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A Strategic Guide to Advertising on Social Media

 by Sandra Wilkins

You’re extremely interested in advertising on social media, aren’t you? Well, you should be. Using social for advertising is not only less expensive than traditional marketing, but there’s a better chance at reaching your audience when and where they hang out online.


And that, my friends, is the sweet recipe for conversions. 

With social advertising in its 10th year of existence and the tech advances that came with time, The Big Three have made it easy to target and get ads in front of whomever. However, it’s key that you understand and plan for their different nuances and purposes– we’ll get into their different advertising capabilities later in the post.

For now, let’s get started with some general rules and tips for advertising on social.

1. All platforms aren’t the same: Customize your strategies

Two of the most important facts when advertising on social are #1, you need a strategy and #2, that strategy needs to be tailored to the specific social platform.

The Big Three alone have different uses and audiences not to mention all of the other social platforms that may be beneficial to your company (Instagram, Pinterest, or Snapchat). Your message is more conversion-friendly if you tailor it to the platform.

2. Copy is key

I think the fast nature of social media makes it seem that copy may not matter as much as the overall look and feel of the ad. This is incorrect. If anything, it matters more about how impactful your message can be in 140 characters.

Know what kind of content works best with the types of ads featured by each platform. Twitter ads, for example, feature instantly gratifying CTAs while LinkedIn can call for a longer, more engaging message.

3. Visuals are important, too

Choosing the most appropriate visual for your ad is also important because images increase engagement exponentially on social.

Take time to create images that will not only be noticed by your audience, but are strategic with your ad copy. If a graphic designer is out of means, I suggest using sites like Canva.

4. Target the audience most likely to convert

You may have audiences that are interested in different products and services. You may even have varying business objectives (purchases, leads) based on your audiences.

Social makes it easy to target them for your ads. When you go through the campaign process, each platform will allow you to hone in on an audience based on demographics and even importable attributions (ex. email list).

5. Test, test, and test again

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to social ads simply because no two businesses are exactly the same. I suggest creating more than one version of the same ad because one version may convert better and you need to know why.

This is where A/B testing comes in. Run different versions of an ad by a smaller audience and see which performs better. Once you have results you can use the better performing ads in a larger campaign.

Bonus Tips:

  • Design for mobile. Fact: people mostly peruse social via mobile devices. Designing for mobile could make all the difference in converting.
  • Automate! Save time and take full advantage of each platform’s automation features.

Now here’s what you need to know about advertising specifically on The Big Three.


  • Platform Type: Community and awareness building platform
  • Ad Types: Page likes and post engagement, app engagement and installs, website clicks and conversions, video views, event responses, and offers
  • Content Type: Text between 40-80 words, bold and related images, CTAs, short links
  • Targeting: Demographics but best at targeting by interest
  • How ads are sold: Based on number of impressions


  • Platform Type: Promotes short and quick conversations
  • Ad Types: Promoted accounts, promoted tweets, and promoted trends
  • Content Type: 140 characters, instantly gratifying CTAs, bold and engaging images, hashtags, short links
  • Targeting: Demographics including location and device, upload your own lists, advanced targeting based on your audience’s twitter network
  • How ads are sold:  Promoted accounts and tweets prices based on engagement, promoted trends are a flat price per day (fairly expensive)


  • Platform Type: Professional networking and lead generation
  • Ad Types: Sponsored updates, Sponsored InMail, premium display ads, and text ads
  • Content Type: Longer content depending on ad type, engaging CTAs for premium content, related images, short links
  • Targeting: Demographics but also job type, seniority, and industry
  • How ads are sold: Per click (CPC) or per 1000 impressions (CPM), there are also minimum daily bids

This guide was meant to help you get started with advertising on social. Although I would’ve loved to, I couldn’t get to every single platform and explain their advertising processes. If you have a specific question about a platform that wasn’t mentioned (or even one of The Big Three), be sure to comment below!