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When it comes to advertising on Facebook, you can choose to boost posts from your Facebook Page or create highly targeted ads through Facebook Ads Manager.

You may have heard boosted posts are a waste of money, so are they?

By now you probably know that Facebook Ads should be a part of your digital marketing system. There is a very valid reason why the major property portals are actively promoting their social media advertising products – it drives a huge amount of traffic to your listings on their website at a very low cost, usually paid for by your vendors. But using the very same tools, you can drive all of that traffic back to your website instead of sending people over the major portals.

“But the portals say they offer superior targeting”.

The ‘pitch’ from the portals, for why you should use their social media advertising products instead of doing it yourself, is that you’re targeting people who have already searched for properties on their website or app.

The problem for the portals however is their ability to target those audiences is going to be significantly impacted due to Apple’s iOS 14 update.

As more iOS (Apple iPhone and iPad) users update to iOS 14, and as more users opt-out of Facebook’s ability to track their online behaviour, you will essentially have the same level of targeting capabilities as the major portals do – and you should be preparing for this by insourcing your social media advertising NOW and not relying on their social media products as the primary source of your social media advertising.

When we talk to real estate agents about Facebook advertising, many say:

“I’m already advertising on Facebook—I boost posts.”

We get this comment from roughly 80 per cent of the agents and businesses we talk to about Facebook Ads. Obviously, there is a little confusion about what the two strategies are. I’ll start by saying that there is so much more you can do to generate attention on Facebook than simply boosting. And let me be very clear about this: boosting is not advertising – for most agents.

Boosting, the way most agents do it, is vanity advertising. While it might guarantee that you get more reach, it does not guarantee you’ll get better results. And in fact, boosting posts from your page can potentially have the opposite effect to what you’re intending. You can easily burn your existing audience if you’re boosting too many posts that they simply don’t want to see in their news feed. Unfollowing your Page is only two clicks away if you’re pushing out content that isn’t relevant.

Here’s the reality, boosting posts is not the same as advertising on Facebook. It only offers a fraction of the capability available—and in the majority of cases we see, it wastes money.

“Wait, what do you mean boosting posts on Facebook is wasting my money?”

Yes, you can improve your post’s reach with boosting. But, that improvement is only superficial in most cases.

Related: Real Estate Videos On Facebook: Why The Metrics Are Misleading

With boosting, your targeting options are extremely limited. Yes, you can choose behaviours and interests, demographics, and geography. But, you can’t use your custom audiences – and that’s a major thing.

If you take away only one point from this article, please let it be this:

Facebook advertising is media buying. It should have strategy, tactics, and specific creative developed for it. You should have your pixel installed. You should be building custom audiences based on your website traffic, your Facebook page and post engagement, your Instagram traffic, and (most importantly in this day and age) your CRM lists and segments.

And you should be creating Lookalike Audiences.

This is how you get real results with Facebook Ads. And unfortunately, boosting does not allow you to use any of these options.

“What else can you do with Facebook Ads that boosting posts can’t?”

In a word, plenty. Here are just a few of the features you can—and should—take advantage of:

Placement options

Facebook can automatically place your ads where they’re likely to be most effective. However, you also have the option of choosing where your ads are shown. This includes the desktop and/or mobile News Feed, Instagram, Stories, Instant Articles, In-Stream, and other choices.

Lookalike audiences

One of the best things about Facebook Ads is that its algorithm will help find your audiences for you. Once you create your own custom audiences based off your website engagement, email lists, Facebook Page engagement and Instagram, let Facebook do the hard work of finding more people to target that “look like” those people.

Create custom audiences

What if instead of delivering 10,000 DL flyers to your local neighbourhood, you could deliver fewer DL flyers but deliver them to people you know for a fact are interested in what you’re promoting? This is exactly what custom audience targeting allows you to do. The only difference is you’re putting your ads into the ‘digital letterbox’ (news feed) of your most valuable prospects.

People who’ve shown interest in your listings, or visited an open home, or enquired on a listing are very likely to have a property for sale as well. So what if you could show an ad just to those people, following them around the internet? Like this one…

Or this…

You can do this with custom audiences.

Dropping a pin on a map and running ads like the ones above, to everyone in your suburb, is a quick way to burn cash and your audience. It’s the ‘machine gun’ approach to advertising that (sadly) most real estate agents still do.

By targeting your lead generation ads to those people who have already come into contact with your business recently, you will vastly reduce your cost-per-lead and you are less likely to annoy people in the community. Custom audience targeting is a far more effective ‘sniper rifle’ approach to lead generation style ads, targeting your most promising prospects.

So, which is more effective?

Simply put, there is no comparison.

If I seem overly passionate about this topic, it’s because there’s a good reason. We’ve been running Facebook Ads for real estate businesses since Facebook first made them available and we’ve run thousands of tests with all manner of capability. Real estate agents or companies that believe they’re doing enough on Facebook by simply boosting posts are, in all likelihood, leaving money on the table…or throwing it away.

Every marketer has two main jobs – increase revenue or reduce the cost of acquiring new customers. While boosting posts might get you more reach and (maybe) more engagement, it is limited in its ability to drive significant traffic, leads and sales. Facebook Ads should be your primary focus when it comes to lead generation over boosting posts.

While it may seem simple to get started with Facebook Ads, it’s one of the most misused—or underutilised—tools in digital marketing. And if you think you may be missing out on how to maximise your ad spend, our Facebook Ads Masterclass was designed just for you.

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