Posted 10.17.2013 by Emily Martens

Don’t Boost! Promote Facebook Posts Properly to Increase Reach

When you publish a story that starts building great organic engagement, amplifying your exposure to more people becomes the next goal. And this is where Facebook ads come in.

If Facebook plays a part in your social media marketing mix, there’s a high probability you’re familiar with their ad platform. Thanks to Facebook’s ever-changing algorithm, only a small selection of your fans will see a post at any given time. When you publish a story that starts building great organic engagement, amplifying your exposure to more people becomes the next goal. And this is where Facebook ads come in.

Before I cover that, heed my warning:

Stop “Boosting” Posts!

“But it’s so easy!” – You’ve caught yourself saying. And you’re not alone. Hundreds of thousands of page managers  use the ‘Boost Post’ button to increase their post reach. It makes it super easy run a campaign. Just set the general targeting (to your page’s users and location), then the total budget for the promotion. BAM, it’s running until budget or time runs out. It’s so simple and fast! So what’s wrong?

Facebook Boost Post vs. Promoted Post: What’s the difference?

You can’t target posts properly when you “boost.”
As of January 2017, the Boost Post feature still restricted targeting parameters to a handful of options. Some of the major limitations we’ve found:

  • Limited to interests targeting, and not advanced demographic and behavioral options
  • Broad fans plus “friends of fans” targeting
  • No placement or device targeting (Desktop vs. Mobile vs. Column)
  • Limited duration of ad flights; there’s no ongoing option.
  • Can’t use custom audience or conversion tracking features

On the other hand, Facebook offers far superior targeting options if you use their self-serve ad tool or Power Editor to set up your ad campaigns rather than depending on the limited options available through your boost button.

When you create precise targets for each ad, you can better determine which audience is performing (engaging/clicking/converting) best for your business. That’s the point, isn’t it? Getting the most for your marketing dollars. One of our favorite parts of online paid advertising is the ability to manage that budget efficiently; boosting Facebook posts takes that opportunity away from you.

You can only run one boosted post at a time.

Measuring success with the Facebook Boost Post method becomes a challenge since only one campaign is created at a time.  To efficiently control your budget and drive engagement on your page, break out those targeting options! You can make multiple ads per organic Facebook post with different targets (i.e. split-testing), and easily pause the ads that don’t perform after a set period of time (give it at least 2-3 days, or after 2,000 people reached). Try some of these to start:

  • Separate audiences by age and gender
  • Target people who like your competitors
  • Separate ads by placement: mobile and desktop; audience network, newsfeed and right column
  • Create one ad for fans only, and one for those who haven’t liked it yet
  • Retarget people recently on your website with the Facebook Pixel
  • Explore Facebook’s demographics, interest and behavior categories (formerly precise, broad, and partner categories)

And that’s barely making a dent in it.

Boosted Posts are reach based, not objective based.

While reaching more of your current and desired audience is important, there are other business objectives to consider.

  • Driving in-store traffic? Consider redeemable Facebook “Offers.”
  • Looking to acquire new leads? Conversion pixel-tracked link posts or native lead forms will do the trick.
  • Marketing an event? There’s an ad type for that too.
  • Of course, if generating brand and top-of-mind awareness or building an engaged community of customers are priority goals, promoting Facebook posts will serve you best.

    In Conclusion:

    Where boosted posts offer a quick fix to reaching more people, allocating 5 – 15 minutes to promote Facebook posts properly in Ads Manager and test targeting will allow you to maximize your total return on ad spend (ROAS). And that’s one acronym we want to use wisely.

    Next time you feel compelled to “Boost” the post, reach for the self-serve tool instead.

    Bonus Answers to FAQ! We get loads of questions from thousands of visitors per month. Here are some of the frequently asked questions.

    Are you receiving “0 people” after promoting a post?

    Dozens have asked us what this means. In short, it means exactly what you think: Your post (ad) is not being shown. Your ad may still be in the approval queue, which is especially common if this is your first promoted post. In some circumstances, it may be necessary to duplicate the ad and start over. Note: This sequence can not be performed with the “Boost Post” interface.

    Will you get charged the full budget you set if you stop your boosted post early?

    NO! That is the maximum you will spend if you let it run its course. If you stop it early, so will your payment.

    Can you boost a personal Facebook post?

    At one point interestingly, you could. Alas, this option is limited to pages only now.

    How do you make your post eligible to be boosted if there’s too much text?

    As of 2017, Facebook will now run your post as an ad if there’s more than 20% text in the image or thumbnail. That’s good news! However, Facebook will limit your distribution (reach) significantly if it’s well above the 20% figure. You can test it here. The best way to get it to run is to re-post the link, image, or video with a different thumbnail.

    How else can we help? Still have a burning question about Facebook ads (budgeting, tactics, success stories, technical issues)? Contact us if you would like help managing your ad campaigns.

