Video Marketing Lab by
Handbook Chapter 2

When to boost (and not to boost)


Facebook is the most powerful marketing platform on earth. It’s also arguably the most complicated.

Getting it right requires many things, but the most important is your marketing approach. For many marketers, boosting is their tool of choice. But is it the right one?

In this chapter, we’ll examine the good and bad sides to boosting (based on our experimental data), and we’ll introduce you to the better alternative.

But first, let’s consider why paid marketing is even a thing on Facebook. It used to be free, right?

The birth of boost and death of organic

Facebook. In the beginning, your posts were seen by those who liked your page, and it was good. You picked a nice piece of content, added a few words, and posted it on your Facebook profile. Boom! Then it was time to sit back, relax, and let the people come.

But now, that’s not enough. These days, a News Feed post without money behind it – known as an organic post – is seen by almost no one. A mere 5% of people who liked your business see your organic posts.

Why did this happen? Put simply, it’s Facebook’s way of monetizing their platform. Instead of giving you access to your fans, Facebook sells it to you. While this is essentially a bad deal, it does have an upside. When you put money behind a post, you typically reach more people than just your fans. This is thanks to Facebook’s incredibly powerful and incredibly creepy data-gathering skills (more about that in Chapter 4).

Facebook currently has two paid tools that will help you achieve reach beyond a small portion of your fans: boost and Ads Manager. Boost is the simplest of the two and the most accessible.

Pro tip

Maximizing organic reach

Even though organic reach has declined, organic posts can still be effective when done right.

  • DO: Make great content that your audience is interested in. If people start engaging with your post within a few minutes of it being published, Facebook is more likely to show it to more of your page’s followers.

  • DON’T: Share videos from others on Facebook. Shared posts only achieve about 30% of the organic reach of original content. And don’t share videos from other channels, either. Facebook favors videos uploaded directly (AKA native videos).

So, what is a Facebook boost?

Put simply, it’s three things: greater visibility, increased reach, and ease of use – a one-size-fits-all solution to send your post further. It’s an easy way to create a campaign and promote your post without leaving your Facebook page. You can share an important update, gain attention for a significant post, and announce news or a special promotion.

Choose a post that’s already on your page’s timeline. You can opt to boost it and select a target audience, budget, and how long you want your post to be boosted. You don’t need to create a Business Manager or Ads Manager account as long as you have a Facebook page and you post organically.

With a focus on maximizing visibility (and therefore engagement) for a single post, the Facebook boost option can be good for brand awareness, and increased engagement can provide valuable social proof. Boosting a post dramatically increases the odds of your users seeing the post in their News Feed. Your post is also likely to appear in the News Feed of friends who have similar interests.

Reach refers to the number of users who see your ad at least once. Unlike impressions, every unique user is just counted once, so if your reach was a hundred, then a hundred different people saw your post.

How to boost your post

  1. Create your post: Consider its purpose and impact, and your audience.
  2. Set your budget and duration: Prices are set on a per-day or total budget basis so you can control how much you spend. You may reach the maximum amount of your budget each day, depending on the audience and budget you choose.
  3. Boost: Using the option at the bottom of your post that says Boost Post. Simple.

You can also boost posts and create promotions from the Pages Manager app. This is the simplest way to create a post from your mobile device.

When to boost

Engagement and relevance is your aim. Boosted posts increase your reach, so you’ll want to use them to create a sense of urgency with special offers or promotions, or as a call to action to increase engagement, coupled with an arresting image or video.

If you’ve never dabbled in social media marketing before, boosting can make you feel like you’re on the money. Novices may be tempted to boost every post, but it’s important to remember that you want to engage, not saturate news feeds.

The main purpose of boost is to introduce the user to the world of marketing on Facebook. The main benefit is that, for first-time social media marketers, it’s a great way to get to know the space. It’s an easy and addictive way to help build your brand when you’re starting out — thanks, Facebook.

A post shouldn’t be boosted just for the sake of obtaining likes. Sure, likes are great, and a type of engagement, but real engagement with your posts is what you should be looking for.

Real engagement is when people in your target audience are interacting with the post. They’re liking it, but they’re also asking questions, tagging their friends and family, making comments, and sharing the post. Interaction is what helps to grow your business, by driving visitors to your website, sharing their information, or even converting customers.

While we all have different social media habits, boost is good at finding people who use the platform regularly. Boost is best for when you want to increase your following or build up a community. You’re not necessarily looking for conversions, you just want people to comment on, share, and view the video, and boosting does that job. If you’re writing good content, you can transition people from fans to customers.

When you’re about to hit the boost button, make sure you’re only boosting high-performing posts if they’re specifically relevant to your business, and facilitate interactions, including website visits, conversions, and sales.

