Boosted Posts Vs. Facebook Ads: What's The Diff?

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One of the most frequently asked questions we hear is "what's the difference between a boosted post and a Facebook ad?". We hear it about once a week and we heard it again today! In fact, we hear it often enough that we felt that it's high time we go on-record and BREAK IT DOWN. 


What's The Difference? 

While there are many differences between boosted posts and ads, the most significant difference is that boosting a post means expanding the reach of a post that already exists on your Timeline, while running a Facebook ad requires you to create new content. This difference alone was what drove me to explore Ads Manager for the very first time years ago. Back then, I was working for a homebuilder and we were about to run a very specific, targeted ad campaign. The campaign was to consist of a series of ads promoting the same thing but we didn't want to post all four ads on our Page Timeline and fatigue our audience. I live by the principle that you give at least three times for every ask (or Jab Jab Jab Right Hook) and running four ads in a row on our Timeline would have been way too many right hooks for our existing fans! So, Facebook Ads it was. The fact that boosted posts remain on your Timeline and ads do not has been a key differentiator for me. 


But wait, there's more! 

7 Other Differences Between a Facebook Ad and a Boosted Post. 

Beyond the fact that boosted posts come from your Timeline, there are are at least 7 other major differences between boosted posts and ads.

**Note: When I refer to using Ads Manager below, that means we are talking about a Facebook Ad and NOT a boost :) 

In no particular order:

Inline Instagram Ad.

Inline Instagram Ad.

1. Posting To Instagram

The only way to run ads on Instagram is through your Facebook Ads Manager. This means you can choose both Facebook and Instagram as placement options when running an ad. This option however, is not available when you boost a post.

Some of your content will work well across both platforms but it's crucial that you remember to choose compelling images (with minimal text overlaid) for maximum impact on Instagram. 


2. Custom Price Bidding

When boosting a post, you don't have the option to set limits on the price you're willing to pay per action. When placing an ad through Ads Manager however, you retain much more control over how effective your ad will be by setting limits on what each click, impression or view is worth to you. 

Savvy marketers employ various bidding strategies to ensure that they're gaining maximum ROI on their ad spend. Facebook has a great article on what bidding strategies are and how they work, here.

3. Behaviour Targeting

Targeting by behaviour allows you to target your audience by purchase history, mobile device usage, and more. As we all know, Facebook continues to gather data about our use patterns and online behaviours making it easier to target specific audiences. For example, a savvy homebuilder could ad target individuals who are planning to sell their home for more relevant ad placements.  Behaviour Targeting only applies to Facebook Ads, not boosted posts.

facebook ad scheduling.jpg

4. Ad Scheduling 

In the interest of protecting your pocketbook, it's important that you are on top of your audience's usage patterns and online times. Just as we suggest with your organic content, we suggest you run your ads when it's the best time to reach your customers. Ads Manager will allow you to do this! Boosts will not. 

Typically, ads are approved within 12 hours after they're created and unless you specify otherwise, they're defaulted to start right away. Should you have a campaign that you want to start sooner or later, you're able schedule a specific date and time when you want to run your ads.

5. Split Testing

Another big difference between boosting and running Facebook ads is the ability to split test when using Ads Manager. To ensure that the performance of your ads is always improving, it's essential to have a strategic plan for A/B testing Facebook ad campaigns.

Split testing allows you to evaluate the performance of your creative (think: images + copy) and your strategy (think: placements + targeting) so that you can refine what works best with your audience and hone in on your top performing content. 


6. Creative Options

When it comes to the visual appearance of your ads, boosted posts offer minimal variety. Ads Manager however, allows you display multiple images in the Carousel view to leverage more creative for your buck. 

I have to admit, when I look at this example from Gagnon Overhead Door Ltd., I can't help myself from clicking on the right arrow to reveal the rest of the beautiful stone facade of the next home in the Carousel set. What a great way to entice me to click, thereby boosting engagement!

Right-side ad placement can only be achieved via Ads Manager.

Right-side ad placement can only be achieved via Ads Manager.

7. Placement Options

While boosted posts are only shown in your audience's Timeline, you have more placement options when using Ads Manager like the right column placement as seen below. In the past, I've always cautioned my clients against using the right column option for ad placements however, I've been reconsidering as of late. 

I cautioned against this placement because right column placements certainly yield a lower (CTR) click-through-rate than other placements. That said, the cost per click for an ad in the right column is lower than for any other placement option. (Not a bad option if your goal is brand awareness and your creative grabs visual attention). 


To boost or not to boost? That is the question. 

Ultimately, like anything, the decision of whether to boost or run an ad comes down to your goals and resources. The best option would be to spend the time to learn how to leverage ads and the Ads Manager to your advantage, but given the time and resources constraints that many small businesses face, a boosted post can still improve your reach and help you grow your audience in the meantime. 

Whether you’re boosting a post or running a full Ads Manager campaign, it is essential that your creative speaks directly to your Buyer Persona. Haven’t got your Buyer Persona nailed down quite yet? No worries!! We’ve got you covered with this FREE TEMPLATE. You can grab it here.