When it comes to Facebook content, there’s lots of confusion about ads and boosting. Everyone has a different opinion about them – some think boosting is a waste of money and some think ads are too expensive.

Here’s a question: which is better – cake or cupcake? The answer is it depends. Both are great, but they have different purposes.

Here’s 5 things to know about ads and boosting.

1. Ads give you the ability to guide direction; boosting promotes content in the direction it’s already going.

Think of boosting like a rocket booster; it gives the rocket some lift and propulsion after lift-off, but it can’t really direct the rocket.

With ads, you guide the entire process. You begin by choosing your objective and go from there.

2. Ads offer you multiple objectives, but boosting content only offers you two objectives.

Ad objectives

Every piece of content you produce should prompt the user to perform a specific action. You want them to  act. 

When you run an ad, you’re able to choose among many options (currently 13). You can choose the objective of reaching the most people, getting engagement (reactions, shares, comments), increasing video views, generating leads, receiving messages and more.

When you boost content, you’re only able to choose between two options. Depending on what type of content you post, your options may include video views, engagement, event responses or messages.

3. Budget options are different.

Running an ad allows you to choose among different budget options. You can pick a daily budget (a maximum of $X/day) or a lifetime budget (entire ad campaign is $X and Facebook optimizes the ad spend throughout the campaign; some days you might spend more than others).

When you boost content, you’re only able to control the lifetime budget. You can set a custom duration (1 day, 3 days, etc), but you can’t set the daily budget.

4. Placement options are different.

When you create an ad, you have over 10 placement options. If you want, you can choose to display your ad only on the right-side of Facebook news feeds on desktops. Obviously, this is a very limited placement option, but it might work in some situations. You can choose to run an ad in all of the placement options, which Facebook recommends. We usually run ads in all placement options unless the target audience overwhelmingly rejects some of the placements. Here’s an example: last Christmas, we ran an ad targeted to people under 25. For one of the ad’s versions, we displayed the ad only on Instagram.

5. When should you use an ad and a boost?

Boosting is ideal for events and announcements. This type of content is usually relevant to your audience, followers and page fans. Boosting will get more eyes on the content.

Ads are ideal for any objective. They take more time to create and set up, but their advantages are numerous. You have more control over the direction, the call-to-actions are clearer and the reporting is better.