How to create effective social media ads

Advertising on social media should be a no-brainer for almost every business. The majority of the world’s population are now active social media users (53%, or 4.2 billion people!), and the percentage grows every year. In the US, people spend an average of a little over 2 hours every day on social media. Marketing your business on social media puts your product or service directly in front of huge audiences, while providing you with tons of tools to maximize the efficiency and efficacy of your ads. In this article, we’ll break down what you need to know to start your social media ad campaigns.

Step 1: Assess Your Audience’s Social Media Habits

As with all advertising, it’s crucial to know who your audience is, and where to find them. With the wide variety of social media platforms comes a variety of user demographics. For instance, most Instagram users are between 18-34 years old, and Snapchat users skew even younger. Facebook users, though, are more evenly spread across all age groups (plus, Facebook offers the most specific targeting options of any platform). Interestingly, more than two thirds of Twitter users identify as male. To get the highest return on your investment, make sure you have a clear sense of your client base and meet them on their preferred platforms.

Step 2: Identify Your Advertising Goals and Budget

Once you’ve identified the right platform, it’s time to figure out your social media advertising goals and budget. Broadly, most social media platforms offer three main advertising goals:

  • Awareness: increase brand awareness and expand your reach to new audiences
  • Consideration: encourage people to seek out more information about your business, generate leads, boost engagement, etc.
  • Conversion: drives sales of your product or service (online or through brick & mortar)

Each campaign should have one core goal. If you want to get viewers to sign up for a newsletter and also promote your latest product, those should be separate campaigns. You should also take this time to figure out your budget and schedule – are you promoting a limited-time offer, or creating a long-running campaign to boost brand awareness?

Step 3: Make Compelling, Platform-Specific Advertising Content

The actual content of the ad is where you synthesize everything you’ve learned about your audience, your social media platform, and your goals. The number one rule for social media ad content is: Keep it simple. Ads should have clean design, a clear value proposition, and an easy call to action, if appropriate. They should also be in keeping with your overall brand aesthetic. Beyond that, design your ads to fit the tone of your chosen platform: Instagram ads should have eye-catching visuals with minimal text; Twitter ads can be more informal and witty; LinkedIn ads should be professional and can be more text-focused. A good place to start is by looking at your organic posts: identify your highest performing organic content and match that style in your ads.

Step 4: Track, Test, Report, Repeat!

A huge benefit of advertising on social media over traditional media is the ability to access detailed metrics in real time. Each platform offers a variety of analytic tools to assess which ads are performing well, what demographics have the highest engagement, and how effectively your money is being spent. Depending on your core campaign goal, you may choose to focus on different key metrics. For instance, click-thru rate (CTR) measures your ad’s ratio of clicks vs. impressions (views), while cost per conversion (CPC or CPR) shows how much you’re spending on average to achieve a valuable action on your site.

The analytics provided also allow for A/B testing, where you set up multiple campaigns with smaller audiences using variations on your ad content. Once you get a sense for which ad performs the best, you can use that for your primary, larger campaign. The world of social media advertising changes quickly and often, so be sure to monitor your ads regularly. With these basic guidelines, you’ll be well equipped to adapt to your audience’s needs and create high-converting campaigns to boost your business.