Many of us work with social community managers, right? And whether or not they have any Facebook advertising savvy, they all see that “Boost post” option enough to think about trying it.

I think boosting posts is stupid. Here’s why: it’s a cheap way to get people to advertise without going into the ads manager and having them do all the “complicated” targeting. It’s basically taking advantage of those people who don’t fully know what they are doing.

I’m not saying that having a way for newbies to advertise on Facebook is a bad thing, but what it does is create a combination of bad targeting and bad ad units, which ultimately clobbers the perceived value of advertising on Facebook.

When you hit “boost post” on Facebook, you are given options. First is to show your ad to “people who like your page and their friends” and “people who you choose through targeting.” So, basically what you’re given off the bat is the ability to target both fans and friends of fans.

boost post to fans

This is traditionally not a bad audience, but what happens is it’ll create a version of your advertisement to your fans (fine), your friends of fans (usually a huge audience), and then a sponsored story version of that post (which usually targets almost no one).

sponsored post option

What normally happens is something like this:

boost post

In my opinion, this is a waste of money. Wouldn’t you agree? As an experienced Facebook advertiser, where do you think the budget is going to go, especially if you’re bidding oCPM (which it does by default)? It’s going to go to Friends of Fans (option 2), with absolutely no targeting layered on top of it. This is unfortunate because people would be so much better off if they knew all the valuable tools available to them in the self-serve ad creation area.

The targeting that Facebook offers is its biggest strength. The more Facebook can prove that by launching people into ad creation flow with full targeting options in mind, the better off they’ll be.  I have spoken to many social community managers who believe boosting posts is the best option they have for getting fans to see a post, which is incorrect. With only a few more clicks, a new world could be opened up to them.

Spread the word!


Ready to learn more? Check out 3Q Digital’s Complete Guide to Facebook Advertising, or contact the 3Q Social team directly.


  1. Dan Wilkerson June 24th, 2013

    Andrew! Totally agree.

    I’ve seen INSANE things based off of this, too – posts with thousands of likes that, on closer inspection, denote a suspiciously high enthusiasm in Thailand for a the posts of a Pittsburgh-based regional retailer.

    Sadly, Facebook’s self-service advertising seems designed to swindle those who lack the technical knowledge to properly make use of it. It’s a lose-lose, too, because those mom-and-pop advertisers get excited about the engagement their boosted posts get, promote them more, eat into inventory, raise the CPM/CPC, irritate their real fan base, and eventually get sour on the whole concept when all that juicy ‘engagement’ doesn’t correlate with a rise in any kind of meaningful business metric. Plus, users get a spammy experience from inexperienced advertisers, which I imagine drives at least some of them from the network, in turn lowering inventory, raising costs, and losing Facebook users. It’s a vicious cycle.

    What they need to do is create a section of videos/quizzes on how to use Facebook ads that have to be taken and passed before a Page can make use of any advertisements. Nothing crazy, but some pointers on copy, CTAs, and geo/interest targeting would go a long way, I think.


  2. Robyn Bradley June 25th, 2013

    I find the “boost post” option useful if I want to reach more than the 17 percent that FB limits me to due to EdgeRank. So, for example, if I have an announcement about a book (I’m a writer) that I want more than 17 percent (or so) of my fans to see, I’ll pony up a little cash to make sure this happens (I’m long past being angry at the concept of EdgeRank). Even doing this, I still don’t reach all of my fans (sigh), but it does help. My experience is that the post doesn’t really look any different in people’s newsfeeds (it just has the “sponsored post” disclaimer, but that’s easy to miss). I agree that if you want to run ads–the real-deal ones that show up to the right of the newsfeed–it’s all about careful targeting. I run those as well. Make sense?

    By the way, I don’t have all those options you show above…when I hit “boost post,” my only audience option is “People who like your page and their friends.” (Your article here sent me double checking!) Maybe this added targeting is for pages with a certain number of fans? (I have a little over 2K.)

  3. Shashank July 17th, 2013

    Yeh, I manage 3 pages and surprisingly one of my pages don’t show this option of audience targeting. Now there can be two things why this is happening:
    1. I don’t remember the pass for this one page so I have to login to my personal profile – jump to the page – and then boost! Maybe this is why i don’t see the audience selector.
    2. This can be some sort of a bug.

    Anyone reading this have any ideas. Help will be much appreciated. Many thanks in advance.

  4. Kim July 25th, 2013

    i manage dozens of pages and have a few that dont offer me the targeting through client login admin but I see it through my admin. No idea why.

  5. Zachary Chastain August 19th, 2013

    Hi Shashank and Kim,

    You can only see ads you’ve setup through your own admin account. If another admin set them up, then you won’t be able to adjust targeting and such.

    This can be pretty easy to follow if you use one account to manage all advertising, but if multiple admins have access to ads and create them through their own accounts then it could lead to a confusing situation where you have permission to make adjustments to some ads, but not others, or access to some aspects of the ad platform and not others.

    The easiest way to solve this would be to use one shared account for creating all ads, so everything is centralized and all ads created by anyone on the team are done from that one account.

