Social Media Advertising: Get the Most From Any Network in 2020

Social media advertising is an excellent strategy for boosting brand awareness and driving traffic and sales. In fact, 75% of Millennials purchasing decisions are influenced by a brand’s social media presence (Animoto, 2020).

Advertising on social media lets you meet your target audience where they are and reach shoppers that are ready to buy. If you’re looking to maximize the impact of your social media advertising, keep reading! In this article, we’ll show you how to use social advertising to get real results.

Plus, we take a closer look at the 6 best social media advertising platforms you should be using.

Social Media Advertising: Get the Most From Any Network:

What Is Social Advertising?

Social advertising is the process of creating and running ads to reach your target audience via social media platforms, messaging apps, outside apps and websites, and news feeds. Social advertising helps brands generate leads, boost brand awareness, and get more sales.

Advertising on social media platforms is extremely effective and driving both engagement and conversions because of the granular targeting you can do. You can create a target audience based on demographics, interests, purchase history, behavior, or how well the users on the platform match up with your existing customers.

Even if the audience on your chosen social media platform is unaware of your brand or product, you can still reach the right people who are ready to buy with a personalized approach and a targeted message.

Pros and Cons of Social Advertising

Social advertising, like everything in life, comes with positives and negatives. Let’s take a look at what those are so you can see if there are any deal-breakers for you and your brand.


Social media makes it easy to reach the people you want to reach through targeted audience selection. You can create just the right audience to ensure that your brand is reaching who you want it to.


Social advertising can be a bit complicated. It goes beyond just creating a beautiful design and show-stopping ad copy.

Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat have complicated advertising platforms that make it a struggle to fine-tune your audience or measure performance.

Then, there’s the constant testing and optimizing that’s basically required if you want to get the best results from your social media advertising efforts.

5 Elements of a Successful Social Media Advertising Strategy

Despite the sometimes complicated advertising platforms, social media advertising is a wonderful tactic and one you should definitely add to your marketing toolkit.

While each platform and audience is different, there are 5 key elements of every successful social media strategy.

1. Campaign Overview

Creating a campaign overview is the first thing you should do when preparing to use social media advertising. The overview is essentially an outline that details your ad campaign.

You’ll want to include things like the campaign name, the inspiration for the ad, the purpose and goals of the advertising campaign, any hashtags you’ll use, and whatever else is pertinent to the ad campaign you’ll be running.

It’s also important to document any advertising objectives you have. This could be anything from brand awareness to increasing sales of a particular product.

When you document your goals, objective, and the process you plan to follow it makes it a lot easier to track your ad’s performance to ensure that it’s generating the ROI you need.

2. Target Audience

When choosing an audience for your ad, be specific. Look into the analytics for your existing social media content to get a better understanding of your followers and the type of content they enjoy.

Many advertising platforms include details about the estimated number of people you’ll reach with your ad. Use this to fine-tune your targeting so you’re not spreading your message too thin or targeting too few people to get results.

3. Campaign Creatives

Campaign creative includes both your message (ad copy) and visuals (videos, images, GIFs). When building your advertising creative, be aware of the types of ads and content that perform well on the social media platform you’re using.

For instance, running a campaign on Instagram that’s mostly text isn’t going to get you far since Instagram users are typically there for the images. But, the very same user who ignored your text-heavy ad on Instagram might engage on Twitter.

Consider the platform and create ads that match the content that’s already out there. You can use A/B testing to optimize your ad’s performance.

4. Social Media Platforms

Another key component to a successful social media advertising campaign is to choose the right platform. This will help you set and stick to a budget, ad format, and create ads that work for the platforms you want to use.

The most popular social media advertising platforms are:

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Pinterest
  • TikTok

For each of these platforms, the type of user can vary widely. TikTok, for example, has a large Gen Z user base while LinkedIn is geared toward professional networking.

That’s not to say that your audience never crosses over. It just means that the users are looking for different things from different platforms.

5. Campaign Budget and Success Metrics

Setting a budget is sometimes overwhelming, especially for those new to social advertising. Fortunately, there’s a pretty easy way to determine your advertising budget.

Start by deciding how many leads you need to generate with your ad campaign and multiply that against the average cost per lead on your social advertising platform of choice. Then, slightly increase the budget.

As you run your ads you’ll be able to see how your budget is being spent so you can tweak it.

To calculate the ROI, wait for your ad campaign to end. Then, map out the goals you met versus the goals you set for likes/follows, reach, engagement, etc. From there, you’ll be able to measure how the campaign performed and your ROI.

6 Best Social Media Advertising Platforms

In this section, we’ll take a close look at each of the top 6 social media advertising platforms to let you know how best to leverage these platforms for your social advertising.


Facebook is enormous. It started out in 2004 as a social network for students at Harvard, but by the end of 2005 the site had more than 6 million users. It was opened to the public by 2006.

Facebook User Stats

These days, Facebook has 2.6 billion monthly active users, and 1.73 billion users visiting the site every day (Facebook, 2020). This makes Facebook the leading social platform, reaching more than 60% of all internet users.

Of its billions of users, Facebook reports that 43% of the platform identify as women, while 57% identify as men (non-binary isn’t yet reported). Roughly 65% of the platform is under the age of 35.

With Facebook’s reach, it’s safe to say that no matter your audience, they’re probably on the platform.

Hungry for more info about Facebook? Check out the Facebook statistics included here.

