Are Facebook Boosted Posts Worth it? avatar
Are Facebook Boosted Posts Worth it?

You are probably already running Facebook ads or perhaps you are thinking about it. After all, it seems so many businesses are jumping on board with Facebook ads, and rightly so.

However, many new Facebook advertisers begin with the infamous Boost Post due to its ease of access and simplicity right from the page interface. If this is you, you may be wondering if Boosted Posts work, or if they are worth it at all.

 

In this post, I will outline the following:

  1. Why if all you are doing is boosting posts to advertise on Facebook you are wasting your money (at least most of it) and completely missing the enormous value Facebook ads could be delivering to your business
  2. Other Facebook campaign objectives that are far more effective for achieving business outcomes (i.e. leads, sales, awareness, video views, etc.)
  3. What specifically Boosted Posts target in Facebook and why other campaign objectives are far better for growing your business
  4. When you should boost posts

Make no mistake, the Facebook ad platform is the secret weapon for many businesses that know how to use it correctly to market their products or services to their target audience – from restaurants to senior care facilities, real estate agents, real estate investors and brokerages, lawyers, dentists, massage therapists, e-commerce, point-of-care diagnostics, electricians and plumbers, and more.

There’s no other advertising platform quite like Facebook, and definitely not one that delivers the value that Facebook does in terms of its precise targeting.

Bar none, the Facebook ad platform offers more psycho-demographic information about people than any other advertising platform, including interests, behaviors, likes or dislikes, household income, age, gender, religious or political beliefs, married or single, whether they have children in the home or in college and more.  The unique targeting options afforded YOU as the advertiser are almost endless.

However, be careful.

The abundance of information and targeting options for advertisers that can be used for advertising from within Facebook can be overwhelming for anyone that doesn’t work at a digital agency. Facebook knows this which is why it created the Boost Post option from the page interface as the below screenshot from my company page.

Facebook Boosted Post
Figure 1: Boosting a Facebook post from the page interface

It is very easy to spend advertising and marketing money with Boosted Posts on Facebook, but this is also a great way to waste your ad dollars and not get the results that you COULD be achieving.

If you are only using Boosted Posts, you are not leveraging the full power of what Facebook has to offer.

Facebook made advertising simple from the page interface (compared to setting up campaigns from within the ad manager or Power Editor) and reduced the majority of advertising options it has to offer.

However, this limitation in options is by design.

Did you know that Facebook provides more than 17 different marketing objectives, none of which you will find if you are boosting posts and advertising from the page interface? Below is a screenshot of the campaign objectives that Facebook offers advertisers that are NOT running ads from the page interface via Boost Post.

facebook ad campaign objectives
Figure 2: Facebook Marketing Objectives Only Offered In Ad Manager or Power Editor

Facebook wants to make advertising as accessible and easy to implement as possible for the largest population of advertisers and page admins.

If you as a new advertiser with minimal experience were presented right away with having to choose from 17 different marketing objectives, the majority of you would run away as fast as you could – that is too intimidating!

Here are three detailed reasons why you need to pause your boosted posts spend and consider taking your Facebook ads to the next level.

Three Reasons Boosted Posts Are Not A Good Option

Reason One

There are far more effective options available to you as an advertiser. Boosted posts are just one of twenty different marketing objectives Facebook offers advertisers.  Many of its other marketing objectives will help you achieve business outcomes that Boosted Posts will not, such as leads, sales, brand awareness, increasing video views, and more.

Consider these Facebook marketing objectives and associated goals as an example:

  • Video Views: focused on getting you more views of your video
  • Traffic (in the past this was referred to as Clicks To Website): focused on driving people to a website landing page
  • Conversions (i.e. Lead Ads): designed to capture lead information (e.g. emails) from people right within Facebook
  • Brand Awareness: get your ad in front of more people that are more likely to pay attention to your brand

This was just a handful of the marketing objectives available inside Facebook for your business beyond the infamous Boosted Post.

If you are operating from your page’s interface to boost your page’s posts versus from the ad manager or Power Editor, these other marketing options are not available to you.

Here’s an organic post from my page with the Boost Post button option.

When you click on the Boost Post button from a page post, this is typically what you see (I do have Custom Audiences listed below that you won’t have):

boosted-post-ad-options-from-page-interface
Figure 3: Boost Post Ad Options From The Page Interface

There are no other marketing objectives presented to you – no video views, no increasing of brand awareness, or sending people to your website.

Facebook Ad Tests Highlight Why Other Marketing Objectives Are More Effective

At our agency, we test everything to understand what is most effective.