  6. Veronica August 9th, 2013

    This is all speculation unless you back up your theory by some analytics! :)

  7. Mary J September 18th, 2014

    Agreed, Veronica. I need more details.

  8. Anthony Kirlew August 13th, 2013

    I would rather say “test both and see what gives you the best results.” For some of our clients with smaller budgets, promoted posts have done a great job in boosting the engagement that they were looking for, whereas with some of those same clients the FB Ads simply did not perform or perform well enough to justify continuing to spend the money. I actually like the fact that they have expanded the outreach on promoted posts to more than just the fan base.

    Test everything!

  9. Carl Evangelista February 10th, 2014

    I have to disagree

    My wife has a small local store in Philippines. She makes about $25 a day for the last year. I add $5 boost post option to each new post she makes (about 1 a day). After the first day of using this option her sales went to $125 a day for the last 7 days we have been using this option. I am using the second option and targeting her local area. I also set up ads withing facebook and found it not as affective.

  10. Mary J September 18th, 2014

    Thank you Carl.

  11. Anonymous April 5th, 2015

    My sales have tripled due to boosting posts. I think this article is hogwash- of course hopefully my competion will see it and refrain from Facebook lol

  12. Max February 27th, 2014

    Are you serious? You don’t like it when I take the easy way to get business so to speak? You feel everyone should do it your way, the harder way? I suppose if each one of us had to dig a ditch, and you decided to do it with a little garden shovel, you would be mad because I used an excavator?

  13. Camilla March 10th, 2014

    Andrew I need you to confirm that if you create a boost or add facebook sends you an email confirming your purchase. I ask this because this morning I used PayPal to purchase something from eBay and shortly after that I was sent two receipt emails from PayPal saying I paid them over £400 for facebook adds! I haven’t even touched my facebook page in over a month. Please help! Regards

  14. George Pappas March 23rd, 2014

    I have used the BOOST service twice in order to promote significant posts. Both times with a nominal budget of $5. What I have discovered is that Facebook are not honouring their word. The service you pay for is to promote a particular post to either 1) all ppl who have Liked your page & their friends, or 2) you choose the filtering meaning you can choose gender/countries.age etc regardless of whether that demographic has Liked your page or not.

    Now, it makes more sense I think to target ppl who already have Liked your page, you are far more likely to get engagement from them as they already know you. BUT, what I have discovered is that even though I chose to have my posts Boosted to all ppl (& their friends) who have Liked my page, across the world, on both occasions looking at the statistics later, my country engagement shows only 100% Mexico. And judging from the small real response I got on the posts, yes, it was response from Mexico.

    So, I can only deduct from this that Facebook is deceiving us when they claim they will Boost a post to ALL ppl who Like our page. I am further assuming they may reserve this ‘privilege’ to customersl who have far larger budgets. What the budget cut off point may be I don’t know.

    The final paid Reach achieved may show a large impressive number, but in my opinion, and from what I have experienced twice now, I think this service is a scam as FB do NOT deliver on their advertised promise. If you wish to try it with a small amount, I’d be interested to hear your own experience.

  15. M. Jones April 12th, 2014

    This video answers the Facebook boost question once and for all, wish I would have seen this before I wasted $20.00! He explains it very well and set up a fake FB page to test the ad/boost of it. Wow!!

  16. Mark February 27th, 2015

    I saw that video too. I really would like to see these Facebook experts tackle this problem head on. PROVE to us, we can trust Facebook to deliver on their word and not end up with 10,000 fake likes that most of us do not want anyway. I run a small community newspaper, the only like I need are the ones from here.

  17. mohammad yousaf May 15th, 2014

    its not promoting by boost
    reply must and show the right way to promote the page
    very fastly and regulerly
    i will be thankfull to you

  18. Travis October 30th, 2014

    I respectfully disagree. We boost postings on almost a daily basis, our focus is lead generation for auto repair companies. on average the spend is about $100 per boost to achieve a $1500 ROI.

    Boost postings are also good for limited promotions, for example we increased sales by 33% for a florist in Phoenix boosting three days prior to holidays such as Valentine’s Day or Mothers Day. As long as your post has an attractive CTA, an image or video with a link to a solid offer/landing page link you should find success with it.

  19. Johnny January 14th, 2015

    Yes, here’s another article saying boosting is better. No one hardly clicks or sees the small ads on the right hand column!

  20. Mark H January 7th, 2015

    Question. When we build our posts and share them organically, a click takes a user to our web page. I am wondering if Facebook is iframing clicks on boosted posts, and retaining the user for one additional click? We’re seeing strange analytical signatures from boosted posts (Average time on page = 00:00) and this appears to be exclusive to FB posts. Anyone know anything?

  21. Robert Spencer January 22nd, 2015

    Thank you so much for this wonderful article. It totally changed my mind from promoting through sponsorship. Great deal.

  22. February 9th, 2015

    I use Facebook post boost for my job search in Nigeria website – From my experience, I think that we are only sticking to Facebook not because its the best option but because of the number of people it can reach.

    Facebook post boost is very effective. With it you can reach real people. As for me, I choose to target audience other than my fans, with this option I can even target the people that like the pages of my competitors.

