• David Coggin

A Quick Guide to Social Media Advertising

If you’re looking to reach new audiences, social media advertising can be the quickest and easiest way to achieve your goal!


With the right social media ad strategy, you can build your following, get website clicks, and drive sales for your brand or business.


In my quick guide to social media advertising, i'm delving into the different types of ads you can use to grow your business, how to set clear objectives, and tips to create content that converts with your target audience!


Understanding Different Types of Social Media Advertising


Knowing how to spend money on social media advertising can be overwhelming — especially when you’re just starting out.


Every platform has its own set of advertising options — each with its own unique set of benefits, rules, and audience targeting capabilities.


For example, if you’re an e-commerce brand targeting millennial women in the US, you might want to consider investing in Promoted Pins on Pinterest.



promoted pins on pinterest

Or if you’re a food delivery service looking to target hyper-local customers, you may want to use Instagram or Facebook Ads.


Social Media Advertising Step #1: Choose Your Campaign Goal


The first step to creating your social media advertising campaign — no matter the platform — is to focus on what you want to promote and why. Is your campaign sales driven? If yes, your goal would be conversions.


Or maybe you’re looking to boost your brand exposure? In this case, your goal would be to drive engagement, impressions, or followers.


On Facebook and Instagram, campaign goals include:

  • Brand awareness

  • Reach

  • Traffic (for clicks to your website or to the app store for your app)

  • App installs

  • Engagement (for post engagement only)

  • Video views

  • Conversions (for conversions on your website or app)


facebook advertising campaign types

Setting your goals before you get started is the best way to keep your campaign on track, and will help you make the best decisions for your business as you complete the creative process.


Social Media Advertising Step #2: Select the Best Social Media Platforms for Your Campaign


Once you understand and choose your campaign goal, it’s time to decide which social media platform is best for your ad campaign. Here’s a quick overview of how advertising on each platform works and what to look out for.


Advertising on Instagram


With over 200 million monthly users, Instagram is a great place to start advertising. There’s a pretty high chance your target customers are already on there somewhere!


The great thing about Instagram ads is that you don’t have to spend a lot to be successful! It’s all about planning and being creative with your messaging, design, and placement.


With over 200 million monthly users, Instagram is a great place to start advertising. There’s a pretty high chance your target customers are already on there somewhere!


The great thing about Instagram ads is that you don’t have to spend a lot to be successful! It’s all about planning and being creative with your messaging, design, and placement.


NOTE: You’ll need an Instagram Business Profile to run Instagram ads. Find out how to set one up here.


Here are the different types of Ads available on Instagram:


Instagram Feed Photo and Video Ads


If you’re just getting started with Instagram advertising, choosing to go with a photo or video ad is a good place to start. They look just like regular Instagram posts — flowing right into your target audience’s feed, except they say “Sponsored” in the location field.


When you set up an Instagram ad of any type, you can target specific audiences to ensure that your ad is being shown to the right people. You can target audiences based on location, demographics, interests, behaviour, and more.


Often, the most successful Instagram photo and video ads are eye-catching with a clear and direct message.


Instagram Carousel Ads 


If you’re looking to showcase multiple products at once, Instagram Carousel Ads could be a great option for you.


Equally, you could also showcase one product with several different photos for a richer experience.


You can share up to 10 photos in an Instagram Carousel ad. And just like with photo and video ads, you can set and define and set specific target audiences.



instagram caousel ad

Instagram Stories Ads


500 million people use Instagram Stories every day — so tapping into this engagement hotspot could be a great idea for your business.


If you’re not sure how to create great Instagram Stories, there are a ton of great resources to use. For example, Canva and Over both have quick and easy Instagram Stories templates that you can easily customise for your campaign.


Since Instagram Stories are short in length, it’s important that you’re quick to grab attention. Think, what can you say or show right away that will make my audience stop scrolling?

And, if you have more than 10K followers, make sure your CTA is clear and direct — driving your audience to swipe up.


Instagram Branded Content Ads


If you’re already working with creators or influencers on paid campaigns, you can turn their posts into adverts by using Instagram’s Branded Content tools.


Instagram’s Branded Content tools are a great way to clearly label your paid partnerships, and they also give you valuable insight into how your partner’s content is performing.


If a partner’s post is doing well organically, this could be a great investment opportunity for your brand.


There are 3 main steps for creating branded content ads. First, businesses need to give influencers permission to tag them in branded content posts. Then influencers need to enable their business partners to promote their post as an ad.


Once they do this, the business will be able to see the post in Ads Manager under Existing Posts and can choose to run it as a feed ad.


Instagram Promoted Posts


If you’re looking for a quick and simple way to create an ad on Instagram, you can promote an Instagram post you’ve already shared on your feed. Either pick Instagram’s “similar audience” they pick for you or create your own.


It’s a quick three-step process. Simply select a post or story and tap promote.


From here, you can choose where you’d like the ad to direct people: your Profile, website, or direct message.


Then it’s time to define your audience. You can pick between an automatic audience created by Instagram, creating your own, or you can choose an audience group you’ve created in the past.


Once you’re happy with how it’s looking, pick your budget and duration, review your promotion, and press “Create Promotion”.


Advertising on Facebook


Facebook is a go-to advertising platform with some of the most powerful targeting tools on the market.


And with close to 2.4 billion active monthly users, Facebook is definitely still a marketing opportunity to keep top of mind.


