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Tokyo Japan , SEP 20, 2015 : Facebook search space on computer notebook .Facebook is a social networking service, owned and operated by Facebook, Inc.
January 31, 2017
Social Media  |  10 min read

Facebook Boosted Posts vs. Facebook Ads

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Suresh Thakoor

With 1.7 billion monthly active Facebook users, you would not be wrong by calling Facebook a juggernaut. As a small business owner, that number has your heart a fluttering. You know the opportunity to market on Facebook is there, and you have heard whispers of "gold in them hills" from others who have made a killing in advertising on Facebook.

You have also heard anguishing stories of inadvertent Facebook philanthropy: dropping several hundred bucks on ads that never went anywhere in addition to another several hundred on a consultant that promised to deliver exceptional results.

Facebook is the best advertising platform out there, but it’s also flat out is the worst user-friendly platform out there. Facebook's power is in its ability leverage big data analytic capabilities to micro-target the ad with a level of sophistication that can also be daunting to the first time user.

Similarly, Facebook does not just offer one type of ad opportunity: you have boosted posts and Facebook ads. However, even then there are quirky dynamics to what makes a great ad perform well.

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In the hands of a digital marketing virtuoso and big data geek like myself, the platform is a dream, but for anyone that is either a DIYer or hired a "Facebook ad consultant" and failed, this guide will give you a better understanding of what is needed to succeed and prevent inadvertent Facebook philanthropy.

Understanding Facebook boosted posts

If Facebook advertising was a swimming pool, boosted posts would be like playing in a kiddie pool. As you are aware, when you post to Facebook only a portion of people that follow you will get the post. You have some options in regards to targeting but nothing in terms of thoroughness of an ad.

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[tweet] If Facebook advertising was a swimming pool, boosted posts would be like playing in a kiddie pool. [/tweet]

Boosted posts are optimized for engagement

A boosted post is also optimized for engagement (likes and shares), which may not work with the objective of the post. If you are trying to entice someone to click on your post’s call-to-action, then this is not going to be what you want. You want Facebook to optimize whom it displays the ad to so that you are driving conversions. That is why Facebook has tracking pixels. You can track that conversion, and Facebook can optimize delivery to others that are more likely to convert by finding similar characteristics to those tracked by the pixel.

Boosted posts are limited in terms of targeting

Unlike ads, Facebook boosted posts are limited in terms of whom you can target. You have three options:

  1. People who like your page
  2. Same as above, plus friends of theirs
  3. People whom you choose through targeting

The first one seems like a good idea, but if you think about it, a like from someone does not mean that they are your ideal customer. So your conversions will be low. Adding the friends of the "likers" is just adding jet fuel to the fire, and your conversions will tank. People are friends with a variety of others and therefore conversions are going to be low since the audience is too dynamic. Conversions happen when we target one type of customer, our ideal customer type, and just get carbon copies of those. Looking at the options left, you would think that three would be able to help us out. 

Yes and no. Unlike the ad platform, there are a limited targeting possibilities. Though the strength of the ad platform is daunting, it can get easier if you follow part two of this guide, building a bulletproof ad. What really is a bummer about boosted posts is the fact that you cannot target behaviors or detailed targeting (where you use “and” logic, i.e., interested in food trucks and interested in lobster tail).

In addition to limited targeting, we cannot focus where the ads are placed. If we want to do a link post, and the link is to an optin form, mobile is not ideal for that since people are less likely to sign up on a mobile device. Think about how hard it is to fill forms on a mobile device even if it is mobile optimized. Lastly, Facebook is always trying to deliver the cheapest result, not the best result. By choosing both mobile and desktop for our link post, we may see it delivered 95 percent mobile and 5 percent desktop because mobile is cheaper for Facebook than desktop. Same thing happens with age and gender. The more inclusive we are, the less likely the ad will perform.

The big leap to Facebook ads

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I get how scary the ad platform is, but the most terrifying feeling you can have is that of spending several hundred dollars and getting minimal results. The greatest feeling you can feel is knowing that for every $1 in ad spend, you are generating $2, $5, or even $10 in return. 

The first thing about Ad Manager is it is not for you. Luckily, we do not have to use it. There are plenty of tools we can use.

AdEsspresso ($49 a month for base level) 

AdEspresso is awesome for the Facebook ad beginner, but they have an ad cap on the base level of $3,000. All features are unlimited. The premium level lets you have an ad cap of $10,000 and more features for $149. 


  • Simple split testing: A split test on their platform takes three clicks
  • Cleaner analytics: Analytics are presented in a better way than Facebook
  • Intelligent insights: The platform will provide you with campaign alerts and optimization tips so that you can optimize the campaign on the spot
  • AdEspresso Academy: The blog is an amazing resource of tips, case studies, data, and examples to help you learn how to be successful on the platform

Qwaya (starts at $149)

Qwaya has the same feature set for the higher price tag. What gives? They have an unlimited ad cap at that price and more features.


  • Ad scheduling: You can set up your ads in advance and have them scheduled out
  • Campaign rules: Allow you to create triggers that allow campaigns to pause
  • Rotation: Allows you to cycle through a bunch of ads automatically
  • Google Analytics integration
  • Templating: Create templates for both audience and ads
  • Exporting: Export to Excel

AdStage (starts at $159)

AdStage is also a great platform for ad management. Unlike the others, you can manage all ads (Bing, Google, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn) on their platform.


  • Same as the others in terms of creating and reporting
  • Reporting across all ads, so you can have a broad picture of your ad spends

What makes a great ad?

In a nutshell, you need to connect with the audience you are targeting. Make sure that you message speaks to the audience in their language. It needs to connect with them. 

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Attention is the only commodity there is, so we can "hack" attention by making the image remarkable. For instance, raising the image's contrast will make it stand out.

Lastly, a major fail is people try to do too much. Your ad should focus on getting them to the next logical progression in the buyer's journey which is to click on the link and get them to the landing page and nothing more.

To learn more about what makes a great ad check out the article I wrote on Extreme Growth Hacking Using Facebook Ads. I share the exact ad formula of how Nicholas Kusmich, a Facebook ad virtuoso makes incredible ROIs on his Facebook ads.

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Suresh Thakoor is a marketing and sales solutions architect and co-founder of the marketing and sales consulting firm, Ananda Solutions.

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