We ran a test to compare Facebook KPIs (i.e. key performance indicators) with four different Facebook campaign objectives:

  • Clicks to website (now called, Traffic)
  • Boost Post (Post engagement)
  • Brand Awareness
  • Local Awareness (this campaign objective is no longer available, but was when we ran our test)

We kept all other variables consistent (i.e. ad spend, target audience, geographic targeting, ad creative) and only changed the marketing objective within Facebook. In the table below are the results of our ad tests in Facebook.

The KPIs we compared for the ad test were:

  • Reach: the number of unique individuals the ad was served to
  • Impressions: the number of times the ad was shown to someone
  • Link clicks: clicks to the website
  • Post engagement: people clicking “like,” sharing, or commenting
  • CPC: cost per click
  • CPE: cost per engagement
Facebook ads test comparing campaign objectives
Facebook ads test comparing campaign objectives (Local Awareness is no longer available and Clicks to Website is now Traffic)

Highlighted in green are the cells that had the highest number for that KPI.

As you can see from the test, the KPIs vary greatly by marketing objective. The key point is, you need to choose your marketing objective for your ads carefully depending on what business objective you are trying to achieve.

If your goal was to drive people to a landing page on your website, the Traffic objective (formerly referred to as, Clicks To Website objective) provided the lowest CPC and highest link clicks by a significant margin compared to the other objectives of this test. Traffic (formerly known as, Clicks To Website) also had the second highest Reach (i.e. the number of unique individuals that saw the ad) and the second highest number of impressions. However, this result makes sense – Traffic was doing what Facebook designed it to do, which is to drive people to your website efficiently. If you used Boost Post your KPIs are very different as shown in the table.

Each marketing objective optimizes for specific metrics.

Reason Two

Boosted Posts are focused on engagement (these are vanity metrics) and targeted specifically to the 16% of users likely to engage with an ad (source: our company’s Facebook account manager). This is fine if that is what you are after, but engagement is not going to lead to increased sales, conversions, greater reach, or brand awareness compared with other more effective campaign objectives which are more effective marketing objectives if you are trying to grow your business (a related article here on Facebook engagement and does it matter).

Each of Facebook’s marketing objectives is designed for a specific goal and boosted posts are focused solely on post engagement. And engagement is not a good objective to pursue when you are focused on business outcomes such as growing revenue.

Our company’s Facebook account manager had this to say about Boosted Posts:

You are targeting engagement heavy users and this does not correlate with purchase intent, brand recognition, etc. Instead, it is solely focused on those who tend to react or “like” anything.

Yikes! Do you want to spend most of your ad dollars with an objective where people “like” anything?

Reason Three

When you boost a post from your page interface, the targeting options are further restricted (versus running ads from the ad manager or Power Editor) as you cannot test different styles of creative (images, copy, or video) or bidding types.

From within Ad Manager or Power Editor, you have the options to test creative, change bidding options and a whole host of advertising features that are not available from boosting posts from the page interface.

What Are Boosted Posts Good For Then And Who Sees Them?

The best case for running boosted posts are to increase your visibility within the organic news feed and to communicate something to your fans. The people who see your boosted posts are most likely going to be your most engaging fans – the social butterflies – those people that are always “liking” and engaging with posts regardless.

However, remember that growing your fans is not a worthy investment either – I wrote a detailed post about why spending ad dollars on growing your Facebook fans is a waste.

In conclusion, if you’re mostly running boosted posts as your Facebook ad strategy, it’s time to take your Facebook ad game to the next level and look at the other highly effective Facebook campaign objectives. Boosted posts produce vanity metrics that are not going to add value to your bottom line.

I would love to get your questions or comments below.

  • Chris Hickle

    You had better work on your copyrighting if you think you can’t get sales through Facebook Boosts. If you are talking to B2B businesses, then you are probably right. But if you are selling to the general public, you can get massive sales through boosts. We made $60,000 on Facebook boosts alone last year with a net spend of only about $5,000.

    • Depends greatly on what you’re trying to achieve, your offer, etc. Yes, copy is very important. If you’re not ecommerce, if you’re a brick and mortar trying to drive in-store traffic (b-to-c), or if you’re sales cycle is longer and less transactional (and you need to get people into a website retargeting campaign), boost posts are not nearly as effective as other campaign objectives since it is not optimized for website traffic. We’ve driven $1 leads for brick-and-mortar stores using Facebook Lead Ads, or $5 conversions on a landing pages with clicks to website (with avg order of $80) – boost posts in that situation don’t perform as well since they are optimized for different objectives. The larger issue is that many people don’t understand what’s available to them and they are boosting from the page interface.

