social media how to

Are you confused by Facebook’s advertising options?

Do you know when you should use boost posts vs. promoted posts?

Understanding the similarities and differences between boost and promoted posts helps you make better budget decisions.

In this article you’ll discover the differences between the boost post and promoted post options, and how to choose which is right for your marketing efforts.

Why Pay to Have People See Your Posts?

You’ve probably heard the news that Facebook has decreased the organic reach for pages. That means that to be seen in your community’s news feed, you need to spend some money on Facebook ads.

But should you boost or promote your posts? I say it depends. Base your decision on which posts are helpful to your audience and further your goals on Facebook.

You don’t need to pay for every post—just choose the best ones. Use the tips below to help you decide which posts will help you the most.

facebook boost example

An example of what a boosted or promoted post looks like in the news feed.

Only promote your own content. Even if you’re sharing a good tip from another website, don’t boost it if it links to someone else. Why pay to send traffic to someone else’s site?

Pick content that’s helpful for your audience. Promoting sales messages from time to time is OK, but primarily choose content that will benefit your audience.

Promote content that gets your fans on your email list. If you’re offering something for free with an opt-in, definitely promote that content so you can transfer as many fans to your email list as possible. This includes giveaways, free webinars, free ebooks and any other type of freebie.

Remember the 20% text rule on photos. If your post has a link in it and the link pulls in a photo that has too much text, you won’t be able to boost or promote it. Use Facebook’s Grid Tool to determine if the image has too much text.

The example below wouldn’t be approved because it has too much text in the photo. Plan your post images ahead of time so you don’t get stuck with a post you can’t promote.

facebook post with over 20% text

Follow the 20% rule when boosting or promoting your post.

Below I’ll show you the difference between boosting and promoting so you can get the most bang for your buck.

When to Boost a Post

Boosting a post is very easy to do and available for any post on your page’s timeline. All you need to do is click Boost Post in the lower right corner of your post.

facebook boost post button

Boost a post with the click of a button.

When you click Boost Post, you have the option to choose either pushing the post toPeople who like your page and their friendsorPeople you choose through targeting.” You’ll also be able to set your budget.

facebook boost target and budget options

You can choose your target audience and your budget.

One problem with choosing the first option—People who like your page and their friends—is that your fans’ friends may not be interested in your business and you may be wasting your money by pushing your post out to them.

If your goal is to engage your current fans, don’t choose the first option. You’re better off using a promoted post and choosing that the ad only go to your community.

However, if you’ve already boosted a post to fans and their friends, you can still change your audience. Just go to your Ads Manager and turn off the segment of the ad that goes out to friends of fans.

If your goal is to drive some targeted traffic to your website, then choose the second audience option—People you choose through targeting.

facebook boost target options

You can add targeting with a boost post option.

The targeting option lets you select which people you want to reach, as well as their location, age, gender and up to 10 interests. (This is the same as promoting a post with targeting options, except that promoting a post allows more targeting options in the Ads Manager area.)

When you choose a targeted boosted post, it’s typically to drive traffic to your website (where you have a strong call to action or purpose). Even though you’re sending people away from Facebook, you’ll still pay for the engagement on the post (likes, comments, etc.).

The boost post ad with targeting is a quick way to set up an ad, but if you really want to focus on driving traffic to your website, I suggest setting up conversion pixels and doing a website conversion ad.

When you’ve set your audience and budget, you can click More Options and choose whether you want to spread the budget out over a few days (with a maximum of 7 days) and/or change the account that’s being charged.

The ability to change the charge account is handy for people who manage other people’s Facebook pages. Of course, you must be an ads admin of someone else’s account to switch the charge to their account.

facebook boost post more options

The More Options menu lets you choose duration and payment method.

When you boost a post, the ad results show up in your Facebook Ads Manager. From there you can monitor the ad, run more detailed reports and watch the performance.

Notice in this boosted post that the bulk of the ad spend went to showing the ad to friends of fans.

friends of fans boosting in ads manager

You can turn off the Friends of Fans Boosting in your Ads Manager.

If you dive deeper into the stats on this ad, the ad received 12 post likes from friends of fans, which essentially is a waste of money. Those people are not connected to your page and will never see your posts again (unless you boost a post to them again and they happen to see it).

When to Promote a Post

The other way to push a post into the news feed is to use the Ads Manager (or Power Editor) to promote a post. The benefit of promoting a post is that you have more targeting, pricing and bidding options.