    The fraud in Facebook boost is that you often will not reach the facebook predicted number of reach. That is why one need to carefully craft his or her post to be attractive to a wide range of people.

  23. Kylene Wolfstein February 20th, 2015

    I don’t think it’s ever a good thing to make blanket statement like “Boosting Posts is NEVER a good option”. Actually, for some people and companies it’s an excellent option.

  24. Mariano April 24th, 2015

    I have some experience with that and i must say there’s some true behind this post. I am a musician and i did some comparison. For example, i often post things like a new music videos of mine, a new track on soundcloud, an invitation to concert and so on.
    Usually on smaller news there’s 1000 – 3000 people reached, which generates 50 – 150 likes, 10 – 20 comments. When i try the BOOST (usually with a small budget of $5 – $10 max), I get 10 times more people reached (that’s what it shows) but the amount of likes and posts is most often pretty much the same!!! Which means it isn as effective as it should be and the only benefit seem to go to facebook who gets my money. I tried both, fans & friends of fans and targeted audience.

  25. Max Olsen April 16th, 2016

    This is outdated information.

  26. John Carr August 15th, 2016

    You should read what Dennis Yu has to say about the subject. He was chief data analyst at Yahoo and American Airlines. His roster of clients is just as impressive.

    Boosting post is not only effective but a lot cheaper that using the Ad Manager or the Power Editor.

    You can boost several posts all day long for a dollar or two each and gather tons of data that you can then use on Power Editor.

  27. Jay Cee August 15th, 2016

    My previous comment was removed. I guess you only apporove comments from those who agree with you. That’s good journalism. I know, go ahead, delete this one also.

  28. Jay Sandy August 15th, 2016

    This is not only old outdated information, but highly inaccurate as well.

  29. Hillary Read August 16th, 2016

    It’s outdated for sure…but as you can see by the date on the post, it’s also quite old. :)

  30. Psdab April 13th, 2017

    There are multiple targeting options except for reaching your fans and their friends – location, age, gender or interests Boosting posts is one of the best options of fighting the declined organic reach, which can be somewhere 2-5% these days More than 75% of world brands do boost their facebook posts

  31. Lisa August 24th, 2017

    A lot has changed since the writing of the article in 2013. You must boost every post if you expect anyone to see them. Facebook has changed their algorithm several times over the last 4 years. Unfortunately, this article was written with quite the know it all attitude. I’ve been doing social media for clients for several years, and I’m not ashamed to say that I learn something new just about every day.

  32. Sam Birkbeck September 5th, 2017

    The principle of this article is to try to demote the efficacy of boost posts in achieving certain business objectives, however despite being such an aggressive stance, not once do i see the author analaysing specific objectives and the relation of boost posts. I use both boost posts and main adverts for different requirements.

    I have gained huge audiences for numerous clients, simply through using boost posts in the right context, my business objective was to increase the facebook following, boost posts works a treat for this and therefore for this business objective it is certainly the best use of my budget.

    Please in the future try to make a more rounded article which considers the needs of your readers, you are certainly right in numerous ways however I feel you innacurately and unfairly buldozed an entire marketing tool that can certainly be of great benefit to a lot of your “amateur” and highly professional readers.

  33. Ing November 4th, 2017

    How can I stop messages about boosting a post. I pressed the button by mistake month ago and I am now plagued with daily messages.

  34. David November 18th, 2017

    Yeah. Big mistake on my part when I boosted on Fecebook. I boosted a couple of posts, reached a lot of people, got a goodly number of likes (about 1000).

    Now when I post something, it reaches (if I’m lucky) 10 people. Facebook has me by the short hairs. I’ve got to pay to reach anyone. Time to let FB go.

  35. George June 28th, 2018

    you didn’t mention the most important and simple thing:

    location + one of the following + one of the following. That is the point. The filtration is weak and you can’t choose cpc. That’s it. 2 points which completely change the game 180 degrees.

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Andrew Foxwell
Andrew Foxwell grew up on a farm in western Wisconsin, where his Macintosh Quadra 610 with its lightning fast 28.8K dial-up connection first sparked his interest in digital marketing. After graduating from St. Olaf College, Andrew went to work as a digital director for a U.S. Congressional campaign, which led him to Washington, DC to work as a press secretary/new media director for a U.S. Congressman. Recognizing an opportunity for improved digital communications between members of Congress and their constituents, Andrew founded and managed the social media marketing agency within iConstituent, the leading online communications firm working with Congress. Andrew worked with members and staffs from both sides of the aisle to deepen much needed Congressional dialogue, improve constituent services, and create a more effective 21st century democracy. Andrew then took his diverse skillset to Silicon Valley where he directed the social media division of 3Q Digital, a full-service online marketing firm. There he tripled the agency’s social media client base, managed a team of account managers and production professionals, and oversaw an average monthly revenue growth of more than 20% while working with companies like Square, Fitbit, Eventbrite, 23andMe, Citrus Lane and more. Andrew is the CEO and Co-Founder of Foxwell Digital, a digital creative agency that works with clients as diverse as small-town cafes to multi-million dollar start-ups. Find him @andrewfoxwell and