Social Media Advertising: The Complete Guide

September 17, 2021

Everything you need to know about social media advertising


If you’re looking to delve into social media advertising but have no idea where to start, we can help you. The world of social media advertising can be confusing to those just starting out. It’s worth doing some thorough research before diving in. Luckily for you, we’ve put together a guide on everything you need to know.

What is social media advertising?


Social media advertising is where paid ad campaigns run on social media platforms to reach target audiences. Marketers use social media to promote their brands, boost sales and drive traffic. Social media advertising allows you to reach a larger audience than just those following you.

Key components for social media advertising


To create a successful campaign for social media, it must contain the following elements:


Developed plan


The most successful social media campaigns start with a developed plan. The plan should be specific to the campaign. To develop your plan, start researching your existing followers across your platforms.


Different social media networks are best suited for different purposes. Work out which aligns with your needs and where your target audience spends most of its time.


Research recent campaigns in your industry to see what’s trending. Once you decide what type of campaign you’re going to run on social media, allocate budget and resources. Then, you can decide how you want to execute the campaign.


Clearly defined goals


When it comes to social media advertising, you need to identify your goals. What are you hoping to achieve from your campaign?


You don’t have to focus on one goal, you can have several. These may include:


  • Increase brand awareness
  • Drive more website traffic
  • Encourage visitor loyalty
  • Improve conversion rates.


Think about how your campaign can reach these goals. Are there other goals you want to achieve? If so, what are they? How can achieving these goals help your business?


Campaign overview


Creating a campaign overview can help you focus on the bigger picture and stay on track. It should outline the basic details of the campaign such as:


  • Campaign name
  • Ideas/inspiration
  • Purpose and goals
  • How you will meet company objectives
  • Any additional information.


Target audience


You can’t create a campaign unless you know who your target audience is. Take a look at the people that currently follow/like your account/page across your social media platforms. Is there a pattern in age, location or common interest? Take a look at which of your social media content gets the most engagement. This will help you figure out what type of campaigns will work and what won’t.


If you’re already using a business account, you should be able to see your follower demographics in the analytics section.



Thorough analysis


Once the campaign is over, analyse how it performed. Did it perform better or worse than you expected it to? Did it reach the goals you set out?


Work out what worked well and what didn’t. What were the reasons behind that? Use the information to your advantage to help you with your next campaign.

Where are the best places for social media advertising campaigns?


The most common and used ones are the best as you have a better chance of reaching a wider audience. These include:




Facebook is the most popular platform when it comes to social media advertising. Some strategies you can use on Facebook to promote your brand/service include:


  • Engagement posts: these ads help you drive brand awareness. You can boost your posts so they receive more likes, comments and shares. Boosting an existing post lets you keep the engagement you have already acquired. This is the preferred method for most marketers.
  • Page likes: You can run image and video ads to increase your page likes.
  • Carousel: Allows brands to feature up to 10 images or videos within a single ad. Each image/video can display a different link.




Instagram is similar to Facebook in terms of advertising. You can manage ads for both platforms through the same interface – Facebook Ad Manager.


On Instagram, you can target people based on their location, interests and behavioural activities. You can also create custom and lookalike audiences to find new users. There are 5 ways you can advertise on Instagram:


  • Story ads: You can use images or videos to run ads on Instagram stories.
  • Photo and videos: You can run images and videos ads to promote your brand.
  • Carousel ads: These ads allow you to feature multiple photos or videos in a single ad that users can swipe through.
  • Collection ads: A primary photo along with secondary images displayed in a grid.




Twitter’s advertising platforms are pretty straightforward. Types of social media advertising on Twitter include:


  • Tweet engagement
  • Promoted video/GIF views
  • Brand awareness
  • Website clicks or conversions
  • In-stream video views
  • Build followers
  • Brands can also promote a specific hashtag to drive brand awareness. Be careful not to confuse your hashtag with one that is already in use.




LinkedIn is another popular platform when it comes to social media advertising. The site is basically Facebook for businesses. The three main types of promotions used on LinkedIn are:


  • Sponsored ads: They are similar to Facebook ads and appear in the newsfeed.
  • InMail: This feature is only available to Premium LinkedIn users. You can send individual emails to people not in your network. 5 – 30 InMails can be sent each month.
  • Sponsored InMail: Sponsored InMails land straight in the inboxes of the active LinkedIn users. This feature is useful to drive conversions such as boosting content downloads and increasing conference attendance.




Snapchat is popular among millennials and therefore features content that is light-hearted and fun. It supports the following objectives:


  • Awareness: This is usually used for pushing your branding.
  • Consideration: The objective is better for encouraging app installs, app traffic, video views and engagement.
  • Conversion: This is best suited if your business is looking for website and app conversions.


The 6 types of advertising on Snapchat include:


  • Snap ads: These ads appear in people’s stories. When flicking through stories, ads will appear which can drive users to your website or app.
  • Collection ads: Similar to the ad types used on Facebook and Instagram.
  • Story ads: They appear in the discovery tab.
  • AR lens: Brands can create customised AR lenses to deliver unique experiences to Snapchat users.
  • Ads: 6-second ads that can’t be skipped.
  • Filters: A sticker or creative design for an image or video.