  • ashley crampton

    Then which type of facebook marketing would you recommend?

    • Hi Ashley,
      There are many paid Facebook objectives to choose from – what you choose depends on what you are trying to achieve. Are you promoting a video – then Video Views objective. Are you looking for conversions, then choose the Conversion objective. Do you want traffic to your website – then a Traffic objective. Boost Post are one of many options and are designed for a specific objective – albeit one that is generally not the best choice…again all this depends on what you are trying to achieve with your ads.

  • Wayne Barker

    Hi Toby, great article. Glad I read it before using the boost post option.

    What Facebook ad campaign package would you recommend ( Ad Manager or Power Editor?) for a new tech company which is at a post launch phase, and needs to build some online momentum prior to a crowdfunding campaign? I want to build a community following before our crowdsale (ICO), and will be combining press releases posted a dedicated company blog, with twitter, fb, forums and the official site. Any ideas would be welcome.

    Thanks.

    • Hi Wayne,
      You can operate in either Ad Manager or Power Editor – each has slightly different features, but you can setup a campaign well from either. Most people just starting out prefer operating in the Ad Manager. Without knowing more overall about your end goal and who your target audience is, I would consider a Brand Awareness campaign objective or Reach objective perhaps. If you want to drive people into a page on your site to learn more, consider using a Conversion objective and set it up as a “page view” conversion – the “page view” conversion is new as of this writing and not sure if Facebook has rolled this out to all as of yet – if not, use a Traffic campaign to drive people into a page on your site or wherever you need. And if you want to create awareness with journalists and the media in your niche for PR purposes, I wrote a post here for start-ups and small businesses about how to target journalists using Facebook ads. https://www.39celsius.com/pr-startups-small-businesses-using-facebook-ads/

      • Wayne Barker

        Thanks! that’s plenty to get started

  • MomLife

    Great article with so much information and well written. Thank you for that.

    I have a fashion/lifestyle blog, and contemplating running a giveaway with items. Also advertising a ebook soon to convert to subscribers on my blog. What would you recommend for advertising purposes?
    Since I have your attention. When running a giveaway should i just ask for ‘likes’ or have them ‘subscribe’. Thanks for your time!

    • Hi – if you’re trying to increase conversions to your blog, first you need a good opt-in incentive like your ebook, and then for the Facebook ads you will want to drive targeted traffic into the blog. For the Facebook campaign objectives, to drive traffic at the lowest cost, you should choose a Conversion campaign objective and use View Content as the conversion – this is a new conversion for Facebook, but drives crazy low-cost traffic…with our clients and our own site on average between $0.15 – $0.50 per view of your blog/website, which you can’t buy less expensive targeted traffic anywhere else. For the giveaway, no, “likes” are a complete waste of an investment and do not correlate to any business outcomes at all so don’t waste your ad dollars on that objective – far better off with a ‘subscribe’ – an email list is gold to you.

      • Thanks so much for the information, I will take it to heart!

  • Murphy

    So I’m questioning Brand Awareness (Ad Recall Lift – estimate) vs Reach and the true metric behind these statistics. What are your thoughts/experience with the two when looking to grow your audience base across the US but don’t have the ability to produce conversions/purchases from your website, only from external stores.

    • Hi Murphy,
      What is the ultimate goal here? Offer ads could be a cool idea. But if we want a cost efficient / a branding type of campaign- we often (depending on the situation) recommend reach objective over brand awareness. This is because you’ll be reaching as many people as possible within your defined audience with control. The reach objective is the only objective on Facebook that you can set frequency caps (as of this writing). AND since there are a brick and mortar locations we ultimately technically want to drive people to, you can use location targeting to promote to people within a radius around the store.

      Also, do you have a qualified email newsletter list as well so that you can retarget those people on that list as well? Perhaps you already are doing this, but that makes reach even more powerful. To reach as many people as possible within a qualified seed audience is always a good recommendation, especially with a small budget or small audience size.

  • Josh Glas

    I have a food related blog which type of Facebook marketing suits my blog/

    • Josh, depends on what your goal is – from an advertising standpoint, Facebook has more than 10 campaign objectives that align with different business goals. If you’re trying to get traffic to the blog, then a Traffic campaign objective, or better yet, Conversion objective with Page View as the event – that is a far better option and a replacement to the Traffic campaign and will drive qualified traffic to your site – the Facebook algorithm will try to lower your cost per click over time as it learns. But for the Conversion campaign objective you will need to make sure you install the pixel on your site https://www.39celsius.com/how-to-install-the-facebook-pixel-and-why-do-you-need-it/ — once you have it installed, you add a small amount of code for the “event” from within Facebook on the page(s) you want to drive traffic to.

