The Ultimate Paid Social Media Guide

Each social media platform hosts its own personalized options for paid advertising. From Facebook to LinkedIn, your business should be making use of the opportunities that lie within. Businesses using social media advertising can reach and access a larger range of viewers, with the additional ability to target specific audiences through specific platforms. Our guide has been specially crafted to help you understand the ins and outs of paid social media to help your business succeed in this competitive market.

This guide will cover the following aspects that make up paid social media:

  • Objectives and Goals
  • Benefits of Paid Social
  • Platform Selection
  • Audience Targeting
  • Content and Ad Display
  • Marketing Funnel
  • Analytics
  • Social Media Advertising Tips

Are you ready to embark on the adventure of a lifetime? Let’s dive into the world of social media advertising!

Objectives and Goals

Before you even consider creating an advertisement on social media, you need to establish a clear objective as well as goals for the ad. You’ll be paying for this, literally and figuratively. Therefore, you should always start by planning prior to promoting a social media ad if you don’t want to waste your time or money.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What am I trying to advertise?
  • What is the purpose of my ad?
  • What do I want to achieve?
  • Who am I trying to reach?
  • What do I want my ad to look like?

These questions should definitely get you thinking. The following are of the most common goals to be had for social media marketing, these may end up being your goals as well. However, it is important to prioritize specific goals. Though you may potentially achieve all of your goals through one ad, it is highly likely that you will have better results if you choose a specific goal and run with it.

  1. Heighten Traffic—Increased inbound traffic to your webpages/site
  2. Heighten Visibility—Increased awareness of your brand/business
  3. Heighten Engagement—Increased interaction with your content/webpages
  4. Heighten Lead Generation—Increased leads via content promotion
  5. Heighten Sales—Increased production of sales for your products/services

Once you determine your objective and goals, you’ll be on track for creating a strong social media campaign and reaching more viewers than ever.

Benefits of Paid Social Media

Now that you probably have a general idea of what you plan to achieve via paid social media, I’m sure you’re wondering how exactly this method can benefit you and your business. Social media marketing has a wide variety of advantages, demonstrated by the following key aspects:

Instantaneous Reach—Unlike organic advertising, paid social allows you and your business to immediately reach your targeted audience the moment you publish an ad. With organic advertising, businesses play the waiting game to see if their content will grow in popularity, while paid social differs in its immediacy.

Personalization—It is your ad, so you get to decide where you want it to be published, what it’s going to look like, who you want to specially reach, and how you want to convey your message. Consider your target audience when crafting our ad, as well as when choosing the platform.

Targeting—Marketing on social media provides you with a platform to target viewers on a more granular scale. Depending on who you’d like to reach, platforms have the capability to target specific demographics from age, to physical location, gender, interests, and more. The combinations are endless.

Retargeting—Once someone visits your site, retargeting campaigns allow you to reconnect with those specific individuals by presenting your ad to them, increasing possible leads or conversions.   

Audience Growth—You can spread your content to a larger scope of viewers each day, increasing brand awareness and potentially improving upon sales. You may also find that your fan base expands into realms you had not initially anticipated. If your marketing and branding is strong enough, your follower base will assist you as well in spreading the word about your business and what it can offer.

There are so many opportunities for advancement with social media marketing. Though we organized a few in which we find most attractive, your business may also achieve benefits in other ways when crafting and publishing ad campaigns.

Platform Selection

As we discussed previously, benefits of paid social are countless, and these benefits also extend to the social media platform(s) that you choose to make use of. When choosing the platforms that you want to publish your ads on, you should not only consider the content of your message, but who you plan to reach.

The following chart offers a brief synopsis and general user statistics for each of the most popular social media platforms businesses participate in.

Chart Explaining the Top Social Media Platforms and their Notable Functions

Though not every business uses all of the mediums, it is important to consider which platform best coinsides with your goals and objectives, as we touched upon earlier. For example, if you plan to reach a demographic older than the age of 24 then Snapchat may not be the right path for you to take—which is totally fine. All of these platforms consist of their own set of features and a unique following base, giving businesses alternative routes to pursue when creating a campaign.

