Your Quick Start Guide to Social Media Advertising

Your Quick Start Guide to Social Media Advertising Featured Image

Don’t give up on social media ads just yet. While organic reach has become more difficult, paid ads can still get you the views and conversions you want.

According to Social@Ogilvy, Facebook started restricting organic reach for brand pages in 2012. Before that, businesses could count on their posts reaching about 16 percent of followers. By 2014, further changes meant brands with more than 500,000 Likes were getting posts to fewer than 2 percent of their followers.

If your small business has become a victim of “Reachpocalypse,” don’t give up on Facebook entirely. Facebook ads and promoted posts, along with ads for Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest, are affordable customer acquisition tools for small companies.

Start With an Objective

Every good ad campaign begins with the answer to this question: What do you want your ad to accomplish? Examples include increasing:

  • Likes and favorites
  • Video views
  • App installs
  • Downloads
  • Event attendance
  • Website visits
  • Conversions on your website
  • Special offer claims

Ads deliver the most ROI in a short period of time when tied to a specific, limited-time objective. Save the biggest chunk of your advertising budget to promote sales, discounts, events, new products, or your most outstanding pieces of content.

Combine social media advertising with a small-business content marketing plan to grow brand awareness, improve conversions, and more.

How to Measure Success

Additionally, decide ahead of time which metrics you’ll use to determine whether you met your objective. The best social media ads get the best outcomes at the lowest cost. Here are some metrics you can examine:

  • Cost per impression. CPM measures how much you paid for each person who saw your ad. This measurement is good if you’re advertising to increase brand awareness.
  • Cost per click. CPC shows how much you spent each time someone clicked your ad. It’s a vital metric for campaigns dedicated to promoting website visits, views, promotional offers, or conversions.
  • Click-through rate. This metric tells you the number of clicks per impression your ad received. A higher CTR means you did a good job of targeting it to an interested audience.
  • Cost per conversion. Cost per conversion tracks how much you paid for each conversion. For example, you could discover how much you paid every time someone downloaded a white paper.

Determine Your Target Audience

If you’ve been in business for a while, you already know a lot about your customers: their age range, gender, interests, and geographic locations. You can display social media ads to people who meet existing customer profiles, and you can tweak your demographics based on a business objective. For example, if you’re advertising a new store grand opening, target your ad toward people fitting your typical customer profile. Target the new store’s location, however, to raise awareness in your new store’s local community.

Create Your Ad

Each social network offers different ad formats. Here’s a look at what’s available:


Although ad setup for Facebook is more complicated than setup for other networks, the ads themselves are simple. Choose between Promoted Posts and right-side ads for desktop and mobile devices.


Promoted Accounts encourage people to follow your account while Promoted Tweets appear before targeted users and tie in with specific conversion goals. Promoted Trends — keeping your hashtag at the top of Twitter’s Trends list — is rumored to cost $200,000 per day.

One free option is to use Twitter Cards to promote your content. Cards add a richer experience when you or others share your content, including images or video and a summary of your link.


LinkedIn works best for B2B businesses needing to target specific companies or employees as potential customers. Choose from one of these options:

  • Premium Display Ads. These ads are shown to the right of a LinkedIn user’s screen.
  • Direct Sponsored Updates. Puts your updates in the feeds of target audience members.
  • Sponsored InMail. Sends marketing emails to target audience members.


Promoted Pins put your most beautiful pins in front of Pinterest users in your target market. Pinterest is also rolling out Buyable Pins, which will allow users to click pins to make an immediate purchase.

No matter which network you choose, your ad needs an irresistible headline and an appealing image. Canva offers gorgeous free social media templates, for both ads and other types of social media images, and you can either upload your own images or choose from Canva’s image library.

Landing Pages

In addition to designing the perfect ad, think about what will happen when visitors click. Send them to a specific page on your website, or create a dedicated landing page. If you’re using ads to generate leads, make sure you have a clear place for prospects to enter their contact information. Then, make it simple to acquire your content asset, whether it’s admission to a webinar or a free e-book.

Set Your Media Budget

Facebook’s minimum spend is $1 per day; on Twitter, the minimum is $.50. LinkedIn requires a $10 minimum daily budget, and you can pay based on ad impressions or direct clicks. Pinterest has a cost-per-click budget, which means you’ll choose the maximum you’ll pay for each click of your Promoted Pin.

If you’re not working with a digital marketing agency, keep your budget low at first. A small budget gives you time to experiment and find your audience. Also, unless you cancel your campaign, social networks will keep using your daily spending amount. Don’t leave your campaign running without monitoring it; your costs could add up quickly.

Review Your Ad’s Performance

Social networks offer dashboards to show how your ad performed. If your ad underperforms, you can change its content or adjust your target audience. Use A/B testing to discover which ads appeal to your audience.

A/B testing compares two versions of the same ad to determine which performs better. For example, you could test social media ads that are identical except for the headline, or try the same copy with different images. As you continuously test your ads, you’ll discover which visual elements and copy your customers find most appealing. When you A/B test, it’s important to create ads that are exactly alike except for one element. If you change more than one element, you can’t identify which specific social media advertising element influenced the customer’s response.

Get Started

Social media ads are affordable and straightforward, which makes them great for beginner-level online advertisers. In the coming months and years, more social networks will offer ads, and existing networks will expand their advertising opportunities. Stay tuned!

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