Social media advertising has changed the marketing and advertising world by making it easier than ever for businesses to reach their target audience. With billions of active users across platforms, social media advertising offers a level playing field to reach a vast audience and build brand awareness. 

In this blog post, we will explore social media advertising and the different types of ads and discuss best practices for creating effective social media ad campaigns that drive results.

What is social media advertising?

Social media advertising helps businesses target users across social media platforms. It usually involves formats like sponsored posts, display ads, and video ads to reach a targeted audience on social media.

With social media ads, you can target specific demographics, interests, behaviors, and locations, making it a highly effective and efficient way to reach potential customers. Businesses can also track and analyze the performance of their campaigns, including metrics such as clicks, impressions, and conversions. This helps them optimize their advertising strategy and achieve better results.

Social media ads are an essential component of all major digital marketing campaigns. They prove to be an effective solution to build brand awareness, drive traffic, generate leads, and increase sales through targeted and measurable campaigns on social media.

social media guide

Why invest in social media advertising?

Investments in social media advertisements have constantly been increasing for the past few years. If you run a business, it’s natural to wonder if it’s worth your investment. Let’s look at some of the widespread social media advertising benefits, and you’ll have your answers. 

Brand awareness

Billions of active users exist across social media platforms, and advertising can help businesses reach a larger audience than traditional advertising methods. The engagement on social media ads increases the ads’ visibility and helps create a buzz around the brand.

Better targeting 

Social media advertising allows for precise targeting based on demographics, interests, behaviors, and other categories defined by the business. This means that you can tailor their ads to reach their ideal audience. This targeted approach leads to higher conversion rates and, ultimately, better return on investment. 

Valuable insights 

Social media ads are a fantastic way for businesses to gain valuable insights. 

It allows businesses to reach their audience with greater accuracy. By analyzing the performance of their ad campaigns, businesses gain insights into who their most valuable customers are. This allows them to adjust their advertising strategy accordingly.

Social media ads also provide data on ad engagement across their campaigns. You can analyze these metrics and understand which ad formats and messaging are most effective at engaging your audience.

Image of the insights available from social media platforms for a business


Finally, social media advertising is more cost-effective than traditional advertising channels such as TV, print, and radio. Social media ads offer targeted audiences, flexible budgeting, real-time optimization, and multiple ad formats. 

The insights from social media platforms allow businesses to run ads that will bring higher leads and conversions. This ensures that overall customer acquisition costs are kept low and all campaigns are well-optimized. 

Types of social media ads

Each social media platform offers various advertising types businesses can leverage according to their requirements. Here’s a list of all social media ads available across popular channels. 

Sponsored content

Sponsored content is a social media ad that appears in users’ feeds and looks like regular content. This type of content blends in with organic content to attract users. Sponsored content can be in the form of images, videos, or text.

Available on: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Display  ads 

Display ads appear on the side or bottom of users’ screens while browsing a social media platform. These ads come in the form of images or videos. 

Available on:  Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Video ads

Video ads use video content to promote a brand’s content, products, or services. These types of ads can be pre-roll ads (ads that play at the start of an organic video), in-stream ads, story ads, or reel ads. They can be set to autoplay or user-initiated, depending on the platform. 

Available on:  Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat, TikTok, and LinkedIn.

Carousel ads allow businesses to showcase multiple products or services in a single ad. They may also take the form of a scrollable slideshow. You can include images, videos, or both in your ad design. 

Available on: Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

Collection ads 

Collection ads let businesses showcase their products in a visually immersive way. These ads usually are in the form of a full-screen experience, and they can include both images and videos.

Available on: Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and LinkedIn.

Sponsored filters and lenses

Sponsored filters and lenses use augmented reality technology to create an interactive user experience. They are usually in the form of face filters, and they usually feature the brand’s logo, unique branding style, new product, or a service to engage the users. 

Available on: Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok. 

Messenger ads

Messenger ads appear within the Messenger app. You can run these ads using images, videos, or carousels. Brands can use them to start a conversation, run promotional campaigns, generate leads, and other such purposes. 

Available on: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter (Direct messages) and LinkedIn(InMail).

Ads on stories

Ads on stories appear within the stories feature on social media platforms, wherever available. These ads can be in the form of images, videos, or carousels, and are considered to  be immersive and engaging. Ads on stories are typically short and can be used to build brand awareness or encourage users to take a specific action.

