Social media ads are one of the most influential and quickest ways to reach a new, targeted audience.
Let's face it. With all the social platform's ongoing changes, it's harder and harder to get your content noticed.
Paid social media advertising can help your content get more views, without worrying about the organic platforms algorithm.
While it may seem scary to go from an organic social media strategy (which is free) to putting your money on the table, advertising on social media can bring undeniable benefits.
Social media advertising is profitable and versatile because it allows marketers to build specific social media campaigns and meet the business goals at a relatively low price.
This guide will explain what social advertising is, how you can use various types of social media ads, and some valuable tips.
Social Media Advertising Explained
1. Why run social media ads?
Why advertise on social media when you can post great content for free?
The truth is, a lot of social media studies confirmed that organic reach is declining.
After all, social media algorithms can be fickle. And it's almost impossible to keep up with all the changes social platforms constantly bring to stay relevant on the market.
Marketers have no guarantees regarding who is going to see their organic content when posting on social media. Some of your content may generate a ton of engagement, while some of your content may get lost on its way to reaching people.
Advertising on social media is meant to help you with exactly that - directly reach your current audience and even target new ones.
Social media ads are a great way to speed up your organic presence. Organic content and paid content should be friends, not enemies. Think of how social advertising can supplement and boost your organic content.
If you have great content that organically reaches many people, then targeted campaigns can help you grow that content faster.
All major social media networks offer advertising options. But this doesn't mean you should use all of them, especially initially, so choose wisely.
Think of the most popular platforms among your audience. Which social media platform organically reaches most of your audience? On which platform is your audience more active? This is where you should place your first ads.
2. Choose the perfect goal for your social media ads campaign
While it may be obvious that the main goal of running social media ads is to make money, the truth is that social media advertising isn't all about that.
Every business is different and has specific objectives, and social advertising can help achieve some of those goals.
The first thing to do when setting up an ad is to select one of the three broad types of campaign objectives that every social platform offers:
Increase brand awareness
Whether you want to drive more brand awareness to your existing target audience or get yourself in front of other audiences, social media advertising is the perfect way to expose your brand. Plus, it can also help with maximizing your reach.
Send traffic to your website, generate more leads, and encourage people to install your app or communicate with you.
Increase your purchases or leads by inviting people to visit your website and take action there.
3. Facebook advertising
With 2.89 billion monthly active users, Facebook is by far the most popular social media platform out there, giving marketers the opportunity to reach anyone virtually.
Apart from its vast audience, Facebook is heavily visual, which is basically the go-to reason for choosing a platform to place your ads.
Another great benefit of Facebook is that it is popular across diverse demographics - from teenagers to parents, almost anyone has an active Facebook account.
According to our social media ads study, Facebook is the number one platform that businesses invest a lot of money into.
The average ad spend on Facebook has increased by 7,16% compared to last year, so Facebook is probably the safest place to start your social media ads journey.
Facebook offers detailed and multiple segmentation options, from location, interests, and job descriptions, to past activities and many more, so targeting the right audience for your ads should be easy-peasy.
Here are some common examples of Facebook social media campaigns:
- Free shipping
- Product discounts
- Limited-time offers
Facebook ads come in a great variety. You can promote your page, your posts, the actions your users took, or your website.
Facebook also offers several ad formats, such as images, videos, carousels, or collections.
Socialinsider’s latest social media ads study revealed how Facebook advertising is priced. The average cost per click, also known as CPC, for Facebook ads is $0.49.
Click-through rate, also known as CTR, is a strong indicator of how likely you’ll get the results wanted from a social media ad campaign, and Facebook has the highest CTR of 3.06% on average, as our study suggested.
Another insight the study showed is that Facebook feed is the number one ad placement brands invest in, because, well, everyone knows that the feed is the place users spend most of their online time.
4. Instagram advertising
There is no question that Instagram is the go-to platform for marketing campaigns.
According to Instagram, 90% percent of Instagram users follow at least one business on the platform, and 50% percent declare that their interest in a business rises when they see their ads on Instagram.
As one of the most visual social platforms out there, Instagram users consume content in large quantities. And this is just one of the reasons Instagram is ideal for placing ads.