TikTok, YouTube and Pinterest are also other forms of social media advertising.

Best practices


What are the best practices when it comes to social media advertising?


Experiment on organic content first


Before trying something new with your ad campaign posts, experiment on organic posts. If something worked for an organise post, it is likely to work for a paid ad. Once you figure out what works you can experiment with the finer details while running your campaign through A/B tests.


Get specific with targeting your audience


Social media advertising is powerful because of its targeting capabilities. You can get very granular and target aspects such as location, age or interests.


Paid ads are goal-oriented so by getting specific with your audience, you can maximise your results. Once you start getting traction, you can increase audience numbers using the lookalike audience feature.


Design attention-grabbing creatives


People tend to scroll through social media without really paying close attention to content. They keep scrolling until something catches their eye. You have a split second to catch their attention before they continue scrolling.


You need to design something so eye-catching that they scroll back to take another look. Experiment with colours, icons and fonts to catch their attention. Or try writing a compelling headline that will make them stop and want to read.


If you’re using video ads, presume the user is watching it on mute. Consider using subtitles or eye-catching statements to encourage the user to engage.


6 benefits of social media advertising


  1. Improved Brand Recognition


Advertising through social media can increase your brand recognition. Regularly posting on social media is good for your business. Especially if you interact with your audience. Once customers are familiar with your brand, they’re more likely to recommend it to others, increasing your brand reach.


  1. Improve Brand Loyalty


The reason why customers always choose one brand over another is because of brand loyalty. People like to stick with what they know and like. They stick with a brand and buy their products over and over again. They know what to expect from the brand and are happy with the result. This forms long-lasting relationships.


This is important to revenue growth because with brand loyalty comes repeat purchases. If a customer trusts you, they’re unlikely to leave you for another brand. You don’t want to lose your customers to your competitors.


  1. Improved Conversion Results


According to Smart Insights, 53.6% of the world’s population uses social media. So, it makes sense to use social media for advertising purposes as you’ll reach so many people than traditional methods. The increased brand visibility that comes with social media advertising means more visitors to your websites. With a good advertising plan, a business can improve its sales and profits.


  1. Reduced marketing costs


Social media advertising doesn’t require as much money as traditional advertising methods, such as TV ads. With a computer/laptop and phone/tablet, companies can save a lot of money by advertising on social media. It’s an efficient way of reducing operational costs. More people can be reached with the same amount of the monthly budget.


  1. Better Search Engine Ranking


Most people will use a search engine such as Google or Bing to find a product or service. If your business has a social media listing, chances are it will appear on a search engine results page.


Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) tools are a great way to drive more traffic to your website.


  1. More control over your ads


In traditional methods of advertising, once your ad campaign goes live, you can’t control the outcome. But with social media advertising, you can. You can tweak the budget, targeting, creatives, and delivery reactively.

Social media advertising costs


Now you know everything about social media advertising, you’re probably wondering how much it’s going to cost.


Depending on your business, you’ll have a different budget to another business. There’s a social media ad campaign for every budget. From £100 to million-pound campaigns.


Ads on most social media platforms are sold in an auction format. You set a maximum bid for a target result or maximum budget per day. There is no set fee to pay. Usually, you will pay using one of these methods, depending on your campaign goal:

  • Cost per click
  • Cost per 1000 impressions
  • Number of conversions
  • Number of video views


4 social media advertising tips


Some things to consider when creating your campaigns are:


  1. Know what business objective you’re trying to achieve


It’s crucial you understand your business objectives as it helps you decide what social platform to advertise on. It helps you choose the right advertising solution within that platform. You can’t reach your goals if you don’t know what they are.


  1. Design your ads with mobile in mind


According to DataReportal more than 3.25 billion people use a mobile phone to access social media platforms. This means most social media ads are being viewed on a mobile phone. Your ads need to be adapted to a smaller screen size rather than desktop.


  1. Test your ads


One of the good things about social media ads is immediate feedback. You can check the effectiveness of a sponsored post within minutes.


Use A/B testing to test multiple ads with a small audience to see what works and what doesn’t. Use the winning ad in the primary campaign.


  1. Measure results


It’s important to measure the results of your campaign and report them. This will help you determine whether you’ve met your goals. It will tell you what worked and what didn’t, which will help with your next campaign.


The major social networks offer analytics to help you measure the results of ads.


There are also other tools to help measure performance such as Google Analytics.


Need help with your social media advertising efforts?


At Vocal, we provide digital marketing services that get results.

We would love to hear about your businesses’ goals and marketing requirements. Our team has extensive creative knowledge and experience to provide you with recommendations and advice. We are dedicated to achieving results for our clients.

Get in touch for a chat. They’ll be happy to help you create ad copy and creative imagery that makes your stand out.


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