Since Facebook is the parent to Instagram, there is a ton of overlap when it comes to advertising. If you have a pretty good grasp of advertising for Instagram, figuring out the ropes for Facebook shouldn’t be too difficult.


To run ads on Facebook you’ll need to have a Business Account on Facebook. Having a business account gives you access to Facebook Business Manager and Facebook Ad Manager. The all-in-one tool allows you to create ads, manage them, and track how well they’re performing.


Think of Ads Manager as your friend. While it may be intimidating at first glance, it’s here where you can get down to the real nitty-gritty of your Facebook ads.

Facebook has 11 campaign objectives to choose from, with the most common being Brand Awareness, Traffic, and Reach.


Like Instagram, Facebook has plenty of ad formats for you to choose from. You can choose from photos, videos, carousels, collections, stories, and boosted Facebook posts.

After selecting your Facebook ad format, you can choose what type of Facebook users you want to reach.


When you’re in the process of creating your audiences in Ads Manager, you can target based on location, demographics, interests, behaviour, and more.



Facebook ads manager

Be as narrow as possible when you're building your audiences. The more narrow the audience, the better your chance of achieving your goals.  A great way to understand your target audience is by developing audience personas.


You can have fun with this. Gather information about your audience: what do they do in their free time? Where else do they shop? What are their interests?

You can find out this information by digging into your Facebook and website analytics. Think of keywords about their behaviour and lifestyle so you can use the specific words in your targeting.


Advertising on Pinterest


Pinterest isn’t your average social network — it’s more like a visual discovery engine.

But, with the right strategy, advertising on Pinterest could be a great choice for your business.


Since many people typically use Pinterest as a visual discovery engine, advertising on the platform is a great way to reach a large group of people who are using the platform with intent, and oftentimes, a motive to purchase.


NOTE: To start advertising on Pinterest, you’ll need a Pinterest for Business account. Don’t worry if you don’t have one already, you can just convert your existing account!


How To Create Pinterest Ads That Stand Out:


Taking into account that Pinterest is a visual search engine, it’s important to create original Pins that stand out from the crowd!


So to help you get going, here are three ways to ensure your Pins are at the very top of their game.


Pack your Caption with A Punch


Pinterest allows you to use up to 500 characters on your Promoted Pins, but Pinners will only see the first 50-60 characters on their feed. With that, make sure you’re putting the most important and catchy information first.


Keep with the Pinterest Dimensions 


While Pinterest does support ads in many dimensions, they recommend your Pin to be 2:3 (1000 x 1500 pixels). This is the most mobile-friendly dimension and will make your ad stand out.

pinterest ads

Add Clear Text Overlays to your Pins


You want your ads to be eye-catching and on-brand while flowing beautifully into the Pinners’ feed. One of the best ways to do this is by adding clear text overlays. Your text should be easy to read and appeal to your target audience. They should hint at the value your content offers, without being clickbaity or misleading.


According to a study by Pinterest, Pins with a call-to-action in a text overlay drove 6% more sales!


Setting Your Campaign Goals on Pinterest


Like Facebook and Instagram, each ad format on Pinterest is made to meet different campaign objectives. The objectives of Pinterest Advertising are:

  • Brand Awareness

  • Video Views

  • Traffic

  • App Installations

  • Conversions

  • Shopping Catalogues

Here are a few types of ads you can run on Pinterest:


#1: Promoted Photo or Video Pins


Promoted pins look just like regular pins Pinners typically see on Pinterest. They’re great for brand awareness and showcasing products and content in a simple and beautiful way.


#2: Promoted Carousels


Promoted Carousels let you add up to five photos or videos in one single ad. This is great if you want to show off a new collection or a product with a few different features.



#3: Shopping Pins


Shopping pins are great for, you guessed it, shopping. For example, if you’re a clothing company, you can upload products from your catalog and turn them into Pins to reach people when they’re searching to buy.


#4: App Install Pins


App Install pins link to the Apple Store or Google Play app to generate app installs from your audience.


Advertising on Twitter


In between memes and newsworthy moments on Twitter, you can find Promoted Tweets, trends, and accounts.


Compared to other platforms, Twitter’s advertising options may seem limited, but if you know your audience is active on Twitter, it’s a great platform to advertise on.


Twitter has similar advertising objectives to Facebook and Instagram like website clicks, engagement, followers, awareness, and app installs.



twitter ad

When you advertise on Twitter you can promote choose from several options:

Promoted Tweets, Promoted Accounts, Promoted Trends, or you can choose to set up a Campaign. 


Twitter ads are most effective if you know your audience is on the app. Also, it’s a great platform if you’re interested in running very time-specific ads.


How to Create Ads That Convert for Your Brand


Once you’ve decided which platform and ad type is best for your goal, it’s time to get to the drawing board and work on the imagery and language for your ad.


The good news is, you don’t have to be a graphic designer to create stunning graphics for your ad.


There are tons of powerful, easy-to-use, and free design apps out there for you to choose from.


For example, Canva is a great user-friendly tool that has templates not just for Instagram, but all platforms.


Along with creating a great design for your ad, writing a good caption with a strong call-to-action is the cherry on top.


When you’re starting to craft your caption, think about your audience and the platform you’re using.


Some of the most successful ads could be regular organic posts, with the brand’s authentic voice, rather than quick-win gimmicks, at the forefront of the campaign.


And that’s it! You should now have a much better idea of how social media advertising works across Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.


You’re all set to start planning a next-level social media campaign that drives real results for your business or brand!


Ready to jump-start your social media strategy? Get in touch for some free advice on how to get started!

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