Advertising in social media

Promote your brand and services with targeted social media advertising and start reaping the benefits of greater engagement with prospects and customers.

Why advertise on social media

Social media is a dynamic, seemingly ever-expanding space that provides countless opportunities for companies to build their brands and engage with customers. As there are more than five billion people using social media on a regular basis worldwide in 2024, it’s safe to say it’s an area your brand can’t afford to ignore.

However, while there are huge benefits to be gained from organic efforts on a social platform, if you really want to see results, a paid social media advertising campaign is often the way to go. This can have you cut through a lot of the noise of social media and make sure your marketing campaign efforts are being seen by the right type of social media user.

Benefits of advertising on social media channels

Social media channels that offer Facebook ads, Twitter ads, LinkedIn ads, Instagram ads, Pinterest ads and TikTok ads have huge reach, making them a great way to get your brand’s name out there. No matter whether you’re a B2C or B2B firm, targeting the right users on the right platforms through paid ads can greatly enhance your brand’s visibility and reputation, as well as help guide users down the sales funnel to a conversion.

Why should companies consider advertising on social media?

The first thing to know about social media advertising is if you’re not doing it, you should be. More than half the world’s population is active on social media, and this rises to more than 90 per cent for younger generations – Millennials and Generation Z. And even if you’re not using social media advertising, your competitors are.

In the B2B space, for example, the Content Marketing Institute found that 85 per cent of marketers used social advertising or promoted posts in 2023, with the most popular platforms being LinkedIn (used by 78 per cent of marketers), Facebook (56 per cent) and Instagram (29 per cent).

One reason for this is the low cost of entry for a social media advertisement and the potential for significant returns. Compared with other forms of paid advertising, social media posts are highly cost-effective, with cost-per-clicks that can be many times cheaper than an equivalent campaign using Google Ads.

Advertising in social media is also proven to work. Whether your goal is to boost your brand visibility through a story ad, drive traffic to your website via a Twitter ad or share special offers and promotions with text ads, social media ads promise a strong return on investment. But don’t just take our word for it. Consider these figures from Sprout Social:

  • There are estimated to be 5.17 billion total social media users worldwide in 2024 – an increase of 320 million from the previous year
  • The average person uses 6.7 different social networks per month
  • Total spending on social media advertising is set to increase by 6.1 per cent in 2024 to reach $219.8 billion.
  • Social media ads account for 28.8 per cent of all digital advertising spend
  • Facebook is the most-used platform by marketers (89 per cent), ahead of Instagram in second place (80 per cent)
  • 56 per cent of internet users purchase a product online at least once a week.
  • 51 per cent of people research brands online before making a purchase.

With these facts in mind, it’s clear that if you’re not making the most of your social media presence, you’re missing out on reaching millions more potential customers than you would with traditional advertising.

What benefits are unique to social media advertising?

Having access to this huge range of potential customers is only the start, however. A good marketing strategy needs to be targeted, and this is where social media really comes into its own. These platforms have a wealth of information about their users you can use to segment your offerings, focusing your efforts on only those people who are most likely to be receptive to your messaging.

Setting up a custom audience in Facebook Ads Manager, for example, is very easy and allows you to select the best ad type for your potential customers. This ad campaign will then be far more successful than one that hasn’t been properly targeted.

A Facebook ad of this sort is also a great way to interact with potential customers about topics that already interest them. This ensures there’s a built-in level of engagement from users and you know your efforts will be likely to see success.

Thirdly, social media advertising can also be a cost-effective way to grow your brand, which can be especially useful for small and fast-growing firms that may not be able to compete with larger competitors on other channels. What’s more, this can give a boost to your visibility in search results. A strong social presence will drive more traffic to your website, which in turn builds your brand’s exposure.

How can companies capitalize on the access to customers afforded by social media marketing?

The ability to segment and target customers is a key advantage of social media advertising that other marketing channels often can’t match.

Some of the many criteria you can use to narrow down your audience when planning a social media advertising campaign include:

  • Age
  • Location
  • Occupation
  • Interests
  • Education
  • Activities

Social media advertising strategies for each platform

Before embarking on any social media advertising strategy, it’s vital you understand exactly who your intended audience is and where they like to spend time, as this will influence your ad format and placement. A good social listening strategy is essential to doing this effectively. You may think you know who your target audience is and what their interests are, but these activities can uncover marketing opportunities you never suspected.

It’s also important to remember that each social media channel has its own audience and engagement method, so what works for one won’t always work elsewhere. Aside from the different user bases, each site will have its own platform for running ads, offering a range of formats depending on what you want to achieve.

For example, Facebook offers a range of ad formats, including image, video and story ads, while LinkedIn offers longer-format sponsored content, as well as message and dynamic ads. Meanwhile, an Instagram Stories ad is a good location to place a video ad for maximum effect.

