Boosted Posts vs. Ads

Boosted Posts vs. Ads: What's Best For Your Budget?


Stop me if you’ve heard this one before:

“This post is doing better than 95% of recent posts. Promote it to reach a wider audience.”

It’s a persistent little popup that you might have noticed appearing on your best posts once they start to get a lot of engagement. Facebook likes to give this extra little nudge to put some money behind these posts… but is it really worth it?

Surely, You’ve Noticed The “Boost” Button.

If you’ve managed a Facebook or Instagram page for more than a day, you’ve probably considered Boosting a post in the past... and maybe you’ve even gone ahead and hit that “Boost” button before. After all, they do put the button right there, so it’s a little hard to miss.

Facebook boost post button

But as persistent as Facebook might be to encourage Boosted posts, in reality it may not be the best choice for your budget… especially if you’re particularly interested in results beyond “Reach” and “Impressions.”

Here’s a closer look at the difference between Boosted posts and Ads, and how to best decide which is better for your ad campaigns, your budget, and your overall sanity.

Ads vs. Boosted Posts: What’s The Difference?

Given how… pushy... Facebook can sometimes seem in suggesting Boosted posts, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Boosting is the best way to get your content in front of the most eyeballs.

But Boosted Posts only offer so much customization and targeting… which might mean it’s not the best option for your strategy.

But Boosting a post is certainly not your only option—and depending on your goals, building a distinct Facebook Ad Campaign might actually be a better choice.

ad vs boosted post

Boosted Posts: Giving Popular Posts a (Small) Leg Up

Let’s take a closer look at what it really means to Boost a post on Facebook or Instagram, and what you’ll need to consider before choosing to Boost one of your most popular posts.

The Pros of Boosted Posts

  • “Boosted Posts” are one of the simplest types of paid posts you can publish on Facebook or Instagram. You can boost any post directly from your Facebook page, without having to go through Facebook Ads Manager.

  • Boosting a post allows you to add a CTA (Learn More, Shop Now, Contact Us, etc.) to your existing post, which may help increase your click-through-rate.

  • Boosted posts allow you to optimize for several distinct goals, albeit a significantly fewer number than those offered in Ads Manager. These include:
  • Link Clicks—to maximize the number of clicks through to your website,
  • Post Engagements—to maximize likes, reactions, comments, clicks, and shares on your post itself, or
  • Messages—to generate Facebook or Instagram Messenger inquiries to your account
  • Boosted Posts Allow you to choose your existing audiences or create new ones directly. This is generally the same process as in Ads Manager, although you are only able to select one audience at a time and may not create more complex audience combinations or exclusions.
  • Boosted posts let you set a total budget and timeframe, with the daily budget calculated automatically from there.
boost post settings

Where Boosted Posts Leave Us Wanting More

  • Boosted posts do not allow you to adjust or customize your ad creative beyond that of the original post you’re boosting. That means no changes to the image, headline, copy beyond what you’ve originally posted.

  • Boosted posts also do not allow you to take advantage of dynamic creative to optimize results across your ad sets.
  • When Boosting a post, you are not able to adjust your budget delivery (for accelerated delivery) or set cost controls on your budgeting (i.e., maximum cost-per0click or maximum CPM).
  • Although Boosted posts can appear across Facebook’s ad platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Audience Network, In-Stream, etc.), your choices for which platforms you deliver to are limited—either you allow Facebook to “Automatically” choose placements, or you keep contained to the basic News Feed/Instagram feed placements

True Facebook Ads: Custom-Built for Maximum Success

If you’ve never run a Facebook Ad through Ads Manager before, jumping in headfirst might seem a little daunting—but it’s also quite easy to learn, and once you make the leap you may never want to go back.

