • No split testing. As you won’t be able to set up your ads granularly, but only boost what already exists, you won’t be able to split testing elements of your ad design or targeting.
  • No advanced targeting. While you’ll still be able to set up an audience based on locations, demographics, and interests, you won’t be able to use custom audiences to retarget existing or prospective customers.
  • Manual work. Even if it’s true that it is just a few clicks, you’d need to boost each of your posts manually (unless you use a software like AdEspresso, that does that for you.)

Pros and Cons of Facebook Ads Campaigns (AKA Dark Posts)

Creating a brand new Facebook campaign can indeed be a challenge, specifically if you’re just starting out. That is why, when choosing to create either Facebook Ads vs boosted posts, you’ll have to consider both the yays and the nays.

Pros of Facebook Ads campaigns:

  • Split testing. Over time, Facebook has been increasingly introducing split testing capabilities. Simply put, it means that you’ll be able to test different elements of your ads and targeting in one single campaign and decrease your CPA.
  • Advanced targeting. You’ll be able to choose a wide range of audiences, among which Custom and Lookalike audiences, retarget, upsell, or cross-sell along with audiences based on interests, locations, and demographics.
  • Objectives for all tastes. Having more choices means that you’ll be more granular with what you wish to achieve for your campaign and more able to get the results you anticipated.
  • Ability to scale. Once your first campaign is over and you have had some good results, it would be a missed opportunity to stop. With Facebook Ads campaigns, you’ll be able to strategically scale your advertising results.

Cons of Facebook Ads campaigns:

  • Difficult and time-consuming to create. Depending on your objective, settings, and A/B testing, it could take you a while to create your campaign and the learning curve (and life) could get in the way.
  • Social proof scattered. This is particularly true if you’re split testing. You’re producing many variations but you could get 4 likes here and 6 loves there, overall not making an impact in terms of social proof.
  • Analyze results. With the complexity of creation also comes the complexity of analysis. If you have many ads and/or many ad sets, you may need some extra time to gauge where success lies.
  • High costs. Facebook advertising can be very expensive. And creating complex campaigns, or using specific objectives, your campaign could need a substantial budget.

Facebook Ads vs Boosted Posts: Getting Started

If you still haven’t decided between Facebook Ads vs boosted posts, you’ll get a better idea after this paragraph, where we’ll see how to start creating your ads – or boosting your posts!

How To Start Boosting Facebook Posts

It all starts with your Facebook Page. After you have created your organic post, you’ll see a “Boost Post” blue button on the right-end side of the post. Just click on it, and you’ll find yourself somewhere similar to here:

Boosting Posts. Source: Facebook.

From here, you can choose a few options:

  • Your goal. You have three options: driving traffic to your website, get more engagement, or get more messages.
  • Your CTA. You can pick the CTA button message you want to display.
  • Your audience. You can create your audience based on locations, demographics, and interests.
  • Your budget and scheduling. You can only add a total budget and schedule your ad to be promoted for a specific time.
  • Your payment method and preview. You’ll need to select a specific payment method to be billed by Facebook and you’ll be able to see how your ad will look like.

Once this is done, you would just need to click on “Boost Post Now” and then you’re done. The post will go through Facebook review and, when approved, you’ll start seeing results of your boosting on your Facebook page after a while.

How To Create Your First Facebook Ads Campaign

One of the reasons for you to ponder Facebook Ads vs boosted posts is complexity.

Indeed, it would take me way more than one paragraph to give you a complete account of how to create a Facebook campaign. That’s because there is no one Facebook campaign – and it all starts at the objective step.

But first. To create your campaign, you would need to head to the Business Manager (or Ads Manager.)

Back to step 1 of the Facebook campaign creation flow.

Here you have various options that would create very different campaigns. They’re divided by the step of the funnel you want to tackle. This is the most important choice, so take your time to pick the one that aligns to your needs:

  • Awareness (Top of the Funnel) At this stage, your potential customer does not know you nor your product – in fact, they may don’t even know they have a problem you can solve.
  • Consideration (Middle of the Funnel) At this stage, your prospects know your brand and are evaluating you and your competitors before making the decision to buy.
  • Conversion (Bottom of the Funnel) In the final stage of the funnel, your prospective customers are ready to buy, and they just need a push for the sale to happen.
Facebook Ads vs Boosted Posts - Facebook Ads objectives
Image Source

After that, among all the options you have, there are two distinct steps.

Ad set creation

This is where you’ll pick your targeting audience. You have many tools to help you with defining it. You can choose among interest-based audiences, Custom and Lookalike Audiences, and Product audiences.

Depending on which audiences or segments you wish to target, you may want to create more than one ad set, one for each segment of your targeting.

Ad creation

The last step of Facebook Ads campaign creation consists of designing your ads. When creating your ad, the main elements you need to make decisions about are:

  • Ad format
  • Copy
  • Media
  • Call to action

Also here, you may want to split test one or more components of your design and, if that’s the case, you’d need to create your ads individually.

Protip: A streamlined approach to split testing would be to use Facebook’s A/B test functionality to determine the winning variable among the choices available.

Once that is done, you can click on “Place Order” and your campaign will go through Facebook approval and, when approved, you’ll start seeing results in Facebook Ads Manager.

Facebook Ads vs Boosted Posts: The Verdict – What Is Best?

Have you already mentally picked your favorite option between Facebook Ads vs boosted posts or are you still pondering your choice?

As you may have already guessed, there is no definitive answer. It comes down to your business goals, time, and resources. You can use both and still be able to optimize your results.

This paragraph is precisely about that. How you can use some tried and tested strategies to make the most out of your choice between Facebook Ads vs boosted posts.

Let’s dive in.

Facebook Ads vs Boosted Posts Strategy #1: Increase Awareness

At the top of the funnel, when you need to increase awareness of your brand and solution, you could leverage the organic power of your boosted posts and extend the reach of your targeting and have all your social proof in one place.

What to pick. Boost your organic posts.

Facebook Ads vs Boosted Posts Strategy #2: Split Testing

In the middle of the funnel, split testing is a great idea. Instead of going with your guts, you’ll have solid data about what resonates with your audience – and indeed where your audience lies.

What to pick. Create Facebook Ads.

Facebook Ads vs Boosted Posts Strategy #3: Pick Winning Ads

Split testing can be fun – but you can’t stop there. Once you start getting results, you’d need to pick your winning ads and optimize further. Run additional, more granular split tests or scale your best ads for your next campaign.

What to pick. To continue split testing, create your Facebook ads. To scale winning ads, consider turning your winning variations into boosted posts: centralized social proof, higher relevance score, and lower CPC (on already optimized ads.)

Facebook Ads vs Boosted Posts Strategy #4: Retargeting

At the bottom of the funnel, you want to tap into the people that have already shown interest for your products or services so what better than getting in front of them with relevant ads?

What to pick. Create Facebook Ads and use their powerful audiences arsenal. In particular, put to use your Facebook Pixel to create retargeting audiences.

in this post, we’ve learned the difference between Facebook ads vs boosted posts, shown you how to do both, and given you 4 strategies you can use to create your first campaign.

Do you use Facebook ads or boosted posts, or both? let us know in the comments!

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