Paid social media advertising remains a cost-effective and customizable solution for businesses, with Facebook still considered to be the best choice because it offers a variety of tailored and proven ad options. One of the common questions asked of paid social experts and advertisers alike is about one of the many tactics housed in Facebook’s advertising arsenal: the Boosted Post.
According to Facebook’s Ads Help Center, Boosted Posts are organic Page posts businesses can put budgets behind in order to promote them as ads. They then show up in targeted audiences’ Facebook or Instagram feeds with a “Sponsored” label to indicate their status as paid social ads.
Comparing Boosted Posts and Facebook ads, however, is not apples-to-apples comparisons. It’s closer to likening a singular apple that’s been hanging out in the fruit bowl for a while now to a five-course dinner (with dessert!) at your favorite restaurant – at least when it comes to advertising on a large scale. Boosted Posts, while technically ads, aren’t as beneficial for bigger businesses as some of Facebook’s other advertising objectives. Here’s why:
Custom is Key
Because Boosted Posts are usually constructed out of owned, organic content and are promoted straight from a business’s Page, the opportunity to customize them is cut off at the knees. Boosted Posts will look, act, and populate as if they were normal Facebook or Instagram posts, save their “Sponsored” tags. You can’t tailor Boosted Posts’ creative assets to align with an objective or audience – a common practice in advertising across the board. Plus, there are only three places a Boosted Post can appear: in the desktop and mobile versions of Facebook’s News Feed and in Instagram’s Feed, but only if it’s elected and eligible. Rather limiting, isn’t it?
In Ads Manager, (Facebook’s all-in-one tool for creating, managing and measuring advertisements on Facebook’s network) there’s an array of ad types that can be modified and reconfigured as necessary in order to meet business needs. Depending on the objective, ads can include various arrangements of videos, images, carousels, collections, and catalogs with headlines, links, calls to action, and text. Instant Experiences – newer, high quality and extremely interactive ads, custom-made by merging assorted creative assets together into different configurations –encourage viewers to engage with a brand and take immediate action while still on the platform.
Ads Manager also gives businesses automatic access to all of the placements offered on Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and Audience Network, allowing Facebook’s algorithm to optimize and display ads in areas where the audience spends the most time. Delivering ads to an audience in the right place at the right time is crucial when advertising in the modern era, so placing ads on Facebook’s widespread network is a smart, efficient way to reach a broad group where the content will resonate.
Center Ads Around Audiences
Creating core and custom audiences is a crucial component of any paid social media strategy, but Boosted Posts are seriously lacking in this capacity. Targeting options include age, gender, location, and interests. There are also “suggested audiences” presented to advertisers engaging in Boosted Posts, but they typically only include people who like the business’s Page or friends of people who like the Page. On paper, it sounds like an agreeable idea, but because the targeting options are so basic, Boosted Posts essentially advertise in an echo chamber. They don’t truly reach the requisite number of viewers to expand a customer base.
In contrast, Facebook’s Ads Manager, particularly in conjunction with the Facebook pixel process, can be a considerable advantage in reaching potential brand adopters. Combining Facebook’s data with information commonly owned by businesses –customer files, website traffic or app activity – can help create robust audience segments with a range of applications. Audiences can be included, excluded, mirrored, retargeted, tested, copied, and more to help a business reach the group of people most relevant to achieving their business goals. One of the integral elements of advertising successfully on social media is understanding and appealing to people outside your brand’s inner circle; Ads Manager makes it easy to generate audiences with characteristics similar to those observed in current customers, communicating brand messaging to a new community likely to connect with it.
Metrics Make Life Simpler
Engagement alone is not a practical advertising metric for any company. Funneling dollars into plans that rely on likes, shares, clicks and comments is a great way to get numbers that aren’t actually indicative of activity. And yet, engagement is really the only KPI you’re able to glean from Boosted Posts. Currently, the objectives Boosted Posts center around are website clicks, promotion and Page engagement – all of which return engagement-based metrics. The objectives available for Boosted Posts never span the full length of the marketing funnel which leaves both current and potential customers suspended between awareness and action.
Facebook Ads Manager, on the other hand, has 11 objectives that are sectioned into different categories by where they sit in the marketing funnel. Within each category, the objectives are defined by what they are designed to achieve, from reach at the very top of the funnel to store visit conversions all the way at the bottom. The metrics vary depending on what approach is taken, but what is returned is clearly connected to the chosen objective. The relevant measurements provide actionable insights, which play an important factor in helping further success long-term.
Boosted Posts do have their place. They’re an inexpensive way for small businesses to increase brand awareness and recall in their immediate service area. They can help increase engagement with a business’s Page and, in turn, lay the foundation for a relationship between brand and consumer. With larger businesses, though, Boosted Posts shouldn’t factor into social media plans. The lack of customization, targeting, and measurement capabilities severely limit effectiveness.
So what’s our advice? Ditch the questionable apple and put your budget (and appetite) behind something that isn’t bite-sized and unfulfilling.