If you’re reading our blog, you’re almost certainly pretty familiar with Facebook Ads and how valuable they are. You choose an audience, an objective, set a bid, create an ad, and wait for the conversions to start rolling in.
Ok, it’s a little (read: lot) more complex than that, but that’s the gist.
Facebook Ads have immense potential to yield incredible profit, and thus are used to help small and large businesses alike scale, build their reputation, and sell more.
But what about Facebook Sponsored Posts?
A large number of businesses who are familiar with Facebook Ads don’t really know much about Facebook Sponsored Posts.
And if they do, there are misconceptions about what the two platforms do and what they should be used for.
We want to clear that up, so in this post, we’re going to take a look at Facebook Sponsored posts, how they’re different from your traditional Facebook Ads, and when (if ever) you should use each one.
What Are Facebook Sponsored Posts?
When you’re viewing the posts on your Page, you’ll see the option to “Boost post.”
This option allows you to promote a single post that’s already existing on your page without the need to create an ad through the actual ad system.
You’ll set a budget of what you’ll pay to promote it, a time frame, and general audience targeting criteria. This all happens on one small pop-up screen, and boom, you’re done.
Facebook Sponsored posts will display your ad in the newsfeed, and will look similar to those created in ads manager.
The “boost post” option was really designed to offer a simpler, less overwhelming option to participate in Facebook Ads for those who were intimidated by the system.
It’s often used by small businesses who are just trying to increase their reach, but it has plenty of other great use cases, too.
Facebook Sponsored Posts vs. Facebook Ads: What’s the Difference?
We’ve covered what sponsored posts are– but do you know the difference between sponsored posts and Facebook Ads?
Let’s take a look at the benefits of each, and when to use them.
Facebook Sponsored Posts
The benefits to sponsored posts are pretty easy to grasp: they’re easy to use, easy to create, and they give you a lot of really great social proof, even if you don’t have any experience with Facebook Ads.
When your organic post is promoted through the ad system, all social proof that you currently have on it gets promoted, too. All those likes, comments, and shares are visible and help your ad make a good impression right from the get-go.
Audience targeting is more limited here, as are your bidding options and placement choices. You cannot use retargeting, set bid limits, or bid strategies. Your posts will only appear in newsfeeds.
When to Use Facebook Sponsored Posts
Facebook sponsored posts are a good option when you want to utilize the social proof you already have on an organic post to get better results right off the bat. As an added bonus, all that social proof you gain while paying to promote your ad will go to live on the original organic posts, too. That’s a pretty great perk, and it’s an efficient and sure-fire way to accumulate a great deal of social proof that will benefit you on a long-term basis.
Sponsored posts are also a good option if you just need to post a single post to a pretty broad audience, or to your current audience. If you don’t need to go through the ad system, then save yourself some time and opt to utilize this.
While “sponsored posts” technically fall under the Facebook Ad PPC category, true Facebook Ads are created through the Ads Manager or third-party tools like AdEspresso.
You choose an official objective ranging from options like “engagement” to “conversions,” giving you more flexibility in what you want to accomplish with your ads.
Sponsored posts are really only valuable in most cases for brand awareness and engagement, though they can drive traffic to your site; true Facebook Ads give you a lot more options and are better optimized for other actions.
With traditional Facebook Ads, you can also utilize more advanced targeting options, including the creation of custom audiences to show your content to users who have some sort of relationship with your brand.
You can set bidding strategies and detailed bids instead of overall budgets.
You also have the option to set up dayparting, which has your ads run only at certain times of the day.
Facebook Ads also gives you more creative flexibility; there are multiple ad formats, including carousel ads and canvas ads. You can add CTA buttons to your post to drive specific actions and take users to more destinations off-site with better results.
It’s also worth pointing out that you can essentially create “sponsored posts” through the Facebook Ad system.
Choose “engagement” as your objective and then pick “post engagement,” and you’ll be able to select current existing posts to promote on Facebook.
When to Use Facebook Ads
For most businesses and for most ads, it’s going to benefit you more to use Facebook Ads instead of sponsored posts.
It will take a little longer to set your posts up, but the control you have over every aspect of the ad creation is incredible.
It goes without saying that if you want to optimize for traffic or conversions instead of just engagement, you absolutely want to opt for the ads system.
So the simple answer here of “when to use Facebook Ads instead of sponsored posts” is going to be this: almost always.
The Smart Marketers’ Secret Tool
If you want to boost a large number of your organic posts regularly, but don’t want to go through the hassle of promoting each one individually through the ad system, AdEspresso has a great feature that can help with this.
Our Automatic Post Promotion feature should be your go-to choice.
You’ll set parameters for what types of posts you want to promote, how long you want to promote them for, and more.
If you want to only promote video posts, good on you. If you want to promote posts that contain a keyword, like “blog” or “event,” go for it.
This will make it easier to scale post promotion without losing any of the benefits that come with Facebook Ads.
You can try it for free, just click here!
How to Create Facebook Sponsored Posts
Creating sponsored posts is easy.
Find the post that you’d like to promote in your feed, and hit “Boost post.” A small pop-up screen will appear.
You’ll be asked to choose your targeting criteria (note that custom audiences do not include advanced retargeting capabilities), set your budget, and the duration of your campaign.
Review your post in the right-hand preview bar, and then hit “boost now.”
Note that when choosing posts to boost, the following are not eligible:
- Profile picture update posts
- Posts containing a link to a note
- Mobile app install posts (you need to run these through the ad platform)
- Full albums
- Scheduled live videos
- Live videos for unverified pages
- Posts you’re featured in
Facebook Sponsored Post Best Practices
If you do opt to create sponsored posts instead of using the Facebook Ad system, here are a few best practices to keep in mind:
- Remember that engagement is the focus.
You don’t get to choose to optimize for clicks, or for conversions. Brand awareness and engagement are the priorities here, so keep the hard selling to ad campaigns that can help you get the results you’re looking for.
- Choose posts with a lot of social proof already.
Not only do you know your audience will respond well to these posts, but the social proof that already exists on the post will help you attract more. You can learn more about this phenomenon here.
- Include visual elements.
This can be a video or an image, but either way, if you’re paying to boost a post, include something visual to draw user attention. This will significantly increase the results you get across the board.
Facebook Sponsored Posts work as an extension of the Facebook Ad system, but the two are definitely still distinct tools.
In most cases, the majority of businesses will benefit more from creating ads through the Ads Manager system (or AdEspresso!) than through boosted posts due to the increased options and customization available to you there.
You can, after all, create ads promoting organic posts that you already have on your feed through the ad system.
For users who feel too overwhelmed by the ad system, however, and just want to boost a single post quickly, sponsored posts can still be a good option.
What do you think? Do you prefer Sponsored Posts or the traditional Facebook Ads platform? How do you use each option? Do you have distinct strategies for each? Drop your thoughts in the comments section below!