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Maximizing Facebook: Boost Your Posts or Post More Ads?

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Facebook has emerged as one of the real estate’s favorite advertising and communications channels. That’s because Facebook still has social media’s most impressive numbers, one that no brand can ignore. For real estate, it’s also an agent’s most exceptional hyperlocal channel, often the most cost-effective way to frequently connect with your sphere of influence to stay top of mind.


Despite all of the negative blowback Facebook has faced over the last year, it is still the one place where agents can reach the majority of their clients, past and current, neighbors, friends and family, all in a single location. Beyond the hyperlocal aspect of Facebook, there’s also the global impact: with more than 2 billion monthly active users and 1 billion daily active users, it remains the most dominant social media channel on the planet.


Facebook also has social media’s broadest demographic reach, according to a collection of the most recent research from Sprout Social:

  • 75 percent of all men, 83 percent of all women
  • 88 percent of those ages 18-29
  • 84 percent of those ages 30-49
  • 72 percent for those ages 50-64
  • 62 percent for those ages 65+
  • 82 percent of Facebook users have attended at least some college
  • 60 million businesses have a Facebook page
  • One-third of Facebook users engage with brands regularly


One other statistic to pay attention to: the amount of time people spend on Facebook is declining, dropping an average of 40 minutes daily to 35 minutes. While people still access Facebook frequently, an average of eight times each day, if you want to get people’s attention, you will need to be more deliberate than ever.


Increasing engagement


Facebook offers real estate agents two primary ways to promote their business: through boosted posts and Facebook ads. Each of these approaches come with advantages and disadvantages. The question agents often ask: Is it better to boost a post or post an ad?


To decide which advertising method works best, an agent first has to understand each of these methods and how they work. Agents then must determine two things. First, what are they trying to accomplish – create brand awareness, amplify their brand’s visibility, help sell a property, drive buyers to visit an open house? Second, who are agents trying to reach: who is their target audience – buyers, sellers, past clients, potential clients, neighborhood or community influencers, people relocating from another state to your area, or all of the above?


Understanding both options


By far the most straightforward way agents can market on Facebook is free: you can create a post. What’s a Facebook post?


According to Facebook, like a status update from your personal page, a “post” is posted from your business or fan page. You need to keep in mind that all posts on your page will not reach your entire audience every time. Facebook admits that currently, less than 10 percent of your Facebook sphere will see your regular post on their wall.


That’s because Facebook uses an automatic algorithm that determines if the content you are posting will interest each person in your sphere. If the content you post tends to typically get a “Like,” comment or share from the people who see it, then you can expect Facebook to share more of your content with more people in your sphere.
The more effective way to reach more people via your Facebook Business page is with a “boosted post.” Like a Facebook ad, you set a budget amount that’s charged to your credit card, and then select your audience for your boosted post.


Facebook allows you to target the post to be sent to your sphere – people who “Like” your page and their friends — or beyond, a new audience, including to people that have similar interests and/or demographics to your sphere. You can also expand the geographic range of your audience to reach a greater distance.


Facebook makes it very easy to set up the way you want to boost your posts and offers a free online video on YouTube that shows you step-by-step how to boost a post at this link here.


What posts should you boost?


Posts have the most flexibility. They can be written or visual, or ideally, both. They can be about yourself, the real estate market, your latest property listing, or an upcoming open house event. On your Facebook Business Page, you have nearly unlimited flexibility concerning what your post can contain.


Your post can include a photo, a graphic image, illustration or a video that you personalize with your comments, as long as you own the content – or have copyright permission to share the visuals.


However, while you can post about a property listing, that doesn’t mean you should. That’s because posts, like status updates on your personal Facebook page, are seen as more like editorial content and not ads. When you boost a post on a property listing, that can be seen as advertising and may drive away potential new followers, notes social media expert Chris Smith.


Smith and his marketing firm, Curaytor, spends heavily for their real estate agent and broker clients on Facebook advertising and has spent years testing the effectiveness of boosted posts and Facebook ads. Smith says when you boost a property listing, “boosted posts are ads.”


He notes that for agents, boosted posts have more limitations compared to Facebook ads because they should only focus on engagement and driving traffic to a website. They are also harder to get right: you have to connect the right content to the right audience, and if the post is too general or not engaging, it will be seen by a consumer as a waste of time.


Facebook ads


The alternative for agents, which may take a bit more time to create, but can be easier to target and control, are Facebook ads. Facebook ads created and monitored through the Facebook Ad Manager.


One of the significant advantages of using Facebook ads is agents have more options to customize their ad campaign based on their objectives. They can better target audiences, where the ad is placed (either inside a News Feed or a specific location on the Facebook page), and greater creative control. Unlike boosted posts, Facebook ads also allow you to not just focus on either engagement or clicks to a website, but can be used to track lead generation, audience reach, and other objectives — all offered through Facebook Ad Manager. Furthermore, Facebook ads allow you to target more than one audience based on multiple interests, such as homebuyers, your friends, family and people who have “liked” your page and more.


But it is important to note that Facebook recently removed more than 5,000 targeting capabilities from its advertising tools in response to a complaint from HUD that its practices were discriminatory. As Realtor magazine online and others reported, HUD charged that Facebook’s ad platform allowed advertisers to discriminate against potential buyers and renters as it gave the advertiser the ability “to limit who saw an ad based on a user’s race, color, religion, sex, family status, national origin, disability, ZIP code, and other factors.”


Facebook’s response included a statement from the company that said, “There is no place for discrimination (on our advertising platform),” and will now require all Facebook advertisers in the U.S. to comply with its non-discrimination ad policy.


Which is better?


Again, Facebook ads can take a more time to create and set up compared to a boosted post, but if agents are trying to generate new business leads from Facebook, promote attendance for an event or open house, or market your listings, the experts advise that Facebook ads are the better way to go.


If you are trying to increase “Likes” to your business page, engage your sphere, generate ongoing top-of-mind awareness, then boosted posts can better help you accomplish these goals. If you can benefit from both, then the good news is Facebook is very happy to take your credit card and allow you to do both boosted posts and Facebook ads.


A final reminder


Just remember that when you use Facebook to promote a listing or your business, you have to keep in mind that it comes under the same rules and regulations as any other public communication channel you use. Be diligent in your word choice in your Facebook posts or your Facebook ads just like you would if you were placing an ad in a local magazine or a newspaper. As always, if you have a doubt about whether or not you should use a particular phrase or word choice, follow the ad copywriter’s golden rule: when in doubt, leave it out!