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 regularly, not being too self-promotional, including images, responding and engaging with followers, posting 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 important and how can you get started? Keep reading to find out!

Why is Social Media Advertising Important?

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 for small businesses!

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

According to

  • 78% of social marketers surveyed said they’re either very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with the value Facebook Ads provide.
  • Users who saw Facebook ads were more likely to search and click through to an advertiser’s website, with campaigns experiencing an average 6.3% lift in mobile search traffic.
  • 60% of participants in a study indicated they’ve purchased from a business because of something they saw on Twitter.
  • 43% of surveyed Twitter users plan to purchase regularly from the businesses they follow.

According to LinkedIn’s Marketing Solutions Blog:

  • 80% of North American brands agree or strongly agree that social media advertising is cost effective and provides ROI.
  • 44% of small and medium businesses use social ads for brand awareness.
  • 41% of small and medium businesses use social ads to drive revenue.

How to Run a Social Media Advertising Campaign

Initial Advertising Questions

Before you being your ad campaign, you need to ask yourself a few 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? If you’re a business-to-consumer company trying to reach millennials, for example, you may want to invest in Instagram ads; if you’re a business-to-business enterprise looking to reach decision-makers, LinkedIn may be a better fit.
  3. What’s your budget? How much can you invest in social media advertising? If you’re trying to decide between LinkedIn and Twitter and your budget is really limited, you may want to focus on Twitter as their cost per clicks are much lower than LinkedIn. Or, if you have some wiggle room, you may want to run ads on both platforms for a week or two and then look at results to better-target future ads.
  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! Although each social media platform is a little bit different, the general principles and structure of a campaign stay the same from one ad manager to the next. When you log into your account, click on the “ad manager” and then follow the step-by-step instructions. Here’s what the general process will look like.

  1. Select your goal. Are you trying to increase website traffic, page follows, etc? Choose the option from the list provided.
  2. Select target user demographics. In addition to choosing options like geographic location, age and gender, each ad platform will have a list of interests that you can select from. This data comes from information the user has shared on their profile or shown an interest in through their account and can be anything from job title, income level and relationship status to what the user eats or drinks, watches on TV or hobbies they do in their free time. The better you can specify your target, the more personalized you can make your ad and the more successful it will be.
  3. Set your budget. Make sure you specify if the number you put in is the budget for each day or for the life of the ad.
  4. Set your schedule. Put in the dates you want the ad to run. You can actually put in the exact time you want the ad to stop running, which is a great way to run a time-sensitive campaign, such as for an event or a special sale; this way you don’t need to remember to log into the ad manager and stop the ad at a particular day and time.
  5. Upload your content.
    1. 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. Hubspot has a fantastic guide to edit/crop your visuals so they’re the ideal size.
    2. 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. Rackspace has a helpful post to provide some guidelines to follow.
  6. Double check everything. I always like to click through the ad previews and make sure the ad will appear the way I want it to when users see it in their social media feeds. The ad previews allow you to see how content will appear to users on their desktop, tablet or smart phone devices.
  7. Review the results and compare. One of the best ways to figure out which ads work well for your business is to experiment. Try running two ads for the same period of time. After a week or two, compare the results. Which one(s) received more clicks or engagement? Then try running another campaign with the one that performed best and a third ad, then compare and contrast the results. 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:

  • Remember the 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.
  • Run split tests; in addition to comparing and contrasting ad results as I explained above, consider running a couple of ads with identical copy and different images at the same time for another way to discover which visuals resonate best
  • Don’t use too many words in your visuals – in fact, Facebook only allows you to cover 20% 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 more than 80% 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.

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