How to drive results with sponsored posts on Facebook

Jenna Mescon
By Jenna Mescon, Editor at Native Advertising Institute
Mar 3, 2015

If you haven’t been living under a rock for the past years, you’ve probably heard a little something about Facebook sponsored posts.

But what exactly are Facebook sponsored posts? How do they work? And how are they different than Facebook sponsored ads? We’ve got the answers for you here.

What are Facebook sponsored posts?

A Facebook sponsored post is a post that businesses pay for, in order to reach a larger audience than they otherwise would be able to organically.

A Facebook sponsored post is almost entirely like an ordinary post in appearance, as it looks just the same as all other posts inside a users newsfeed, the only difference is that a sponsored post is labeled as such.

Facebook sponsored post for the Native Advertising Institute's Native Advertising Awards

Sponsoring a post on Facebook is an easy and quick process and a great way to get more - and more relevant - eyes on a post. It’s important, though, that when you sponsor a post, you have a clear audience in mind and your messaging is appropriately targeted toward that audience, but we’ll talk more about this later.

First off, let’s take a look at how Facebook Sponsored Posts work:

How Do Facebook Sponsored Posts work?

A facebook sponsored post is essentially a normal organic post that you then pay to ‘boost,’ in order to reach an audience outside of the people already following your business on Facebook.

Why should you sponsor a post on Facebook?

Why might you sponsor a post, instead of just posting it?

Simple, the organic reach on Facebook, as of 2018 is estimated to be somewhere around 1.2%. This means that when you simply post on your Facebook business site, despite how engaging or relevant your post may be, people most likely won’t see it or interact with it.

We saw a dwindling in Facebook organic reach as early as 2014, where organic reach dropped from around 16% to around 6.5%, this was largely attributed to an increase in competition, as more and more businesses were taking to Facebook, crowding out newsfeeds.

The dramatic drop off we've seen, as of late, though, has been largely attributed to changes in the Facebook algorithm. These changes are aimed at making users’ newsfeeds more relevant to them.

A shift away from users being inundated with low-quality news stories or content. Although this is perhaps a welcomed change, it does make it harder for brands to get their content seen. This is why it’s so critical for businesses and brands to sponsor their posts.

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How to boost a post on Facebook

The good news is, sponsoring - also called boosting - a post on Facebook is extremely simple. We’ll help you do it in 9 simple steps:

1. Go to your Facebook business page.

Once on Facebook, you can access your Facebook business page by clicking on it in the left-hand toolbar.

2. Either create a post to sponsor or sponsor an existing post.

One method is not necessarily better than the other. A good approach, though, might be to post organically. You can then see which posts are naturally gaining traction with your intended audience and then boost the posts performing well to get more eyes on it. Regardless of the option you choose, your next step is to select boost.

A picture showing how to boost a post on Facebook

3. Specify your goal:

  • Getting more website traffic
  • Getting more engagements: reactions, comments and shares

How to specify your objective with a Facebook sponsored post

4. Select a CTA button between a number of preset options.

The option you choose will likely hold relevance to the kind of content you’re offering as well as the products or services you sell. Keep in mind, though, certain CTAs tend to work better than others.

5. Specify your target audience.

Choose between:

  • People you choose through targeting: you can create an audience, whereby you specify an age range, gender, location and specific attributes, such as demographics, interests or behavior. You can also choose to specifically exclude certain audiences.
  • People who like your page
  • People who like your page and their friends
  • People in your local area

How to target your audience for a Facebook sponsored post

  • You can also select an automatic audience: This is the one that Facebook decides upon, based on who they think would find your content relevant. This is the selection that Facebook recommends for the sake of getting the most bang for your budget.

Automatic audience for a Facebook sponsored post

6. Set the duration of time you wish to sponsor your post for.

You can do this by selecting the number of says you want it to be sponsored, or by selecting an end date for sponsorship.

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7. Set the budget for your sponsored Facebook post.

The amount of money you allocate will be split between the amount of time you specify for your post to be sponsored.

