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What Is The Difference Between Boosting an Instagram Post & Placing An Ad on Instagram?

Instagram has gained tremendous popularity over the years, and it is now the most used and interactive platform available to consumers. So, brands are now using Instagram to interact and engage with their audience more than ever.


How popular is Instagram?


The real power of the platform is the number of active users it has. One billion people use Instagram every month, with an additional 73 million users just joining the photo-sharing network in 2021. 71% of businesses in the United States claim that they use Instagram for promoting their brand not just because of its vast market but also because it's possible to reach out to this audience without spending a fortune.

Active Instagram Users in 2021
Source: eMarketer, 2020

The average Instagram user spends almost an hour on the app every day. Additionally, 62% of Instagram users login into their account for at least one day. That only means that there are plenty of opportunities for engagement on the app. 83% of Instagram users discover new products and services through the platform, and 130 million users click on Instagram shopping posts every month.


These statistics prove that Instagram is one of the most popular and profitable places on the internet. But businesses should know how to play their cards right to maximize this platform.


How can businesses benefit from using Instagram?


Small and big businesses alike can get a boost from using Instagram. But establishing your online presence on Instagram does not stop at setting up a business account, especially considering that you're competing with both established and new brands. Especially if you're a new entrepreneur, understanding how competitive the market is can aid you in efficiently running a marketing campaign.


Optimizing your link in bio, hashtags, captions, stories, and highlights are a few other ways you can reach a wider audience. Live videos and giveaways are also quite trendy on Instagram. Replying to comments and direct messages (DMs) should also be part of your customer engagement strategy.


There are two more straightforward ways of advertising your products and services on Instagram: using Instagram Ads and boosting posts. Many businesses are now placing ads on Instagram by devising strategic campaigns or boosting their posts to reach a wider audience.

All in all, there are several ways to make your brand known on Instagram, but here is a short and simple checklist:

  • Set up a business profile

  • Optimize your link in bio

  • Use the proper hashtags

  • Put engaging captions

  • Use Instagram stories

  • Post essentials on Instagram highlights

  • Respond to comments and DMs

  • Promote your brand by using Instagram Ads and/or boosting posts


If you aren't sure about Instagram Ads or what it means to boost an Instagram post, the following sections will present everything you need to know about placing ads or boosting posts on Instagram.


What are boosted posts on Instagram?


Boosting Instagram posts is a way to increase the exposure of an Instagram post that you have already posted on your Instagram profile. In other words, it's just a way to help your posts reach more Instagram users. You can promote an existing post and choose the audience you want to target. Finally, the post will now show up on your target audience profile as a sponsored post on Instagram.


When boosting a post, you can choose a goal (the results you want to achieve from this ad), audience (whom you want to target), budget (how much you are willing to shell out daily), and duration (how long you want the ad to run).


Just a friendly reminder: Avoid boosting a post that features an image greater than 8 MB. Additionally, you may use third-party apps to boost posts, especially if you manage many social media accounts or want to save time through automation automatically. But take note that you may only pick a specific audience for your boost if you do it manually.


One more critical thing to note here is that you can choose the kinds of people that see the boosted post by deciding on factors such as:

  • Budget

  • Length of time the post will run

  • Location

  • Demographics

  • Interest targeting

  • Objective


This part of the process will help you reach your specific target audience. Many businesses use this feature to put their best content in front of a larger audience than what they have following organically.


Advantages of Boosting Your IG Post


You may wonder why your Instagram posts aren't getting much attention. This could be because your posts' quality, format, or content are not helping you engage with your target audience. But it could also be because audience engagement takes time to build, and you are not waiting long enough to see the results of your hard work.


However, regardless of why your audience is not getting fired up about your Instagram content, boosting your post is a viable solution.


This idea has probably got you thinking, "Why should you invest your hard-earned money in boosting your post when you've already invested many resources in making high-quality content?"


But hear us out. These are the top advantages of boosting an IG post:


  • Be exposed to new audiences who will love your brand.

Your brand could be the solution to a customer's problem, but they can't seem to find your brand organically. Most of the time, it's because your company is just starting, and maybe the customer doesn't have any friends that could point to you and your products. So, how do you make yourself known to this perfect customer?


The answer is to give your post a little push. Boosting a post gives you the freedom to choose a specific audience based on your target market's qualities. Instagram also has an "automatic" option where they select an audience for your post based on the qualities of your existing audience. They will then promote your post to this "lookalike" audience who are very likely interested in your products and services.


  • Maximize the potential of your high-performing posts.

Do you have an Instagram post that you're proud of because it was so well-received by your existing followers? This post could be the one that probably made you say, "All the effort I put in creating content was worth it!" Well, how do you capitalize on the momentum of this fantastic piece of content? Yes, boost that content.