To get started promoting a post, just go to and select Page Post Engagement. Use the drop-down menus to choose the page and the exact post you want to promote.

promoted post menu in ads manager

Create a promoted post through the Ads Manager.

When you click Continue, you’ll see that the Page Post Engagement option gives you more targeting options and you can even use a conversion pixel if your post is sending traffic to your website where you’ve installed a conversion pixel.

In the Connections area, you can choose that your ad only be shown to the people who like your page, but be aware that the default settings for locations limit who sees this ad unless you enter additional countries.

promoted post targeting options

Watch your targeting options to make sure you reach all of your fans.

You also have different bidding and budgeting options with a promoted post. You can choose cost per click or spend a certain amount per day or even switch between models if you want to.

I’ve been seeing good results with using the Facebook bidding models (bid for page post engagement, bid for website conversions and others).

As with boosted posts, your promoted post ad results will show in the Ads Manager so you can watch how your ad performs.

There is one last type of ad you can create as a promoted post via the Ads Manager: a dark post (or unpublished post). These types of posts are good for people who are comfortable with Power Editor and want to do some additional testing on multiple ads.

unpublished promoted post option

Create an unpublished post (also called a dark post) if you’re using Power Editor or need to split test.

Why use a dark post? One advantage is that it doesn’t appear on your page’s timeline. It uses the structure of a promoted post, but your community won’t see it organically (i.e., as a regular update in their news feed); instead they’ll see it only as an ad.

That’s particularly handy if you’re doing split testing for several types of posts and you don’t want to inundate your audience with similar posts all in a row.

Dark posts are also a good solution if you’ve made a mistake in a timeline post (e.g., your image had too much text) and you don’t want to delete it and repost a corrected version just so you can promote it.


Be clear on what you want to achieve with your ad.

Many marketers are using the boost post option because it’s easy and accessible. It’s located right on your page’s timeline and can be done with two clicks. But it’s not always the best option to reach the perfect audience.

In my opinion, most people should be using the promoted post option because it allows more control over who sees your ad and how you pay for it.

What do you think? Are you using promoted posts or boosted posts? What has your experience been? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

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  • I completely agree Andrea. The boost post feature is very limiting and I don’t really understand why Facebook doesn’t let you choose whether you want to include “Friends of fans” or not from within the boost post option. Thanks for the great post Andrea!

  • I’m in favor of promoted posts. If you’re going to spend money on advertising, you might as well have all the targeting capabilities at your disposal. The Boost Post is merely Facebook’s attempt to get Page owners with little advertising experience to dole out money. Not saying the Boost Post has no value, but promoted posts offer more tools for the same price. So it’s a no brainer.

  • It is odd that that isn’t a choice! Thanks Houssem!

  • Yes, I think the Boost Post can be quick and easy if you know your post has a wide appeal – but it doesn’t take long to create a Promoted Post where you have more control. Thanks!

  • predsicker

    Great tips Andrea! Thanks for clarifying when to use boosted post vs. promoted posts.

  • Because Facebook knows there are a lot of page admins who shouldn’t be page admins, and the boost post option provides easy money for them. Low hanging fruit.

    Facebook is shooting themselves in the foot in the long run. Why you would offer an advertising option that isn’t going to make use of the most targeted ad database in mankind’s history or maximize ROI is beyond me.

  • Kris Bradley

    Gary V also mentions using Promoted posts when a post you share gets an above average amount of engagement. This provides confidence that your goals will be reached by spending some money to boost the post.

    I agree that for almost all ad spending on Facebook, it’s more beneficial to use the Promoted post and power editor. I just hope my competitors haven’t figured that out yet, lol. One of my clients told me last week that she recently gained a new customer from a promoted post that we only ran for one day, so it does work folks.

    Great job explaining the difference between the two Andrea.

  • Kris Bradley

    Correction to my previous comment, Gary V mentions using ‘Boosted’ posts and not Promoted…

  • Thanks for the distinction on these 2 forms. I’m still not sure if I get better reach with either, and I also didn’t think it was just as simple as the targeting options. Definitely only using promoted posts from here on out!

  • Yes, Promoted posts is effective option. Boost posts have limitation in budget also and the other hand in promoted posts you can start with any budget with more target specific interest.

  • uncgirl13

    I’ve convinced my agency to ONLY do promoted posts now instead of boosted posts. I think another thing to account for are your goals. Often when I’m promoting a post, it’s to increase both reach and engagement. Promoting to our fans only has generally shown us higher engagement rates, even more than than non-promoted posts.

