Facebook Sponsored Posts vs. Facebook Ads: Which is Best for Your Business?

  • August 20, 2019
facebook sponsored posts


Have you ever been prompted to “boost” a Facebook post in hopes to reach a larger audience?

For many small business owners, creating Facebook-sponsored content is one of their first experiences with paid social promotion.

Facebook sponsored posts can be an effective way to reach new audiences on this powerful social network.

Since last year, there has been a continuous change in Facebook’s News Feed algorithm to optimize the content quality of each user.

And that obviously includes advertisements.

As the users see more related content from their friends and brands they follow, the more engaged they will be.

These changes to Facebook’s algorithm will push sponsored posts to stand out more.

However, sponsored content differs from Facebook advertising in some very important ways.

The key to getting the most out of your paid Facebook promotion is understanding what each type of paid promotional strategy entails and identifying the most effective time to use each one.

Below, we’ll discuss the differences between sponsored Facebook posts and Facebook sponsored ads while also giving you some tips on when to implement each of these Facebook marketing tactics in your social media marketing strategy.

Facebook Sponsored Posts: What You Need To Know

To get started, let’s talk a little bit more about what Facebook sponsored posts are.

Sponsored or “boosted” Facebook posts are content that a company has paid to promote.

These sponsored posts originally appear on the company’s Facebook timeline as organic content or are already existing posts, but are able to get a boost in visibility, thanks to paid promotion.

As Facebook’s organic reach continues to decline for businesses, it becomes increasingly more important for brands and marketers to leverage paid content to boost the visibility of their Facebook business pages.

In other words, if you want to make sure that a greater number of your fans and followers are able to see your content, you often have to pay to get a better reach.

social media marketing trends

As you can see from the graph above, organic Facebook reach for brands has decreased drastically over the past few years.

Sponsored content appears in the Facebook user’s news feed just as any other post from your brand might.

This helps create a more seamless experience for the user as it doesn’t disrupt their social media activity. Let’s take a look at an example of a sponsored Facebook post:

Facebook sponsored posts

Take a look at this sponsored Facebook content from Macy’s.

This sponsored post from Macy’s appears in the user’s news feed where the individual can watch, comment, like, and share the video with the click of a button. 

Though the content is marked as sponsored, it appears right in between organic posts from the user’s friends and family without interrupting the user’s social media experience.

Boosted post content is easy to use. In fact, you don’t even have to enter the Facebook Ads Manager to create sponsored post content.

Facebook will often prompt you to sponsor a certain post in order to gain more visibility and improve engagement with the content.

Though the ease of use may make it tempting to boost posts without considering your goals or performance expectations, you will need to put some strategy behind your sponsored content if you want to see the best results.

When creating sponsored content, consider who would be most interested in the content that you plan to promote and what your social media goals are.

Do you want to reach people who like your page? Or should you also extend your audience targeting to those who are friends with your fans?

This will depend on the purpose of the promotion and your overall campaign goals.

Facebook sponsored posts

Here’s an example of what the dashboard looks like for boosted Facebook content.

In addition to considering your audience, you should also think carefully about the type of content that you choose to promote.

Since this sponsored post appears in the user’s news feed, you’ll want to be careful about using overly promotional content.

Instead, consider using high-quality content that provides some type of value for the user.

This could be something fun and entertaining or an informational content resource that you’ve created.

Here are some important things to remember when using Facebook sponsored posts:

  • Sponsored Facebook posts are best used when the goal is to increase engagement with a certain post or piece of content.
  • A recent update to sponsored post content allows you to encourage users to visit your site or landing page instead of just engaging with your post.
  • Sponsored posts can only be used to promote a page that already exists.
  • Though you are able to post different types of content, there is only one format for sponsored posts.
  • You have the option to display your sponsored post content in both the desktop news feed and mobile news feed.

In the end, it’s quick and easy to create sponsored post content as there are fewer choices for you to make than there would be with a Facebook ad campaign.

To get the most out of your sponsored posts, focus on boosting content that has already gained some traction with your audience.

That way, you know that the content you are promoting resonates with your fans and followers.

Facebook Ads: What You Need To Know

Now that you know what Facebook sponsored posts are and how they work, let’s talk more about advertising on Facebook.

Facebook ads have become an important part of modern business’s social media marketing strategy.

Not only are Facebook ads affordable, but Facebook’s sophisticated targeting capabilities also make it easy for small businesses to optimize their social ad budget by reaching the most relevant, custom audiences.

To get started creating a Facebook ad, you will need to go into the Facebook Ad Manager platform.

Once you’re ready to create your first ad, you will choose from a number of objectives for your ad campaign.

The objective that you choose will help determine what type of ad format and placement is appropriate for your Facebook ad campaign.

Facebook sponsored posts

When you use Facebook Ads Manager to create a new ad, you’ll be prompted to choose from one of these objectives, based on your campaign goals.

While Facebook sponsored posts to have one placement option – in the news feed – Facebook ads allow you to choose from a variety of placements.

These include right column ads, Instagram ads, and mobile ads

Facebook sponsored posts

The ad placement that you choose will depend on the goals and objectives of your Facebook ad campaign.