Boosting a post that is already making numbers might seem impractical, but it makes sense. Though the post is performing well organically, this engagement from your existing followers is likely to burn out quickly, especially if you don't have several thousand followers yet. So, give your content new life and help it stay relevant on Instagram longer.


Disadvantages of Boosting Your IG Post


Every action, even on social media, comes with its own set of pros and cons. Here is a list of disadvantages you might encounter when boosting your Instagram post.


  • You can only target one audience at a time.

Choosing the best audience for your products is key to effective marketing, and it's possible to select that when you boost an Instagram post. But what if you want to duplicate the post and share it with a different audience?


Unfortunately, A/B testing is not possible on boosted Instagram posts. That's bad news if you are interested in knowing if your post gains more engagement from, say, men or women or people in their teens rather than people in their thirties. This information would have helped optimize your future posts.


  • There are limited promotion goals for you to choose from.

Of course, every brand wants to increase its profile visits, website traffic, and promotion views. But what if you're more interested in conversion rates? That is something that boosting posts does not offer.


Additionally, the results of boosting a post vary depending on many factors, like the quality of the content you're boosting and the type of audience you choose for the post. If you feel that your advertising needs cannot be met by boosting, consider using Instagram Ads.


What are Instagram Ads?

Creating an ad from the ad manager dashboard is more complex, and you have the liberty to post any form of content.


For example, you can choose to place ads such as:

  • Video

  • Single image

  • Slideshow Ad

  • Carousel


One more important thing to remember is that these ads don't just show up in the newsfeed of your target audience. These ads will show on Facebook's ad network (Facebook owns Instagram), like Instagram stories, the Explore page, and much more. You can use the ads manager on your Facebook account to create and post a new ad to a wide range of people.


Advantages of Instagram Ads


Generally, using Instagram Ads is a more sophisticated way of promoting your brand. Here are specific advantages of placing Instagram Ads:


  • Enhance your audience targeting.

The audience targeting option for boosting posts is not as good as the Instagram Ads Manager tool. For boosted posts, you can only pick an audience based on age, location, and interests.


But since Instagram Ads is fully integrated with Facebook Ads, you will enjoy the perks of Facebook's supreme campaign customization options, diverse formatting, and assorted targeting capabilities, all coupled with Instagram's high engagement levels. Using Instagram Ads, you may create multiple audience personas and customize content based on various audience needs and interests.


  • Monitor your campaign's success.

Through the Ads Manager, you have access to real-time and detailed information about your ads on Instagram.

Access to these analytics will inform you of which campaigns get the best engagement. This will also tell you how many of your ads converted into sales and leads and how much you've spent and made on your campaign. In addition, placing Instagram Ads gives you more goals and customizations for your ad.


All in all, if you keep using Instagram paid to advertise, you can tweak and optimize your ads to get the best results.


Disadvantages of Instagram Ads


  • Instagram is optimized for mobile and visuals.

While it is possible to access Instagram via browser, you must upload photos using a mobile device. This can be a hassle for your social media manager.


Also, if you are a company with a heavy amount of text or written content, Instagram's focus on photos on videos will be disadvantageous for you. You can only use IG to tease content and redirect them to your site.


  • Instagram's audience is limited.

Instagram users are predominantly young and female. If this is not your target audience, then Instagram might not be the best choice for you.


Boosts vs. Ads: Which is a better option?


Now that you know what both of these ad choices entail, you're probably wondering which one is a better fit for your business and why? While boosting a post is excellent as a quick way of getting content in front of a larger audience, placing an ad is a much more sophisticated option to target people very specifically. This is because your boosted posts are more for a general appeal while an ad explicitly targets an audience. If your business has a smaller niche, such as local insurance, you should create an ad rather than boost a post.


Besides that, boosting a post will only let you choose an audience based on a few options. This means that you can't promote your post to an exact audience. The Facebook ads manager is a more complex tool, and so it gives businesses the ability to create multiple target audiences and customize their ad and its functionality entirely.


A boosted post is a more convenient way to get your post in front of a larger audience and a great option when you don't have the resources or time to customize your ad placement. However, it is best to place an ad on Instagram for long-term success using the Ads Manager.


Final Words


Instagram is a great marketing tool if you use it the right way. This is why you should know how to go about it, place ads that will get you more web traffic, and hopefully convert it into sales. Remember that boosting a post is convenient because it doesn't take long, much thought, or creativity, but creating an ad correctly and getting it in front of the right people takes time, creativity, and patience but gets you great results!


If your business is on Facebook and Instagram but doesn't know how to place Facebook Ads or Instagram Ads, contact our new business team, and we can get started on your paid social media campaign!

The Dillon Ross Group