  • Kate Besenjak

    This information is very valuable, however I’m having trouble finding a good way to TRULY understand Facebook Ads, the Power Editor, etc. Is there a resource you can suggest that will give me a real tutorial on the back end of Facebook Ads/Power Editor and how to understand/use them efficiently? Any insight would be very helpful. Thanks!

  • Ace Rich

    Very good article! Thanks for sharing I took notes 😀

  • Holly Galbraith

    I strongly disagree with this statement “Only promote your own content. Even if you’re sharing a good tip from another website, don’t boost it if it links to someone else. Why pay to send traffic to someone else’s site?”
    There are a whole bunch of reasons why you would promote a post that doesn’t link to your site – in fact i could write a whole blog post on it! Hmm thanks for the idea 🙂

  • Thanks Kris – yes, I think that many people would benefit from understanding the distinction and making sure that you had your goals in line with what ad vehicle you were using. Love the story of your client!

  • Glad to hear Andrea!

  • Thanks Krunal!

  • Yes, it definitely helps to make sure your goals are in line! And I’ve seen the same thing with the promoted posts.

  • So not to toot my own horn here 🙂 but I do have a course on this that is geared towards beginner/intermediate users called Facebook Advertising Secrets. You can find it at Or I would definitely review all the articles here on Social Media Examiner geared towards advertising and I also have a number on my blog geared towards advertising. Hope that helps!

  • Jasmine

    I so agree with you. And this article was really very helpful to me since I had to give option between these 2 to my client. Thanks a lot 🙂

  • Hi Andrea,

    Thank you for explaining the promoted and boost post features so clearly. I have not used them in my facebook marketing yet. But after reading your article, I have decided to give it a shot.

    I believe having quality content that adds value to people’s lives is the 1st important criteria when it comes to promoting a facebook post.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • It is really very good and interesting information you have shared. Thanks.

  • Amy

    Thanks, this is really helpful. Good read that I’ll probably refer back to more than once!

  • I think boost post option is directly related to Facebook’s new algorithms for fanpages. If one wants to improve the visibility of the posts among their fans & friends, it is an easy way to connect with boost post option. Unlike Sponsored ads, boost post does not give an advertiser to target or change the budget.

    From my view point, we can use boost post option for certain events & offers but not for getting fans on your fanpage or visit on website. To get more likes and website visit one should go for sponsored ads where you can get many options like targeting & budgeting.

  • KnittingFever

    I stopped using the boost post feature sometime last year when the minimum budget it offered me became more than I wanted to spend, especially since the promised reach wasn’t much more than I was achieving organically (before the last algorithm change).
    Sponsored posts are working well, and I much prefer the budget and targeting options.

    What I struggle with is deciding at what point in a post’s life cycle to toss money at it. Right away or after a few hours?

  • Great insights Andrea, thanks! Is there a huge difference between the Power Editor and Ads Manager tool?

  • Thea Grant (BdeG)

    Thank you so much for clarifying some of the key distinctions between Boosted and Promoted posts…I have spent quite a bit of time delving into the myriad Facebook reference pages trying to glean the distinction between post types, costs and reach options to make the best decisions for our business to little avail…this sheds light on all my questions-!

  • I love the Boost post option. Works great on my small business page that is local. Easy targeting, or can just show to fans and their friends.. Used it today on a post. Spent $2 and had 3 orders.. Which will net over $300!!

  • This is often an area that people can get confused on, so this is a really useful post, thank you.

  • You might want to try actual Facebook ads then. You’ll likely get even better results.

  • I’ve heard also that it’s best to use Promoted Posts. But the Boost post is simple to use, clear and accessible. The other options are confusing and complicated and to be honest need careful study and close monitoring of the results. As a small business owner I have no time (nor inclination) to study this and so the Boost post is perfect.

  • Francine Cona Rivera

    I’ve spent hours and money on courses, read articles, etc and still can’t get the hang of doing ads. It’s probably some mental block as I’m not techy at all. I’d rather hire somebody BUT it seems like to do so would be the same amount of a car loan, lol. Shame there isn’t somebody out there who does this for start up companies.

  • Sarah Sinovic

    Hi, Andrea. I paid to boost a post earlier this month. When I go back and scroll “All Posts By Page” on our business’ timeline the post has disappeared. It no longer lives on our timeline. However, when I look in our photos it’s there; however; I am unable to click on the date to go to the post. Have you witnessed others with this problem? I created the post as a status update, so I’m not sure why it’s missing. Any ideas?! This concerns me.