Once you have chosen your Facebook ad objective and placement, you’ll then be able to use Facebook’s sophisticated ad targeting capabilities to refine your audience and reach those who are most likely to be interested in your brand.

There are a number of different ways that you can target your Facebook ad audience:

  • Location

Target users based on where they live in the United States.

This works well for companies that have brick-and-mortar locations or just want to advertise regional sales or promotions.

  • Age

If your brand’s target market is within a certain age range or you are promoting a product that appeals to a certain age group, you can also target your ad audience based on age.

  • Gender

Use gender targeting to reach certain gender populations may not be right for every brand.

However, if your target market is made up of a certain gender then this option might be appropriate.

  • Interests

Want to reach new audiences of people who have similar interests that align with your product or service offering?

You can target users based on the interests that they’ve identified on Facebook.

  • Behaviors

This is perhaps one of the most useful targeting features on Facebook Ad Manager.

You can target users who have taken certain actions or exhibited specific behaviors that align with your target audience.

Facebook sponsored posts

Here’s a look at some of the targeting capabilities available on Facebook Ad Manager.

Another factor that you’ll need to consider when developing Facebook ads vs. Facebook sponsored posts is your bidding strategy.

You can manually enter a bid based on how much each link click is worth to you.

Alternatively, you can set an automatic bid that lets Facebook determine the bid to help get you the most clicks for your money.

You will also need to consider your ad creativity.

While boosted Facebook posts limit your creative options as you are just boosting a singular post, the Facebook advertising platform allows you to go a little more in-depth when it comes to ad design.

When you are creating a Facebook ad, you will be prompted to create an ad headline and description as well as choose a CTA button.

Unlike a sponsored post, you will need to also consider which type of visual will be most effective in grabbing your audience’s attention and enticing them to click on your ad.

Yet another important factor to consider when deciding between Facebook sponsored posts and Facebook ads is that the ad does not have to appear on your brand’s Facebook page.

That means that you can create ad content that your current fans and followers will never see.

This eliminates the concern of posting content that isn’t relevant to your current customers in an effort to attract new leads.

Since you are using Facebook’s targeting capabilities to reach a very specific audience, you are able to strategically create the most compelling content for each specific audience.

The Verdict: Facebook Sponsored Posts vs. Facebook Ads

In the end, there is no single “best” method for reaching your Facebook audience through paid content.

The decision about whether to use Facebook sponsored posts vs. Facebook ads will ultimately depend on your company’s goals, budget, and overall digital marketing strategy.

Some businesses will even use both types of paid content promotion, depending on the specifics of each social media campaign.

For best results, you’ll want to consider your goal before you choose a paid promotion format on Facebook.

Sponsored posts are a quick and simple way to boost visibility for your brand and engage more of your Facebook audience.

If your goal is to maximize the visibility of a post on your company’s timeline or improve brand awareness, then this affordable option may be the right way to go.

Here are just a few occasions where you may want to use sponsored Facebook posts instead of a Facebook ad:

  • Improving visibility for popular content

When you find that certain pieces of content are performing better than others.

You can boost these posts to improve visibility and drive more engagement for this popular content.

  • Getting the word out about events

If you want to increase event attendance and improve social proof, you can create a sponsored Facebook post announcing an upcoming event.

  • Sharing user-generated content

When your business has some great user-generated content that you want to repost, you can boost the post, which helps generate new followers and improve brand trust.

  • Making important announcements

If your business has a big announcement to make, such as the grand opening of a new location or brand new product release.

You can use a sponsored post to boost visibility and engagement.

Facebook sponsored posts

Here’s a great example of a sponsored post intended to improve visibility for a popular piece of content.

Though sponsored Facebook posts are easy to use and can provide great results for your business, there are occasions when a Facebook ad is the more effective option.

Facebook sponsored posts are limited in their targeting options and objectives.

With a sponsored post, there is no CTA, so your only conversion goals are to improve engagement with the post content or drive traffic to your website.

This limits the possibilities of what you can do with your promotional content as well as who you can advertise to.

However, Facebook ads offer sophisticated ad types, targeting, and customization that can help you zero in on your target audience.

This allows you to reach and engage a certain demographic who are most likely to be interested in your brand.

For instance, if you want to target users based on their behavior, then you will need to use a Facebook ad rather than a sponsored post.

Additionally, Facebook ads are designed to help businesses meet a number of objectives.

While sponsored Facebook posts are generally effective for increasing engagement or driving traffic back to the brand’s site, Facebook ads can help with a variety of conversion goals from making a sale to increasing app downloads to getting more video views.

If you want to get the most out of your social media advertising budget and boost social media ROI, you’ll need to think carefully about which paid promotional format will help you reach your goals.

The more strategic you are about choosing the right format for your Facebook promotional content, the better results you will see at the end of your campaigns.

Not sure whether to use Facebook sponsored posts or Facebook ads? We’d love to help.

Learn more about how the experts at our social media marketing company help clients drive more traffic and conversions through our social media advertising services.



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