Paid Social Media: A Complete Guide for Advertising Success 📣

  • Social Media
Contra Tips
· 8 min read

Learn all the tips and steps needed to create paid social media advertisements that enhance brand awareness and increase content engagement.

As an Independent, failing to find consistent clients could lead to closing your doors. 

Back in the day, you’d scour physical job boards and pay for newspaper ads hoping these limited tactics were successful, since there weren't many advertising media options. 

But gone are the days of chasing down clients and customers — now, you can let them come to you with paid social media advertising. In this guide, we’ll explain everything you need to know about why social media ads work and how to create effective ones.

What’s paid social media advertising? 💰

Paid social media advertising involves paying a social platform to promote your content or brand using influencer-generated content, pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, or display ads. 

You’ll typically include social advertising in your overall marketing strategy to help promote brand awareness and content engagement — both of which often lead to increased revenue. 

The most popular platforms for paid social media advertising are:

  • Facebook, which boasts more than 3 billion users.
  • X (formerly Twitter), which has about 528 million monthly users.
  • Instagram, which has almost every user following at least one brand and 2 billion users, making paid advertising really pay off.

How do social media ads work? 🤔

Social media ads are platform-dependent, but one thing they share is audience targeting. Here are two other common advertising features: 

  • Campaign objectives: Most social media platforms allow you to choose an objective for the campaign, like increasing reach (awareness), generating leads (engagement), and improving conversions (sales). 
  • Auction-style costs: Platforms like Instagram use PPC, with the platform's algorithm using past performance, maximum bids, and ad quality criteria to decide on costs and placements. 

Benefits of social media advertising ✅

Social media advertising offers a few unique benefits that make it wildly popular compared to website-based advertising. Here are a few excellent reasons to jump on the bandwagon: 

  • Increased brand awareness: Through strategic paid social media campaigns, you can directly showcase your brand to a finely-tuned target audience. But keep in mind that the secret sauce is compelling content — without it, engagement might be underwhelming.
  • Dynamic audience targeting: The beauty of social ads? Real-time adaptability. Monitor reach, link clicks, and follower growth on the fly. If something's off, most platforms offer the flexibility to quickly recalibrate target parameters.
  • Comprehensive analytics: With social media platforms, you're not just getting raw data but a wealth of insights about your followers at a faster pace than traditional online ads. Just ensure you set and monitor precise KPIs. Post-campaign, revel in a comprehensive analysis, from view-to-follow ratios to intricate audience engagement metrics, including peak activity periods and profile dwell times.
  • Increased access to mobile users: Reaching mobile users isn't a choice — it's imperative. With the surging growth of mobile device users and social media enthusiasts each year, positioning your brand on these platforms ensures you remain relevant and engaged in this digital era.

When should you invest in paid social media ads? ⌚

If you’ve just created a social media account or want to start a digital marketing agency, investing in paid social media ads is a great way to build initial awareness. Many social media users use platforms to find service and product-providers, so increasing brand awareness on these platforms is a great way to capture your audience’s attention. You can start by defining key buyer personas and creating targeted ads for varying audiences, perhaps A/B testing different ad tactics to see what’s most effective. 

And most marketing-savvy brands use paid social media ads when they reach a growth plateau. You can leverage your existing audience to target a "lookalike" audience, ensuring continued growth since you know that audience already resonates with your brand or content. 

How much do social media ads cost? 💵

Social media advertising costs depend on the platform used, ad duration, and bidding strategy. Here are a few cost comparisons using average CPC (cost-per-click) and average CPM (cost-per-mile) at the time of writing:

  • X (formerly Twitter) ad: Average CPC is $0.38, average CPM is $6.46.
  • Facebook ad: Average CPC is $0.97, average CPM is $7.19.
  • TikTok ad: Average CPC is $1, average CPM is $6.06.
  • Snapchat ad: CPC not available, average CPM is $2.19.
  • Pinterest ad: Average CPC is $1.50, average CPM is $3.50.
  • YouTube ad: Average CPC is $3.21, average CPM is $9.68.
  • Instagram ad: Average CPC is $3.56, average CPM is $7.91.
  • LinkedIn ad: Average CPC is $5.26, average CPM is $6.59.

And the bidding strategies you might encounter include: 

  • Cost-per-conversion: Someone downloads a resource or visits the landing page link provided in the ad.
  • Cost-per-app-install: Someone installs the app linked in the ad.
  • Cost-per-video-view: Someone watches the video (some platforms consider a view to be three seconds, while others choose 30 seconds).
  • Cost-per-follower: Someone clicks the ad’s follow button.
  • Cost-per-engagement: Someone comments on or likes the ad’s content.

How to create a paid social media ad: 4 steps📱

To ensure your social media ad campaign is effective from the get-go, we've compiled four steps to help you get started.

1. Define your objective 📝

Every ad has a mission — what's yours? Whether you want to amplify your reach, boost website visits, or gain referrals, your objective serves as your campaign's compass. 

Also consider the part of the audience marketing journey your objective aligns with: awareness, consideration, conversion, or nurturing. Boosting website visits might require increasing awareness, and gaining referrals likely requires nurturing current clients.

2. Familiarize yourself with your audience 👪

Constructing a powerful ad starts with truly understanding its intended recipients. Delve into the heart of your audience with three core queries: 

  1. Who exactly are they in terms of demographics? 
  2. What are their underlying desires or intent when on social platforms? 
  3. What roadblocks hinder them, paving the way for your product/service to be the solution? 

And don't forget the art of retargeting — it’s like giving your ad strategy an espresso shot.

3. Choose a platform ⚖️

Your platform choice isn't just about content format — it's about aligning with the core spirit of the site. While TikTok's lively pulse beats for organic content, Facebook's rhythm often welcomes more direct promotional beats. Recognize which platform your audience favors, as this decision can make or break your ad's success rate.

4. Create ad content 🧑‍🎨

With platform and audience insights in hand, it's showtime. Design content that's not just platform-aligned but also speaks to your audience and caters to every stage of the sales funnel. Glean inspiration from social media advertising examples from trailblazing brands, dissecting their ad strategies. But don’t just mimic — innovate. Dive into your niche's ad pool to take what’s working, leave what’s not, and mix in your brand’s personality to offer a unique advertising experience that makes you stand out.

4 social media advertising tips 💯

Now that you know how to create a great social media ad, here are a few tips to get the most out of your advertising strategy:

  • Craft organic ad experiences: In the noisy world of social media, authenticity reigns supreme. When ads transcend mere sales pitches to become entertaining and valuable, audiences lean in, engage, and most importantly, trust you. Folks frequent these platforms for amusement and connection, so an overly salesy approach may fall flat or irk users.
  • Leverage user-generated content: Let your loyal customers do the talking. Their genuine testimonials and endorsements serve as potent social proof, weaving a compelling narrative that resonates deeply with potential clients. When real people vouch for you, credibility skyrockets.
  • Conduct A/B testing: Don't just guess, experiment. Periodically craft dual versions of an ad, tweaking imagery or copy, and see which strikes a chord with your audience. By contrasting performances, you refine your approach, ensuring that your marketing isn't just shooting in the dark but is laser-focused on what truly resonates.
  • Be creative: When trying to stand out on someone's feed, mediocrity fades, but creativity sticks. Given the visual-centric nature of these platforms, crafting striking, eye-catching ads is paramount. You need to tell a visual story that’s exciting and memorable. 

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