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How to Advertise on Social Media: The Ultimate Guide to Social Media Advertising

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Having a robust social media advertising strategy is one of the quickest – and most effective – ways to connect with your ideal customers.

Running ads on social media offers many opportunities to enhance your digital marketing campaigns and meet business goals at a fairly low cost.

To get a better idea of how social media ads work, let’s review some of the best social media advertising platforms and walk through four valuable tips.

What Is Social Media Advertising?

Social media advertising refers to the process of creating and serving ads to users on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.

Running a social media ad campaign enables you to promote your products or services and reach new users who might be interested in what your business offers. When creating an ad, you can determine what type of user you wish to target and place your content right in their social media feed.

Is Social Media Advertising Effective?

Advertising on social media can be a very versatile and profitable strategy. Unlike any other advertising medium, social media allows you to engage and interact with consumers, and, over time, establish trust.

Still not sure whether social ads will work for your business? Here are some things to keep in mind when considering the effectiveness of social media advertising:

  • You can hyper-target customers based on exact demographics, ensuring that you’re showing relevant content to relevant people
  • Social media advertising enables you to track your budget’s performance and analyze return on ad spend (ROAS), effectively making sure that your cost per result is as low as possible
  • Social media advertising is used by 83% of B2B marketers, ranking second in success (behind SEO marketing)
  • As many as 49% of Millennials and 54% of Gen Z say that social media platforms are their preferred channels for ad influence

What Are the 4 Types of Media Advertising?

Although there are many different types of advertising, there are four principal categories that cover the majority of social media ads. Here’s a brief overview:

  • Display advertising: Display advertising is often used as an umbrella term for all ads that we see online. It includes visual ads (like photos and videos) placed on a relevant website.

Display advertising can be used to showcase your products/services in a variety of ad formats and is often used as educational ad content to drive traffic to a website.

  • Video advertising: Video advertising is the process of displaying standalone video ads or ads inside online video content (e.g. before or during a YouTube video stream).

In an increasingly remote world, the demand and consumption of video have accelerated. In fact, 96% of consumers have increased their online video consumption. With this in mind, video ads are steadily becoming a preferred way for brands to raise brand awareness, encourage engagement, and boost sales.

  • Native advertising: Native ads are designed to match the content of the platform they’re placed on and not look and feel like actual ads. Because they’re non-disruptive and focused on soft-selling, native ads are most commonly used in social media feeds (e.g. suggested posts on Facebook or recommended content on a website).
  • Mobile advertising: In broadest terms, mobile advertising refers to ads specifically designed for mobile devices, including smartphones, tablets, and wearable devices.

Mobile ads are very versatile. They can appear on social media platforms or websites viewed from a mobile device, within apps, as push notifications, or as SMS ads.

Mobile advertising is a go-to strategy for many brands due to its wide reach, better geo-targeting opportunities, and cost-effectiveness (compared to desktop ads).

How to Advertise on Social Media: Which Platform Should You Use?

As you map out your social media advertising strategy, it’s useful to find out which platforms are most popular with your target audience, as well as what kind of campaign you’re looking to create and how you can use this information to better optimize your ad investment.

Let’s take a dive into the top five social media advertising platforms that you should consider when working out how to use social media for business.

Facebook Advertising Strategy

With many advantageous features like easy-to-track campaigns and control over your daily budget and CPC, Facebook is a great platform to get started with social media advertising.

Facebook Ads helps you meet one of three main campaign objectives – awareness, consideration, and conversion. To meet these objectives, the platform offers eight different types of ads:

  • Photo ads – a simple, compelling format used to feature engaging images and copy
  • Video ads – a video that fits into users news feed paired with text above the video ad
  • Carousel ads – a group of (up to 10) images or videos that can be swiped through
  • Slideshow ads – video-like ads that feature sound, motion, and text
  • Stories ads – ads that run in Facebook’s Stories section
  • Messenger ads – although this is a separate application, you can use Facebook to run ads directly inside the Messenger app and help users start conversations with your business
  • Collection ads – ads that let users discover and browse through your products, as well as tap the ad to learn more about a specific item
  • Playable ads – ads that offer prospects an interactive preview of your app (try-before-you-buy experience)

One of the social network’s best features – and a crucial step in learning how to create a Facebook campaign – is the access to precise targeting options. Through Facebook’s Ads Manager, you can target a custom audience who fit your ideal buyer criteria (e.g. location, interests, age). The more you advertise on Facebook, the further you will be able to refine your results through tools such as Facebook pixel and lookalike audience.

