Facebook Ads vs Promoted Posts – my little experiment

Facebook waste of time?If you have a Facebook Page for your business you will be increasingly aware that when you post to your page, only 10-15% of your fans will see it. That means that if you have 500 fans, less than 1/5 are seeing your posts generally (*dependent on the type of post).

I decided to do a little side by side experiment to work out which would be best for my business and if you have a business that is similar, it will help you understand how it works now. Of course it will change in the future, as there’s no constant except for change with Facebook.

I choose to compare Facebook Ads and Promoted posts and have not looked at ‘Sponsored Stories”. The difference between standard ads and sponsored stories is that the stories look like Facebook ads, so they only appear on the right sidebar of the Facebook Page, along with all the other ads. There are some good arguments for using a Facebook Ad and a Sponsored Story at the same time, and this is what I will try next.

Bottom Line Results:

Facebook Ad breakdown:

  • Impressions: 923
  • Clicks: 6
  • Page Likes: 5
  • Spend: $5
  • Time: 5 days

The benefits of my Facebook Ad:

  • It was as cheap to run a weekly ad as a single promoted post.
  • It was simple to set up and to target a new ideal customer.
  • It gave me the ability to test different ads at the same time (which may be confusing for a novice).
  • It was the only way to gain more page likes (compared to promoted posts).


  • The downside that I can see is for people who see ads as spam and they wouldn’t be my target audience anyway.
  • With accusations of up to 80% fake clicks on Facebook ads, there is a smaller risk of fake clicks on promoted posts as they appear to be organic in the news feed.

Promoted Post breakdown: * post was my last blog

  • Paid Reach: 1,772
  • Spend: $5
  • Likes on Post: 30
  • Clicks on Link: *1
  • Engagement: 42

The benefits of my Promoted Post:

  • It’s main benefit is reaching my audience and their friends.
  • Although taken on a single post, it is relatively cheap for paid reach.
  • * I selected a post to my blog and I would suggest that this is the best use of  a promoted post, for promotions, events and content linked to your website, to drive traffic and leverage website content and sales.
  • Compared to ads, they are even more simple to use.
  • They are definitely better for driving engagement with your page fans.
  • They target the news-feeds of fans and are more likely to be accepted.


  • The major downside is the more you use promoted posts the more you have to pay to reach fans! One way round this is to be very selective with your promoted posts and take breaks from time to time; and to check that your available reach has gone up again before promoting. Having said that, there will be great variance depending on the type of post, so you will need to experiment what works best for you and your audience.
  • With Promoted posts you only reach people who have liked your page already and their friends.

Things to take into consideration:

  • Popup blockers such as AdBlock can hide Facebook ads, but will not hide promoted posts.
  • When you pause a Facebook ad campaign, the ad disappears from the site until you resume. When you pause a promoted post, the actions that have been performed on the post remain. If someone shared your post, for example, it doesn’t disappear when you pause the promotion.

The above experiment is far from exhaustive or scientific. The results, however, they are good enough for me to make a case that Facebook Ads are superior to gaining new page Likers but promoted posts are a superior method of reach and engagement.

So which should you choose? All of this is predicated on your type of business, and whether you are a local business or a purely online business. Facebook Ads tend to work well to increase new fans, while promoted posts help increase engagement & traffic to your website if you select carefully.

If you’re considering running any Facebook ads or promoted posts, keep the following in mind:

Go for quality over quantity: What you want are quality fans who are genuinely interested in what you do and what you have to say. They will stick with you for the long haul and be more likely to convert into actual customers.

Target your ad: Use the targeting options and interest categories that Facebook offers! This will go a long way towards attracting those quality fans.

Create an appealing Ad:

  • Test different images for your ad – think about a design that will resonate with your ideal audience.
  • Remember it’s all in the headline – spend 80% of your time choosing this hook.
  • Use your businesses keywords to engage your new audience.

Track your results: Use Facebook’s Ads Manager to track the results. You need to discover which ad, or combination of ads, will work best for you. Plan, do, check, act and refine.

I’d love to know what results you are getting for your business type and your general thoughts about Facebook Ads vs Promoted Posts?

About the author:  Teresa Bassham is the founder of Zenworkz Authentic Marketing and educates businesses to think, create, engage and optimise their marketing effort.  She coaches customers in strategies for traditional and online marketing; and implementation.  If you would like free how-to-do-it-yourself marketing resources or to subscribe to free e-news about all things marketing, please visit the website:


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6 thoughts on “Facebook Ads vs Promoted Posts – my little experiment

  1. Interesting!! Thanks for sharing your results. It is ever changing , that is for certain. Will investigate Ads now, having not every done so before. Thanks Ms Z.

  2. I’m not sure if I’m any closer on deciding which way is best for me Teresa although I must admit to not having tried promoted posts as Facebook keep increasing the price and now I think it’s asking $40 to do so.

    I don’t know whats happening though as I’ve noticed all pages I visit are getting less & less interaction on their pages even with paid ad’s.these are bigger pages with 10,000 plus

    I’m honestly not sure if Facebook has the same impact it once did – What do you think???

    1. Hi Jan, first thing you can set a price of $5 for promoted posts to test them. Being a local business, your goal for social media is boosting your ability for local customers to find you. If you goal is not to build likes, then promoted posts would be the way to go, that’s only if you want to boost your engagement? From what I see, you do a great job already with organic engagement – so maybe you don’t need anything more. Thanks for taking the time to comment Jan x Teresa

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