Regardless, whether you’ve run a Facebook Ad Campaign in the past or you’re brand new to the process, here’s a look at how this option differs from Boosting posts, and why it might just be a better option for your budget.

ad setup

The Pros of Using Ads Manager: More Control, More Flexibility

  • Advertisers using Ads Manager can choose from a much wider selection of campaign objectives, including options to target each phase in the user journey:
  • Awareness (Brand Awareness and Reach),
  • Consideration (Traffic, Engagement, App Installs, Video Views, Lead Generation, and Messages),
  • Conversion (Conversions, Catalog Sales, or Store Traffic)
  • In Ads Manager, you are able to adjust your ads’ budget delivery for maximum impact, including
  • Standard or Accelerated Budget Delivery, if you’re looking to make a big impact and spend most of your budget quickly,
  • Lifetime vs. Daily budgets, with direct flexibility over each
  • Ad scheduling, in case you only want your ads to run certain times of day or days of the week (say, during normal business hours in your time zone or the user’s time zone),
  • Cost Controls including a Cost Cap per link click or a Bid Cap to avoid over-bidding
  • Additional optimization options for ad delivery, including Unique Reach, Impressions, Reach, and Post Engagement
ad placements
  • Facebook Ads Manager gives you significantly more flexibility when it comes to audience selection, including specific exclusions of users within your target audiences and the option to create complex combinations of audiences.
  • Ads Manager allows you to quickly select individual placements across all FB ad properties, including Instagram, Facebook, Ads Network, and Messenger.

  • Ads Manager offers much, much more creative flexibility when it comes to building ads, including dynamic creative (to test which creative elements work best for your audience) as well as A/B testing of Ad Sets to determine which specific iterations work best for your budget. Here’s a key piece of (semi-obscure) info: when building an ad, you have the option to create an entirely new post or to use one of your existing posts within a campaign. That essentially allows you to “boost” a post without the limitations of the Boost button.
  • Ads Reporting is much more in-depth for those willing to build reports within Ads Manager, and will offer significantly more information than the “Ad Center’ on your Facebook Page

The Cons of Using Ads Manager: A Steeper Learning Curve

  • In order to truly get started with Ads Manager, you need a Facebook Ads Account… which means you probably need a Facebook Business Manager as a way to keep your Ad Account, Pages, Instagram Accounts, and Payment Methods all connected in one spot.

  • Even with some experience running social media ads, Facebook Ads Manager requires a more in-depth knowledge of how Ad Structure works within Facebook. That means understanding how levels like Campaign, Ad Set, and Ads all interplay with each other; how Audiences and bidding strategies come into play; and how to make sense of your reporting for improvements down the road.

Planning Your Ads To Match Your Budget

Want to make sure your promoted Facebook posts make the most impact possible without draining your budget? You might want to consider which format is best for your ads—and that could largely come down to what you’re hoping to accomplish, how often you run ads, and how much you pan to spend.

Boosted Posts

If you’re experimenting with getting some more eyeballs on some of your most popular posts - or if you don’t feel like taking the deep dive into building an Ad Account and setting up your audiences and pixel, or you’re not worried about extensive reporting.

Ads Manager

If you’re comfortable running Facebook ads and you’re looking for extensive control over your budget, delivery, placements, and reporting—or if you’re looking for superior flexibility and the option to test your creative for gradual improvements across your ad campaigns.

Here’s the takeaway:

creating ads in Ads Manager gives you everything Boosted posts offers and more (including, in our experience, better results from our ads overall), but requires a more in-depth understanding of the ad platform to accomplish correctly.

estimated daily reach

In my experience, it’s worth it to take the time and effort to build your ads in Ads Manager. Despite requiring more time upfront, the results and ease-of-use later will prove even more valuable long-term.

When It Comes To Making the Most of Your Paid Social Ad Dollars, Format Matters

There’s a saying that gets tossed around in marketing circles: “Boosting a post is like putting cash right in Zuckerberg’s pocket.”

It’s not entirely true—Boosting posts does yield results, and might actually make a big difference in maximizing the impact of your most successful posts.

However, the differences in results between the two do speak to a longer trend we’ve seen across the industry: boosted posts tend to deliver less-than-ideal results on a long-term perspective, and simply don’t offer the kind of control and precision that make Facebook’s Ads platform so valuable to begin with.

There might always be a good time to boost a particularly effective post for that extra oomph, but you’re probably better off thinking long term with your ad planning by working things through Ads Manager.

Look, it’s no secret that Facebook’s platform can be confusing… and with things (seemingly) changing by the week, keeping up with the process can be a challenge. If you need help understanding the difference between Boosted Posts and Facebook Ads for your advertising strategy—or if you’re struggling with building your Ad account—don’t be afraid to reach out for help. We do this all day long, and we’re happy to help get your ads launched the right way, every time.