How to Utilize Social Media's Paid Advertising Capabilities

Posted by Meg Sepulveda on May 11, 2021 10:30:00 AM
Find me on:

paid social media advertising

Social media advertising has been on the rise since social media’s inception, but the year 2020 took the power of social media to a new level. Platforms like Instagram and Facebook became the go-to for online shopping in several industries, and a way to discover new brands that people hadn’t heard of before. Globally, 3.6 billion people use social media – so if you’re wondering where your untapped customers are, chances are, they’re on social media.

Successful digital marketing is all about delivering the right message to the right person at the right time, and social media’s paid advertising capabilities allow you to do just that. With the ability to segment your ad’s audience to people’s habits, likes, interests, demographics and geographical areas, you can find new customers who are a good fit for your brand. 

Here’s how to get started with paid advertising through social media. 


Start With a Strategy

Advertising through social media is exciting, and you may be tempted to jump right in and get started creating ads. But you’ll always get a better result if you start with a strategy. In creating your strategy, there are two key things to think about: your goals and your audience. By nailing these, you’ll have a clearer picture of which social media platforms you should advertise on, as well as what type of messaging, graphics and links you should include when building your ad.

First, identify your goals. What are you hoping to gain through your advertising? Maybe it’s increased traffic to a particular page on your website, or maybe it’s a certain amount of new followers. It could be general brand awareness. Whatever it is, set a specific, measurable goal for your social advertising campaign. Next, think about your audience. Hopefully you’ve already somewhat defined who the target audience for your brand is, but you’ll want to understand what social media channels they’re using based on demographic information like their age, gender and location. 

This information will indicate which channels will be most successful for your advertising efforts. For most brands, this will be Facebook or Instagram, or some combination of the two. But some niche audiences may be more active on LinkedIn, Twitter, Youtube, TikTok or Pinterest. For this blog, we’ll mainly discuss Facebook and Instagram, but know that many of these other channels operate in a very similar way. 




Set Up a Paid Advertising Account

Once you’ve laid out your strategy, you’re ready to start working on your social media ad campaign. Facebook Ads Manager is the place to start. So long as you currently have a Facebook account, you can access this tool. You don’t have to have a Facebook business page to do this, but having one makes you eligible for a larger variety of advertising opportunities.

Since Facebook now owns Instagram, you’re able to place ads for both Facebook and Instagram through this one account. You can create campaigns for each channel separately, or you can run one campaign on both channels concurrently. 


Create Your Campaign

Start by creating a campaign. You’ll be prompted to set your objective for your campaign (this is that goal we talked about earlier) and name your campaign. Then, you’ll select an ad set – the collection of ads you’ll use to reach your audience. This is where you decide how much money you want to spend per day or over a given period of time for an ad, and the dates you want to run your ad.

Next, put your audience research to work by selecting your audience. You’ll have broad options from location, age and gender, as well as much more targeted options like interests and behavior. Finally, you’ll choose your platforms for your advertisement, like Facebook or Instagram, stories or news feeds, and more. 

Now, it’s time to get creative. Create your ads using images, video, text, links and call to action (CTA) buttons. We’ll go more in-depth on that later. 

My favorite thing about Facebook Ads Manager is that it allows you to run one campaign with several sets of messaging and creative that target different audiences. Ads Manager makes it super easy to compare how ads performed with various audiences and creative so that you can adjust your approach going forward.


Side Note: Understand the Difference Between Paid and Organic Social Media 

A quick side note: there’s a difference between paid social media and organic social media. Organic social media is anything you post on your feed or story that you’re not promoting as an ad.  So, when we talk about organic traffic, we’re referring to likes, engagement and click-throughs on your everyday, non-paid posts and stories. Organic posts are what anyone would see if they went to your brand’s Facebook page. 

Paid social media ads, on the other hand, will not show up your brand page’s feed or stories (unless you put them there). Instead, your ads will show up in your target audience’s feed, stories or other placements you selected. 

Now, if you want to dip your toe into Facebook advertising without setting up something more elaborate in Ads Manager, you can simply “Boost” one of your organic posts. A boosted post is a post to your page's timeline that you can apply money to in order to boost it to an audience of your choosing. It’s the simplest way to advertise on Facebook – it just doesn’t offer the same amount of customization as Facebook Ads Manager does. 




Best Practices for Creating Social Media Ads

When it comes to creating the ads within your campaign, there’s a lot of learning as you go. As you test different images and messages, you’ll learn what resonates most with your target audience. That said, there are some basic best practices for image, copy and CTAs that improve any ad you produce. 



Size your visuals to meet the placement. If you don’t, your images may get cropped, zoomed, or altered in a way that decreases the quality of your image. Facebook has a helpful guide here that shows you the recommended image ratio, resolution, and file size for each type of advertisement. 

If you have text within your image, aim for it to cover less than 20 percent of the graphic. Keeping your graphic text short tends to help it perform better, according to Facebook’s findings.



The right copy is all about understanding your audience. What are their pain points? What inspires them? Speak directly to your audience’s needs, and do so in their language; their voice.

In general, effective social media copy is direct, concise and to the point. Feel free to use wit, humor and whatever is appropriate for your audience to captivate them. Then, use your copy to point your audience to the CTA.


Call to Action (CTA)

Your CTA is exactly what it sounds like – it’s the action you ask your audience to take. When creating one, think first about your goal. That will determine where your CTA links out to. Want to build brand awareness? Link to your social profile or the About page of your website. Want your audience to consider buying a product you’re showcasing? Link to that product page. 

Facebook Ads Manager has preset CTA buttons to choose from, so select the one that best fits your objective. They have a good variety, including options like “Buy Now,” “Learn More,” “Contact Us,” and “Sign Up.”


Start Advertising

With this basic knowledge in hand, you’ll be able to start utilizing social media’s paid advertising capabilities. This process is all about trying, testing, analyzing and trying again. Through this process, you’ll learn a ton about your audience and how they respond to your messages. 

Now, I know that social media advertising can take a lot of time to create and monitor, and there are lots of nuances that you learn along the way. If you’re interested in finding an experienced partner who can execute the right campaigns for your brand, reach out to us at PRIME. We’ve been helping clients connect with their audiences through paid social since its inception, and we’ve learned what works along the way. 


CHAT WITH PRIME  Learn About Working with Prime

If you enjoyed this edition of PRIME Pulse, take a look at some of our other related articles:

Subscribe to the Blog!


Topics: Social Media Management, Digital Strategy

Prepare to Be Amazed!

Just kidding, but not really!

We hope that you find a few nuggets of knowledge to take back to your own marketing. Some of our blogs might be directed at certain industries, but that doesn't mean that you won't find a few helpful tips that will work for you. Don't be scared, dig in! And if you want to stay up to date, be sure to subscribe to our blog. 

  • Weekly Marketing Emails

  • Brownie Points From Your Boss

  • High Fives Anytime You Visit Bozeman, Montana

Subscribe to Email Updates

Recent Posts