  • Joseph Free

    I’ve been trying to increase our store’s sales through Facebook. I’ve really only boosted posts. I hear a lot of people say “I didn’t know you guys were here!” So, my goals are to let people know we are here, and bring them into the store since we don’t sell anything online…yet. What type of Facebook Marketing do you suggest?

    • Joseph, without knowing more, I would suggest a couple things, but there are many options. If you have a customer database, you should consider retargeting from your store’s database of customer info (emails + phone numbers), in addition to retargeting any website visitors as well – this helps to grow repeat visitors and maintain mindshare with any existing customers or past website visitors. But you would need the Facebook pixel installed to retarget website visitors (a post here talks about how to install that and benefits, https://www.39celsius.com/how-to-install-the-facebook-pixel-and-why-do-you-need-it/). I would consider running other campaigns as well – for just getting the brand out there in your local community, consider running a Brand Awareness campaign objective – you can run this for as little as $1/day. You should also consider Offer Ads – you can create an offer, for example. % off on something, make it shareable to get even more exposure, limit how many, when it expires, etc

  • Josh

    I have a Tow Truck business. I have thought about buying to boost just to try it. I also have on my home page “Towing Services” when you click on that the link one of the largest company in town shows up on the next page. They also have over 900+ likes and followers. How do I get there? My goal is getting my Logo/Brand out there to everyone in our community.

    • Josh, if your goal is just brand awareness, choose the Brand Awareness campaign objective in Facebook. For almost all advertisers, Boost Post is NOT a good campaign objective to use (other than on a very limited basis to communicate something to your fans perhaps). You can set a Brand Awareness campaign to spend as little as a $1 day just to get your brand out there if you don’t have much of a budget. You do need some “likes” on your page ONLY for social proof – perhaps 100 –
      150 – do not chase your competitor’s 900 “likes” – there’s absolutely no value in “likes” other than social proof as I mentioned.

  • Yes, this will increase the engagement of the post itself. Engagement and Boost Post optimize for the same objective, fyi.

  • Mariam Sajjad

    Hi Toby,
    Glad i read your article before boosting the posts. I have recently launched an online cosmetics store. What should be our strategy to establish it as a brand at the same time bring in sales? Should we promote the page itself or facebook ads would be a better choice? the idea is to register our brand in peoples minds and to bring sales which is the main objective.

    • Hi Mariam,
      So you have two different objectives – to “register” the brand in people’s minds, you should consider Brand Awareness or Reach perhaps as the campaign objective for your ideal target audience. For sales, that’s a more complex system and process you need in place to effectively drive sales, but Conversions as a campaign objective are designed to optimize for exactly that – the challenge with Conversions as a campaign objective is that you have to have a good volume of conversions for Facebook’s algorithm to work well – on the order of 25 conversions per week and that’s probably on the low side.

  • Virve Georgeson

    I have been boosting my information filled posts about high heels & comfort hoping for ‘Engagement’, assuming FB would be presenting my post in the direction that I indicated – of women age 35-55, who like high heels & shopping & internet shopping & womens shoes & fashion boots who may want to buy my new shoe inserts product to make their high heels more comfortable. (this profile is based on women who buy my high heel inserts from my website or in person in Ottawa) Thank you for letting me know that FB has instead been beating the bushes on my dime looking for women who will ‘like’ anything that they see in front of them. I plan to do a comparison test of the exact same post that I boosted Nov 3-5 as a FB Ad on Nov 10-12 with the objective of ‘traffic’ and ‘view content’ & see how it goes. I had been getting suspicious of FB ‘targeting’. I have done some spot checking of the people who give me ‘likes’, using them as proxy for the group that my boosted posts are shown to, & I’ve found that 10% are not even in USA/Canada (my target countries do not include Mexico, Guyana, Seychelles, Hong Kong & Taiwan with writing in Chinese, Germany, New Zealand, etc.), 3% are men, & the mix of people does not reflect what I thought my group might look like. I expected more professionals & business women, women 35-55 with lifestyle needs to do some internet shopping, & more women in the mix who work rather than appear to stay home with children or retired spouses, are religious/spiritual and like to post sayings, or seem to be teens who have a lot of poses of themselves on their websites. All lovely people I’m sure, but not what I expected when I listed what my FB target population should be. In fact not a single person out of 228 likes in my last post about high heel shoe closets mentioned anything about fashion or high heels or shoe closets or made any comments at all.