Boosting allows you to target different interests and behaviors, but gauging its success is difficult due to the limited data you can collect from a boost.

Gerard tip
Start with $1 a day

Boost for social proof

When you’re running an ad, whether it’s highly polished or not, you want it to succeed. One way to give any post a greater chance of success is social proof. But what is it?

Here’s an example of social proof: You’re on holiday in Italy. You’re headed out for dinner, but where do you go? Do you go to the empty trattoria? Or do you go to the place full of diners clinking glasses and having a great time? You’d follow the people, right? That’s social proof.

It seems to be a human imperative that when we’re looking to make a purchase we want to be assured of our choice. We read reviews, we buy products after watching makeup tutorials, and we seek expert advice before buying tech.

According to research by MIT: “The Law of Social Proof suggests that, in the absence of better information about how to act in a given situation, humans will conform to the behavior of those surrounding them.”

They tested the Law of Social Proof by observing whether passers-by would stop to look at an ordinary lamppost more frequently if two onlookers were already staring at it. This was tested against a lamppost with no one staring at it. They found that the Law of Social Proof correctly predicts that a higher proportion of passers-by will look at the lamppost if two onlookers are already doing so. And that’s just a lamppost!

In terms of a Facebook post, social proof is the interaction recorded on the post: views, shares, reactions, and comments. These are the things you want on your posts to flag they’re relevant to others. When it comes to boosted posts, social proof is the only data you have as to the success of your campaign. Is this enough information? We don’t think so.

Design for interaction

When boosting, you want to maximize the interaction you get with that post. Making a post that’s fit for a purpose is crucial to achieving that end. Content isn’t one size fits all.

Bigger companies used to working in traditional media spaces may be more used to creating and running TV commercials, so they forget that each platform is its own media channel. They’ll repurpose a minute-long television ad for Facebook and wonder why it didn’t work. The content simply didn’t fit the channel and therefore they don’t get the ROI they were expecting – and they may blame the platform.

It’s important to note here that we’re largely talking to customers on a mobile platform. It’s been several years since the consumption of digital content on mobiles surpassed that of desktop-based consumption. According to Wordstream:

  • Mobile made up around 87% of Facebook’s overall ad revenue
  • 19% of time spent on mobile devices occurs on Facebook

Every day, millions of people use Facebook to engage with businesses, and most of those people are doing so from their mobile device, so it makes sense that marketing campaigns should be optimized for mobile across various digital platforms.

To make your Facebook page a success, you must understand how your page looks on a mobile device, ensure customers can find you through searching, do your research as to what content has high levels of engagement, and make sure you react to things on your page as quickly as possible.

Too often, social media is seen as the least important platform, a tick-box exercise where content is a repeat of other platforms, but Facebook can be a powerful conversion tool if you target the right people at the right time.

Just how important? According to advertising giant Zenith, two-thirds of all the growth in global advertising expenditure between 2017 and 2020 will come from paid search and social media ads.

And to that end, this is a chance for business owners to embrace the market and find a way to talk to their community. We’re seeing a rise in the marvel of niche marketing, which empowers small and medium-sized business to take on – and defeat – large enterprise.

Program for your niche

The best way to leverage boost for reaching your niche is to get strategic. Program your channel like a TV channel; set certain themes for certain days. And get creative. This way, people will expect to see your post, and may even go looking for your content unprompted.

In the bad old days, there were fewer options for what to watch and how to watch it. We gathered around the TV, a captive audience that only big brands could afford to reach.

These days, for every niche business there’s a niche audience. Boosted posts can help you reach your niche (so long as they’ve already liked your page), as boosted posts will reach your existing audience and their friends.

Example: She’s a proud and engaged Cavoodle owner, you’re a proud puppy hairstylist. You have a video on how to style a Cavoodle’s hair and, although it may be small, there’s your audience. Even Coca-Cola has nothing on you in this space.

Use boosted posts as vehicles to talk to your customers the way you would in person. You want to make sure you’re talking to people, not shouting at them. Tone is important. For best results, Facebook actually wants your customers to comment on your ads.

Adam Mosseri, Head of Facebook News Feed, said: “Page posts that generate conversation between people will show higher in News Feed. For example, live videos often lead to discussion among viewers on Facebook – in fact, live videos on average get six times as many interactions as regular videos”.

Just don’t ask for comments: Facebook has said they’re going to fight against this.

Writers know they have to speak to a specific audience in a certain way to gain traction, and that’s also true on Facebook. What feels right for you on a personal platform won’t work on a professional level.