Setting the budget on you Facebook sponsored post

Once you’ve finished inputting here, be sure to turn on conversion tracking, which you can do with the slider icon at the bottom of this section. This will allow you to better understand the engagements you get from your sponsored efforts, in order to get a better indication of your return on ad spend.

Turning on conversion tracking for your Facebook sponsored post

8. Enter in your payment info.

Once you save your credit card info, you won’t need to complete this step again to sponsor a post.

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9. Hit boost, and keep an eye on the results!

You’ll want to compare the results you’re seeing to the initial goals you set for the post. You can optimize your post copy, pictures, targeting, etc in line with what you learn. It good approach is to keep some sort of log with your learnings.

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Facebook sponsored posts cost

Sponsoring your facebook post can be rather affordable. In fact, you can set as little as a $1 minimum. The amount you pay depends entirely on the size of the audience that you want to see your post. Facebook will provide you estimates of the number of people you can reach with the budget you specify.

Cost of a Facebook sponsored post

A good approach is to first determine who exactly you want to reach, what you want those people to do and how much that action is worth to you.

Facebook sponsored posts vs ads

While they’re essentially the same - paid ads on facebook - there is a difference between Facebook sponsored posts (boosted posts) and Facebook ads, which you should know about.

Facebook Ads

Facebook ads are created in Facebook Ads Manager. So rather than simply creating them through your business profile, you would need to set them up through Facebook Ad Manager, which may require a bit of time to get to know.

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Once you do, though, Facebook ads Manager will allow you more specification options, when it comes to creating your audience and allocating your budget. Here are the main advantages:

Advantages of Facebook Ads

  • No time limit: A Facebook Ad can run for as long as you like.
  • More complex targeting and budgeting options
  • With Facebook Ads, all of the following marketing objectives can be accomplished: brand awareness, reach, traffic, app installs, engagement, video views, lead generation, messages, conversions, catalog sales, and store visits

Disadvantages of Facebook ads

  • You can’t create an ad straight from your business account, you will need to use Facebook Ads manager
  • There is a slight learning curve you will need to get over before you can navigate Ads Manager and learn the best targeting and budgeting options. In this way, it’s a bit higher risk

When should you use a Facebook sponsored post over a Facebook Ad?

  • A Facebook ad might be your best bet if your focus is a more long-term ad, built into a strategic campaign or content plan. Many companies, for example, appreciate the added control and greater customization that you get with Facebook ads.
  • A Facebook sponsored post is quick and easy disseminate and great for one-off efforts. If your goal is increased awareness at an affordable price a Facebook sponsored post might be the best bet for you.

What is a Facebook Automated Ad?

Facebook Automated ads are those, which Facebook helps you to create and disseminate on an ongoing basis with minimal maintenance needed. 

Facebook automated ad

How Do Facebook Automated Ads work?

Facebook will ask you a serious of questions about your business and your goals. They’ll then give you suggestions about how to set up your ad, including inputs on images, budget and audience, based on these objectives.

Your ad will then run continuously and Facebook will instruct you as to how you can optimize for best results.

Success Tips for Sponsored Facebook Posts and Paid distribution in general on Facebook 

Now that you’ve nailed down the basic, it may be time to consider what it is your posting and how it fits into your overall Strategy. We’ve got some resources that can definitely help you on this journey.

  • First off, learn from industry best practices. While thinking out of the box and doing something different is the best way to get attention, you have to start somewhere. Your fist step should probably be laying down the foundations and understanding how others were successful.
  • Along the same lines, check out some great examples. We’ve put together some of our favorite right here.
  • Put it all into a larger strategy with set KPIs. Learn how here.
  • Be aware, Facebook users are inundated with ads all the time. Your best bet is to be informative, not interruptive. Discover how you can approach Facebook in a non-disruptive way right here.

Feeling like an expert yet?

Now that you’ve mastered paid distribution on Facebook, perhaps you’re wondering about the other social media channels. Luckily, we’ve got you covered there, be sure to visit our pillar page entirely dedicated to advertising on social media. Check it out here.

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Story by Jenna Mescon

Jenna is an editor at Native Advertising Institute.

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