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The podcast where digital marketing experts from the agency Granular talk about the latest trends, tried and true best practices, and share their unfiltered thoughts about the digital marketing industry.

Facebook Ads vs Boosted Posts: Getting Granular


Facebook ads come into the spotlight as Jordon and Anna discuss the difference between boosting Facebook posts and running Facebook ads. They dispel many of the myths behind boosting Facebook posts and what any business owner or marketer should really know about running Facebook ads.


What you’ll learn in this episode of Getting Granular: • What boosting a Facebook post means and when it should be used • What makes boosting different than running Facebook ads • The ad unit options available in Facebook ads compared to boosted posts • Where boosted posts are shown vs where Facebook ads are shown • The audience targeting options available between Facebook ads and boosted posts • How creative can be different between Facebook ads and boosted posts


Jordon: All right, Anna. I’ve baked a pretty good peanut butter and chocolate pie in my day, and I think I can win The Great British Baking Show. They make pie on that show. I make pie. That means I can win, right?

Announcer: Welcome to Getting Granular, the podcast where digital marketing experts from the agency Granular talk about the latest trends, tried and true best practices, and share their unfiltered thoughts about the industry. Whether you’re here to learn how to grow your business, improve your digital skills, or just want to hear some Midwest PPC experts rant about digital media, you’ve come to the right place.

Jordon: Welcome to Getting Granular podcast. I’m your host Jordon Meyer. I’m the founder and president of Granular. Today, we’re talking to Anna, and we’re going to dive right in to Facebook ads versus boosted posts.

Jordon: All right, Anna. I’ve baked a pretty good peanut butter and chocolate pie in my day, and I think I can win The Great British Baking Show. They make pie on that show. I make pie. That means I can win, right?

Jordon: All right, so that’s a little bit of a crazy statement, I know, but we hear similar stuff with Facebook ads, something like, “Hey, I boosted a post once. I think I’m an ad expert,” or, “Hey, I’ve got a cousin that boosts Facebook posts. Hire him.” We’re going to dive in and talk to Anna. We’ll introduce her in a second here. But we’re going to dispel some of the truths and myths about ads versus boosting. Without further ado, here is Anna Borchert, one of our expert paid search folks on the team at Granular. She definitely specializes in Facebook as well, so let’s get your take on this, Anna.

Anna: A lot of us love watching The Great British Bake Off. I’m sure people at home are big fans of it, and that’s also going to be the same for a lot of small businesses. They’re going to think that they can boost their post, which is great. That’s great for a short-term option, but really, you’re only getting engagement. When it comes to the experts, we’re really great at creating the strategy long-term, finding the different options that you need for your posts, which you don’t have when you just boost a post.

Anna: There’s a lot of myths out there about what you can do with boosted posts, but when it comes down to it, it’s basically just a basic Facebook ad. It’s something that a mom-and-pop shop should consider and are great for the short-term engagements, but it’s only going to show on your page’s timeline. It will say it’s an ad, but when it comes to actual Facebook ads, you have different placements such as Instagram stories, Facebook stores, the right-hand side, the newsfeed, and then also the audience network, which gives your audience that you’re trying to target a lot more opportunity to see your actual ad.

Jordon: Right. So that’s where some of the confusion comes in because a boosted post does say it’s an ad, and technically, it is an ad, so that’s why people think they’re good at running Facebook ads because they got a lot of engagement or likes or shares from that boosted post, but I think as we get into some details here, you’ll really see that ads, true ads are so much more valuable than just a boosted ad.

Anna: That is definitely a misconception about boosted posts is that they do say ads. In theory, it is an ad because you are paying money to reach additional people, but that’s also a lot of Facebook’s algorithm. They’re trying got push away from pages and more towards people’s actual friends, so you almost need to boost a post in order to reach your audience. You may have thousands of people who like your page, but only a third of it, maybe a quarter of it are going to see your true organic posts, which is why boosted posts do come in to help when you’re trying to reach your page’s audience.

Jordon: They’re still handy, right? They still serve a purpose.

Anna: Exactly. Exactly. But it’s all about what your objective is and your campaign, so if you’re coming to an agency, and you’re trying to increase not only your engagement but your audience, that’s where Facebook ads are going to come into play.

Anna: The main thing with Facebook ads, especially having a business manager, is that there’s different objectives that you can have when it comes to Facebook ads, whether you’re really focusing on sales, page engagement, if you’re trying to increase your likes or comments, et cetera, but then there’s also additional options like app installs, which you can do through boosted post video views, which are a little different when it comes to boosted posts because you can boost a video view, but then there’s also awareness, which is the main one that people use.

Jordon: It’s really good to distinguish how many more options there are with ads versus boosting. I don’t know the best way to equate it, but you’re basically getting the farthest on the left, the most basic option out of anything when you’re boosting, and on the right of that scale, you have a sophisticated ad with a lot of different targeting options. When you mention the purpose of those ads, is that something that you have in mind, or is that something that Facebook actually has an option to select?

