Social Media Advertising: The Basics


Social media advertising has opened up new ways of reaching out to customers on social media.

With social media advertising you’re able to engage consumers right where they hang out — and you don’t need a ginormous marketing budget either.

According to current statistics, an average consumer spends more than six hours online daily on social media. It therefore, makes so much sense to reach out to your consumers where they’re spending most of their time, which is on social media.

To help you make use of this new opportunity, here’s my beginner’s guide to social media advertising.

social media advertising

What is Social Media Advertising?

Social media advertising is currently one of the best driver of leads and sales. This is because Facebook, Twitter and other popular social networks have hundreds of millions of consumers. All waiting for your content.

Social media advertising generates, on average, $8.4 billion  and offers companies the chance to build brand awareness and create ads for your target consumers based on their geographical, demographic and behavioral characteristics.

Popular Social Media Advertising Platforms

There are different social media advertising platforms that your business can use to reach out to your consumers. All platforms have different advantages and the truth is that there’s no one size fits all platform.

The best way to choose a platform for your business is to test different channels and determine what works to meet your objectives.

Let’s take a look at 5 of the most popular social networks you can advertise on:

1. Facebook

Facebook boasts of over 1.4 billion users, giving it the largest audience ahead of all social media platforms. This platform is great for both large and small businesses interested in attracting new leads.

The advantage of Facebook advertising is that you have many ways that you can target audiences such as location, language, age, gender and other common demographics.

Facebook also allows you to choose from a very large list of interests when targeting your audience. So if for instance you’re in the software industry, you can target people who are interested in software and other related interests ensuring that your ads reach more people matching your target audience.

When creating Facebook Ads, you will be required to have an objective for each ad.  You’ll be required to centre your ads around any of these objectives:

social media advertising

You have the option of creating an ad or boosting content that you’ve posted organically on your Facebook Business page. Facebook ads can be used to increase leads, sales, web traffic , or maximize brand awareness.

Facebook ads currently appear in two areas,  News Feeds and the Right-hand column.

The News Feed ads appear directly in users’ News Feeds. This is the best option as you’re able to customize the body copy, image, headline, description and vanity URL to make your targeting better.

The Right-hand column ads appear on the right-hand side of Facebook pages and News Feed. These ads are smaller, have less text and are less expensive than the News Feed ads. You can customize the headline, image, URL and description.

Here’s an example of a WordPress ad campaign with both News Feed and Right-hand column ads:

social media advertising

2. Twitter

Twitter’s ad platform  allows you to target ads based on demographic and interest. With about 316 million monthly active users, Twitter is a great advertising platform for your business.

Twitter ads are perfect for increasing site visits, conversions and sales, building an audience and creating Twitter engagement.

As with Facebook, you’ll require an objective for your ads. Pick an appropriate objective from Twitter’s list of objectives.

There are three different kinds of Twitter Ads:

  • Promoted Accounts: these ads invite targeted Twitter users to follow your brand on Twitter.
  • Promoted Trends: these ads allow you to put your content at the top of the trending topic list for 24-hours.
  • Promoted Tweets: these ads appear directly in the timelines of your targeted Twitter users, just as organic tweets appear. The promoted ads show at a the specific time chosen only.

You can use any of these ads depending on the objective.

Here’s an example of a Promoted Tweet:

social media advertising

The success of your Twitter ad will depend on how well you target it. Twitter allows you to target highly specific demographics using gender, location, languages, interests and device. You can also use specific lists such as Twitter lists or email lists to advertise to them.

3. LinkedIn

LinkedIn is well known for it’s professional user base. If you’re targeting professionals and companies, then LinkedIn will be very relevant.

Even though not as popular and advanced as Facebook and Twitter ads, LinkedIn is still great for industries targeting professionals and companies.

You can target people based on the industry they work in, the company they work in, their position and seniority at the company and how big the company is. You can also use gender, location and age. You can also target members of LinkedIn groups relevant to your industry.