When setting up a Facebook ad campaign, you’ll also be given control over two important elements: choosing a daily or lifetime budget and deciding when to start spending it.

Generally speaking, the right budget to start with depends on factors such as your total advertising budget and the average cost-per-purchase of your products.

Note: If you opt for a lifetime budget, you will also need to select a start and end date for your ad. If you’ve decided on a daily budget, you can either run the ad continuously or tell Facebook when you’d like the ad to run (here, the platform will do the math for you and tell you the total amount you’ll spend).

LinkedIn Advertising Strategy

LinkedIn is a highly business-oriented network and, as such, offers targeting options based on professional qualifications. With 4 out of 5 members holding the power to impact business decisions, LinkedIn Ads is an excellent solution for those looking to reach a more corporate audience.

With LinkedIn Ads, you can choose from four main types of ads to help your brand’s goals and fit your social media marketing strategy:

  • Text ads – enabling you to create simple, yet compelling pay-per-click (PPC) or cost per thousand impressions (CPM) ads
  • Message ads – allowing you to reach prospects on LinkedIn Messaging
  • Dynamic ads – using LinkedIn profile data to personalize your ad creative for each member of your target audience
  • Sponsored content – appearing directly in the feed in the format of image, video, or carousel ads

Regardless of which ad type you opt for, you’ll need to select targeting criteria. LinkedIn Ads has over 20 different audience attribute categories to choose from, including job title, seniority, skills, company size, and member interests.

The minimum daily budget amount required to start on LinkedIn – for all ad formats – is $10. New, inactive campaigns have a minimum lifetime budget amount of $100.

Once you launch the campaign, the minimum lifetime budget adjusts to the minimum daily budget ($10) multiplied by the total days scheduled.

Instagram Advertising Strategy

Instagram is an extremely visual social media network, which means that users are already inclined to consume a large number of posts.

Advertising on the platform is a great opportunity for brands to reach users who are already engaged without interrupting their browsing experience.

Because Instagram Ads is owned by Meta (formerly the Facebook Company), it supports the same campaign category objectives as Facebook Ads (awareness, consideration, and conversion).

Instagram has four main ad types – photo, video, carousel, and collection – and they all appear almost identical to posts shared by users. Similar to Facebook, Instagram ads contain a “sponsored” label and appear throughout the app, including the main feed and the Stories section.

Instagram Stories ads are full-screen image or video ads, meaning that they often feel more immersive than in-feed ads.

Regardless of your niche, there are plenty of Instagram Story ideas for businesses to help you design effective ads that look and feel like regular, user-created Stories.

When it comes to the cost of Instagram Ads, it’s good to remember that there is no average or benchmark price. Your costs will be highly dependent on factors such as industry competitiveness, targeting, and even time of year.

A sensible place to start when estimating your budget is by setting up a draft campaign. Doing so will enable you to evaluate the Audience Definition and Estimated Daily Results modules and determine whether your budget settings will be sufficient to meet your goals.

TikTok Advertising Strategy

TikTok, albeit a relatively new player in the social media advertising space, holds great potential for reaching prospects, especially younger audiences. In fact, with 48% of users under the age of 30, TikTok is among the best platforms to access one of the most lucrative and hard-to-reach audiences: Gen Z.

With 1 billion users gained in less than 5 years, however, the social network is sure to continue gaining momentum outside these circles. This means that – even if TikTok ads aren’t the right move for your brand right now – it might be a good idea to prepare for the future and learn how to advertise on TikTok.

Overall, the platform offers several paid advertising options, including in-feed video ads, brand takeover ads, spark ads, and TopView ads. Before you can create an ad, you’ll need to choose your objective. You can choose from seven different objectives broken down into three main categories (awareness, consideration, and conversion).

Source: TikTok Help Center

TikTok ads are based on a bidding model and you can control costs through daily and lifetime budgets for campaigns and ad groups.