Available on: Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. 

Shop ads 

Social media platforms allow businesses to create a digital storefront with their profiles to showcase their offerings. Businesses can use ads to promote their products within these storefronts, directing users to specific product pages or encouraging them to purchase.

These ads can appear in users’ feeds, stories, explore, and reels. They are great for businesses looking to drive sales and showcase their products to their target audience.

Available on: Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. 

Social media advertising cost

While social media ads are an attractive option to grow your business, investing in a new channel may be overwhelming, especially with dynamic costs. Social media ad costs are not as fixed as other traditional channels, but that is not necessarily bad. 

In social media, you may pay based on your goals and results, helping you run campaigns even on a tight budget. 

The cost of advertising on social media platforms can vary with the platform, ad format, target audience, ad placement, bidding strategy, and competition.

Generally, social media advertising follows a bidding system where you bid on the price you are willing to pay for the ads to be shown to your target audience. You bid for cost-per-click (CPC), cost-per-thousand-impressions (CPM), or cost-per-action (CPA), depending on the ad format and platform.

According to recent social media advertising statistics by Webfx, on Facebook, the average CPC for an ad is around $0.97, while the average CPM is around $7.19. On Instagram, the average CPC is around $3.56, while the average CPM is around $7.91. On Twitter, the average CPC is around $0.38, while the average CPM is around $6.46.

However, these are just average costs, and the actual cost can vary widely depending on the abovementioned factors. Set a budget, and continuously monitor and optimize your campaigns to achieve the best results while staying within the budget.

Social media advertising strategy 

We know quite a bit about social media advertising, but you may still have questions: How to advertise on social media? What are the processes involved in creating a social media advertising strategy and seeing it to completion? 

Here are the general steps to follow to advertise on social media:

  1. Set your advertising objectives: Define what you want to achieve with your social media advertising campaign. This could be to increase brand awareness, drive website traffic, generate leads, or boost sales.
  2. Choose the right social media platform: Based on your advertising objectives and target audience, choose the social media platform(s) that best align with your business goals and audience.
  3. Define your target audience: Use the targeting options the social media platform provides to define your target audience. The better your targeting is, the sooner you will see results for your efforts.
  4. Select your ad format: Choose the type that best suits your advertising objectives and target audience. This could be image ads, video ads, carousel ads, stories ads, or any other ad format available on the social media platform.
  5. Design your budget and bidding strategy: Determine how much you can spend on your social media advertising campaign and set your budget accordingly. Choose your bidding strategy based on your advertising objectives and target audience.
  6. Create your ad content: Develop compelling content that reels in your target audience and motivates them to take the desired action.
  7. Launch your ad campaign: Once you have created your ad content, set up your ad targeting, budget, and bidding, and launch your ad campaign.
  8. Monitor and optimize your ads: Continuously monitor the performance of your ad campaign and make adjustments as needed to improve its effectiveness and achieve your advertising objectives.

Best social media advertising examples by platform 

Facebook advertising

Facebook provides various advertising options that can benefit businesses of all industries and sizes. However, certain businesses can benefit more from advertising on Facebook, such as e-commerce, local, B2B, service-based, and app-based businesses. Here are some ad examples that do well on Facebook: 

  • E-commerce businesses can drive sales with Facebook’s product catalog and dynamic ads. Facebook’s targeting capabilities make it an excellent platform for local businesses to promote local deals and events. 
  • B2B businesses can target decision-makers and professionals based on job titles, company size, and other factors. 
  • Service-based businesses, such as law firms or financial advisors, can generate leads and connect with potential clients using Facebook’s lead-generation ads. 
  • App-based businesses can promote apps and drive downloads with Facebook’s app install ads.

Here’s an example of a carousel ad on Facebook from “Our Place” that highlights their products and allows customers to shop from an extensive range right from the ad itself.

Screenshots of a carousel ad placed by a brand "Our Place" on Facebook to promote their products.

This brand awareness campaign from Hart tools is also a great example of a Facebook ad done right. The brand kept it simple and used engaging visuals to grab attention with a simple value proposition in the copy. 

Screenshot of a Facebook ad by HART tools to promote their brand by displaying their customer experience.