  • Pingback: Facebook marketing weekly review (May 16th 2014)()

  • Great article, thanks for highlighting the difference. One question I have is there any real dis-advantage to promoting as an AD vs a post? Seems like from my own observations ads give you more options and targeting of devices like mobile or not, so why wouldn’t everyone just use ADs? What’s the drawback?

  • Ali Fares

    We all know that for the Promoted Posts we bid using CPC option for example and we pay a certain amount when someone clicks on the post. But my question is, for the Boost feature, are we paying for any type of engagement (likes, comments,…) or we can just pay when someone clicks on the post.
    I hope I made it clear lol.
    thanks in advance.

  • Laurel Hermanson

    This happened to me with my first boosted post, too. It just disappeared from my page’s timeline. Now I have three boosted posts that have done very well, and I’m afraid they will disappear, too. Any ideas, Andrea?

  • Simo H

    Great tips! But can somebody explain this?

  • Hey there,

    Question. Few weeks ago, I have the options of Page Post Engagements. Now, I do not have that option. It was replaced with Boost Your Posts.

    I believe, with Page Post Engagements, I could write a mini sales pitch whereas Boost Your Posts, I could not.

    What happened here ?

    Sorry, if this is a wrong place to ask the question.

  • TLo

    The “Success Summit” ad would not be approved, would it? Too much text?
    I do not understand the text limitation.

  • The post BOOST is simply an easy way for a small business to reach a larger audience, but we have found dark posts to be far more effective.

  • The post BOOST is simply an easy way for a small business to reach a larger audience, but we have found dark posts to be far more effective.

  • Ashok Sinha

    Andrea hi, really good one…thanks & Congrats…

  • John M. Lee

    Hi all: Question on Boosted Posts. I have Boosted about a dozen posts recently by geography e.g., Greenville NC + 50 miles. My understanding is that with either option I choose (Fans and their friends or people I pick through targeting) the only people who will see this post ever are people within that geography (and via the first option above their friends who could be outside the targeted area). However today, someone told me that even if the post is geo-boosted, it will initially hit my timeline where everyone can see it regardless of geography and then when boosted the geo-targeting kicks in. Therefore any organic reach is global. Can someone please confirm or dispute this. Thank you.

  • Tamara Marwood

    thanks for this post – I have just been boosting and not seeing much impact – and only doing this because it was easy

  • 1Josh

    Im new in facebook ads. and this article really helped me a lot. Gotta try this. Hope this will work for me. Thanks a lot andrea 🙂

  • Does boost post appear in the timeline of targeted audience? Or on the sidebar?

  • I believe they go by the percentage of “boxes” the text takes up from the whole ad space (for image). If you divide the space into 5 wide and 5 high, you end up with 25 squares. Then allow yourself maximum of 5 boxes to be used up by text without spilling over. I had best success with this method. Hope that helps.

  • Nirmala

    What I do not understand is when I have a successfully boosted post, my page likes do not go up accordingly. Is this because only those already connected with my page are liking the post? Even if I choose the audience and exclude those already connected? I must be missing something, or FB have a nice little cheat going on. Most of the time – at the moment I am looking to grow page likes rather than increase engagement..but something doesn’t seem to add up – that is, if it’s still true that one can only like or comment on a post if you like the page first.

  • Nirmala

    I believe that’s timeline.

  • Robert Spencer

    I agree with Houssem Daoud. Facebook should include “friends of fans”

  • Thanks for clarifying this for me, this has been very confusing for me as well, as I see different opinions on this while searching the internet. Your post was the most articulate!

  • Lakeshore West Post

    We are left to wonder, however, why the author did not consider the nuclear option as other large companies have done – to just say No. Many of the horror stories about FB’s advertising, the discovery that many of those “likes” are not even in your country, and now the push down on organic content should be making us wonder why we tolerate them at all.

    In any event, we started rethinking our engagement on FB and started to shift more of our focus to G+ and we’re finding our level of participation, reach, and engagement is so much better. Keep a presence on FB, of course – advertise with them? the jury is still out on that.

