Social Media Advertising Guide

Social media advertising is an important and fast-growing part of digital advertising. In this chapter, I’ll present social media advertising trends, show why they are important, and then help you understand how to use social media advertising in your business.

In addition, I’ll show you how to integrate your organic or natural social media marketing program with your paid social media advertising program. I’ll also show you specifically how to use Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter campaign targeting, and give you a few tips that should help you be more effective with using targeting to get exactly the audience and the results you want.

What is social media advertising? As simple as it sounds, it’s really just advertising on social media sites. The advantage of social media advertising over other forms of digital advertising is that social media sites get a lot of traffic, and they have a lot of demographic information on their users, and you can use this data to target your ads very effectively.

Why Social Media Advertising?

Social media advertising is big, and it’s getting bigger. There are literally billions of people who are engaged with social media today, with over 2.8 billion users on Facebook, and 2.3billion users on YouTube.

There are also hundreds of millions of people on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and others. When I first started talking about social media advertising and social media marketing with my clients a few years ago, they often said, “I wonder if my customers are using Facebook?” or “I wonder if they’re on Twitter or LinkedIn?”

Today, that’s not even a question. If you are still wondering if your customers or your prospects are using social media, you don’t have to wonder anymore. They are using it!

The Growth of Facebook

Facebook has seen tremendous growth over the last few years and is now a part of the fabric of our daily lives. Because of this growth, Facebook is taking a huge share of total Internet traffic.

Social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter should be a part of your marketing mix so that you can reach your target audience and build an overall strategy for success. By using a mix of different digital advertising tools, you can easily shift your budget into what’s most effective and working best for your campaigns.

Growth in Social Media Advertising

Because of this new way of reaching specific groups of people and interacting with people through engagement and likes, social media is growing very rapidly. In 2020, over $40 billion was spent on social media advertising, and that is projected to grow to almost $56billion by 20224. We’re going to continue to see a strong increase in social ad budgets over the next few years as advertisers realize more of the benefits of social media advertising.

Social media advertising is growing rapidly, and 90% of US advertisers are using social media for marketing purposes.

While Google’s market share has been very steady over the last few years, Facebook has grown rapidly and is taking an increasing amount of overall digital advertising budgets.


Paid Advertising vs. Organic Social Media Marketing

How does this advertising strategy fit in with what you’re doing in social media? In a typical organic social media program, you need to do at least three things. First, you create a solid presence on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, etc., making these platforms look great, making them look powerful, and making them look professional. I’ll describe this in more detail in the chapter on social media marketing.

Once you have the platforms built, you need to fill them with content that might include Tweets, posts, and video. To make this work well, you need to create and send content about your company and products, as well as industry content so that your presence looks interesting and engaging.

While you are sending out content, you also need to build your follower base. In an organic social media program, having great platforms and pushing out content is meaningless if nobody’s listening to you, so it’s important to build your follower base so that you can generate business results. As you build followers and send out posts, you can integrate offers with a call to action. The outcome should be that you get more likes, more traffic, more leads, and more sales.

Here’s an example of how this works in a typical organic social media program: If you have a few hundred followers and you’re doing 20 posts a month, this could result in 10,000 potential brand impressions per month. If you had 10,000 followers with 200 posts a month, there could be 2 million potential brand impressions each month. This all can lead to likes, traffic, leads, and sales for your business. In practice, the number of brand impressions will be much lower, because people don’t read all of the social media content that is directed toward them, but it can still drive traffic and engagement.

How does advertising fit into this? Instead of doing all of the work to build your followers and push out a lot of content, you can just pay to promote your posts. Paid ads can take out all of the work of building followers and you can still get the same or even better results.

Paid social media advertising is a way to complement what you’re doing through organic social media. By leveraging the posts and content that you’re already pushing out with your organic program, you can get traffic and engagement when you might not have enough followers or the volume of content you need in your organic program. These two parts of your social media program can work well together.

One of the interesting things about social media is that you can use it for more than just direct response or brand building. Social media enables you to build and measure engagement by getting people to like you, follow you, comment, or even share your content.

With engagement metrics, you can measure the number of views that you get on social media, how many times people comment on something you’re talking about, and how many times they share what you’re saying.

You can also use social media to get more likes and followers for your organic social media program. Getting likes and followers is almost like getting someone to sign up for your email list because they’re volunteering to get more information from you.

Unlike an email channel, where you might send them an email a month or an email a week, in social media, you can push out content to them one to five times per day. Your followers are giving you permission to send a lot of content.

Facebook Targeting

Facebook is a powerful advertising platform because of its reach and its ability to direct your ads to a very specific target audience. While there are hundreds of targeting options, three targeting options—age, country, and interest are used by most Facebook advertisers.

Facebook gives you a lot of other targeting options because they know so much about their users. You can advertise and target by types of interests and you can be very specific about the kinds of interest categories that you want.

