‘What has been your experience with boosting the posts? Are you familiar with it and optimizing things as time goes on? How does it compare with running Facebook ads itself?’

I have run ads on both the Ads manager and boosting posts. Boosting posts is much easier to do and from my experience gets similar results. I’ve read articles saying that you can get better results using the ads manager, but I suspect this is for ad agencies who are managing very large budgets. Big ad agencies may also have the practical need of running and keeping their ad campaigns organized which the ads manager helps with. I have always suspected, but can’t prove, that agencies prefer using the ad manager to have a veil of mystery about the work they are doing to justify their high service fees. When you boost a post for a client, they can easily see performance data for themselves instead of relying on the agencies reports. To sum up, you can still do some pretty cool targeting when you boost posts, and it takes a lot less time to implement. I’m all for boosting.
Regarding your question about optimizing as time goes on, I think it’s important to test with a small budget first. If you’re just getting impressions and no likes, either the content is wrong, the targeting is wrong or it’s a combination of both. Sometimes it’s just not where your target audience wants to engage. For example, we tested Facebook ads for a graduate job vacancy at a Tech recruitment firm in London that we’ve been working with for years. We tried different content, with different targeting including a brain teaser competition with a prize to capture contact details. We had low engagement for everything we tried. Sometimes you just hit a dead end with Facebook ads. Facebook will take your money all day long whether it adds value to your business or not, so it’s important to test small and be ready to throw in the towel if it’s not working for you.
What I will say about advertising on Facebook, business to business can be harder to get right. Let me give you an example, we do social for a company that has several swim schools in Canada. Locally targeted ads result in people sending us private messages on Facebook asking us for prices or specific questions about swimming lessons. These are parents who have seen the boosted ad on their Facebook timeline and fire off a quick message to get more info.
Now, imagine you’re a business owner on Facebook checking out what your friends are up to. If you get an ad targeted to you, it has to be pretty interesting to get you to move away from your personal mindset to thinking about your business. That conversion is harder to make happen.
If you do boost posts, when someone likes or comments on your post, Facebook allows you to invite them to like your page. If they accept the invitation, they are more likely to see your future posts, and you can also target ads to people who have liked your page.

Facebook Invite to Like page | OfficeHounds Social Media