  • wrjones630

    Thinking this was a story worth spreading I paid a “boost” on Facebook. Results? Paid Reach 0 Actions 0 Explanation by Facebook 0
    “The news is trumpeting a drop in the unemployment rate: 5.4% What’s not trumpeted are jobs, those $8 or $9 an hour ones at Walmart, Target, Home Depot, the Dollar Store, the shrunken Barnes & Noble, and so many others. This while a school I went to gets $100 million from Henry Kravis. The manager/owner of a $98 billion hedge fund resides where most of the wealth does these days, the 1% who own 70% of our nation’s wealth. So while we trumpet this unemployment number let’s remember that person who works an eight hour day stocking merchandise, or working the cash register, sweeping the floor of all those places rich people like my fellow graduate never visit.

  • A Qadir Nazar

    Can i Know How much will it cost to boost a post

  • The cost to boost a post will depend on the amount of people you want to reach. There are different budget options, so you can choose how much money you would like to spend. However, your reach will also depend on other different factors, such as your targeting options. Also, you can optimise your Facebook advertising campaigns by using automated tools. If you are interested, you can check our tool Catvertiser.

  • Why?

  • I am beginner in all this, and tips are very useful. Does it sound ok if using promoting before boosting, but exact posts with targeting for exact group (sales job posts for exact planned group)?

  • Ashish Nag

    I have got stuck only with 545 likes on my page. this should help. Thanx

  • Sara

    People can like your posts without liking your page. If you’ve boosted a post, people enjoyed the content and engaged with it, it won’t affect your page likes at all unless they go through to your actual page and like it. If you’re wanting to grow page likes, you’re better off running a ‘like’ ad than boosting.

  • Patrick McCarthy

    Why is my Organic Reach greater than my paid Boost reach for a post being promoted to a single zip code.

  • Asheville JM

    Can you do an update on this topic? Things have changed in 2 years but this question is still very relevent.

  • LisaDJenkins

    Hi there! Is there a specific focus you’d like us to explore?

  • Jamie Sia Gadong

    How does FB know who to target when selecting interests?

  • Asheville JM

    Do you still recommend promoted over boosts? The finer points of targeting audiences, for example is there a way to do this interest OR that? Real life examples are always appreciated. Thanks

  • Gina Doheny

    My question is for the targeting in either one. Does it go to different areas per day or all areas every day?

  • Eileen P

    Hi Andrea, this is a great piece. I manage my nonprofit’s Facebook page and it seems like any posts that I boost end up disappearing from the timeline after a certain period (a few weeks or months). They are often some of our most interactive posts, so it’s obviously discouraging. Do you know if there is anything that we can do to prevent that from happening? thanks in advance-

  • Rosita Zaragoza

    Hi Andrea,
    Great explanation! Do you have a promo code I can use
    for your course Facebook Advertising secrets?. I am just starting my
    business and I’d love to take it but unfortunately it is over my
    budget. Please reply at
    Thanks Rosie

  • Ann Etcell-Ly

    Hi, I was clicking on both Boost and Promote to see the difference and I accidentally and unexpectedly without any Input from me got signed up for a $560 package. I was shocked. This was not my intention and there was no warning. Now what do I do? I’m so confused and frustrated with the Facebook maze and all the techno jargon. I don’t want to pay so much, especially when I didn’t choose the ad to promote or anything else to go with it. I didn’t realise I could get in to so much trouble by clicking on stuff to look at it. Now what do I do? This is terrible… Help please

  • Amanda Myer

    I’m a bit confused. I want to reach people who do not already “like’ my page and who are not currently seeing my posts…

  • salu

    we have boosting trouble please help?

  • salu

    hi andre vahl

  • salu

    we have boosting trouble please help?

  • Karla

    I would say they drip feed marketers because they value users over marketers – once ads become too intrusive, and it doesn’t take a lot, users notice and a negative bias against the medium begins to form. They’re maintaining the integrity of the network

  • Fortunately, Facebook updated this feature in the recent years so it works just fine. 🙂

  • Cynthia

    Please advise me. I know very, very, little about Facebook advertising and marketing in general. I want to advertise an open house for a commercial office building. To drive people in I will be offering complimentary fine wine and horsdeurves. I want this advertisement to reach a lot of people in my area as I’d like to have 200+ show up. The targeting is really about people in my area and age. Maybe income too if that is an option. How do I do this? I don’t need registration or ticket sales, just enough to get people intrigued and come see my wonderful space. Thank you!

  • Christen Anderson


    This article is a step by step article addressing various ways to target and optimize your Facebook Ads. This article has some additional targeting options you may also want to incorporate.

    And, this Podcast reviews some of the different options in Facebook Ad Strategy. We cover this topic frequently, and hope you’ll find future articles helpful.