    Bonus: Take a peek at a presentation we did for the Iowa City Chamber of Commerce’s Expert Edge Series on building and optimizing Facebook ads, based entirely on this post. Note that it’s circa 2014/2015, so some functionality has changed.

    Don’t Boost: Making The Most Out Of Facebook Ads from Sculpt

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    • RobSaxe24

      Just found this..thanks it helps!

    • RobSaxe24  Love to hear that. Thanks for reading, Rob!

    • RobSaxe24

      WeareSculpt RobSaxe24  Frankly, I’m a little shocked how much targeting I’m able to do with Power Editor.  How the hell do they have that much info on us?? LOL  PE wasn’t that easy to figure out and I suspect that if you don’t feel you’re a tech person you might just want to hire the folks from this site to do it for seems as if, right now, it would be a good investment.
      Got my ad started and we’ll see how it does.
      Thanks again!

    • RobSaxe24 It certainly doesn’t help that the entire PE dashboard has changed all over again. Power Editor is not for everyone, but if you’re serious about investing in the paid platform, and truly understand your audience and goals, it’s the best (free) solution for launching and split-testing targeted campaigns. Facebook is discovering more and more about its users everyday. Every action — from page likes, profile updates and day-to-day interactions — help them learn more. Their relationships with partners that have access to transactional data add another interesting layer. 

      It is a bit scary. But once you fully realize the capability and control you possess, it’s incredibly powerful.

      Thanks for commenting!

    • Used boost post a loads of times, complete waste of money. On several occasions boosted a post, facebook took my money and never run the boost.  That’s just pure theft!!!

    • ScottNash

      Do you recommende PE for first time users? If not which of facebook’s options would you recommend?

    • EliseHealthyFit

      I think it’s important to share my experience so far and let you know that Facebook advertising is a waste of your money and a scam.  We’re hosting a giveaway and had 521 Organic views on the giveaway post for the last two weeks.  In an effort to get more volume to our page and more people entering the contest, I decided to boost the post by paying $15.  As of right now $1.12 of that $15 is gone and I still have the 521 post views, but now it’s saying 293 of those are organic and the remaining 228 are from the paid boost.  So ultimately they just changed my Insights so that it looked as if almost half of the people that viewed that post were from the boost.  If I hadn’t waited 2 weeks to boost the post I probably wouldn’t have known.  I’m going to be posting this comment onto multiple blogs to get the word out – do not waste your hard earned money (no matter how little $15 may seem) on these scam artists and thieves.  I’m certainly going to keep the Facebook Page up, but they will never get another dime from me.

    • EliseHealthyFit  Thanks for sharing your story. JonLoomer shared a similar insight (about organic reach manipulation after a paid boost) on his blog a couple months back. That is an unfortunate story, and I’m sorry to hear you’ve lost all faith in the platform. The whole purpose behind this post (which we’ll be majorly updating soon) is not to give up on Facebook ads, but to instead explore it deeper. The “Boost” feature lets Page admins quickly reach a larger audience. What you give up is the ability to experiment with robust targets and use real data to influence what works best. 
      Since you’re blog covers a specific topic with a large potential audience, I could see highly-targeted, interest and demographic-based Facebook advertising working wonders! The “Custom Audience” feature (the ability to upload and target your subscriber list and similar fans) could be a lucrative area too. To take full advantage of those opportunities, you will want to play with Facebook’s Ads Manager or Power Editor.

      Lastly — and please correct me if I mistakenly found the wrong Page — it appears that a “share” call-to-action was part of your contest entry. Please note that this violates Facebook’s terms and conditions, and although rare, could result in them cutting off your paid reach campaign early.

      Hope that helped!

      – J

    • ScottNash  Thanks for your question! Facebook has *finally* overhauled their Power Editor tool, making it much friendlier to beginners. With that said, Facebook’s basic Ads Manager ( has most of the bells and whistles, and would be a better place to start learning. Happy to help elaborate if requested!

    • chrisescars  Yikes! Sorry to hear that. We’ve had tremendous success with Facebook’s ad tools, but always recommend our clients stay away from the “boost” button; hence the topic of this post. The boost button’s purpose is to help you reach more fans, at the expense of complete administrative control. I would highly recommend setting up campaigns through the Ads Manager or Power Editor next time. – J

    • TheresaGee

      EliseHealthyFit  Facebook has so many bugs, I wouldn’t chalk this up to any conspiracy to take your cash–more likely just dumb Facebook. I have had great success on the platform even though my numbers don’t completely add up all the time.

