So, you’ve got your social media content and engagement strategy nailed, but social media advertising – that’s a whole new ballgame! We hear you: just opening Facebook Ads Manager can be a little overwhelming, let alone setting budgets, choosing objectives, developing creative and managing A/B testing. To help out, we’ve put together this introduction to social media advertising. This guide should make your first steps into social media advertising a little easier. And if you have any questions along the way, feel free to ask our community over in the Avocado Social Hub Facebook Group. Facebook Ads Manager Illustration of Facebook Ads Manager, courtesy of Strike Social

Firstly, why advertise on social media?

Good question. At the crux of it, advertising allows you to reach a larger amount of people which can lead to more engagement, leads and sales. But that’s true for all types of paid marketing. The beauty of social media advertising, however, is that the targeting is far more granular, which means that you can deliver your messaging to very specific audiences. Facebook Targeting Options Unlike other advertising types, social media allows you to test your creatives organically on your channels, which means you can see what works and what doesn’t for free. That, coupled with the fact that Facebook and Instagram ads tend to be cheaper than most other ad placements, means that your budget can stretch further.

How do I advertise?

Each social media platform has its own advertising backend, through which all activity can be set up, monitored and analysed. If you haven’t had a look at each of the channels’ ads managers, you can start familiarising yourself with them here: And you can finds tutorials for each platform here: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest

Deciding your objectives

It’s important to define what you want your advertising to achieve before starting activity. That sounds like a no-brainer, but – for example – it can be easy to fall into the trap of boosting every post to gain more engagement, without really thinking about whether that’s achieving anything for your business beyond inflated numbers. Being more strategic and tactical means you can make a lasting impact. Most advertising campaigns tend to have one of a few objectives:
  • Reach – measured in ‘Reach’ or ‘Impressions’. CPM (cost per thousand) is the standard metric.
  • Engagement – measured as total engagements or engagement rate. CPE (cost per engagement) is the standard metric
  • Video Views – CPV (cost per view) is the standard metric, but you can choose what that means – usually 3 seconds, 10 seconds etc, or 25% up to 100% viewed
  • Clicks – clicks on a URL. CPC (cost per click) is the standard metric.
  • Conversions – sales, leads or other. CPA (cost per acquisition) is the standard metric.
Choosing an objective Usually, marketing campaigns have distinct phases: Awareness, Understanding and Action. However, unfortunately, many people jump straight into the ‘Action’ phase on social by immediately running Clicks and Conversion ads, and are then disappointed at the results. Social media is a channel for entertainment, discussion, engagement and information first – and sales second. Be mindful of that when planning your campaigns. Choosing a social media platform

Choosing your platforms

Ultimately, your social media advertising activity should align with your wider strategy, which means you should be running ads on the platforms you use organically. However, each platform also has its pros and cons: Facebook Generally pretty good for all objectives. Offers the most targeting options, and is usually the cheapest. Facebook tends to favour its newest features, which means that at the moment you can expect video – particularly live – to perform well. It’s important to note that while Facebook is still great for 35+ audiences, young people are increasingly moving to other platforms. Instagram Best for a younger audience (below 35) – swayed towards women. Historically great for reach and engagement, but increasingly good for clicks and conversions too. Managed via Facebook, so the same targeting can be used. In our experience, results tend to be far cheaper than Facebook – so it’s worth splitting budgets.   Twitter Tends to be more expensive than Facebook and Instagram. Good for awareness and reach, less so for clicks and sales. Uniquely, Twitter offers a monthly always-on advertising package called ‘Promote Mode’ which automatically runs adverts from a business’ account.   LinkedIn Generally much more expensive than the other platforms, but the best channel for B2B advertising. InMail ads (basically promoted private messages) perform particularly well. YouTube Great for raising awareness, less so for driving engagement and clicks. Obviously requires strong video creative. Pinterest Great for e-commerce and advertising products suitable for the user base, which is overwhelmingly female. Finding your audience in social media

Finding Your Audience

By the time you start considering advertising, you should already have a clear understanding of who your audience is. Then, it’s a case of taking a look through the different targeting options provided and creating a good mix. Some of the most popular categories are:
  • Interests: Allows you to target people based on the other businesses, publications, brands and content they’ve interacted with
  • Custom audiences: Allows you to upload customer data. Also enables you to create larger ‘lookalike’ audiences made up of similar people.
  • Retargeting: Allows you to target people who have visited your website
  • Engaged: Allows you to reach people who have engaged with your content recently
AB Testing on Facebook

Developing and testing creatives

The key to advertising is to test and test again. Unless your budgets are super small, you should always run a number of ads with different images and copy concurrently to see which perform better – and then redistribute your spending accordingly. It’s very important to make sure your ads are as eye-catching as possible to grab attention – Facebook calls this ‘thumb-stoppable content’. Your audience are also likely to have a low attention span, so you need to keep them interested. This is particularly important for video; Locowise recently reported that users only watch a third of a video on average before losing interest. The is a wide variety of ad formats you can used – from Link Ads and Carousels to drive traffic to your website, to Canvas ads that offer immersive content experiences. Each platform has its own set of formats and creative specs, which can be found in the tutorials/help sections listed above.

Want to find out more?

We’ve provided you with a very brief introduction to social media advertising, but there is so much more to learn! We run in-depth workshops that will take you beyond the basics and into the nitty-gritty of running campaigns, and we can also develop a full advertising strategy for you. Get it in touch to find out more.