LinkedIn has three types of ads:

  • Premium Display Ads:  these are display ads shown to a targeted audience.
  • Sponsored InMail: Your content is delivered directly to LinkedIn’s user inboxes.
  • Direct Sponsored Updates: Updates appear on your target audience’s LinkedIn timelines.

Here’s an example of a Direct Sponsored Update:

social media advertising

4. Instagram

The Instagram advertising platform is still relatively new but still offers a huge opportunity for companies targeting their audience online. Currently Instagram has about 400 million users, making it more popular than Twitter or Snapchat.

Advertising on Instagram is great especially for lifestyle and creative industries such as food, fashion and fitness but other industries are also starting to reap from the platform as it continues to gain popularity.

Instagram ads are in the form of a typical Instagram photo or video and carry the “Sponsored” label. Users can then like the photo/video or follow the brand’s account. See example below:

social media advertising

To create an Instagram ad you’ll be required to use your Facebook ad account. When creating Instagram ads, keep in mind that the platform is more visual oriented so use good visuals that will attract users.

5. YouTube

YouTube offers video ads and static advertising associated with videos. The difference between YouTube ads and other platforms is that targeting is a bit limited and the ads are a bit more pricey.

The good thing about YouTube is that it’s believed to convert more users than any other social media platform. This makes it effective in increasing brand awareness and influencing purchasing decisions.

Before you settle on any of these advertising platforms, consider your objectives and budget. For instance even though YouTube tends to have a higher conversion rate, you need a high quality video and a big budget as well to keep your ad running.

LinkedIn on the other hand is more suitable to B2B companies than other companies. Facebook on it’s part is perfect for practically any size or type of business.

The 4 Basics before Getting Started

1. How much is my budget

One of the common questions asked regarding social advertising is “How much should I spend?” This is a difficult question to answer as no one cost fits all ads regardless of platform.

However, you should have a budget in mind before you start creating ads. This is important as it will inform the decision you make while choosing a platform. When deciding how much to spend, align your marketing objectives with your advertising strategy.

Some types of ad campaigns will require a larger budget than others. For instance, if you want to increase sales you may have to spend more on advertising since you want to target highly specific audiences. Driving traffic to your website or blog on the other had may not require a big budget.

2. Creating  Compelling Ads that Get results

Good ad copy is relevant and serves your audience’s needs. It should also be visual in order to capture your audience’s attention.

Make your ad copy compelling enough to convince your audience to take your desired action e.g. buy your product, sign up to your list, like your page, click a link etc.

Ensure that your ad copy communicates your value proposition and shows what your brand is all about. Don’t forget to add a call to action.

3. Targeting Your Ads

Different platforms allow different ways of targeting your ads. However, some things are common among the major advertising platforms.

When targeting your ads consider the demographics of your audience. This is their geographical distribution. Are they found at a certain area? Then you want to target that area only. Is your product/service gender specific?

Other demographics include age, preferred language, educational level, and relationship status. To get the best results from your ads, make your targeting as specific as possible.

You can also target your ads depending on your audience’s interests, hobbies, activities and pages that they like. Another target is behavior. This includes purchase behavior or intent, devices used and more.  This makes targeting even more specific.

For example if you’re selling women shoes in Arizona you might want to target women 21 years and above who live in Arizona, love shopping and fashion and use both PC and mobile phones.

4. measuring AD success

When measuring the success of your ads, monitor the click through rate (CTR) which is the number of clicks your ad receives to the number of impressions it received. CTR shows how relevant your content is and the quality of the traffic received.

Another thing to monitor is the conversion rate and the cost per conversion. Remember the object you set when creating your ad? This where you find out if it was achieved and how much it cost you to achieve that objective.

So for instance if you wanted people to visit your blog/website how many clicks did you get? To know the value of each click divide the amount of money you spent on the ad and divide it by the number of clicks received. This measure allows you to know how profitable your ad campaign was.

Social media advertising is changing the ways in which companies are interacting with their audiences. The best part is that it works well for both  big and small businesses. So what are you waiting for? Go where your audience is  by leveraging the power of social media in your promotional efforts.

Are you advertising on social media platforms? How is that working for your business? Share your thoughts with us on the comments section!