Ken tip
Reaching your sub-niches

When not to boost

Put simply, you shouldn’t use boost a post when you want to quantify and improve your campaigns, or when you want to drive people toward conversion. Unfortunately, the simplicity of boosting posts comes at the cost of collecting meaningful data and the ability to customize and target the reach of your post.

The biggest pitfall of relying on boosted posts is the lack of control. With boost you can’t see who you’re reached – you can guess it’s your fans and some of their friends – but you won’t get a clear picture of what they have in common. You can’t target your campaigns toward different actions like raising awareness or selling a product, and you can’t take your audience and compare it to another with different interests to find out which group connects best with your post.

As a growth marketer, you want to know who you’re talking to. You want to split your audience into ad sets to trial several ads at once and use data to see which iteration got the most traction.

You lose out when using boost because you can’t push toward a purchase or someone signing up to your website, which really is the end goal. You want them to get off Facebook and onto your site, and for that you need a bigger set of tools.

So whenever you want to quantify and improve your campaigns, don’t use boost. Try the more powerful alternative: Ads Manager.

Rena tip
Plan for the long-term

Introducing the better alternative: Ads Manager

99% of the time, Facebook ads will beat boosted posts. Why? Because the tools at your disposal when making ads are far more powerful than those available when you boost.

When you make an ad (instead of boosting) you’ve got increased flexibility, with objective options, better placement options, more targeted customization, and improved creative control; with the ability to more accurately target your objectives you can further optimize your ads for better results.

How do you access these tools? With Facebook Ads Manager, accessible through a Facebook Business Manager account.

Experiment: Boosting vs. Ads Manager

To quantify the difference between boosting and Ads Manager ads, we ran an experiment. We compared the performance of a boosted post to one of its most similar counterparts in Facebook Ads Manager – a video view campaign.

To keep things fair, we used the same creative for both posts.


We used this creative for both posts.

Like all the experiments in this book, we ran them under a fake entity:

We also used the same audiences (as much as possible) and used exactly the same budget.

Here’s what happened.

The boosted post cost less

Per 1,000 views (CPM), the boosted post cost only $2.63, but the ad cost $7.72, which means that the boosted post was cheaper overall. But, unfortunately, that’s no indicator of success. It may have been cheaper, but did it deliver better ROI?

Ads Manager got more clicks, for less money

In terms of delivering results, the Ads Manager-controlled post came out way in front. The ad got 76 clicks, while the boosted post got only 23. That’s 230% more.

This meant the cost per click also came out much lower. Each click cost $1.04 for the ad, while the boosted post cost $3.09 per click, 197% more expensive per click.

Ad watched more and for longer

For all ‘watch’ metrics, the ad performed best. It had almost twice as many 3-second views (9,166 vs. 5,158), the percentage of the video that was watched was higher (85% vs. 64%), the average watch time was higher (5 seconds vs. 2 seconds), and almost twice as many people watched the video to completion (7,059 vs. 3,647).

Engagement, reactions, and shares

Almost twice as many people engaged with the ad than did with the boosted post (9,242 vs. 5,223), but the boosted post did much better in terms of reactions (41 vs. 0), and also got one share, whereas the ad had none.

What this all means

While the Facebook boosted post did a great job of reaching more people, it underperformed in almost every other aspect.

The ad got more than twice the clicks and cost about two-thirds less per click.

In terms of ROI, the ad is the clear winner.

Where boosting did come out on top, however, was reactions and shares. This is mainly because, when you boost a post, Facebook looks for people who are active (liking, sharing, reacting, and commenting), but it’s not so good at finding people who will convert.

As such, if you ever want to build social proof for a Facebook post, boosting is a solid option. If you want clicks, go with Ads Manager every time.

Want to learn more? Take a look at our in-depth write-up of this experiment.

Up next

In Chapter 3 we’ll explain everything you need to know to use Ads Manager effectively. First, let’s look at what you can achieve with Ads Manager.

  • Create audiences. Build up targeted audiences based on email addresses you’ve already gathered.
  • Compare audiences. Run the same ad with various audiences at the same time to find new opportunities.
  • Test ads. Run multiple ads and ad variants at the same time to evolve your approach and grow your ROI.

You can also take care of different accounts, pages, and collaborate with colleagues and clients. But most importantly, it’s about the data. This is what differentiates Business and Ads Manager from boosting – you’re no longer shooting with a shotgun, you’re shooting a scoped rifle.


Make a plan. A clear and strategic marketing approach is the difference between hitting your mark and shouting into the void.

Boost strategically. For a quick engagement lift as a step toward social proof, or to promote a precise message, boosted posts can work.

Up your game. Ultimately, the Facebook Ads creation and management process will provide better customization and you’ll get a better outcome.

While moving beyond the boost can be an intimidating step, it’s essential for mastering Facebook video marketing.