What are the best platforms for social media advertising?

There’s no simple answer to the question of which social media channels will work best for you. You’ll have to answer questions about who you wish to target and how wide a net you intend to cast.

For example, you may think the widest reach will be beneficial to your marketing activities, which may lead you towards the likes of Facebook and Twitter. But this may not necessarily be the case. It can sometimes be beneficial to focus your efforts on smaller platforms if that’s where your target audience is more likely to be found.

The likes of Pinterest, for instance, may not have as many active users, but the ones who are there may be far more receptive to your messages, which means you can enjoy a much better ROI.

How should you tailor your advertising strategy for each social media platform?

It pays to alter your social advertising for each platform. Some brands simply replicate the same format and messaging across multiple channels, but this often fails to take into account the nuances and expectations of the different audiences, and this is as true for paid advertising as it is for organic posting.

A basic step is to be aware of the limits of your chosen site, whether this is image dimensions, character limits or formatting restrictions. Knowing what devices your expected audience is likely to be using should also play into this. While around half of LinkedIn users are on mobile, this rises to 85 per cent for Twitter, which should affect how you think about displaying your social media ads.

Instagram, for example, recommends a square image size for in-feed social ads, as this looks best on mobile. It also suggests no more than 125 characters of text, as anything beyond this may become truncated.

On Twitter, meanwhile, most video ads can be up to two minutes and 20 seconds in length, but that doesn’t mean you should use all of this. Instead, a brief clip of between six and 15 seconds is best, which is shorter than what may work on other platforms.

If you are creating videos as part of your digital marketing strategy, you should also be aware of time restrictions. For instance, many sites allow users to skip ads after five seconds, so you’ll need to get your point across quickly to engage your audience.

Ultimately, choosing your social media channel may well come down to understanding the strengths that will be most beneficial to you and the weaknesses you want to avoid.

Take Facebook, for example. As the world’s largest social network, its sheer size can often be an advantage. But beyond this, users of this channel are far more likely than those on other platforms to have provided detailed personal information about themselves, from their relationships and education to their interests.

This makes it very easy to deliver highly targeted messages, down to the smallest local level. However, because it’s such a big platform, the less specific your strategy, the harder it can be to be seen by the right users.

Twitter, on the other hand, is great for short, snappy content, while posts with images and video can get huge amounts of engagement. You can also choose a type of ad that’s tailored to your goals, such as promoted tweets, promoted treason or promoted accounts.

Because of the nature of the site, it can be easier to go viral than other platforms – though this can also be a drawback if you’re not careful. Indeed, one of the downsides of Twitter is often that it can expose you to negative comments and feedback, so you’ll need to have a good social media strategy in place ready to handle this.

Resources and tools for social media advertising

Like most aspects of your digital marketing strategy, advertising on social media is more effective and productive when it’s supported by specialist tools.

There are many dedicated technologies, platforms and resources out there that can help you optimise various elements of your social advertising, from making sure you send the right messages at the right time to measuring your results.

How to find resources and tools for social media advertising

You can start your journey to find the right tools to support your social media advertising activities with some basic online research. It’s always a good idea to arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible before making any commitments that will shape the future of your digital marketing strategy. Being well-informed puts you in a stronger position to make the right decisions and investments for your business.

Guides and online resources – like the one you’re reading right now – are an excellent place to start if you want to learn more about available solutions and the benefits they can offer you.

Once you feel familiar with some of the tools on offer and how they could be relevant, you can start to compare them with each other and consider their various pros and cons.

It’s also wise to do a bit of networking and speak to other brands about their own experiences with social media advertising. Businesses that are similar to yours – in size, budget or ambition, for example – can be a particularly useful source of information. Consider what lessons you can learn from brands that have generated strong results from social media ads. What made their campaigns so successful, and what tools are available that could help you achieve the same outcomes?

The flip side of this is looking at where companies have made mistakes in their social media advertising. Getting your ads wrong can have serious consequences, so you might want to look for solutions that could help you avoid dangerous errors. A tool that monitors user responses to your ads, for example, could let you know quickly if a particular piece of content is getting a negative reaction.

Given its vast user base and potential reach, Facebook is one social media platform every brand should be using. There are various solutions that could help you optimise results from your Facebook advertising, starting with the platform’s own Ads Manager, which is designed as an all-in-one tool for creating, managing and tracking ads on Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and Audience Network.

What are the most effective tools and software for social media advertising?

Specific functions of Ads Manager include:

  • Setting bespoke campaign parameters like objective and audience
  • Reviewing and adjusting key elements of your advertising
  • Pausing or relaunching campaigns
  • Real-time ad reporting
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If Facebook will be a central part of your social advertising strategy, it’s important to think about what you could have to gain from these features.

As far as social media analytics is concerned, there are a number of tools that can make it easier for you to build a picture of how your ads – as well as various other types of social content – are performing.

