Have you noticed a dip in engagement with your business’s Facebook posts? An update to the social media platform may be to blame. At the beginning of 2018, Facebook cofounder Mark Zuckerberg CEO announced that Facebook News Feeds would be prioritizing content shared by “friends, family and groups,” and showing us “less public content like posts from businesses, brands and media.”

While this change means that your Facebook posts might not be reaching as many people as they once did organically, you can still use the platform to great effect. If you’re ready to get your business’s content in front of your target audience right away, you should consider boosted posts and Facebook ads. Here’s a breakdown of both strategies and a look at the differences between them.

Most social networks don’t charge businesses to set up pages or publish content. However, the fastest way to connect with prospective customers on these platforms is by using some of your marketing budget to promote posts or create ads. These types of content are referred to as paid social. On Facebook, paid social takes two forms — boosted posts and ads.

What is a boosted post?

After posting to your business page timeline, you can pay to boost that post — or another previously published post — to a specific audience. This means the post shows up for a wider audience. The boosted post shows up as a sponsored post to users who match the criteria you’ve selected.

Boosted posts are the most basic way to advertise on the platform. As such, they’re an excellent option for beginners who want to start experimenting with paid social. All you need to do to get started is click the blue “Boost” button on the post, identify your audience using a dropdown menu, set your budget and then determine how long you want it to run.

Want more exposure for your brand or a new product or service? Boosting a post will introduce your business to a new audience that may be interested in your offerings. Other benefits include:

  • Basic audience targeting: You can select who you want the post to reach based on location, age, gender and interests.
  • More visibility: Your post will reach more of your chosen audience, which can include users who do not already follow your page.
  • Easy to get started: It only takes a few steps to start promoting your content.

When to boost

To make sure you’re using your marketing dollars effectively, you’ll have to be selective about the posts you choose to boost. As you get started, you should consider posts that meet the following criteria:

  • Posts with high engagement: Did your recently publish a product or service update to your feed that received more likes and comments than usual? Think about putting some money behind this post. If it was a hit with your current fans, it’s likely to be relevant and compelling to the new audience you’re targeting.
  • Posts that drive action: Anything you’ve published that directs users to your website or a sign-up form, or that has the potential to facilitate a sale is a great candidate for boosting.

What is a Facebook ad?

Facebook ads are the platform’s more advanced advertising option. Like a boosted post, an ad enables you to target audiences of your choosing. However, ads are more customizable, allowing you to get very detailed about everything from placement to format to campaign objectives.

Where boosted posts are deployed right from your Facebook page, a Facebook ad must be created through the Ads Manager — a special tool that gives you the power to optimize, track and analyze your campaigns.

Although it may be easier and faster to create a boosted post, Facebook ads boast the following features, making them a more powerful option:

  • More objectives: When boosting a post or creating an ad you will be able to choose an objective — or, the results you’d like to see — from the campaign. With a boosted post, you can focus on website clicks, page engagement and local business promotions. But ads provide you with more objectives including, brand awareness, conversions, store visits and lead generation.
  • Greater targeting capabilities: Use ads to reach custom audiences (users who already know about your business), look-alike audiences (users that share characteristics with a custom audience) and save previous targeting options to speed up the process in the future.
  • More placement choices: Ads can be placed in News Feed side ads, Messenger ads, Instagram stories, Instant Articles, Messenger Inbox and more.
  • Creative control: Boosted posts have limited formatting options, while ad formatting options include scrollable carousel images or videos and looping slideshows.

Should you boost a post or create an ad?

Boosting a post is a quick way to increase engagement and visibility. But ads give you more control over your paid campaigns. To determine which is the best choice for you and your business, you should first determine what your goals are. Of course, your needs will change from campaign to campaign, so you may find that a combination of both boosted posts and ads is the way to go. Experiment to find the right paid social mix for you and your business.

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