Facebook's Four Most Popular Advertising Options
Recent changes to Facebook's advertising options leave advertisers with four main choices. Let's take a look at the differences between the four and some suggestions for how and when to use them.

Earlier this year, I wrote a piece about the effectiveness of Facebook advertising. Since the piece got nice traction, and since Facebook made some changes to its advertising options at the end of June, I thought now would be a good time to revisit the topic.

Here’s a look at the differences between Facebook’s four main advertising options, plus suggestions for how and when to use them.

1. Marketplace Ads

Marketplace ads are the ads that most Facebook users are probably pretty familiar with -- they are the small ads that appear on the right hand side of the home screen. Marketplace ads include a headline, body copy and an image that is 100 x 72 pixels. These ads can redirect viewers to a website, Facebook Page or app.

Marketplace ads are ideal for promoting a Facebook Page or a new app. They’re simple to create, easy to track (using Facebook’s Ads Manager or Power Editor) and can be really effective for driving traffic when targeted appropriately. The key to having marketplace ads that deliver results is putting these four Facebook tips into use:

  1. In the text, include a clear action you want your audience to take
  2. Highlight any benefits, sales or similar specials that your business is offering
  3. Use a simple, eye-catching image that is related to the text
  4. If you’re advertising a website, include your business name or other key information in the headline

2. Boost Posts/Promoted Posts

Boost Posts, which used to be called Promoted Posts, allow Pages with 100 fans or more to pay to promote a status update they want more of their Facebook fans and non-Fans to see. Boosted posts, which are featured exclusively in the News Feed, help expose selected posts to a larger audience on Facebook, attracting both fans of a Page as well as all the fans’ friends (or “anyone on Facebook”).

A “Boosted” post, shows up in the News Feeds of all the people who Like a particular Page. Then, when the Page’s existing fans interact with the boosted post, either by Liking, commenting or sharing the post, the post will also show up in the fans friends’ News Feeds.

Boosted posts are another great way to promote a new Facebook app. After publishing an app, the next step is to create a Facebook post letting fans know about it. For example, if you are hosting a Facebook giveaway, create a status update with details about the giveaway and a link to your Facebook app so people can enter. The next step is to pay to boost this post so that as many of the Page’s Facebook fans as possible will know about the new Facebook app.

3. Page Post Ads

Similar to a Boosted post, a Page Post ad uses the content from a status update to create a Facebook ad. Page Post ads can be links, photos, videos, offers, events, questions or status updates.

There are three main differences between a Boosted/Promoted Post and a Page Post ad:

  1. Page Post ads are purchased through Facebook’s Ad Tools, Ads Manager or the Power Editor. Boosted/Promoted Posts are created from a Page’s Timeline.
  2. Boosted/Promoted Posts are purchased for a flat rate to reach a given number of users. Page Post ads are paid for per impression or per click. This also allows advertisers to manually adjust their bid or bid type when creating a Page Post Ad within Power Editor, but this flexibility is not available for Promoted Posts.
  3. Page Post Ads can reach anyone on Facebook, with the option to target users by interests, demographics and more. It’s even possible to target users who are not connected to the Page themselves or connected through a friend. Boosted/Promoted Posts allow limited targeting options.

If you have a Facebook Page or app you want to promote to the masses, a Page Post ad is the way to go. The key to a successful Page Post ad that results in a lot of traffic back to your Page or Facebook app is to have a clear message -- or as marketers like to call it -- a call to action. Within the copy of your Page Post ad, a call to action would be something like, “Click here.” When users click, they are linked back to your app. In your ad, be sure to choose an image that is both alluring and relevant.

To create a Page Post ad within Facebook’s Ads Manager, select the option to “Promote page posts.”

4. Sponsored Stories

Sponsored Stories are Facebook ads created from a user’s Facebook activity. Advertisers pay to highlight these actions so that they are featured as ads within friends’ News Feeds or in the sidebar. Sponsored Stories cannot be used to reach an audience that is not connected to the Page or app through a friend.

When it comes to the design and look of Sponsored Stories, advertisers don’t have any control; Sponsored Stories are created from organic user actions. Actions such as when a user claims an offer, checks into a location or Likes a Facebook post, can all be turned into Sponsored Stories ads.

The most common Sponsored Stories ads are “Page Like” stories. A “Page Like” Sponsored Stories ad is what a users’ friends see in their News Feeds when a friend has Liked a specific Page. Of all of Facebook’s advertising options, Sponsored Stories are one of the most effective type of ads to use if your goal is to quickly increase Page Likes.

To create a Sponsored Stories ad, go into Facebook’s Ads Manager and select the box under “Show stories about.” You can also create Sponsored Stories within Facebook’s Power Editor.

So there you have it. Those are the four most popular Facebook advertising programs with details about how they work and how you might use them to promote your Facebook Page or apps.

Do you advertise on Facebook? What have you found is the most effective option for your business? Let me know in the comments below. 

Title image courtesy of AHMAD FAIZAL YAHYA / Shutterstock.com

Editor's Note: To read more by Jim, see his 6 Ways to Repurpose Content - Even if You Think You Don't Have Any