“Choose your weapons” – How to select the most appropriate Facebook advertising method

People often have a lot of questions about the different methods of Facebook advertising, and their relative strengths and weaknesses.  Selecting the right one can enable businesses to achieve a cost effective way to market their organisation whilst delivering outstanding ROI.  So what are Facebook ads and how do you get started?  Facebook advertising can be categorised into two areas.  The first is the quick and easy Boosted posts, with the second being the more advanced, but more nuanced Facebook Ads Manager.  We take a look at both methods and how they can be used to deliver an effective advertising strategy.


Boosted posts

If you have a Facebook business page you will no doubt recognise that Facebook offers you the opportunity to ‘Boost’ particular posts on your timeline.  This activity is pushed to the user as a button option when Facebook spots a post that people have engaged with or that is similar to posts which other companies have boosted.   This type of methodology focuses on that one post and trying to generate as much visibility and engagement as it can, which can be great for brand awareness activities or for generating social proof. You can choose who to target, how much you want to spend and the duration that you want it to last for.  Unlike its more structured counterpart, this form of Facebook advertising is quick, very simple to use with little complexity, making it the easy option for many small businesses wanting to try to promote their business on the Facebook platform.  Some may say it’s a way of dipping your toe in the water and experiencing the benefits of Facebook advertising before jumping into the world of Facebook Ads Manager. It is equally suitable if you are a busy person wanting to maintain the freshness of your marketing profile but without the time to commit immediately to a more complex method, nor any particular interest in measuring the effectiveness of that particular post.


Facebook Ads Manager

Facebook Ads Manager is a powerful ad management tool – Facebook themselves refer to Ads Manager as your “campaign command centre”[1].  It’s an all-in-one tool for creating ads, managing when and where they’ll run, and tracking how well your campaigns are performing.  It’s designed for advertisers of any experience level, but it does require some investment in time to develop the expertise to fully benefit your own business.  However, once you have developed that expertise, it will allow you to facilitate a more structured and in-depth approach to your advertising.  There are many tangible differences that the Ads Manager tool offers above and beyond Boosted posts, but the key ones to note are:


Multiple objectives

Boosted posts only allow you to focus on website clicks or engagement.  Whilst this might be fine as a start point, as you progress with your advertising your plans will become more sophisticated and thus your objectives and the way they are measured will become much more important.  Ads Manager allows you greater flexibility in tailoring the objectives of your campaign, so that they maximise the reach of what you are looking to achieve.  Brand awareness, reach, store visits, conversions, video views, app installs are all factors which can be recorded and focused on as objectives for your own business, and subsequently measured within the Ads Manager tool.


Placement options

Ads Manager allows you to make more detailed choices about where your ad might be placed across the Facebook, Instagram and Audience network platforms.  Whether you want to appear in the Facebook Newsfeed, side ads, Instagram feeds, Instagram stories, instant article or audience network ads, Ads manager will let you schedule the selection that’s right for you.


Targeting audiences

Using the full Ads Manager tools you can achieve a deeper targeting for your ads, which is not an option available when you Boost a post.  For example if you wanted to create a custom audience but also start to target hobbies, interests or buying behaviour to increase your likely chance of conversion, this is something which only Ads Manager allows you to do.


Greater creative control

Facebook Ads Manager gives users greater creative control in creating ads, enabling you to add headlines, text and a call to action, wherever they are best suited.  They also offer different ad formats such as Carousel and, more recently, Canvas ads.  Canvas Ads are designed to help you shorten the distance between your message and the customer. It loads instantly, it’s mobile-optimised and it’s designed to capture the complete attention of your audience. With Facebook Canvas, people can watch engaging videos and photos, swipe through carousels, tilt to pan, and explore lifestyle images with tagged products[2].  It also allows you to understand which customer engaged with your ads and completed viewing the video, so that you can go back to this audience with a more targeted campaign or perhaps a timed product offer to convert them into a customer.


Facebook Ad Metrics

Using Ads Manager also gives you access to Facebook’s Ad Metrics tools, which provide the user with a wealth of information to test and evaluate the success of their campaigns.  Facebook are constantly improving these metrics as they understand that providing meaningful information to their users is essential for companies to learn and grow, in turn helping them to deliver a more coherent and effective strategy.


Which form of Facebook advertising is best?

Ultimately all campaigns, Boosted or otherwise require the time, effort and expertise to be dedicated to them to deliver success.  Boosting posts can be an incredibly successful platform to use particularly if you are trying to build brand awareness and deliver social proof by launching upcoming products or events.  Facebook Ads Manager is the extension of this and provides a more in depth, customisable platform to enable the user to deliver better plans with greater creative control.  It does require investment in time to understand the tools. However this investment is far outweighed by the greater number of options and possibilities that the Ads Manger tool offers and is the way in which a business can drive a longer term success.