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Ads or Sponsored Posts: Which Is Better on Facebook?

Leslie Ramey
16 August  2017
Marketing your business on Facebook is an undeniably effective way to reach a large and engaged audience. However, it can be confusing for business owners who are unfamiliar with it. The platform frequently tweaks the features of their promotional offerings, and their official help pages don’t necessarily include all the details you need to make an informed decision. Here, we’ll be looking at the difference between boosting posts also known as sponsored post on Facebook and running ads to help you figure out which option is best for the content you want to promote.


Declining Organic Reach

Over time, the organic reach of business posts on Facebook has been declining. That means that fewer people will see your posts unless you pay to increase their visibility. This is in part due to Facebook moving to monetize the platform. It also has to do with the sheer amount of content on the network and changes to the algorithms that determine what is relevant to a particular user. In any case, paying even a little for greater exposure goes a long way towards getting the clicks that convert into sales of your product or service.

It has been estimated that less than 1% of your fans will see your content. If you have an active or engaged audience that comments, shares, and likes your posts you can improve those numbers, but don’t expect to reach more than 10% organically. The one exception to this would be sites with low fan counts. If you have 100 fans, you’ll reach more of your audience organically than if you have 10,000 fans. This uplift in reach will decline as your audience interacts with your content. No engagement means a slowing of views.

So Is That An Ad… Or An Ad?

Facebook gives two options for promoting your posts: boosting them or running them as ads. From the perspective of your audience, they both appear in the timeline marked as “Sponsored.” In fact, using the boost option is essentially a simplified interface for creating an ad out of an existing post. While users may not be able to tell the difference, there are important distinctions for you to consider on the back-end. Let’s check those out.

Boosting Posts on Facebook

Boosting is the quick, easy, and more limited way to push your Facebook posts to a larger audience.  Over time, some of the options that used to be exclusive to ads, like targeting specific custom audiences, have been added to the boost feature. However, certain very useful features are still only available for ads. This means that ads generally give the best flexibility and results, though there’s still a specific case where boosting makes the most sense. The biggest value is that your boosted posts will remain in your timeline. This allows your audience to return to your page to review a post post or refresh their memory on an item they saw through you.

Ads require that you commit to spending money before they go live and before you know how they’ll perform. On the other hand, you can boost a post that is already popular to extend its reach even further. So, if you’re uncertain that a certain piece of content will do well with your audience, you can post it for free first and then boost it later. When you have confidence that your material is relevant and well targeted, an ad is the better option. Let’s take a look at the features that are exclusive to ads and why they matter.

Using Facebook Ads

Facebook is set apart from other networks not just by the massive size of its network but also by the amount of useful data they have about their users. This includes not just what users do on the platform itself, but also what they do on other sites that include Facebook’s tracking code. The ad tool allows you to choose a specific objective for your campaign, like getting new installs of your app, then targets users who are most likely to take that action based on their history. By telling Facebook what you’re trying to accomplish, they’re able to position your post where it’s most relevant.

Using ads also gives you a powerful tool for turning views into clicks by allowing you to add a call to action button to a post. Research and anecdotes both suggest that prospects are more likely to click a button than a simple text link. Facebook makes it easy to use a few pre-canned messages like “Shop Now” or create your own custom button text. Of course, a call to action isn’t appropriate for every post—sometimes you are just building your brand or telling your company’s story. Otherwise, this is a great reason to choose ads over boosting.

If you manage a Facebook business page, you’ve probably been tempted by those “Boost Post” buttons all over the place, and now you know a bit more about how to use them. Want more help with your social media marketing campaign? cThru Media offers complete services to make your life easier. Contact us today to get started!