Instagram advertising

Instagram is a visually-driven platform that businesses can leverage to promote their brand to a large audience. If you’re looking for ideas for your Instagram ads, here is a quick list of ideas for reference: 

  • E-commerce businesses can drive sales with Instagram’s shoppable posts and ads, while lifestyle brands like fashion, beauty, and fitness benefit from Instagram’s focus on visual and user-generated content. 
  • Travel businesses can showcase beautiful locations and attract potential customers through Instagram Stories and IGTV features. 
  • Food and beverage businesses can promote their menu items and specials using Instagram Stories, Reels, and sponsored posts. 
  • Instagram’s creative nature also makes it an ideal platform for promoting creative businesses like graphic design, photography, and advertising.
Example of an Instagram carousel ad that uses images and videos to promote their brand's offerings.

It’s the best of both worlds in this Instagram ad, with this high-end shoe brand using both images and videos in this carousel ad to capture its audience. 

Twitter advertising 

Twitter is a highly interactive platform that can benefit all industries’ businesses through its advertising features. Some popular use cases for Twitter ads are: 

  • B2B companies can connect with potential partners or clients and share industry news and insights. 
  • Technology businesses can use Twitter to promote their products or services, engage with customers, and provide customer support. 
  • News and media organizations can utilize the platform to quickly spread breaking news, generate buzz, and promote their brand. 
  • Entertainment businesses can leverage Twitter to promote movies, TV shows, and other content to raise awareness around new releases. 
  • Finally, sports organizations can engage with fans, share news, and promote events using the platform’s real-time nature, which is particularly effective for sports-related content.

A hook and powerful visual on Twitter is essential for gaining your audience’s attention. In this example by Nissan, we can see how the poll and powerful image has made it a successful piece of content. 

A Twitter ad by Nissan that shows the brand using polls and images to capture the attention of their audience.

LinkedIn advertising 

LinkedIn is a professional networking platform that businesses and professionals use. Some examples of businesses that could benefit from advertising on LinkedIn include: 

  • B2B businesses that want to connect with other businesses 
  • Recruiting and staffing firms looking to find potential candidates 
  • Professional services firms like law or consulting firms 
  • Higher education institutions that want to connect with potential students 
  • Non-profit organizations looking to connect with donors, volunteers, and advocates

The LinkedIn audience looks for value in every brand interaction. This advertisement by MBAF piques the audience’s interest and reels them in with a few snippets from the report. This technique ensures the ad successfully drives clicks, website visits, and downloads. 

TikTok advertising 

TikTok is a platform favored by the younger audience, mainly Gen Z. It also helps businesses reach a large audience quickly. So, if you’re starting and want to boost brand awareness and capture the interest of your target base quickly, TikTok ads are the way to go. Some popular use cases for TikTok ads are:

  • Businesses that sell fashion, beauty, food, and beverage products can leverage TikTok to promote their products to a younger audience. 
  • Gaming and entertainment brands can engage with the platform’s large gaming community. 
  • Sports and fitness brands can create engaging content around workouts, challenges, and fitness tips. 
  • Brands offering education and e-learning products or services can leverage TikTok to create engaging content around learning tips, study strategies, and educational trends for younger professionals and students. 

This ad by Liquid IV leverages content by other popular creators (created in collaboration with the brand) for higher engagement. Since it’s different from other advertisements, TikTok users are more likely to interact with the content. Don’t miss the brand’s response to individual comments that played a major role in the ad’s success. 

An example of a TikTok ad where the brand is using content created by popular creators to promote its products

Snapchat advertising

Snapchat can be an excellent platform for businesses targeting a younger demographic. Businesses with a strong visual aesthetic, younger target audience, and from industries such as   fashion, beauty, food, entertainment, and technology can benefit from Snapchat ads. 

You can use images, videos, collection ads, and carousels on Snapchat to attract the young user base. 

Consider the ad by Drinkfinity below. The clean aesthetics and strong product spotlight make it a very attractive ad on Snapchat. 

A Snapchat ad by Drinkfinity that uses a specific color scheme to appeal to its audience.

Pinterest advertising 

Brands with strong visual appeal and aspirational quality, such as fashion, beauty, home decor, travel, and food, would benefit from advertising on Pinterest. As Pinterest has a largely female user base, businesses that target a predominantly female audience are also known to find success by running ads here.  

