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Boosted posts and paid ads: What’s the difference?

Sometimes organic posting on social platforms doesn’t quite go far enough and you need to put a bit of budget behind your brand.

There are a number of ways of going about that and while the nuances may seem small, they can have a big impact on the end result. You may think to yourself, If I boost a social media post, it’s now a paid ad, right?! Wrong, there are some key differences between the two approaches and knowing what they are should inform your strategy and help you to maximise return on ad spend.

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What’s a boosted post?

A boosted post is one that you’ve already published to your social media page and then decided to elevate to a wider audience after the fact. In doing so, you’ll be charged a fee and asked to answer a number of questions that will influence the boosted post’s reach.

These include your preference of target audience, your budget for the life of the campaign and how long you wish for it to be boosted. The platform will then take this information and boost your post according to these parameters.

What’s a paid social ad?

Paid ads, on the other hand, are created with the idea of being an advertisement from the start. They are brought to life within the social channel’s Ads Manager, as opposed to originating in your feed.

This gives you a lot more control and many options for customisation. These include where and when your ad is placed. The format of your ad should be aligned with your business goals, and a call-to-action button added to influence your audience to take the next step.

When to use one over the other

Boosted posts are undoubtedly the simplest way to put some money behind your social media efforts. They can be a good idea if a post has been performing well on its own and therefore has the potential to really engage your audience and improve reach.

Social ads are more likely to convert and produce leads for your business. Using the advanced tools in Ads Manager, you can do things like create lookalike audiences and align your campaign to specific key performance indicators.

What sorts of results you can expect

The main benefits of using boosted posts will be awareness of your brand and engagement, while paid ads are likely to have a bigger impact. Choosing a paid campaign will likely elicit website views, leads and sales, depending on how you optimise your posts.

Your results will be presented fairly simply for boosted posts, while you’ll have access to a more robust report for paid ad campaigns. These will offer you in-depth insights to inform future campaigns and make your ad spend go further.

How to start a paid ad campaign

While it’s fairly straightforward to boost a post on your own, getting started in the world of paid ads can be daunting. There are lots of options to choose from, so utilising the expertise of an agency that specialises in this area will ensure you’re making sensible decisions along the way.

They will also guide you through the process from selecting the right platforms for your business and creating the content to setting your budget and launching your ad. Finally, a good paid ad agency will help you access reports and decipher what they mean.

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