Anna: Facebook can give you recommendations, but it really comes down to the account manager and the client because you’re going to have different objectives for different campaigns, which obviously is going to come down to what makes the most sense. If you’re looking at just engagement on videos and then looking at retargeting, we’re going to for a video campaign versus if we’re just trying to increase awareness of a brand new product that people might know about, it’s going to be better for awareness or a website traffic campaign.

Jordon: That’s great. Cool. What are some other things that you miss out on with a boosted post versus an ad?

Anna: I know I already mentioned it a little bit earlier, but the biggest thing is about where your ad is going to be placed. With a boosted post, you’re only going to see it on the Facebook newsfeed, whether that’s mobile or desktop. If you run an ad with actual Facebook ads, you get more ad placements, including the right-hand side, Instagram, Instagram stories, Facebook stories, and then the audience network, which expands all over the Internet.

Jordon: Yeah, that’s great. I think it really expands the reach. It gets in front of people when they’re not on the Facebook platform, which is often. We’ve seen really good success with the Facebook audience network and some of their other properties, so I think it’s important to break those out and explore those versus just living in the Facebook newsfeed.

Anna: Exactly. We’re very mobile-first, and Facebook’s audience network will also show on their partner sites’ apps, so if you have the BuzzFeed app, you’re able to push your ad there as well if you want to reach that many people and expand your targeting by that much.

Jordon: Cool. Anything else that we should know as far as the difference, the compare and contrast?

Anna: Another really big area about it is going to be your audiences. On boosted posts, you can’t use any custom audiences. You can pretty much only reach your page likes, so people who already like your page, whereas in Facebook ads, you can create those advanced targeting capabilities, which are going to be your custom audiences, which are customer lists, lookalike audiences, et cetera, which we all know customer lists are going to be some of the most important. Your customers might not always like your Facebook page. I know there’s many websites that I buy from that I don’t actually like on Facebook.

Jordon: Yeah, same here. From a personal standpoint, I think I set up my likes in the early 2000s when I signed up for Facebook and I haven’t changed it, so there’s probably a ton of stuff that I don’t even like anymore. Then I know that from Granular customers, they don’t all like our page. It’s mostly friends and family, and everyone’s mom on the team seems to like our Facebook page, which is funny. But yeah, we don’t expect clients to necessarily like it, so to get that reach, ads are super important.

Anna: Right. Exactly. Then it also comes down to not only are they your actual customers. You may have been at a trade show or something similar where people have signed up for your list, and then you never actually emailed them. That’s another way that you can target users that don’t actually like your Facebook page or may have completely forgotten that they signed up for your list two years ago.

Jordon: Cool. One of the most powerful audiences is retargeting lists, and that’s not possible with boosted posts, right?

Anna: Exactly. You can theoretically retarget just because you’re hitting your current page likes, but, again, if it’s someone who visited your website through an ad or through organic, they’re not going to see that boosted post, but they’re going to be able to see your, say, Fourth of July special.

Jordon: Cool. That’s helpful.

Anna: Yeah, and then one other final thing when it comes to the main differences is that you have more creative control over your Facebook ads. The boosted posts are very simple since we only have the option to have it on the newsfeed. On Facebook ads, you can do carousels, more descriptions, change your call-to-action button, and then also, as we know, when it comes to video and also the story ads, you can change the format so it’s not as clunky as you would see on a newsfeed.

Jordon: Cool. I think that’s a big important point that you describe there is just the flexibility with ads. As new ad formats come out, those are pushed into the ad platform, not the boosted post section. If you want the latest and greatest ad format, you have to actually run a real Facebook ad, not boost a post.

Anna: Exactly. You also get more analytics behind it so you can see a little bit more about your audience, especially if they don’t like your page, which might find you new customers you wouldn’t have known about on your boosted post. Then another important aspect is also ad scheduling, so you can choose when the ad is going to run, if you want it turn off at 4:00 p.m., if you want it to run for a week, et cetera.

Jordon: Cool. Yeah. That’s super help. Well, I think I’ll still try to enter The British Bake Off, but I probably won’t succeed because I’m not British, even though 23andMe says so. The accent really isn’t there, so I’ll just keep baking at home and bringing it into the office once in a while.

Anna: There you go.

Jordon: Well, Anna, thanks so much for dropping some knowledge on us about boosted posts on Facebook versus Facebook ads. I think it’s really important to distinguish the big difference between those. We just get a lot of people that are confused by it, so hopefully this clears that up a little bit.

Anna: Yeah, exactly, and then if you need help getting away from boosted posts and going towards Facebook ads, you’ve got a good team here.

Jordon: Exactly. Cool. Thanks a lot.

Jordon: All right, thanks for listening to the Getting Granular podcast. Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss out on any PPC tips, tricks, or news in the digital marketing world. Also, be sure to visit our website for more content at granularmarketing.com. This is your host Jordon Meyer. Thanks for getting granular with us today.