Retail businesses featuring their products in a visually attractive design can use Pinterest ads to drive traffic to their website and increase sales. 

Take a look at this sample Pinterest feed below. These pins or images have a vital visual component and appeal to the audience that mainly uses the platforms. Designing similar ads can help you grow immensely on Pinterest. 

Example of Pinterest feed to show that the use of captivating visuals is important for a successful ad campaign on the platform

Tips for advertising on social media  

An average person sees thousands of ads every single day, and a majority of them are on social media platforms. For a business to successfully reach its target audience and make a significant return on its investment, its social media ads would have to stand out. 

So how do you create social media ads that grab everyone’s attention and compel them to click? 

Here are a few tips for you:

Have a clear strategy

Begin with a well-defined social media advertising strategy that aligns with your overall business goals and is tailored to your target audience. Running ads on social media can be expensive and time-consuming, but it will not yield substantial results without a strategy. 

Before launching any advertising campaign, make sure that you know the campaign goals, and target clicks, have a plan to engage with your audience, and are ready to experiment as the need arises. 

Related read: Reinforce your brand value with a social media strategy 

Design compelling and creative ad content

Creating visually appealing and engaging ad content that resonates with your target audience is vital. This grabs the users’ attention and is pivotal in stopping them from scrolling past your ad. 

To design compelling social media ads:

Use high-quality visuals

High-quality images or videos are essential to grab the viewer’s attention and make your ad stand out. Ensure your visuals are clear, appealing, and relevant to your ad’s message.

Keep it simple

Don’t overcrowd your ad with too much information or too many visuals. Keep the design simple and easy to understand. The less time your audience spends decoding the message, the more likely they will click and interact further with your ad. 

Use contrasting colors

Contrasting colors make your ad stand out from the platform’s background color. Make sure the colors you use are on-brand and complement your ad’s message. You can also choose colors that are trending, resonate well with your audience, and are sure to stand out. 

Use typography effectively

Use typography to emphasize key messages and make your ad visually appealing. Make sure your font choice is easy to read and consistent with your brand’s identity.

Incorporate branding elements

Incorporate your logo and brand colors to create consistency across your ad and social media profiles. Place them prominently on your social media ads. This way, even when social media users do not interact with your ads, they still have a heightened awareness of your brand. 

Optimize for mobile

Most social media users access the platform on mobile devices, so ensure your ad is optimized for mobile viewing. Use clear, easy-to-read fonts within your designs, and make sure your visuals and text are sized appropriately.

Experiment with different ad formats

Each social media platform offers a variety of social media ad options for you to choose from. While a specific ad type may have worked for you in the past, it’s essential not to limit yourself. 

Experiment with different ad formats, such as the carousel or video ads, to see what works best for your audience and message. Each ad format appeals to a different audience and can help you improve your brand’s reach and impressions and generate higher leads. 

Engage with your audience

Social media users often use these platforms to communicate with their favorite brands. So, it’s essential to actively engage your audience on social media by responding to comments and messages. 

This will help you build a strong connection with your followers and could increase loyalty.

Monitor the comments on your social media ads and make sure that your team is ready to interact and help your audience promptly.

Frequently asked questions about social media advertising  

How much does it cost to advertise on social media?

The cost to advertise on social media varies depending on the type of ad, platform, industry segment, and advertising goal. You can check average cost benchmarks before advertising on social media for reference. 

Is social media advertising effective?

Yes, social media advertising is known to help businesses generate leads, improve brand awareness, influence purchase decisions, and connect with potential customers across platforms. 

How does social media advertising work?

Social media advertising helps businesses find their target audience through these platforms and deliver their message by running paid ads.

What are the best ways to advertise on social media?

Some of the best ways to advertise on social media are to run product ads, share reviews, create engaging video ads, and boost your well-performing content to reach a larger audience.

Grow your social media profile with Birdeye 

Social media has become essential for all businesses to achieve their marketing goals. You can increase brand awareness, generate leads, drive traffic, and boost sales with the right strategy. 

With Birdeye Social, you can monitor all your social media accounts, publish content across platforms, engage with your audience, track brand mentions, and share positive reviews automatically from a single dashboard. 
Watch our free demo to learn how Birdeye can help you grow your social media presence.

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