[This article was updated on May 2017]
Do you have a Facebook page?
Have you ever clicked on the Facebook “Boost Post” button to promote your posts?
If yes, I have some terrible news for you.
“Boost Post” can be a huge waste of your money. If you’re using it often, you might be throwing hundreds or even thousands of dollars away.
In this article, I’ll show you exactly what “Boost Post” is and why you should not use it to promote your content on Facebook.
What is Boost Post?
Five years ago Facebook’s ad platform was still in its early stages and looked complicated to many business owners.
So in 2012, Facebook introduced a super easy way to sponsor your content – “Promote Post.” With it, you could now create a campaign without leaving your Facebook page:
A few years later “Promote Post” became “Boost Post” and received more updates. But its essence remained the same — offering a quick, easy way to spend money and reach more people with your Facebook posts.
As the organic reach has collapsed over the past few years, many page owners are turning to “Boost Post” to get their messages in front of their audiences.
But is that a good idea?
What Happens When You Boost a Post
You go to your Facebook page, find a post you want to promote, and click “Boost Post.”
First, you will be asked to choose a call-to-action button for your post (optional) and a target audience you want to reach.
Also, you might see a check-box for the Instagram placement sometimes, but I would remove it in most cases – Instagram is a completely different social network with a very different type of content and context, so it’s necessary to adapt your ads according to that. Otherwise, you’re not making a good impression, and even worse – you could be annoying and alienating your audience.
After you are happy with your choices, click “Boost” and you’re done – the Boost Post has started.
What you might not know though, is that Facebook just created a new ad campaign in your ad account with the “Page Post Engagement” objective.
And that’s the first reason why you should not boost your posts.
Limited Optimization Choices
Facebook constantly optimizes your ad campaigns based on which objective you choose.
If you go with Website Clicks objective, Facebook will optimize for link clicks to your website. If it’s Website Conversions – Facebook will analyze everyone who converted already and will try to reach similar people first.
But if you boost a post on your desktop computer, Facebook will optimize just for post engagement – more likes, shares, comments and so on.
So even if you decide to boost a link post, trying to send people to your website, Facebook will still optimize it for engagement and not link clicks.
Very often you’ll see ads receiving a ton of post likes (especially with broad targeting), but just a fraction of people will click through to your website:
NOTE: While it is possible to control the objective you optimize for – website clicks or post engagement – on the “Pages” mobile app, it’s not yet available on desktop computers.
So don’t be surprised if you see a ton of engagement on your post, but no increase in traffic to your website.
Incomplete Targeting Options
If you look at Facebook’s boost post targeting, you’ll see at least these three options:
- People who like your Page – advertising to all your fans,
- People who like your Page and their friends – advertising to all your fans and all their friends,
- People you choose through targeting – advertising to a specific target audience you choose.
Let’s break them down.
People who like your Page:
If you didn’t do a great job with attracting high-quality page likes (very few business do), you’ll be immediately wasting a fraction of your money.
People who like your Page and their friends:
No matter whether you have super relevant fans or not, you’ll still be wasting your money – the Friends of Fans audience can have up to a million or even more people, so there’s absolutely no way Facebook will be able to find the most relevant people within it.
And with Boost Posts, it’s impossible for you to add an additional layer of interests to this audience to make it more specific.
People you choose through targeting:
Yes, you can choose specific interests with this option, but the targeting choices are still quite limited:
Say you wanted to reach your page fans who are also interested in topic A – while you can select that topic in the Detailed Targeting section, you can’t use the “Connections” feature to narrow the audience down to your fans or friends of fans with that interest.
Plus, you can’t select any Lookalike or remarketing audiences when you’re boosting posts. Because of that, you can’t target any of your previous customers, email subscribers, website visitors or even those that engaged with your page – something that can have a huge impact on achieving results from advertising.
Even worse, it’s also impossible to exclude any of these remarketing audiences, so that you don’t waste money on someone who has signed up or visited your website already, when you’re boosting posts.
So considering all of this, no matter which targeting option you choose, you will be wasting some of your money. Whether it’s 10% or 30% of your budget, it can add up to thousands of advertising dollars thrown away.
No Control Over Ad Placements
Finally, when you’re boosting posts, you can’t control where you want to display your ads – the default option is always Desktop News Feed and Mobile News Feed.
You must know that Facebook does a ton of optimization automatically for you. Most of the time their algorithms will try to find the cheapest way to achieve an objective, even if it might destroy your overall campaign results.
For example, if you selected multiple countries for your target audience, Facebook will often push the majority of your ad budget to the cheapest countries that are getting the cheapest clicks. Same happens with gender, age and, yes – placement too.
So if you choose to advertise on both Mobile News Feed and Desktop News Feed, Facebook might push as much as 99% of your advertising budget to mobile (because it’s far less expensive than Desktop News Feed), regardless of whether it’s getting you leads or sales:
From my experience, even if a website is responsive and mobile-friendly, the conversion rate on mobile can be from 2 to 3 times lower than on desktop computers. Mobile conversion tends to be lower because it’s just not as convenient to fill in all the sign up or purchase information on handheld devices. If the website is not mobile-friendly, it can be even worse.
And so if you choose both placements (something you can’t control with “Boost Post”), you’ll probably be getting a ton of mobile traffic that doesn’t convert at all or converts very badly.
So If you read this article carefully, I hope you learned the main three reasons why you shouldn’t be using Boost Post.
First, the campaigns will be optimized for post engagement, likes, shares and comments, not for web traffic/event attendances/offer claims/video views… – even if that was your main goal.
Second, you don’t have full control over your targeting, which is only available when setting up a campaigns in the Ads Manager or Power Editor – something that is especially hurtful if you’re trying to target or exclude your custom and Lookalike audiences.
And third, you can’t edit the placements – the default option is both Mobile News Feed and Desktop News Feed.
Comparing that to the Ads Manager or Power Editor, it’s not just that you can’t select Desktop News Feed only or Mobile News Feed only, but you’re also missing out on Desktop Sidebar, Instant Articles, Instagram Stories, Audience Network and even Messenger placements.
What Can You Do About It?
While Facebook did improve “Boost Post” in the past year, it’s still nowhere close to the Ads Manager or Power Editor. In the end, Facebook’s goal is to give you the easiest way to promote your content with paid advertising in order for them to generate more revenue – even if it doesn’t achieve the best results for your business.
And maybe you have been using Boost Post for a long time and you did see some business results from it – in that case, you could carry on, but you should still consider the technicalities and limitations that come with boosting your posts.
What I strongly believe though, is that almost everyone could be getting even better results by taking a few more minutes to create the ad campaigns via Ads Manager or Power Editor, where you get all the options for selecting the campaign objectives, targeting and placements.
Improve Your Results With Saved Audiences
And if you still decide to go with “Boost Post,” at least incorporate this simple hack into making your targeting better – go to the “Audiences” tab in the Ads Manager, click “Create Audience” and select “Saved Audience.”
There, you can save a new audience that takes advantage of all Facebook ad targeting options – you can create a saved audience of page fans that are also interested in A or B, another one that excludes your custom audience of email subscribers, or a third one that’s targeting a custom audience of previous website visitors. The opportunities here are limitless:
After you are happy with the audience, click “Create Audience” and it will later appear among audiences when you open the “Boost Post” window.
Now that you know all of this, what will it be?
Will you still be using the quick option of “Boost Post”?
Or will you switch to the Ads Manager or Power Editor to create your ads?
Share your thoughts and let us know in the comments below.