TikTok’s minimum budget for advertising on the campaign level (both daily and lifetime budget) is $50. On the ad group level, the minimum daily budget is $20 and the lifetime budget is calculated as daily budget multiplied by the number of days scheduled.

Twitter Advertising Strategy

Twitter, like most social media networks, is a fast-paced platform that enables businesses to achieve many goals such as brand awareness and lead generation.

With simple ad formats and no minimum ad budget required, Twitter is also one of the alternative advertising platforms you just can’t ignore. Using the platform is an easy way to get your tweets in front of prospects who don’t yet follow you, essentially helping you generate new leads.

With Twitter Ads, you can set up campaigns yourself based on your own marketing goals. You can further choose from different objectives sub-categories (e.g. video views, app installs, engagement), as well as set audience targeting criteria for each ad campaign.

Source: ads.twitter.com

Once you choose an objective, you can name your campaign and establish a start and end date. Depending on your objective, you might have to fill in additional details (e.g. connect your app to Twitter).

In terms of budget, you can set a daily budget and an optional total budget. Your daily budget will pay Twitter your set amount at a cadence that you can also set yourself.

Top 4 Social Media Advertising Tips

Before you rush off to set your social media advertising campaigns, here are some tips for running an effective ad campaign.

Combine Social Ads and Google Ads

Both social media ads and Google ads have the potential for massive reach, enabling you to find new prospects and let customers find you. Many brands, however, treat these advertising channels as separate forces, measuring them against each other to determine which brings better results.

Marketers often find it difficult to decide whether to focus their resources on Google or Facebook advertising. After all, these are two very different strategies – Google Ads target behavior, while Facebook Ads tends to target interests.

That said, whether it’s Facebook or another social network, combining it with Google Ads enables each channel to support the other and, eventually, bring better results.

Consider this example: A well-targeted social media ad campaign can not only reach and engage an audience, but it can also help increase your brand searches on Google. In turn, this gives you an excellent opportunity to “seal the deal” when prospects search for your brand after seeing your ad.

Focus on Custom Audiences

Focusing on the right audiences is immensely helpful for creating more appealing, better-targeted ads that get your message in front of the right people on social media.

A custom audience takes into account basic audience filters like demographic and psychographics, but it also considers outside sources such as the social media behavior of a user.

With Facebook Ads Manager, for instance, you can create and manage all your audiences for any advertising you run on Facebook or Instagram. Here, you can build a number of custom audiences including:

  • Website custom audiences
  • Audiences built on offline or app activity
  • Audiences built on online engagement (e.g. with your posts, events, or profile)

Refresh Your Ad Creatives

The design of your ads, the visuals and text you use, and the context they work in will all have an impact on whether your ideal buyers will click on your advertisement.

No matter how creative your ad is, though, users tend to quickly reach a point where the more often they see an ad, the less likely they are to pay attention to what’s being displayed (also referred to as ad fatigue).

Arguably, one of the most effective ways to avoid social media ad fatigue is knowing when to refresh your ad creatives. Your first step should be to take a good look at your clickthrough rates. If you notice that your CTRs start eroding, you need to consider changing the creative.

To refresh your social media ad creative you can alter the look and feel of it (e.g. a new headline, copy, or CTA) or change the offer altogether.

Gain Huge Wins With Social Media Remarketing

Truth is, most people will need more than one interaction with your brand to feel compelled enough to make a purchase. Here’s where social media remarketing comes in.

Social media remarketing is a highly effective strategy that can turn window shoppers into customers. Essentially, it reminds people who’ve shown interest in your business about your products and encourages them to take the next step.

To make the most out of your social media remarketing campaign, remember to hone in on your custom audiences, build ads that reflect your brand, and create a sense of urgency.

Ready to Take Your Social Media Marketing up a Notch?

Although social media advertising isn’t the only way people discover brands, it’s the cornerstone of many people’s buyer journeys. Ultimately, social media is where the majority of users go for more information, and what they come across can entice them to follow through with a purchase.

The key ingredient for succeeding is having a strategy.

A strong social media strategy should serve as a summary of what you plan to do and achieve on social media, including your advertising activities. The more specific your plan is, the more effective your strategy will be.

Not sure where to start? Check out our social media marketing services and learn how we can help you move forward.