    • ScottNash

      WeareSculpt ScottNash
      Since posting here the first time I have learned a boat load of things that I can do to get our message out. Some example are; How to use my personal profile to introduce our business to folks that come to my personal page. 2nd, how to use the like box that Facebook offers to capture our website traffic and allow them to like our business page. 3rd. What types of posts we should be posting to be more relatable to our fans. ( It’s not always about selling your product). and last , How to use Graph search in your favor. I just thought that I would pass these tips on to others that are looking for a way to grow your likes.

    • melquiades2

      ScottNash WeareSculpt Has Graph Search deployed everywhere? I certainly can’t use it – not one single natural search term combination will work in the search box, which was the initial promise.  To me this Graph Search looks like another butched project.

    • melquiades2

      WeareSculpt chrisescars I’m not sure what’s all the fuss around Boost post.  We use it on a regular basis and if you need more reach, which is sometimes the case, it’s fast and easy and does return results.  But about your advice to use PE: can you run an ad for a post on your brand’s wall?  Yes, you use a post content to create an ad, but if you use PE, I don’t think that it’ll be linked to that particular post, or will it? You will end up creating an ad that is separate from your post and your post will be left unseen – no clicks, no views, no likes. If I’m wrong please do let me know thank you!

    • westlightimages

      I’m a bit confused on what option/s might be best for trying to get people to go to my actual website to hopefully sign up for a photography workshop. As I understand it the “Promote Page” option drives people (hopefully) to your FB Page and not specifically to the post and ultimately to the website page?

      I was about to hit the “boost post” button then read this article which i thank you for. Still going to do some digging/reading but thought I’d pose the question here.

      I do want to grow the number of people going to my FB page too but that’s not the important thing at the moment.


    • westlightimages Smart call on avoiding the “promote page” option, that would drive users to your Facebook page, not your website. This is the one you need:

    • Pingback: 4 reasons to use the boost button to promote your Facebook posts()

    • jensmithry

      Very interesting and useful post!

    • Bernie Freeman

      In my experience, I’ve found the combination works best.  Boosting posts 24 – 48 hours in advance creates relevance that makes your page promotion work harder.   Every client and audience is different but without exception, this formula has worked for me.

      • Glad you found a tactic that’s working for you!

    • RexRiley

      Good info. Not sure why your post is duplicating content over and over (notice your first four paragraphs).

      • Fixed! Thanks for the catch. We migrated posts and comments from our previous site so bugs were inevitable.

    • Sue Trnka

      I’m frustrated as can be right now. I work for a small nonprofit that from time to time wants people that don’t like our page to see specific posts we put on Facebook. For example – an ad for employment, a call for volunteers for a special event, etc. In the past I’ve used the “boost” capabilities to do this – and have successfully boosted event posters, flyers, and more. In the past week, I’ve tried (unsuccessfully) twice to boost a simple want-ad image. Facebook has rejected my images because they contain more than 20% text (and text includes branded logos and taglines if they include words!) even though barely a month ago I was able to successfully boost images that contained MUCH more text (think 60%++) without rejection.

      I’ve found that boosting works for the purpose we have used it because I can choose surrounding communities to see the posts. This is important because I don’t need someone three states away to see a want ad or a call for volunteers because it won’t matter to them. I’m not looking for national or global attention on Facebook. Boosting posts has increased the number of likes on our page, which has in turn increased interaction on our page, etc. Again – we aren’t looking for 500K followers – we’re small and that’s OK with us.

      Are you familiar with any recent tightening of Facebook standards? I can’t fathom why posters with lots of text were okay just a month ago – and today I can’t get a simple image with 6 words to fly. I’m so disappointed – because the responses we have received from our boosts have been so good for us – yet I cannot communicate to Facebook how awful I think these limitations are – especially since I’m the one paying for the ad in the first place. My (proposed) ads are simple and nice and not cluttered. They are not spammish. I get Facebook’s desire to protect its community from spam and clutter. I get it – but I also think that it’s my ad. Just like in real life – if I put up a bad ad on a roadside billboard and people don’t respond to it because they can’t read it – I’m going to suffer the consequences of not getting through to my audience. Why can’t Facebook let me say what I want to say in my ad?!?! Sorry for the rant, but I’m so frustrated that this method of communicating with our audience seems to have been severed!!

      Alternatively – am I missing something about ad creation on Facebook that will help me overcome this problem? I really don’t want to publish “just a photo” with a 12-word tagline for an ad. I want to be able to boost something of substance that people will click on if they want to – not some post that has to be worded like click-bait!! Help?!?!

    • which is better now? booster post or promoted?

      • In short, they accomplish the same thing. But boosting (or promoting) a post through the more advanced Ads Manager or Power Editor tools give you more control.

      • In short, they accomplish the same thing. But boosting (or promoting) a post through the more advanced Ads Manager or Power Editor give advertisers more control.

    Emily Martens

    Emily focused her efforts on the numbers and analysis, with a background in paid advertising and search engine optimization.

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