By Danii Quico
While new apps like TikTok and more digital advertising platforms continue to emerge, Pulse Asia reports that Facebook remains the most popular social media platform among Filipino users. It’s no wonder many brands, from startups to large corporate entities, choose to advertise on the platform. The vast visibility Facebook offers is also one of the reasons we recommend it to many clients, especially if we believe that advertising on the platform can raise interest for their product or service and drive profit.
Facebook Advertising provides an array of ad formats, placements, and tools to help you market your business online — the simplest of which are boosted posts, which are a great way to kickstart your Facebook marketing campaign.
They are considered entry-level ads and usually do the job. But if you want more control on how your ads will run, especially if you have specific locations or audiences to target, Facebook Ads Manager is a powerful tool.
What’s the difference between boosted posts and paid ads?
The short answer: the limits.
Boosted posts are technically ads — you allot a budget and a target audience, and it’s included in your billing. However, unlike paid ads, which offer more advanced customization solutions, boosted posts have more limitations in form, placements, targeting, and objectives.
FORM. When you boost a post, you have less creative control: you cannot adapt the post to specific image formats (e.g. for Stories or Instant Articles), add specific descriptions, and you have limited call-to-action button options.
PLACEMENTS. Facebook has multiple types of placements where ads can appear: Instagram Stories, Messenger, Instant Articles, Audience Network, and many more. Boosted posts, however, don’t offer the same flexibility and visibility of placements compared to a paid ad. While you can select which Meta platforms the ad can appear, you can’t choose specific placements within those platforms.
TARGETING. Boosted posts are great for reaching people who already most likely care about your business. However, if you want to cast a wider net to expand your audience, then Ads Manager has the tools for it.
OBJECTIVES. With all these limitations, it’s easy to see that boosted posts can only meet a few select marketing goals. These goals are typically related to brand awareness: increasing reach, driving engagement, and raising interest — and all of that makes for just one phase of the marketing process. Paid ads can help you touch base with the other phases, like generating leads and driving in conversions that make the marketing investment worthwhile.
Think of a billboard ad as a parallel to the boosted post: you’re spending x money to post an enlarged version of an advertising image with one message on a single street to a limited audience. A boosted post is similar in that it’s limited in form (one poster), placement (one street), targeting (passersby in that street), and objectives (brand awareness).
A paid ad, on the other hand, would be more akin to pinning smaller print ads in more diverse placements. Because the cost of printing smaller posters is cheaper, you can allocate a little more budget in customizing its form and message to the specific audiences it reaches. A billboard ad may reach more people, but smaller print ads in the right placements can reach people who may be actually interested in your product.
Again, these are just parallels — digital advertising platforms offer more data points to evaluate your ad performance than traditional print ads, but they can achieve similar marketing goals. The task of a marketing professional is to strategize which channels and methods to utilize.
Which is more effective: a boosted post or a paid ad?
As with any marketing strategy, you first have to identify what “effective” entails, and that usually answers the question, “Did this method achieve our goal?”
If the goal was to raise brand awareness by increasing reach and driving engagement, then a boosted post can certainly achieve that. However, if the goal is to convert user interest into profit, then the limitations of boosted posts may hinder achieving it.
Let’s try to put that into perspective: say you’re running an ad campaign for a sales promotion that’s doing better than expected, and you’re given an extra ₱100,000 to ramp up the advertising. The first question you want to ask is not whether you’d be boosting a post or launching an ad, but “What do we want to achieve with this budget?”
Would you want to reach more people and boost visibility of the sales promotion? Or would you want to niggle at the users who have already shown interest to really drive in those sales? If your goals are both, would splitting the budget limit the efficiency of any of the ads? Once you have identified your goal, you can better evaluate which method — a boosted post or a paid ad — would help you achieve it. You can decide your strategy and points to evaluate the ad performance from there.