No matter the size of your organisation, having a strong online presence is an absolute necessity for business success; that should come as no surprise. Included in the ‘online presence’ toolkit is the use of social media. Utilising social media as a conduit for driving traffic to your website, raising brand awareness and driving users further down your customer journey should be a key focal point in your small business marketing plan.

However, thanks to the ever-changing social media algorithms, you might be noticing that the content you’re sharing across your social platforms are only reaching a small fraction of your total audience. This means that no matter how great your content is, it’s never going to be seen by everyone who could benefit from it.

While you might every once in a while have a post that performs quite well, relying on this is not a sound strategy. If you need to get your content in front of a lot of people – for example, maybe you’re introducing a new product, announcing an event, or are simply spreading brand awareness – it might be time to consider investing in paid advertising.

Now, before you start fretting over needing to set aside large budgets, I’m going to stop you… thankfully, there are a number of advertising options that will help your business grow on Facebook that don’t necessarily require you to set aside a huge wad of cash. 

Throughout this article, I’m going to run you through the two main types of Facebook advertising; boosted posts and paid ads. I’ll run you through the differences between each, as well as cover the pro’s and con’s of each solution, before helping you to ascertain which method is the best for your small business.


Boosted Posts

If you’ve been sharing content on Facebook and/or Instagram for some time now, it’s likely you’ve seen this little notification or button pop up.

A boosted post (or ‘sponsored post’ if on LinkedIn) is an organic post (one that you’ve posted to your timeline with no money behind it) that you can ‘boost’ to a wider audience for a fee. It’s an easy way to get your content in front of more people who might not know who you are and what you do.

When compared to paid ads, boosted posts are much easier to manage, as they’re usually one-off posts that aren’t normally part of a larger campaign. Content that you may boost could include timely blog posts, press releases or media mentions.

When you boost a post, you’ll be prompted to answer a handful of questions that will help in optimising your post. These include questions about:

  • Who you want to target/reach.
  • What your max budget is for the life of the campaign.
  • How long do you want the boost to run for – Facebook will divide your max budget by the number of days and apply that to your boosted post accordingly.

Pros of Boosted Posts

  • Boosted posts can be a great way for your content to reach more people
  • They’re easy to set up
  • In comparison to other forms of ads, they can be a more affordable solution

Cons of Boosted Posts

  • There’s limited customising options when it comes to creating your ideal target audience, scheduling, budgeting and ad format

Paid Ads

Unlike boosted posts, paid ads are ads that are created specifically for an ad objective. As such, paid ads are part of a larger campaign, with much more customisation options available, including multiple copy and graphics/video variations for testing.

Paid ads are best used when a set goal or objective is being pushed. These will have a strong call to action (CTA) and focus on moving your audience to action – clicking through to a website or landing page. Paid ads tend to be one of the top layers of an integrated sales funnel.

Some examples of when you might choose to opt for a paid ad campaign over boosted posts could include:

  • When highlighting a promotional offer of direct eCommerce push
  • Driving registrations, downloads or leads
  • Promoting a product or service with a long decision timeline (retargeting campaign)

Pros of Paid Ads

  • Greater customisation means that you can choose where your ad is placed (in addition to timeline/news feed, you can also choose from Facebook News Feed side ads, Messenger ads, Instagram Stories, Instant Articles and Audience Network)
  • You can ensure that your ads are supporting bigger business goals as you can select an objective early on in your ad building phase.
  • More options for how you display your ads – get creative! With Facebook you can create ads as a carousel, you can write specific descriptions and include a CTA button.
  • Customise your audience – with Facebook, you can identify and reach your ideal audience, as well as create ‘lookalike audiences’.

Cons of Paid Ads

  • Paid ads can be quite complex and do require more in-depth knowledge of your ideal audience.
  • Ads are created from scratch, rather than boosting an already-existing post.
  • Paid ads can be more expensive than boosted posts.

Takeaway – Boosted Posts vs Paid Ads: which is the best for small business?

Both boosted posts and paid ads can provide additional reach, however, even with knowing the related pros and cons for each, the real decision comes down to your goals and what kind of ROI you hope to see.

If you’re just getting started in experimenting with your organic content and aren’t ready to take the time to learn Ads Manager, boosted posts may be a great investment as you dip your toes in. Boosted posts are great for accelerating your organic efforts and validating your business idea. Boosting is a great tactic for bringing more exposure to your business, as it helps your content to reach a wider audience who may not be familiar with your brand. However, while boosting is helpful for raising awareness, it’s not necessarily effective for converting customers.

One of the tactics that I recommend with boosting, is to save a small budget each month to put towards posts that are performing well organically. For example, you might have shared a post and it’s received a large amount of likes, comments and shares. This presents you with a fabulous opportunity to boost the post and have it seen by potential customers who may not know your business existed. At this stage, you might not necessarily be looking to convert these users into paying customers; rather, you just want to introduce your brand and what you do to a wider audience. In this scenario, boosting is the perfect weapon of choice.

Although, if you’re looking to do more with your advertising budget – for example, you want to capture leads, convert customers and see both short and long-term benefits from your investment – you may want to look into running paid ads. Running a paid ad campaign is great for when you not only want people to know about your business and what you do, but you also want them to take action. You’re ready to take more control of your marketing efforts and gather strategies based on the data available.

By this point, you understand your ideal customer and your focus is on targeting people like your ideal customer who are ready to buy, rather than growing an audience.

As a rule of thumb, I don’t tend to recommend that businesses who are trying to validate their idea run paid ads. Rather, paid ads are a seamless fit for those who have their shopping experience, messaging and organic presence totally dialled in. 

When it comes to comparing both boosted posts and paid ads, I wouldn’t say that one is necessarily superior to the other. They both have their place in a robust marketing and advertising strategy. The key to success is to learn when to use each method so that you can magnify your efforts and get the best results for your business.

If you’re looking for more direction or a customised review of your marketing business needs, reach out and book a free consultation today! We’d be so happy to discuss your business goals and needs with you in order to make sure you’re getting the most out of your marketing efforts!