Facebook Ads Strategy: Should I Boost a Post or Pay for an Ad?

For many, spending money on Facebook is a confusing game.

I’ve found that a great many authors know what it means to boost a Facebook post, but they’re not sure what the difference is between boosting and actually setting up an ad campaign.

The distinction between boosting and doing an ad campaign is significant, and it all comes down to your objectives as a marketer.

The Facebook dollar spend: boosting or ads? The difference is all about your marketing objectives. Click To Tweet

What does it mean to boost a post?

Boosting a post simply means you pay money to be sure that particular post is seen by more people. It used to be that you could only increase visibility among your audience, but that function has expanded to allow you to choose more complex, “external” audiences. To boost, you simply create the post on your Facebook page, click the “boost” button at the bottom of the post, and fill in a few fields within the form that pops up. The image below shows the form that leads to boosting.

Screen Shot 2016-05-18 at 5.15.26 PM (2)

What does it mean to pay for a Facebook ad?

Facebook advertising is more complex. It requires you to use the Power Editor function, which allows you to target custom audiences, as based on your email list, “lookalike” audiences, customized groups, and more. You can choose an audience, select various graphics and copy sets to try, and then see the real-time effectiveness of each ad type and each audience. The image below is a screenshot of a campaign in Power Editor.

Screen Shot 2016-05-18 at 6.21.16 PM

This is not an either/or situation. Smart Facebook marketers do both–boosting posts and putting together ad campaigns–based on their specific objectives.

So, how do I know when to boost posts and when to do Facebook ads?

The reasons why you should boost a post.

  1. If you want a simple, quick boost in viewers. For simplicity’s sake, this is the way to go. It’s an effective way to get your post in front of more people without getting into all the crazy audience targeting and segmentation. You gain eyeballs. I want to note, though, that it’s not effective long-term to boost image quotes. You’ll get more likes on that post, but it doesn’t do much for your overall brand. Boost posts that carry links to your content, outside of Facebook.
  2. If you have a piece of content that’s really resonating with your fans, and you know it would resonate even more if additional people saw it. Don’t boost posts blindly; boosts the ones that are working. Note: it is cheaper to get clicks to content than clicks to a sales/opt-in page.
  3. If you want to use a pixel to send people to your content in order to segment a custom audience. By boosting a post, you get more people clicking on its links, which gives you a larger sample size of folks interested in that particular piece of content. You can pixel that content in order to target those people later. It’s complex but awesome. For more on this, check out this article by Jon Loomer.

The reasons why you should pay for an ad.

  1. If you want to measure effectiveness toward a particular business objective. The power editor tool is genius at immediately showing you the effectiveness of a campaign. If you create tangible business goals around your Facebook use (and you should), then you’re seeking specific outcomes: more likes, more email addresses on an opt-in page, more conversions on a sales page. An ad campaign is the only way to measure effectiveness of your money.
  2. If you want to know which graphic/copy resonates best through A/B testing. Facebook ad campaigns, unlike any sort of boosting function, allow you to upload multiple creatives and multiple copy sets. It will show you which performs best, allowing you to truly optimize the campaign and get the highest bang for your buck.
  3. If you want to grow your email list and make more money off of your platform. Boosting posts only goes so far in promoting growth. To truly tap into the power of Facebook to expand your reach and grow a business of any kind, you have to use Power Editor. It is truly the most effective way to spend ad dollars, no doubt.

The capabilities of Power Editor are complex, and we’ll get into the weeds on this more another time. For now, know that both Facebook boosting and Facebook advertising work–but the right choice depends on your end goal.


If you’re looking for a simple way to up engagement and get your content in front of more eyes, boost.

If you’re looking for a targeted tool that will identify new audiences and optimize your dollars toward long-term business objectives, use Facebook ads.



  • Shawn Hanks

    Good content. Thanks for sharing, Chad.

  • Shawn Hanks

    Good content. Thanks for sharing, Chad.