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  • Writer's pictureCIS Agency

What's the Difference Between Facebook Ads and Boosted Posts?

Updated: Jul 1, 2023

We frequently receive statements like, "I'm advertising on Facebook already" or "Yes, I boost all or most of my posts." In reality, each post will perform differently according to Facebook's algorithm. Some posts create traction and engagement and even go viral. However, most don't. You could be wasting your time and money just boosting posts that don't have the reach you're looking for. Even worse is if you're posting randomly, without a call to action, perceived value, etc. Understanding when to use ads, boosted posts and how to get the most out of each will help you reach your digital marketing goals.

Facebook is still going strong as a way for many businesses to interact with their current customer base and read out to a wider audience. However, like all technology, social media continually evolves and changes to meet the needs of its users. As a marketing agency, we use many tools, platforms, and strategies to help you succeed. We stay on top of the trends so you can keep running your business. Simply put, Facebook is another marketing channel for your business to interact with your current client base and/or new leads.

Facebook currently offers two paid options for businesses and pages that want to expand their reach: boosted posts and Facebook ads. These two may seem similar at first, but there are notable differences in how they're used, who they reach, and what they can do for your business.

Let's break it down further...

What are Facebook Ads?

Facebook ads are paid advertising content created through Facebook's Ads

Manager, which also has a reach on Instagram. With Ads Manager, you can design your ad exactly how you want, set objectives for your campaign, and pay to put it in front of a specific target audience that you describe to Facebook. You can also compare multiple ads on performance, deliverability, interaction, etc. This is helpful to let you know what most people are interested in and how they interact with your brand. Our robust agency platform provides great data to modify and edit ads to keep performing well.

What are Boosted Posts?

Paid content and boosted posts will appear as "Sponsored" on your bill from Facebook and your audience's Facebook feed. However, most of the similarities end there. Unlike ads, boosted posts are not created in Ads Manager. Instead, you'll take an existing post from your page's timeline and pay to have Facebook boost it to an audience you choose. Just tell Facebook how much you want to spend and how long you want to run your boosted post. In the early days, Facebook would actually boost your post to thousands of people for simply $20. That has drastically changed for two main reasons. 1. The amount of businesses now participating in Facebook ads. 2. To avoid cluttering people's news feeds, stories, etc. Of course, Facebook wants to make money from any business on its platform, so boosted posts are no longer as cheap as they once were.

How to Choose

There are advantages and disadvantages to both boosted posts and ads. You'll need to refine your advertising goals in order to choose the right approach for your business.

Who do you want to reach?

Boosted posts work best when you want more engagement from current customers and audience members. In fact, the best posts to boost are ones that are already performing well and getting a lot of comments, shares, and likes. Here is a useful tip: Run your post organically (meaning don't boost it right away) and see if it "sticks" or performs well with engagement. If it does, that's an indicator to boost it. You will pay less for PPC. If it does not perform well, it's probably not worth boosting.

Facebook Ads are the better choice for targeting new customers and expanding the reach of your campaigns. They offer far more options for customizing your target audience according to demographics and interests, helping get your content in front of new people who might want it.

Where do you want your ad to appear?

Boosted posts appear in your audience's Facebook Feeds, with the option to appear on Instagram as well. On the other hand, Ads Manager gives you many more options for ad placement, including Facebook Feed side ads, Messenger ads, Instagram stories, instant articles, and Audience Network. Useful tip: Don't forget Instagram. Some products or services perform better on Instagram, and the Facebook ads platform allows you to have that reach.

What are your campaign goals?

The primary purpose of boosted posts is to get more likes, comments, shares, and post engagement. They're great for improving visibility on content that's already performing well. Ads Manager allows you to choose objectives and optimize your ad campaigns for more specific business goals like website conversions, sales, video views, and lead generation. You can also add a product catalog, phone calls, messenger, automation, etc.-- all useful tools depending on the nature of your business.


While boosted posts and ads are both effective digital marketing tools, they're each best suited for slightly different purposes. Facebook Ads' best strength lies in its customizability. Compared to boosted posts, Ads Manager gives you much more creative control and options for ad placement, objectives, and audience. Boosted posts' best strength is that it improves the momentum of your best posts while taking less work than creating an ad from scratch. You simply need to boost an existing post right from your timeline, and Facebook does the rest.

It really comes down to what you want to accomplish. Do you want to get an important business message or popular post in front of more people? Take advantage of boosted posts. Do you want to reach out to a specific target audience and get them to take action? Consider Facebook Ads.

Need help with your social media strategy? CIS Agency is here for you. We offer services that can help you get the most out of boosted posts, ads, and much more. We also offer a "mix" of social media management where you do the posting, and we only help with the advertising. Additionally, we offer a hands-off approach where we offer consulting from time to time to help you plan and strategize, answer questions, and keep you updated. Contact us today!

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