It’s no secret that a social media presence is important for connecting with consumers and getting the word out about your business these days. There are all sorts of important elements of a successful campaign, such as posting on your page regularly, not being too self-promotional, including images, responding and engaging with followers, sharing a variety of content…of course I could go on. But another helpful way to increase your social media presence is through advertising. Why is this so important and how can you get started? Keep reading to find out!

Why is Social Media Advertising Important?

Digital advertising on a mobile phone.Here’s why you should invest in social media advertising.

Running a social media ad campaign is a fantastic way to reach new users. When you create an ad, you can determine exactly what type of user you want to target and place your content directly in their news feed.

In addition, the cost of running a social media advertising campaign is very cost-effective; you can choose a daily budget or a set amount for the life of the ad, and then the platform will charge you a few cents to a couple of dollars per click. Compared to traditional advertising, the overall cost is much more manageable, especially for tight budgets!

But is social media advertising really effective? Yes, it is! Here’s what recent research shows:

According to Sprout Social:

  • Social media networks are the biggest source of inspiration for consumer purchases with 37 percent of consumers finding purchase inspiration through the channels
  • Social media is the most relevant advertising channel for 50 percent of Gen Z and 42 percent of millennials
  • Non-customers are three times more likely than customers to visit retailers from social media ads
  • 50 percent of consumers said that seeing user-generated content would increase their chances of buying products through a brand’s social media

And according to Hootsuite:

  • 59 percent of global consumers use social media as a source of inspiration for purchases
  • 34 percent use them to receive promotional offers
  • 16 percent will click on a social media ad that is relevant to them
  • 76 percent of U.S. consumers have purchased a product they’ve seen in a brand’s social media post (it’s important to note your conversion rates might not show it: 65 percent of these people purchased the product at a later date and 20 percent of them bought in-store, meaning social is sending foot traffic to brick-and-mortar locations)

Social Media Advertising: What You Need to Know

Initial Advertising Questions

Before you begin your ad campaign, you need to ask yourself a few questions:

Advertising Advertise Branding Commercial Marketing ConceptMake sure your social media advertising is strategic by answering these questions.

  1. What are your goals? Make sure you have SMART goals in mind! They should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely. So, for example, you may want to have a goal of 100 click-throughs, or 20 new page followers.
  2. Where are your target users? Which social media platforms do they use? Facebook continues to be a popular choice, but it’s really important you make the decision based on the consumers you’re trying to reach. If you’re trying to reach millennials, for example, you may want to invest in Instagram ads; if you’re targeting affluent women, Pinterest may be a better fit.
  3. What’s your budget? How much can you invest in social media advertising? While all of the social media platforms allow you to set your own budget and the advertising fees are based on cost per click or impression, there is a pricing difference between the actual social media networks as well as the types of ads you’re running.
  4. What sort of content do you have? Will you need to invest in professional photos or video, which may take funds from your overall budget? This is important to think about up-front.

The Social Media Advertising Process

Once you’ve had a chance to think through the questions above, it’s time to get started!

  1. Define your goal. Are you trying to increase website traffic, page follows, etc.? The results you’re hoping to achieve will drive your calls to action, images, videos, ad format and more.
  2. Define your target audience. In addition to choosing options like geographic location, age and gender, think about their interests. What drives them? Each of the platforms have different options, but most of them allow you to choose job titles, income levels, relationship status, entertainment or dining, etc. The better you can specify your target, the more personalized you can make your ad and the more successful it will be.
  3. Test up front. We always like to start with testing up front. What this means is, you run two virtually identical ads that have one variable so you can see which your target consumers respond best to. You can use different images, different text, different ad formats. There are all sorts of ways you can test your ads to learn what resonates best with the people you’re trying to reach.
  4. Design the creative.
    • Each platform has different video and image specifications, so before you create your ad you’ll want to tailor your visuals to meet their requirements. Sprout Social has a fantastic guide to edit/crop your visuals so they’re the ideal size.
    • Each social media platform also has different specifications as to content length. For example, Twitter limits the character counts much more than Facebook or LinkedIn. Before you write your ad’s copy, check out the character count limits you’ll be working with so you don’t need to change the text you carefully crafted once you’re uploading the ad.
  5. Begin your ads. If you’re A/B testing, we recommend letting them run for 5-7 days and then reviewing which ad is resonating better and putting more money behind that one. In general, we recommend changing up your social media ads every 2-3 weeks so they don’t get stale in users’ feeds.
  6. Review the results and compare. The more ads you can run, and the more results you can compare, the more you can start to see trends regarding which types of ads resonate best for your company.

Social Media Advertising Tips & Tricks

Here are some helpful advertising tips and tricks to keep in mind:

Stamp with Tips & Tricks written on it.Follow these tips & tricks for a successful social media advertising campaign.

  • Remember the call to action! How do you want them to respond to your ad? This is your call to action! If you can entice them with something of value (such as a special discount or giveaway), even better.
  • Use clear, crisp visuals.
  • Update your ad content every several weeks; if the ads are showing up in the same users’ feeds, you don’t want it to get stale!
  • Put the most compelling information first since that’s what will draw users’ attention
  • Be relevant and timely.
  • Don’t use too many words in your visuals – in fact, Facebook only allows you to cover 20 percent of the image with text
  • Consider including user-generated content to add a personal touch to the ads – just make sure you have permission from the user first!
  • Include hashtags in your ads (remember each platforms’ best practices when you do this)
  • Keep the mobile user in mind! Remember 90 percent of social media users are accessing the platform on their phones and tablets, so make sure the ads are compelling on these devices as well
  • Create a landing page for your website specifically for social media users that click on your ad; creating a custom page allows you to target the first page they see on your website to reference the ad’s content or something specific they may be interested in
  • Remember to review analytics regularly; if you don’t look at what works and fine-tune your ads, you’re wasting your hard-earned dollars