As a heavy image and video orientated platform, sellers who manage to incorporate visuals into their social media ads perform better on this platform.
It is also worth mentioning that Instagram's user base is mostly formed of millennials, Gen Zs, Gen Xers, and most popular among females and minorities.
So if one of those categories is your target audience, then chances are Instagram advertising is your safest bet.
Like in Facebook's case, you can target your ideal viewer by choosing between several targeting options, such as demographics, life events, interests, behaviors, and connections.
Instagram ads mirror the Facebook ads types, which are photo, video, carousel, and collection. You can create social media ads for Instagram Feed, Instagram Stories, and even IGTV.
Instagram Reels doesn't offer paid advertising opportunities, which means that you can experiment with organic reach through this new feature.
According to Socialinsider’s latest social media ads study, the budget directed towards Instagram ads is only half of the budget allocated for Facebook advertising.
However, the same study revealed that Instagram has had a great ad growth in 2021, with an average ad spend of 8,69%, so this platform is beginning to receive more and more attention in terms of advertising.
Socialinsider’s study also showed how Instagram advertising is priced. Compared to Facebook ads, Instagram ads have a double cost. For Instagram, the average CPC is $1.09 and the average CTR is 0.68%.
If you want to start advertising on Instagram, our study indicates it’s best to place your ads on the feed, which is the preferred placement for brands’ Instagram ads.
However, the most efficient type of ad on Instagram which can successfully convert and make the money spent on its placement worth invested is the Instagram story ad, with an average CTR of 0,76%.
5. Twitter advertising
With more than 290.5 million monthly active users worldwide, Twitter still remains one of the leading social networks worldwide.
Twitter is a trendy marketing platform, especially for breaking news, and serves as a channel to connect its users with niche and mainstream influencers.
This social media channel offers a variety of attractive social media ads options. Mainly, Twitter ads are used to grow brand awareness and promote products for direct conversion.
Since Twitter is the social network that allows its users to share 280-character messages (called Tweets), the most common Twitter ads you'll see on the platform are cards that have under 100 characters and display rich media.
Brands can create paid social media ads on Twitter in 2 different ways:
- Twitter Promote tells the Twitter algorithm to promote your Tweets to a specific audience. It also promotes your account to attract new followers, but only if you pass the Twitter quality filter. You can choose interests or location, but you can't choose which Tweets to promote.
- Twitter Ad Campaigns can help you set business objectives. You can either promote current organic Tweets or create new ones, specifically as Twitter ads.
6. LinkedIn advertising
With over 756 million members in over 200 countries worldwide and more than 57 million company users, LinkedIn is more than a social network for hiring and recruiting.
LinkedIn managed to separate itself from the crowd due to its professional nature. Unlike other social platforms, people come to LinkedIn for one thing: to connect and grow a professional network.
This social platform offers advertising solutions for those looking to reach a corporate audience with B2B marketing.
There are three types of social media ads on LinkedIn:
- Sponsored content appears on users' feeds with the scope of getting it in front of a bigger audience. Sponsored advertising content on LinkedIn can be images, videos, or carousel ads. LinkedIn recommends using shorter headlines, larger images, and clear CTAs to get better engagement.
- Sponsored InMail is sponsored message that goes directly to users' LinkedIn inboxes. These messages are received only when a user is active, so make sure to create compelling messages that your audience would connect with.
- Text ads are small ad units showcased at the top and the right of the LinkedIn desktop feed. You can also add thumbnail images of 50 x 50 pixels.
7. YouTube advertising
With 2.1 billion users worldwide, YouTube is undeniably the biggest video social platform out there.
Not only that, but in 2019, global users spent over 562 million U.S. dollars on the app.
That being said, with YouTube ads, you can reach potential customers and have them take action when they watch or search for videos on the platform
Below are the main types of ads on YouTube:
- Skippable in-stream ads automatically pop up before, during, or after other videos on YouTube. Users have the opportunity to skip these ads after 5 seconds, but the recommended video length is usually 30 seconds. 76% of viewers skip those ads by default, so make sure you get your message across during those first non-skippable 5 seconds of the ad.
