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We’ve all seen big brands using social media effectively, but these platforms have lots of potential for small businesses too. Here’s how to get ahead of your competition by using social media advertising.
You might already have business social media accounts that you use to talk to your customers, whether you post photos on Instagram or updates on Facebook. This sort of broad activity is called social media marketing.
Social media advertising, on the other hand, is a paid form of social media marketing. It’s where you create highly targeted adverts to specific audiences in the hope of selling your product or service.
Think about your own social media use. You might recognise social media advertising because the word ‘sponsored’ usually shows up to explain that it’s been paid for by a business.
Each platform has different options to explore. Not all of them will suit your business, so be sure to research which one best fits with your business plan.
Each platform offers different formats for posting your content, for example simple photo ads to video ads and carousel ads (in which your audience can click through a series of products all in the same ad).
Each platform also has advanced tools for tracking performance, which encourages testing and experimentation. While video ads might work well for one business, they could fall flat for another.
So when you’re starting out, it’s useful to take a ‘test and learn’ approach and record your results. Eventually, you’ll have enough data to optimise your ads, from the best time of day to post to the ideal types of content that resonate with your audience.
The death of Facebook has been greatly exaggerated. It has nearly three billion monthly active users. And as it’s one of the earliest social media platforms to be adopted on a big scale, it has lots of data on its users.
This means you can create highly targeted ads for your audience, using details like age, interests, location, and consumer behaviour.
One way to get started using paid Facebook advertising is by boosting an existing post. If you’ve posted something to your business page that’s had a positive reaction already and you’d like it to reach new people, you can click the boost post button.
You can then choose how much you’d like to spend and how long you’d like the post to be boosted.
Otherwise, you can create a brand new ad by clicking the promote button. Then you can set your objectives, budget, and audience.
Meta gives you the ability to run the same ad across Facebook, Facebook Messenger, and Instagram.
Instagram is also owned by Meta, meaning it has similar features to Facebook when it comes to ads.
Of course, Instagram is different in that it’s primarily a platform for photos, imagery, and video.
This means you can run photo, video, carousel and story (a feature that shows images and video in quick succession) ads on the platform.
As with Facebook, you can choose to boost an existing post or create a new ad, and you can get very specific about who you target.
Read more about creating an Instagram ad.
There are a few ways businesses can use paid advertising on Twitter.
You can explore Twitter’s campaigns 101 to get help on setting up your ads, including how to set your goals, audience, and budget.
LinkedIn helps you target people in a professional context. For example, if your ideal customers are other businesses, LinkedIn can help you reach key decision makers.
You can create LinkedIn advertising using LinkedIn’s Campaign Manager.
LinkedIn adverts come in different formats:
As with paid advertising on other social media networks, when setting up your ads you choose your objectives, audience, budget, and format. Then when you’ve gone live with your ad, you can measure its performance.
LinkedIn has resources that explain how to get started with your first ad.
The above are four of the most well-established social media platforms that you can start experimenting with today.
But remember, every social media network is a relatively new tool – and more are springing up all the time. These include (with links to their paid advertising resources):
And of course, don’t forget that YouTube is a social media platform too. Read more about how to make money on YouTube.
As with any advertising, it’s best to go back to basics and write a marketing plan before putting it in motion.
Doing groundwork on your audience and objectives will help you choose the right platform to use for advertising.
Social media advertising costs vary depending on the platform you use and your objectives.
But according to Buffer, the average social media marketing budget is between $200 and $350 a day.
And these are the average costs by platform for the UK, according to Airtasker:
As mentioned above, there’ll be a fair amount of trial and error when advertising on social media for the first time.
When creating your content, it’s worth having a look at how your competitors are using social media ads. What are they doing well and how could you improve on them?
Set up a document that you can add examples to when you see them. Eventually, you should have a set of social media advertising examples that you can refer back to when you’re creating your own.
Plus, keep notes about how you engage with social media ads in your personal life too. What ones do you click on and what ones do you ignore? This should give you inspiration.
Are you considering setting up a social media advertising plan for your business? Let us know in the comments below.
Sam has more than 10 years of experience in writing for financial services. He specialises in illuminating complicated topics, from IR35 to ISAs, and identifying emerging trends that audiences want to know about. Sam spent five years at Simply Business, where he was Senior Copywriter.
We create this content for general information purposes and it should not be taken as advice. Always take professional advice. Read our full disclaimer
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