For example, if you are promoting a Chinese restaurant, you could choose the restaurant category, and then you can target people who are specifically interested in Chinese restaurants. As you select different demographic or interest categories, you can see your audience numbers change. This enables you to control the size of your audience—not too small or too big—and make sure that it fits your ad budget and your business objectives.

Facebook also provides conversion tracking in their ad platform to track the results of your advertising. By placing a conversion-tracking code on your website thank you pages, you can measure and track your conversions. Some of the options that you can choose are sales checkouts, registrations, leads, key page views, adds to shopping cart, or other website conversions. This tool lets you measure results for exactly the kind of conversions that you’re trying to get for your campaign.

Comparing Facebook to Google Ads

If you have been using Google Ads, you’re probably wondering how it compares to Facebook advertising. In Google Ads, people are searching, and your ads are a response to those queries. In Facebook advertising, your ad shows up in the user’s content stream even when they are not searching for your product.

In Google Ads, you filter users by keyword, and it allows you to design campaigns with positive and negative keywords along with many other targeting options. In Facebook, you’re targeting based on user demographics and interests. In Google Ads, your options are to get people to click on an ad and then send them down a conversion pathway. In Facebook, you get the option of starting a long-term relationship with someone by getting them to like you or to engage with you or to comment on your content.

In Google Ads, you can use several ad types such as text ads, product listing ads, or banner ads. You can use geo-targeting, language targeting, and other demographic targeting variables. As I mentioned earlier, you have a lot more targeting options within Facebook.

In Google Ads, Google assigns a quality score to your ads based on historical data, which determines your cost per click and ultimately your cost per conversion or cost per sale. Facebook determines quality based on user feedback, and Facebook tracks the user’s response rate, which will ultimately determine how your ads are displayed.

Google Ads is a cost-per-click (CPC) media, while in Facebook, you can use either CPC or cost per thousand, which gives you more flexibility. Campaigns in Google Ads and Facebook can both be effective, but there are some significant differences in how they work.


If you’ve got a B2B product or service, LinkedIn (owned by Microsoft) can also be very effective for you. LinkedIn has about 740million members today, and 30 million businesses. LinkedIn knows a lot about their users, such as name, position, company, and location. They know the groups we’re part of and the things we post and share, as well as our interests. LinkedIn offers advertisers a lot of different targeting variables that are unique to their network.

With LinkedIn advertising, you can do geographic targeting and targeting by company. You can even target your ads to a specific company, so that you can reach out specifically to people who work for General Electric, IBM, or Microsoft, for example.

You can also target people by type of company, industry, or size of company. You can also target people by job function or seniority. Seniority targeting here is another very powerful option, for example, if you only want to reach senior executives.

LinkedIn also offers other targeting options because many people use it to store their resumes and other personal information. This gives you the ability to target people by school or by job skill. You can also target by group so that you can get a very focused audience for your ads.

Twitter Advertising

Twitter, as you saw from the statistics I shared earlier, is a smaller player in digital advertising, but it’s coming on strong, and its market share has tripled in the last few years.

In Twitter advertising, you are promoting Tweets, and these are the same Tweets you post in your organic campaign. You can target by location, by category, and by users with the same interests, and you can get very specific within your campaign.

You can target by interest, and also target users with the same interests as other followers, which is a great way to find people that have the same interests as people that are already following you. As you build your target audience, you can see how large your audience is.

You can use advertising to promote all kinds of Tweets. You can promote Tweets with a call to action. You can promote Tweets that go back to your website. You can build your budget around the number of impressions or the number of clicks that you want from your campaign. You can also control all the different bidding options, your budget per day, as well as your budget per engagement.

Accelerating your Social Media Marketing Program

Why advertise on social media? First, there is a huge audience, literally billions of people, so if you’re selling any kind of a product or service, you will find an audience on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. There’s also very strong momentum, and your fellow marketers are using these tools in greater and greater numbers.

Social Media advertising also gives you advanced targeting options that allow you to use many targeting tools to match your ad to your target audience. Facebook also gives you multiple engagement and conversion options to make it easier to match your advertising program to your business goals.

You can generate engagement. You can generate views. You can generate comments. You can generate likes and followers, as well as traffic leads and sales, and you can measure all of it.

You can also focus on mobile users. More and more of us are using our mobile devices to access content on the Internet, and today about 98% of Facebook users are mobile, so it’s a great way to engage with the mobile user.

Perhaps the most important business reason to use social media advertising is that you may experience a lower cost per click and lower cost per conversion compared to other types of digital advertising campaigns.

For all of these reasons, it makes sense to leverage social media as part of an integrated, optimized advertising campaign because it can be very effective.

When you’ve implemented a strong social media marketing program, you will be confident that you are reaching the target audience that is best for your products and services. You will see consistent and strong results and intuitively be able to test new social media sites and use them successfully.

Need Help Improving Your Digital Marketing?

Need Help Improving Your Digital Marketing?