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What’s the Difference Between Boosted Posts and Ads?

In our last post, we mentioned that Facebook boosted posts are different from “ads” because they’re not focused and optimized in the same way. However, we didn’t spend much time on the difference between boosted posts and ads. With this post, we hope to explain more about how boosted posts and ads differ. In addition, we’d like to give you a few criteria to use when deciding which to choose for your business. Keep reading to take the guesswork out of Facebook post promotion.

How You Can Make the Difference Between Boosted Posts and Ads Work in Your Favor

It can be hard to choose between Facebook ads and boosted posts if you don’t know the difference. Let’s look at the pros and cons of the two promotion types – and lay down some rules for when to use each.

Facebook Ads

When you see a Facebook ad, you may not recognize it as a promoted post right away. Ads usually show up right in the middle of your News Feed.

“Oh, that’s nice … Aunt Beth went on vacation to Bali, my co-worker got a new kitten, buy a pair of yoga pants, the book club is meeting tonight …”

Wait. Buy a pair of yoga pants?

Fortunately for users, ads always show the words “Sponsored Content” in gray type. Otherwise, many of them have no distinguishable difference to normal, everyday friend posts. Where the real difference shows up is in the Ads Manager. Facebook’s powerful analytics options give companies a clear way to see which ads are performing well, define goals, and manage individual ads or ad groups. Even more important, Facebook ads include targeting options that can get super-specific. Depending on what type of business you are, you may be able to target based on age, gender, location, interests, and other criteria*.

Facebook ads also give you the option of formatting your presentation. You can choose from an image carousel, slideshow, video, canvas ads, and more. In addition, Facebook has optimized most of their ad formats to meet particular campaign goals.

Facebook Ads Can Help You

  • Gather leads
  • Send users to your website
  • Promote products
  • Include call-to-action buttons and text

For these reasons, social media marketing pros most often use Facebook ads rather than boosted posts. When your business depends on delivering results for your client, you use the most efficient, capable format available: the Facebook ad.

Boosted Posts

According to Facebook, boosted posts are still “ads” because you spend a budget to promote them. However, by comparison, boosted posts are more simple. All you have to do is:

  • Make a Facebook post from your business page
  • Click the “Boost Post” button
  • Choose an audience location and radius
  • Choose a target age range and gender**
  • Choose a budget
  • Choose your boosted post’s start and end dates

Once you commit, your boosted post will spend your budget over your chosen run time to reach a wider audience. A greater number of users will see it. For that reason, your brand may even reach more users who are interested in its content. In addition, you can choose not to boost a post until you already know if your current audience is interested. Once a post has likes, shares, comments, and other engagement, you can decide if it’s worth a boost.

Choosing Ads vs. Posts

This is where your marketing plan enter your choice. What are your goals for social media? Are you using it to grow your bottom line? Do you have campaign goals such as lead captures, app installations, or sales? The increased flexibility, targeting, and analytics may be more suited for your purpose. On the other hand, boosted posts may help to increase brand recognition and gain followers.

Boosted Posts Can Increase

  • Page likes
  • Comments
  • Shares
  • Brand awareness
  • App installs
  • Website conversions (like click-to-call, page views, and form fills)
  • Video views
  • Shop orders

Facebook Ads Can Increase

The difference between boosted posts and ads means that your decision depends on your desired outcomes. Are you thinking short-term or long-term? Thinking of the big picture, using both types is ideal for a healthy social media marketing campaign. You’ll use boosted posts to increase your brand’s name recognition and follower base. And you’ll use ads to target particular demographics with services you know appeal to them. In addition, you’ll manage your campaign goals more effectively using ads.


Need to turn your campaign goals into outcomes that grow your bottom line? Call Interactive ID at (888) 623-1891 today and we can talk about what you’re trying to accomplish!


* Facebook’s standards prevent some business types, like banks and educational products, from targeting based on certain criteria that may be seen as discriminatory.

** Facebook strictly regulates age and gender-based targeting.

Click here to view Facebook’s advertising policies