Social Media Advertising

A Beginner’s Guide to Social Media Advertising

Social media giants Pinterest & Instagram have announced that they will be offering Paid Advertising through their platforms, with the addition of ‘Buy It’ and ‘Shop Now’ buttons.

It has been clear for years now, that social media is becoming one of the leading forces in the marketing and advertising industry, with many organisations turning to various social media networks to promote their company. Social Media advertising is not only is a fantastic way to build rapport with existing and potential customers, it’s also a great method of promoting your brand and displaying the content which your company creates.

But with every positive aspect of various marketing strategies, there are negative factors, which come into play. When you are starting out on your social media advertising campaign it can be a difficult challenge, not in terms of creating the ad or even creating the content for it. One of the hardest decisions is making sure you advertise on the most appropriate network, which is relevant to your strategy and most importantly your audience.

To help you with your decision we’re going to weigh out the pros and cons for each of the main social advertising platforms:


1) Instagram

Instagram logoEven though advertising is a relatively new feature to Instagram, there has already been some noticeable benefits from using this platform, as it can be a powerful source of traffic. With a reported higher level of engagement than Facebook and Twitter, it has potential in terms of increasing your site’s visibility, especially if you are creating interesting and unique content.

The use of Instagram marketing has the potential reach of 200 million active users and with the recent integration with Facebook means companies will be able to leverage the power of Instagram to a larger scope of potential customers.

This will also help improve your ad targeting, as it will be using user information on a Facebook page: (like age, gender and location etc) but will also be using statistics based on what users are “liking”.

Although Instagram ads are currently only available to selected brands, Instagram will be adding a “Buy it now” button way of advertising that will be open to businesses of all sizes.  This is likely to be a popular way of advertising, especially if you take into consideration all of the targeting points made above.

The main downside to Instagram advertising is that their users don’t like them! The feeling behind it is that they have found a social network where they are not bombarded with advertisements and now they have noticed a few popping up, there has been a bit of a backlash, which can be seen in this case study.


2) Facebook

Facebook LogoFacebook has the largest audience of social network users at a staggering 1.19 billion, meaning that the potential with Facebook advertising is huge. This social network would make a fitting choice for smaller businesses, purely down to the demographic size of the site. This is because it gives you the option to advertise based on location and you can then easily increase your potential reach. This is the complete opposite to LinkedIn and is a great way for small businesses to be very cost-effective.

Another beneficial aspect when using Facebook ads is advanced targeting options available. When you are advertising on Facebook, you can target viewers based on six different categories: gender, location, relationship status, likes/interests, education and workplace.

Facebook also allow you to create your own form of A/B testing and they you create multiple ad variations of this. It then choose the best performing ad set from those variations. This gives you very valuable information, in relation to how effective each of ads are for your company.

The major downside to advertising with Facebook is reporting, as the metrics which Facebook usually provides, in relation to the advertisements performance are quite miniscule in comparison to other social networking sites.


3) Twitter

Twitter logoTwitter allows you to focus your target market based on their current hobbies, views and interests. Every time someone sends a tweet with a hashtag included, you have the ability to target them and respond to that Tweet. It is a very similar technique to keyword targeting on Google AdWords, but just in a social media marketing campaign.

Alternatively there is another way you can effectively target a certain audience on Twitter and this is by honing in on a particular user. For example, if you end up finding someone who has a huge influence in a particular industry you can then target their list of followers to extend your ad’s potential reach.

Although Twitter has great potential and ability to target users through a number of keywords and hashtags, targeting by views and interests does not happen immediately. It can be a very difficult and time consuming process, as there is a huge selection of interests and content to choose from. These can be extremely limited and sometimes discovering a particular interest like B2B inbound marketing agency, the closest you will get to it is the term “Marketing”, which doesn’t help a great deal, as it is such a huge industry.

Don’t let this faze you too much because Twitter has the potential of becoming a fantastic channel to advertise on, but only when they finally expand their categories for advertising, but until then, we will have to just get on with it!


4) LinkedIn

linkedin logoA huge benefit of using LinkedIn as marketing tool is the user base, which includes huge demographic of aspiring graduates and business professionals. Your advertisements are pretty much always seen, whether this is consciously and subconsciously by business minded individuals and people, who are looking to get on the career ladder. This makes it a social media platform with vast potential, in terms of the chance of high conversion rates. In some aspects it is very similar to Facebook, as you focus and target your ad, to particular niche groups in various categories. For example the employee title, location and demographics.

The downside of using LinkedIn is the hefty costs of running an ad campaign. It’s normal to pay around £2-£3+ per click. Although, it may not be a great deal to your company or if you think it is worth it it does have repercussions. This is because even though you are reaching a professional and higher quality audience you maybe ignoring those who are not interested immediately.

Another downside  is that you can’t expect a high amount of click-through-rate for your ad. Although, while you will obtain less overall clicks on LinkedIn, the users who are behind those clicks tend to be slightly more qualified than they are on the other social media channels.  On Facebook, you may get as many as 1 in 300 impressions; on LinkedIn, it’s common to receive 1 in 500.


5) Google+

google+ logoGoogle+ has a lot smaller audience than Facebook or Twitter, (around the 540 million mark), but when advertising is done correctly, it can prove to be a really cost effective strategy. Google+ advertising takes into account businesses that you already have in your circles when choosing which ads to show, rather than simply opening it up to an auction.

An example of this is if someone was in your “circle” then your company’s page will be visible  before any others that are not in their circles. When people are using Facebook or Twitter it tends to be slightly more personal – in comparison to Google+ users, who tend to be more tech savvy. This could be the perfect social media platform to use and could be a huge benefit to implement your marketing tactics here. But we recommend you only use this method if it is the right audience for you.

One of Google+’s features are the use of “+Post ads”, these are posted on Google’s Display Network. This ultimately increases the reach of your advertisements, so is a great tactic for brand awareness campaigns.

One of the best aspects, from a company’s perspective of advertising with Google+ is that the advertiser doesn’t need to pay for the ad, if no one actually clicks on it. This is because you only pay for as many clicks it receives during the campaign, in a similar way to CPC bidding through Google Adwords.

The big issue with Google+ advertising is  that if you hover your mouse over the advertisement for more than two seconds, Google can can actually count as a click. This makes Google+ advertising  a risky method but one which can pay off for you and your organisation.

Another issue with Google+ advertising is that it does not support targeting options & its promotional policies are extremely restrictive. Other social networks are hugely successful for the contests, promotions and giveaways – Google+ doesn’t allow any of this; therefore if you’re looking to build conversation around promotions, then this isn’t the channel for you.


So, what can we take from this? Well, what we do know is that paying for social media advertising can be a huge beneficial method for you and your business. Just ensure you take into consideration what results you wish to receive from these campaigns and who you wish to target. Combining these methods along with various other inbound marketing methods can really take your business to the next step and helps you leave the competition behind.

If you still feel uncertain regarding any of the points made in this post, please feel free to get in touch with Sam today as he is happy to answer any questions you may have.


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