Nowadays, most social platforms are considered ‘pay-to-play’ spaces for businesses, In fact, by some estimates, organic reach is now as low as 2%, so dedicating a marketing budget to Facebook advertising is important if you want your posts to be visible to your own followers and reach new audiences.
But one important factor remains.
Are sponsored ads or boosted posts better when it comes to Facebook ads? In short, it depends. Here, we highlight the key differences and use cases for both. We’ve also included handy tips for setting up a successful Facebook advertising campaign.
A boosted post is the same as any type of post you would make on your business page – except that you pay to make it appear higher on your existing audience’s news feed and to friends of your current audience – depending on the what you select when setting up your boost.
With this type of a Facebook ad, you’re essentially paying for Facebook to deliver your post to a wider audience than it would organically (i.e. for free).
A sponsored ad, on the other hand, is more like a traditional ad in that you can target different demographics right down to very specific details like interests and habits. Sponsored ads show up in users’ news feeds like any other post, but don’t appear on your business page.
What’s more effective?
It depends what you’re after. Boosted posts are great for generating user engagement via likes, shares and comments. The post appears as an organic post (viewers can’t tell if is has or hasn’t been boosted) so it feels quite natural and not ‘salesy’.
Sponsored ads tend to generate more actionable clicks, this is because they are much more customisable than boosted posts. From choosing an objective like website click through or store visits to retargeting, to selecting a highly specific audience – you can do it with a sponsored ad.
However, more options also mean it’s more complicated to set up a sponsored ad. This guide will take you through the basics. Or if you’d prefer some help, Social Ads are a great option. Packages start from just $400 a month with our expert team delivering effective social campaigns that tick all the boxes.
When to boost a post.
As a general rule, it’s best to boost a post when you want to maximise its visibility on your timeline. Remember, boosted posts only show up in your news feed, so will only be seen by people who already like your page and friends of anyone who has engaged with your page directly (such as by commenting on it).
Some good reasons to boost a post include:
- Running a campaign to increase customer loyalty
- To promote an event that’s likely to appeal to your followers
- To share user-generated content
When to create a sponsored ad.
Because sponsored advertising offers you more flexibility with targeting and budgeting, its uses are much broader.
Sponsored posts are useful when you want to do:
- Generate new leads for your business
- Drive traffic to your website
- Showcase new or special products or services
- Drive purchases
As you’ll see below, different types of sponsored ads are beneficial for different objectives.
Sponsored ad options.
While boosting a post is as easy as clicking ‘Boost’, creating a sponsored ad campaign is a little trickier. To set up a sponsored ad campaign, you’ll need to use either Facebook Ads Manager or Facebook Power Editor. They both do essentially the same thing, although Power Editor tends to be used by more experienced advertisers managing advanced and more difficult campaigns.
Facebook ad campaigns are structured in three levels:
Campaign – The name of your campaign – for example, ‘Winter 2018 Sale’
Ad set – The names of the group of ads that will sit within your campaign – for example, ‘Men’s Clothing’, ‘Women’s Clothing’ etc.
Ad – The name of each individual ad – for example, ‘Men’s Yellow Pages Shirt’, ‘Men’s Red Shirt’ etc.
With this structure, you can tailor ads specifically to various audiences under each campaign, and you can test out different ad types to see which ones perform best.
Facebook sponsored ad types and sizes.
Facebook sponsored ad types are similar to normal types of posts you can make on your business page, but, as discussed earlier, there are additional options that are only available for sponsored ads.
Here’s a quick guide:
Single image/link ad.
- Image size: 1200 x 628 pixels
- Link description: <200 characters
- Post text: <90 characters
- Headline: <25 characters
Good for: Driving traffic to your website, generating leads, raising brand awareness.
Single video ad.
- File size: 4GB max
- File type: .mp4, .mov or .gif
- Recommended length: <15 sec
- Max length: 240 minutes
- Sound: enabled with captions
Good for: Raising brand awareness, driving traffic to your website, generating leads.
Carousel ads (sponsored ads only).
- Image size: 1,800 x 1,800 pixels
- Post text: <90 characters
- Headline: <40 characters
- Description (optional): <20 char.
- Up to 10 images
Good for: Showcasing products, generating sales, generating leads.
Facebook Canvas (sponsored ads only, mobile only).
- Recommended image size: 1,200 x 628 pixels
- Ad copy text: 90 characters
- Headline: 45 characters
- Canvas ads have the following possible components: Header with logo, Full-screen image, Text block, Button for offsite links, Image carousel, Auto-play video, Product set
Good for: Providing a highly memorable experience, generating sales and leads.
Tips when creating a sponsored ad.
1. Choose your objective.
As we touched upon, you can set your objective as everything from brand awareness and engagement to conversions and store visits. This option is presented when you begin to set up an new ad campaign. For many businesses the main objective will be driving traffic to a website, although there are a variety of options to choose from.
2. Define your intended audience.
Facebook sponsored advertising comes with a lot of options for targeting, including:
- Demographics – age, location, gender, languages spoken, financial status, marital status, politics, etc.
- Interests – including business, entertainment, fitness, food, shopping, and tech interests
- Purchasing behaviours – i.e. what types of products people buy
- Connections – i.e. people who like your page, or friends of people who like your page
- Remarketing – people who have visited your website or subscribe to your newsletter but don’t necessarily like your page.
Keep in mind that the broader your audience, the less likely you are to achieve valuable clicks or leads from your ad, so as much as you may want to be, you can’t be all things to all people.
3. Set your budget and schedule.
Once you’ve set your target audience, you’ll need to choose a daily budget or lifetime budget (a budget for the entire campaign). You can also choose to run your ad continuously from the start date, or choose to turn your ad off during times when you don’t think your customers will be online, such as weekends or middle of the day.
4. Track your performance
Don’t forget that monitoring your ad’s performance is key to making strategic tweaks and getting the most out of your budget. Facebook will show you metrics on performance, engagement, clicks and more. Sometimes the difference between a ‘good’ ad and a ‘bad’ ad will only be a word or two – so it’s all about trial and error.
5. Harness the power of remarketing.
It’s also worthwhile developing a strategy to reconnect with existing leads. This could include:
- People who have previously visited your website
- People who have made a purchase on your site in the past
- People on your email list
Facebook allows you to serve ads to a custom audience of people who’ve interacted with your brand before. For example, you could create a custom audience using your email marketing list.
6. Link to custom landing pages.
If you have a special offer or product launch, consider creating a dedicated landing page on your website for it and link to that page from your social ads. This helps ensure people who click through get the information they need immediately without having to navigate around your website.
7. Be fun, original, and even a little daring.
When creating your ad content, keep in mind that people on Facebook are usually looking for engaging posts from their friends – which means a serious or over-‘salesy’ ad isn’t the right approach. Try to tap into what makes your business unique when crafting your copy and visuals and avoid jargon.
8. Include calls to action.
A clear call to action (CTA) is an essential component in virtually every point of communication you make. Some examples include:
- Get your offer
- Shop our 24-hour sale today only
- Take 10% off your purchase
- Sign up for our newsletter
- Like our page for daily tips on XYZ
So there you have it!
If you’re choosing to run with boosted posts, you probably won’t need much help. If you’re going to use sponsored ads, this guide is a great reference. And if you decide that you need a hand, Social Ads can help.
Or, for more details on DIY check out our free Social Ads eBook.