Prior to choosing the platforms for your social media advertising campaigns, ask yourself…

  • Who do I want to reach/ what is the demographic I want to reach?
  • Where can I reach them?
  • Is the type of ad I want to publish supported on the medium?
  • Are there anymore questions we can ask?

Additionally, choosing a social media paltform can be impactful for many reasons including whether you are a B2B (business-to-business) or B2C (business-to-consumer). Not every platform will be best for every company and marketing campaign This is why it is important to map out your marketing and advertising campaigns and then decide which social media channels are the right to advertise on.

Let’s take a look at how exactly these platforms can benefit you and what you can do with their paid social.

Facebook—Great for both B2B and B2C. Ability to reach scalable, target audiences via social reach and personalize a variety of ad formats.

Instagram—Great for B2C. Opportunities to promote products directly to consumers by utilizing visuals content. Ads on Instagram are most commonly used for gaining brand awareness, increasing sales, and increasing traffic on your site.

Twitter—Most commonly used for gaining brand awareness, engaging with and creating a follower base, in addition to influencing clicks on your content. A variety of advertising capabilities exist within this medium.

LinkedIn—Best for B2B. Most common for business interactivity, gaining awareness of and connections with other businesses. Can assist in lead generation as well as enhanced traffic and visibility of your brand/site.

Snapchat—Best for B2C. Usage consists mainly of younger demographics. Can achieve higher visibility with ads or by utilizing “sponsored” filters for users to engage with.

Pinterest—Most commonly used to promote products/services and influence sales. Infographics and visuals are used with this medium. Content is mixed with other pins.

In addition to these aspects, it is also important to choose the medium that best suits your financial budget. You can follow these links to learn more about costs and pricing for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, and Pinterest.

Audience Targeting

Creating a target audience is critical for your ad to be successful. Your ad cannot succeed unless you know who you want it to be seen by. For example, Brave River is not using Snapchat because our target demographic is not utilizing that platform and the majority of its user base would not benefit from the services we offer.

Once you’ve got this down, you can then move forward in what is called “Social Audience Targeting.” Whichever platform you choose, there is an option to define who you want to see your ad. Below you can see how Facebook organizes this feature. 

Screen Grab of the Facebook Custom Audience Feature

As you can see, there are plenty of options that you can personalize so that your ad is seen by your exact desired audience—even on a demographic of location! Your target has the opportunity to be complex with these types of options, just make sure that this target is realistic and attainable in relation to the goal of your ad.

Audiences can also be reached based on interest, language, and education. So, if you are on the marketing team for a college, you’ll more than likely be interested in reaching audiences who speak a variety of languages, are in or have graduated from high school, and are interested in pursuing a higher education.

 Screen Grab of the Custom Audience Function on Facebook

Some platforms like Facebook allow you to create an audience for an ad campaign, but also offers the opportunity for you to save it and use it for a future ad it may be relevant for. This can save you time so you can get your ad seen even quicker!

Content and Ad Display

One of the most important aspects of social media marketing is content. Without content, your ad wouldn’t exist. Creating an enticing message with visuals will help your campaign stand out to your audience.

Before creating any content, you’ll want to consider the topic of your advertisement. If you are advertising a product or service and plan on enhancing your message by adding imagery/video, you must remember to verify that your chosen platform can account for these elements.

Image of Product Ad Display on Instagram

You need to decide how you want your content to be displayed as well. Do you want your ad to stand out, or blend in with your audiences’ other content? Be mindful, because if your ad looks too much like spam or is more of a hindrance to your audience, this could be harmful to the overall performance.

Screen Grab of a Sponsored Ad on Twitter

As you can see above, Sharpie paid to promote their content and brand on Twitter. It blends in with the rest of the content on the page so it doesn’t look out of the ordinary to the viewer. The only thing that indicates to the viewer that it even is an ad is that it says “promoted,” but even then, that may not necessarily be understood by the viewer to be a paid advertisement. Whatever way you choose to display your ad, it will communicate a different message per the viewers perception.

Lastly, don’t go into creating your ad blind. The resources online are endless to assist you in successfully publishing ads or promotions on social media for your business.

