If you’re not overly familiar with the Meta Platform, it can be difficult to figure out which posts on your Facebook and Instagram feeds are ads, and which ones are not. So, what’s the difference between an ad and a post on Facebook?
The Short Answer: Facebook and Instagram ads are posts that advertisers have paid to appear on your feed, even though you might not follow or ‘like’ the page. The easiest way to recognise that a post is an ad, is to search for the word ‘Sponsored’ on the post. This is generally found directly under the page name at the top of the post.
There are also multiple types of ads on Facebook and Instagram, including ‘Boosted Posts’ and ‘Facebook Ads’.
An ‘organic’ post on Facebook or Instagram refers to a post that shows up on a user or brand’s profile and has had no money put behind it. You will come across organic posts constantly as you scroll through the feed, mainly from people or brands you have opted to follow.
Sometimes organic posts will reach people beyond the audience that follows the page, such as when someone shares the post or tags friends in the comments. A lot of the time, organic posts will not even reach a large portion of a page’s followers. This is where Boosted Posts and Facebook Ads become a fantastic resource for brands.
Boosted posts are a very simple and quick way for social media advertisers to help their organic (unpaid) Instagram and Facebook posts to reach more users.
Boosted posts are actually just already-published posts, that the advertiser can put money behind to help it reach people beyond their followers.
Why Do Brands Boost Their Posts?
Boosting posts can have a range of benefits to the advertiser. Because they are originally organic posts, they generally fit seamlessly into the users’ newsfeeds and it’s not as obvious that they are ads. They can also:
- Build brand awareness (introduce new audiences to your brand)
- Build brand knowledge (educate new and existing audiences on your brand)
- Build trust (particularly if the boosted post has lots of positive comments already)
- Reach more specific audiences (e.g. people in a specific geo-location, age, gender and even interests/behaviours)
What Is The Downside Of Boosting Posts?
The problem with boosted posts is you are offered very limited creativity and editing options, as you are working with a post that has already been published to your feed. You cannot customise captions, images or links where changes may need to be made to suit an ad. You are also limited by which objectives and goals you can choose from, and cannot make edits to a boosted post once they have been boosted.
Another problem is, sometimes the content of boosted posts may not be effective as an ad, especially if you have a more specific objective in mind - such as sales.
Don’t worry, if boosting a post isn’t right for you, but you still want to leverage the power of social media marketing, the alternative is designing your own Facebook Ads.
Unlike boosted posts, Facebook Ads are more customisable posts that will not be posted onto your social media profile. They do require more planning and effort, however our social media paid advertising specialists at Born Social believe that the results from these well thought-out campaigns are worth the extra work.
Created on Facebook Ads Manager, Facebook Ads are more complex to set up, though you are able to access a variety of options that aren’t available when you opt for a boosted post. This includes:
- Custom Audiences (pulled in from mailing lists, your Facebook pixel on your website or offline activities)
- Lookalike audiences (audiences that Facebook deems similar to your existing customers or engagers)
- More detailed objectives: Awareness, Reach, Traffic Engagement, Lead Generation, Conversions and more.
You can also use Facebook Ads Manager to control where your ad is shown, such as Facebook Stories, Instagram Reels, or even Messenger.
Should You Boost A Post, Or Create A Facebook Ad?
There are two main things to consider when deciding whether to boost a post, or create a Facebook ad.
- What are your goals?
- How much time can you commit to setting up the ad?
If you are time poor and wanting to increase the likes, comments and shares on your organic posts, then boosting may be the most efficient option for you. Taking just minutes to set up, you can easily push your posts out to a wider audience even if you are short on time.
If your goal is to increase your leads or sales, or to drive traffic to your website, a Facebook Ad created through Facebook Ads Manager is much more likely to help you reach these goals.
Now you know the difference between an ad and a post on Facebook, it’s time to fine-tune your social media strategy to reach your goals! If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed about navigating Facebook Ads Manager, contact Born Social today! We have a team of dedicated social media advertising specialists who would love to help you reach your social media marketing goals.
Need more help? Request our agency pricing here.