Social Media / Social Media Advertising: A beginner’s guide

Social Media Advertising: A beginner’s guide

Andy Thorne
graphic collage with a mobile phone screen with social media icons

Social media is still a powerful way to grow your business. Especially if you get the right mix of organic (free) posts and ads to build sales leads. This beginner’s guide to social media advertising explains how you can make it a success.

You’ve no doubt seen all the statistics showing the importance of social media in digital marketing.

Just a quick look at Facebook performance figures gives you an idea, with 2.6 billion active users, and 80 million small enterprising using Facebook business options to communicate.

This is no doubt why you’re considering the best way to maximise paid posts and ads on social media.

However, although it can be an excellent way to underpin SEO and drive traffic to your website, you do need to proceed with caution.

Social media advertising can be a black hole that swallows your money and time with little or no impact on sales. Our guide to effective social media advertising helps you to avoid that.

1. Understand your platforms and where you should be

6 social media icons

For some business’, Linkedin and Twitter may be your playground, ensure your efforts are being rewarded in the correct areas

The first step is considering the different opportunities that each social media platform offers and the audiences each one attracts. This helps you to create ads that work.

For example, Facebook is great for brand promotion. You can use organic storytelling techniques, humour, video and a range of other content types in your organic posts backed up with Facebook ads that push your brand messaging.

Though Facebook is usually a top priority in social media ad campaigns, there are plenty of other options to test out too. Instagram is more image-centric, and a great way to show that your product is beneficial and compelling.

LinkedIn is aimed at influencers and commercial connections, making it a must-have for business-to-business marketing. While Twitter has a conversational flavour and is a great way to get online discussions going about your product or service.

Don’t forget less high-profile platforms too. For example, Pinterest is brilliant for posting ‘value-added’ content aimed at consumers. Such as recipes, ‘how-to’ content and inspirational photos. Around 87% of Pinterest users have made purchases after seeing a product on there.

The social media platform that has grown most during the Covid-19 pandemic is TikTok. Experimenting with TikTok options for business is important if you need to reach younger audiences, in a creative way.

When formulating relevant ads for each platform, keep in mind that images (photos and video) are crucial for all of them. Having quality imagery in any social media ad greatly increases the chances of it being noticed, and that your brand message will hit home.

2. Know your audience

black and white photo of a crowd of people sat in a stadium

Guide yourself using proven statistics online, targeting the under 35’s may take you through Instagram vs Facebook

With a good handle on the features of each social media platform, you then need to match that to your target audiences. That comes from your brand profiling and market segmentation.

For example, if your target audience is female between 16-25 years, they’re more likely to be found on Snapchat, TikTok or Instagram, rather than Facebook or Twitter.

Be guided by social media stats. Such as, over two-thirds of Instagram users are under 35 years old. Making that a great option if that is your main demographic group.

Also, don’t be fooled into thinking seniors can’t be reached via social media. According to the Pew Research Centre (which monitors social media) 62% of people aged 65plus who use the internet, regularly go on Facebook.

If you’re new to social media advertising, decide WHO you are talking to – and then which social media channel they use. Your marketing spending can then be channelled into paid-for content that’s likely to bring the best return on investment.

3. Find out what works best

Image of a polaroid camera and a cine camera

Mix things up and find out what works best for your business

Before you hit the go button on your new ad campaign, think about the different formats you can use to share that message. Could you use a video or a single image? Could it be a how-to style tutorial or a lifestyle shoot?

There will be more than one way to communicate your brand message in a social ad, but there will only be a few which are effective and hit the right note with your target audience and helps you achieve your goals.

It’s up to you to test out different ad formats and creatives to determine what works best, by analysing their performance and pinpointing what’s influencing your customer.

4. Set simple goals to achieve on a quarterly basis

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Set your KPIs at the start and review these monthly, changing or adding KPIs may also help keep you on track to achieving success

One of the biggest mistakes in social media advertising is not measuring results properly. It’s important you set achievable KPIs (key performance indicators) to help keep your marketing efforts on track.

Are you trying to increase brand exposure, drive traffic to a website, get bookings or launch a new product or promotion? Whatever your goals are, invest more heavily into paid ads that will achieve them.

Anything that boosts sales needs to be repeated and built on, and anything that is stopping you from reaching your targets needs to be ‘binned’ promptly.

5. Know your budget

stacks of silver coins

Spend your money wisely, mainly in areas where your ROI (Return On Investment) is most successful

Having a defined budget is a very important part of making sure your social media ads are successful. You can easily spend a fortune on ads and not know what you have to show for it.

First of all, you won’t be able to allocate your budget until you have set clear social media goals. And know the areas most relevant to invest in to make sure you achieve them.

If you’re new to social media advertising, you may need to experiment with different platforms and different content approaches before you find a profitable sweet spot. Which will also need to be factored into your budget.

To be sure you’re using your budget wisely, regularly check in with your data. Did you get the outcome you were hoping for? Did your campaign see a decent ROAS (return on ad spend)? Which approach saw the best results? Where should you invest more and spend less? Checking your data and evaluating your budge regularly will help you to answer all of these questions.

The best laid (social media ad) plans

If you’re not sure how to pin down your brand, target consumers or social media strategy, there are some great online resources to help you. Google Garage courses in social media advertising are highly recommended.

Or simply give us a shout. The team at Factory Pattern are always happy to pass on our skills and help companies to get a firm foothold in any aspect of digital marketing.