Marketing Funnel

With every ad is a purpose, and that purpose may be to get your audience to buy a service or product. Creating a marketing funnel will help you target users to get them from seeing your ad, to pursuing, to purchasing your service/product. Below is a visual of a 4-point funnel as well as further explanation.

 Chart for the Funnel used for Marketing

  1. Awareness: In this stage, you are attracting people to your business/services/products by using captivating ads that catch the attention of consumers and accurately represent your goal. Consumers are solely gaining awareness of your brand in the stage, they are not making any jumps to purchase nor do they need the service/product.
  2. Interest: In this stage, consumers consider your business for a particular service/product that they are need are interested in pursuing. You should be marketing to this set of consumers by engaging with and offering content that is relevant to their needs.
  3. Evaluation: In this stage, the consumer is evaluating their options before making any decisions as to who they will purchase a service/product from. Having a strong client review base will benefit you while the consumer is in the stage, as they more than likely will be perusing them.
  4. Action: This is the final stage of the funnel, you’ve converted the consumer. They made their decision, took action, and purchased a service/product form your business rather than from another. After this transaction has occurred, be sure to halt direct advertising for the service/product to this consumer or the rest of the custom audience if they also were able to be converted.

Marketing funnels ultimately help you target audiences to recruit them as new clients by purchasing a service or product. If this strategy is executed effectively, you could achieve whole new realm of repeat customers.


Most social media platforms now offer their own form of analytics. The analytics feature gives you the opportunity to review how your ads or posts are performing on that specific platform. Data provided can range from impressions, follows, clicks, likes, and even custom conversions like form completions and purchases. Again, each medium offers a different range and scale of data, but understanding the data provided could help you improve your post or ad’s performance.  

Screen Grab of the Analytics Function on Instagram

For example, Instagram’s analytics feature has a simpler interface in which you can scroll through and review impressions, reach, profile views, and website clicks. It also provides data about your follower base, including average age and locations. When you have an ad actively running, it is shown at the bottom of this window. It’s pretty easy to understand even if you aren’t advanced in interpreting analytical data, especially because it explains what the meaning of each KPI/metric.

The wide variety of features offered on social media platforms can offer you beneficial information, but making use of an outside medium to analyze your ad or post performance will help you go the extra mile. Google Analytics and Search Console are popular online programs used for gaining insight, as they provide an in-depth look at not only your individual posts but your page as well. These tools are not for everyone, but they are carefully crafted to help you succeed.

Social Media Marketing Tips

To this point, we’ve covered the basics of creating objectives and goals, the benefits of paid social, choosing the right platform, audience targeting, creating content, and the marketing funnel.

Lastly, we have a few tips we’d like to share with you as you start using paid social on your own.

  1. Utilize Free Social Media for Testing—Why pay for an ad that you’re not sure if you going to like, or that will possibly not perform well? Utilize the options that social accounts can provide you for free before investing too much time and money.
  2. Make Use of Targeting Functions—Just as we discussed earlier, I will mention it again. The targeting features on social platforms will get your ad performing at a much higher rate, as it will get your content seen by consumers who actually find it relevant which could of course get you more business.
  3. Keep Ads Rotating—Don’t annoy your audience. They don’t want to see your ad 20 times when they’re scrolling through Facebook on their lunch break. Even though repetition can get your brand imbedded into the minds of consumers, fresh content will keep them captivated and more apt to paying mind to it.
  4. Test Your Content on Small Audience Samples—Employing a small audience sample to review your ad/content will help you save time and money.
  5. Familiarize Yourself with Ad Costs Per Platform—As we briefly touched upon, every platform offers different pricing and budgets for ads. Do your homework and make sure you choose to advertise on a platform that best works with your budget before you’re in too deep.
  6. Design Mobile Friendly Ads—Your ad may look flawless on a desktop, but let’s be realistic. Mobile is taking over the digital world and your audience has a higher likelihood of viewing your ad through their mobile device than on a computer. Make sure you ad not only looks stellar on a desktop, but on a phone or tablet as well.
  7. Seek Help as You See Fit—This is extremely important. It is easy to get lost or overwhelmed with the many facets of paid social, but luckily, Brave River Solutions is here for you. Our marketing specialists are trained experts in the realm of social media and can help you execute effective ad campaigns, loaded with exceptional content.

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