- Non-skippable in-stream ads will play either at the beginning, mid-point, or end of a video and are usually 15 seconds long. These social media ads can't be skipped, so make sure you make the best out of them or pair them with great audio in case your viewer is looking away.
- Video discovery ads appear on the right-hand sidebar, next to related YouTube videos on desktop, or on the mobile homepage. These YouTube ads usually have catchy thumbnails and short descriptions inviting people to watch the video.
- Non-video ads are YouTube ads options for marketers who don't have a budget for video ads. These appear either on the right-hand sidebar (with an image and a short text) or floating on top of a monetized YouTube video.
8. TikTok advertising
TikTok is one of the newest social platforms out there that offers many creative opportunities for social media advertising due to its increased popularity.
A survey conducted by the Global Web Index found out that 44% of TikTok members outside of China fall into the 16-24 age bracket, and 80% are either Gen Z or millennials.
As such, TikTok is a great advertising opportunity for brands relevant to the youth community and want to experiment with fun and creative content on their platform.
However, keep in mind that almost all social platforms first became popular among youngsters and quickly expanded to other audiences, so it's worth trying out TikTok advertising.
Note! TikTok ads are not currently available in every region, so you might be stuck with organic content for now. However, it's always good to be prepared for when the time comes.
TikTok offers the following forms of ads:
- In-feed images or videos show up on a users' "For You" page and look like regular user-generated content. They are usually 9 seconds long and include the brand's profile name and a CTA button.
- Brand takeovers are large-format ads that appear when a user opens TikTok but are limited to one advertiser per day.
- Hashtag challenges are campaigns that create viral content by uploading videos with dances or challenges, encouraging users to replicate them on their page.
- Branded lenses allow brands to create different filters that TikTok users can add to their content, similar to Instagram and Snapchat.
- Custom influencer packages are paid partnerships between brands and trending TikTokers who create sponsored content on their page.
9. Tips for improving your social media advertising
Now that we've walked through the most popular social media channels' advertising options, it's time to discuss some tips for improving your advertising strategy.
- Establish the business objectives you are trying to achieve
- Understand your target audience
- Get insights from your organic content
- Test your ads
- Measure your ads results and report on them
Establish the business objectives you are trying to achieve
It's tough to achieve your goals without knowing what goals you have in the first place.
This is why I've already mentioned some sample goals for social media ads campaigns at the beginning of this article.
So, before starting your social media advertising journey, make sure to understand your business objectives. By doing that, you will choose the right social network for your brand to advertise on.
Understand your target audience
Every marketer knows that each social media platform has specific audience considerations to look upon before starting doing anything related to marketing.
And of course, this applies to social advertising as well. Evert platform offers specific ad targeting.
Knowing your target audience and understanding its needs is one of the key steps to taking your advertising to the next level.
After all, advertising to male users into sports is pointless if your target audience is young females who are into fashion. So make sure to take the time to understand your consumers better.
Get insights from your organic content
Most likely, you are already posting on some of the social media channels I mentioned earlier, if not on all.
If you just started your social media ads process and don't know what content to publish, track your organic content and let it inform your ads.
The reality is that some organic content will click with your audience right away, and some other won't. Focus on the organic content that resonates best with your audience because these posts make the best candidates for social ads.
Test your ads
Social media advertising is not easy. It's a challenging process that requires a lot of research and trial and error time of situations until you find what works best for you.
One of the best practices is to test several ad formats with small audiences and see which ones perform better.
Measure your ads results and report on them
Tracking the results of your social ads and constantly reporting on them is just as important as knowing your business goals.
This way, you will know if you hit your targets and what you can improve in the future.
Measuring your ads' results and having concrete data about your ads' value to your business is essential for proving your social media ROI.
There are a lot of analytics tools on the market that will help you with exactly that. One of them is Socialinsider, through which you can track your results across networks from a single dashboard.
To sum it up, social media advertising has become a matter of "when" not "if" for brands.
If you want to deliver consistent, scalable, quality leads and customers, you need to start thinking of your advertising strategy.
Whether we like it or not, organic content doesn't offer marketers the guarantee that it will reach the target audience.
But social advertising does.
With this beginner's guide, I hope I have given you a better idea of what media ads are, what the main advertising channels offer, and some tips on how to improve your social advertising strategy.