You might also want to look into the potential advantages of programmatic social media advertising, which is supported by tools like AdRoll. This could help you incorporate an element of automation into your social ad planning and buying, which could make the process easier and more efficient.

What are the benefits of automating social media advertising?

One of the biggest benefits you can gain from automating key elements of your social media advertising is time. If you have spent any time working on activities like manually managing ad posting schedules and monitoring audience responses, you’ll know they can be long and demanding processes.

Automated systems can make your life easier by taking routine processes like these off your hands. This gives you more time to focus on the most important and valuable parts of your job, like following up on the leads your social media ads have generated.

Furthermore, an automated approach to social media ads can give you a more holistic view of your campaigns and overall strategy. You can create schedules around key moments such as a product launch or promotion, with relevant ads set to go live automatically.

Social media advertising services 

When it becomes clear that you don’t have the time or resources to focus on getting the best returns from your social media advertising, working with a specialist service provider could be the way to go.

There are various benefits you could gain from taking this approach, such as accessing specialist knowledge and expertise, and freeing up your own time to focus on other aspects of your marketing.

To make the most of this potential, it pays to understand how social media advertising services work and to have a clear idea of what you want to achieve by collaborating with an external partner.

What are the main elements of social media advertising services?

Specialist social media marketing firms can offer a wide range of services that suit all sorts of needs and expectations.

If you’re seeking a comprehensive, end-to-end solution that covers every aspect of your social advertising, you should look for a partner that understands your overarching marketing goals and can plan a social ad strategy that reflects them.

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A level of strategic awareness and foresight is one of the most valuable qualities any social ad agency can have. It’s also important that your partner is able to condense your strategy into a detailed and actionable plan, with features including a well-structured, data-driven advertising calendar.

Once you’re happy with your strategy, you’ll want to focus on actually creating the various assets – from imagery and videos to copy and calls to action – that will sit at the heart of your social advertising. This is another crucial area where you can benefit from the knowledge and capabilities of a dedicated service provider.

The right partner will be able to develop a detailed understanding of your advertising goals and create a range of compelling, high-quality content that captures your customers’ attention and generates leads.

But just producing and posting ads on your chosen social platforms isn’t enough. You need to know how your content is performing and the results it’s generating, so you can draw informed conclusions about your return on investment and where you should make changes to improve it. You can achieve these insights by working with a firm that knows how to analyse the right data and recommend the next steps you should take.

The benefits of outsourcing social media advertising

One of the most valuable services any social media marketing agency can offer is a better understanding of the wide range of advertising options available to you and advice on which ones make the most sense for your business.

The sheer variety of ad types and formats on offer can be bewildering. On Facebook alone, you can choose from the following:

Photo ads

Images combined with a short headline and a small amount of copy to grab your audience’s attention.

Video ads

A versatile format encompassing everything from short, looping clips to long video productions.

A combination of up to ten rotating images or videos, each with its own link, in a single ad.

Collection ads

These can include both images and videos, which will be displayed in the grid format of your choice.

These are just a few examples of the many ad types available on only one social media platform, albeit the biggest one in the world. Depending on your target audience and marketing goals, you might be better off targeting another platform. LinkedIn is the first choice for many B2B businesses, for example.

If the sheer range of choices available seems daunting, outsourcing your social advertising to a specialist provider will help you narrow your focus and identify the platforms and ad types that are best for you.

Another advantage of working with a social ad agency is the option to combine your paid advertising with a range of organic content. This will help you deliver a richer, more enjoyable user experience, which strengthens your brand and fuels lead generation over the long term.

There are several other benefits you can expect to achieve if you use a social advertising service, such as:

  • Better campaign and community management
  • More compelling calls to action that help your ads deliver results
  • Ongoing education and consulting

When should you use a social media advertising service?

One of the clearest indicators that it’s time for you to consider delegating your social media advertising to an outside provider is if you simply don’t have the time or the resources to do it yourself. There are unlimited opportunities waiting to be seized in the social space, but it’s extremely difficult to make the most of them if you can’t give this job your full attention.

Outsourcing your ad activities to a trusted partner can free up your time and optimise your overall return on investment.

Another telltale sign that you could benefit from bringing in a social ad agency is if the number of leads you’re generating from this channel is steadily declining, even though your ad spend has stayed the same or gone up. This could be a sign of underlying problems in your strategy or platform selection that an expert could help to identify.

Social media advertising can prove particularly important when your business is preparing for a big project or expansion. If you have a major product launch coming up later in the year, for example, or you’re about to launch in a foreign market, tailored social ads can help you drive brand awareness and generate fresh interest in your company at exactly the right time.

However, you’re also likely to be extremely busy at these times. It could be wise, then, to hand over your social media ad management to an outside agency, to ensure this process is properly managed and optimised at such a crucial time for your business.