    • Thanks for commenting, Virve! Not too surprising on the results of your boosted posts. Facebook ads work well, but the Boost Post option is one campaign objective that should be used typically in a very limited basis since it is focused on engagement which doesn’t drive business outcomes unfortunately. Let us know how your other tests work out.

      • Virve Georgeson

        Hi Toby,
        I have finished my experiment of comparing FB BOOSTED POST, FB PAID AD for the same post, and FB POST NOT BOOSTED of a popular post from 3 months ago.

        I did the experiment over three consecutive weekends with the posts put on FB on Friday evenings ABOUT 6:30 PM until Sunday evenings same time.

        Results of unique visitors & sales were added up for 5 days each time, up to the Tuesday after the weekend.

        Nov. 3-5 Boosted FB Post, cost $90 Can.
        Results Nov. 3-7: Sales US$ 43.30 ($54.12) Unique visitors 240 Without Shopify fees gross: (- $35.88) Can.

        Nov. 10-12 Paid FB Ad, cost $70 Can.
        Results Nov. 10-14: Sales US$ 82.25 ($102.81) Unique visitors 228 Without Shopify fees gross: + $32.21 Can.

        Nov. 17-21 FB Post, cost $0.
        Results Nov. 17-21: Sales US$ 13.50 (16.88) Unique visitors 163 Without Shopify fees gross: + $16.88 Can.

        From this short test I can see that a Boosted FB Post was the biggest loser for me in November. I have a unique product of high heel shoe inserts that I invented, (I’ve sold it for about 2 years & I know it needs a lot of consumer education) , & I believe people don’t randomly buy products like mine when they see a post of FB. Plus I don’t think FB inhabitants are my best target market either. My best selling platform is Amazon by about 2x my website sales. I’m taking that as a tip & buying ads only on Amazon & Google where my customers are searching directly for my product using keyword searches.

        I will continue to post my researched, informational weekly blogs about shoes styles & comfort on my website, & then post them on FB on Fridays, but not as boosted posts or as paid ads. My motivation for posting them on FB is that they get picked up by Google. Shopify keeps track so I know I get a lot of traffic from my blogs for many months after I post them. For the November period that I studied I got most traffic through my website front page & next were various blogs.
        I hope you find this research helpful.
        Take care, Virve

        • Hi Virve, thanks so much for sharing those test results. Great tests! Yes, Amazon and Google are bottom of the funnel, warm/pre-qualified leads since those customers are actively searching for products so a very good fit from that standpoint as you pointed out as well. Facebook is more upper funnel but it can still be hugely successful at scaling sales, however, the process of driving conversions in Facebook is more steps versus Google or Amazon. I sell a Facebook ad course and almost nobody ever buys it in Facebook if I advertise it directly, but I retarget anyone that visits my blog post organically with Facebook ads and I promote related content in those Facebook ads that I know these people are interested in, then I promote a free webinar with Facebook ads for more free info and get optins for email and I run an email drip campaign and the combo works great – so it’s not necessarily that people on Facebook are not your target market – the same people that are on Amazon and Google are on Facebook too, but because Facebook users are not actively searching at that moment you have to take a slightly different approach that nurtures Facebook people a little longer. Anyway, thank you for sharing your results!

  • Paul Schomer

    Thanks for this, Toby — so much of FB promotion guidance online is either SEO trash or dated within a few weeks of someone at the company reading it!

    Question: what about for events? Do I hack that objective as “traffic” to my web site’s “when” page or FB event page? Is that something that Boosting might be effective for?

    Context: I produce a monthly live music showcase, objective is to get warm bodies buying tickets and I desperately need to instruct my childlike musicians (I get to, I’m one, too! plus, they’ll never, ever see this comment, right?) how to do the same from their artist pages. With bullet points, and some cookies.

    Thanks for whatever intel you can leak my way, much appreciated.

    • Paul Schomer

      Basically asking if I should advise them to use Boost Event (and/or use it myself)

      • I would not advise using a Boost Post or Event as an objective – Event campaigns in Facebook use the page post engagement (which is what Boost Posts use) so you get the same people with events clicking “like” or “interested” on almost anything. You’re better off with Reach or Brand Awareness, Traffic, or View Content as a Conversions objective and driving people into a landing page. It all comes back to what you are trying to achieve and deciding on which Facebook objective most closely aligns to that.