Is it better to boost a post or create an ad on Facebook? Here are my results.
By Susanne Rieker
If you have a Facebook page, you probably learned the hard way that your posts just don’t seem to reach your followers anymore. If you share something on your Facebook page, only 1-5 % of the people who liked your page will see your update (the exact number depends on your number of followers and the virality of your content and is a big Facebook secret), unless you pay for an ad or a boosted post. It’s the way Facebook earns money and it’s not going to change soon, sorry!
But Facebook is still where everybody hangs out and it’s actually a great tool to reach your audience. Let’s say you have a new yoga retreat that you want to promote. Facebook is an amazing tool for this! So you need to pay for advertising on Facebook, but what should you do?
I tested a boosted post against an ad on Facebook – here are my results:
The thing is, advertising on Facebook is confusing. The ad manager is totally overwhelming. Boosting a post is simpler but online marketers keep shouting that you shouldn’t boost posts, that it’s a waste of money.
This is because the ad manager gives you more targeting options and details and boosts used to be the “sloppy” way to advertise that newbies and amateurs used.
But in the last year or so Facebook has improved it’s targeting options on boosting posts and I’ve been boosting posts with good results for my website www.yowunga.com. Still, I was wondering if I was missing out by not using more ads and decided to test it. And I’m sharing my results with you lovely people so we all can learn and improve our online marketing, woohoo!
First let’s talk about the differences between a boosted post and a promoted post or Facebook ad.
What are boosted posts on Facebook?
Boosting a post is very easy to do and available for any post on your page’s timeline. All you need to do is click “Boost Post” in the lower right corner of your post.
When you click “Boost Post”, you have the option to target “People who like your page and their friends” or “People you choose through targeting.” You’ll also be able to set your budget.
The problem with choosing the first option – People who like your page and their friends – is that your fans’ friends may not be interested in your business and you may be wasting your money by pushing your post out to them. If you only want to reach people who like your page, it’s better to set up an ad for that (more targeting options, remember?).
If your goal is to drive some targeted traffic to your website, choose the second option – People you choose through targeting. The targeting option lets you select which people you want to reach, as well as their location, age, gender and up to 10 interests.
It’s very easy to set up. Facebook even saves your settings for a target audience that you set up so you can use it again and again. It literally takes me less than a minute to boost a post and I love that.
One important thing to note: always only promote your own content. Even if you’re sharing a good tip from another website, never boost it if it links to someone else’s site. Because why would you pay to increase their traffic?
What are Facebook ads?
Setting up an ad on Facebook can be intimidating. Nobody would call the Facebook ad manager intuitive, instead it’s a heck of a confusing tool. But then again, it’s not rocket science either and I think it’s worth it to play around with it a bit and get to know the options you have.
Facebook ads offer many more options for advertisers than a boost and the type of ad you choose to use will depend on what the goal of your campaign is. These options include likes, clicks to website, app installs, app engagement, website conversions, event responses, offer claims, video views & local awareness.
You can also decide whether to run your ad on the Facebook news feed (desktop and/or mobile), in the display network and on Instagram.
Another benefit to running ads over boosted posts is the ability to add an optional call to action button promoting actions such as ‘shop now’, ‘sign up’, ‘download’ and ‘contact us’ to name a few.
The main difference is that ads have more targeting options and the ad manager gives you more details about these options, as well as the ability to create it from scratch in the ad console and not have it displayed on the Facebook page as a post.
To sum it up: boosted posts are easier to set up but ads offer more options for targeting and creating your ad.
But if you actually simply want to promote a post for your next yoga retreat, what works better?
I tested it both. I boosted a Facebook post for a retreat for one day and then I created an ad using the same post and run it for the next day. I used the exact same targeting options and budget and run the ad only on the newsfeed. I allocated a budget of $10 a day for each ad variant.
Here’s the post I used:
The results of my Facebook boost vs. ad test:
The boosted post reached 1,266 people and got 25 engagements, 12 from these were link clicks.
My ad reached 1,730 people, but only got 10 link clicks.
So if I just look at reach the ad outperformed the boost. But the boost got more clicks, so the boost worked better in the end. I can’t explain these differences and it might be completely different for you or the next time I try it – but for now I’m happy to know that a boosted post simply works.
To summarize the results
The boost post option is easy and accessible. It’s located right on your page’s timeline and can be set up with a few clicks.
The ad manager allows more control over who sees your ad and how you pay for it and gives you more targeting details and options.
I was able to choose the same interests for targeting in the boost as in the ad, but in the ad manager I could see more details.
If you have a great post that works as an ad and simply want to drive traffic to your website, my test shows that using a boosted post will get you better results than an ad. I for one will definitely keep on using the boost feature in the future, though I will use the targeting insights from the ad manager to set up my targeting groups.
Be aware that this is just one little test and you might get different results. What are your experiences? Have you already tried Facebook ads or boosted posts? Let me know in the comments, I would love to hear from you.