Facebook Ad Types

Facebook breaks ads first into objectives:

  • Awareness: Helping people discover your brand
  • Consideration: Showing your brand as a solution to a problem
  • Conversion: Getting people to buy

Based on those objectives, you have several ad formats to choose from:

  • Video ads
  • Single-image photo ads
  • Multiple-image slideshow or carousel ads
  • Collection ads from your product catalog
  • Fullscreen, mobile-optimized Instant Experience ads
  • Stories ads
  • Messenger ads
  • Interactive playables

Is Facebook Advertising for You?


Facebook offers tons of ad formats and objectives along with audience targeting that will get your ad in front of the right people.

There are also retargeting ads that let you get ads in front of people who have already engaged with your brand in some way.

If you already have a customer list and want to target the same audience on Facebook, just upload your list and create a lookalike audience.


Instagram is owned by Facebook. It gives users a platform to share photos and create communities using specific hashtags or location tags.

Looking for hashtags to use? Check out our free Instagram hashtag generator.

Instagram User Stats

Instagram has more than 1 billion with more than 500 million active daily users.

More than 70% of Instagram users are under the age of 35 with 56.4% identifying as women and 43.6% identifying as men (non-binary isn’t yet reported).

Here are more Instagram statistics you can use to boost your advertising efforts.

Instagram Ad Types

Instagram offers 6 different ad types, many of which you’ll recognize from Facebook’s offering:

  • Stories ads
  • Photo ads
  • Video ads
  • Carousel ads
  • Collection ads
  • Ads in Explore
  • IGTV ads

Since Instagram is such a visual platform, be sure to spend time creating beautiful images that will grab attention and get users to stop scrolling.

Pro Tip: IGTV lets you post videos longer than the 30–60 seconds allowed on the regular feed. This gives brands a great opportunity to showcase their unique value proposition and engage viewers.

Is Instagram Advertising for You?

For businesses in visual industries like fashion or art, Instagram is just about the perfect way to advertise. And, with shoppable posts, Instagram has a lot to offer eCommerce advertisers.


Twitter was founded in 2006 and grew quickly. It became known as a microblogging site, allowing users to share their thoughts 140 characters at a time. The allowed length of tweets has doubled, giving users more space to share.

The platform has been the inspiration for several new words. For example, “live-tweeting” which means to tweet about an event in real-time.

Twitter has a loyal and engaged user base that stays connected using hashtags and retweets (sharing someone else’s tweet).

The volume of tweets and retweets on the platform means that your brand needs to either post a lot of pay for ads to generate the reach you need.

Twitter User Stats

Twitter has more than 330 million monthly active users with 145 million daily active users. Twitter’s audience is older than that of Facebook and Instagram with 65% of Twitter users over the age of 25.

Twitter users worldwide largely identify as men (61%).

Twitter Ad Types

Twitter offers 4 ad types:

  • Promoted tweets (text, image, GIF, poll, or account)
  • Video (promoted video, amplify pre-roll, First View, promoted live video/Periscope)
  • Cards (website, app, direct message, conversation, “Tweet to Unlock”)
  • Brand (branded emojis, brand reminders, promoted moments, promoted trends, and promoted trend spotlight)

Promoted tweets are the most popular ad type used on the platform.

Is Twitter Advertising for You?

Twitter is a fast-moving platform that’s best for short, timely messages. If you have time-based things to promote like conferences, webinars, and other events, Twitter is a great place to do it.

You can search for hashtags that are relevant to your event and include those in your post, as well as use Twitter’s tools to find users in your target geographic location. 


LinkedIn is a professional networking site that has evolved over time to become a bit more like Facebook. People use the platform to connect with coworkers and classmates, seek out others in their industry, and to find jobs.

LinkedIn User Stats

LinkedIn has more than 660 million users in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide.

As of 2019, Statista reports that 57% of LinkedIn users identify as men and 43% identify as women (non-binary isn’t yet reported). More than a third (37%) of adults in the United States between the ages of 30–49 use the platform.

As you can probably imagine for a professional networking platform, many of LinkedIn’s users are college-educated. In fact, Pew Research reports that more than half (51%) of U.S. citizens with a college education are on the platform.

If you want to learn more about LinkedIn, here are the most important LinkedIn stats.

LinkedIn Ad Types

LinkedIn offers 4 ad types:

  • Sponsored content
  • Sponsored messaging
  • Text ads
  • Dynamic ads

Sponsored content is the most common ad type on the platform and lets you promote your company updates to targeted audiences on desktop, mobile, and tablet devices.

We really like LinkedIn’s dynamic ads. These ads let you create ads customized for each member of your target audience based on their LinkedIn profile data.

Is LinkedIn Advertising for You?

LinkedIn is a great option for B2B brands and others with a target audience including professionals. On the flip side, LinkedIn isn’t really the place to be if your target market is retired or in school.


Pinterest is only ten years old, but it’s had an enormous impact on social media. And search. Pinterest is basically what would happen if you crossed Instagram with Google.

It started out as a place for crafters, DIYers, and people planning their dream weddings, and that’s still represented on the platform, to be sure. Over time, though, Pinterest became a marketing hotspot.

Pinterest User Stats

Pinterest has more than 322 million monthly active users with most users aged between 30–49. And, a whopping 70% of Pinterest users identify as women! Check all Pinterest stats here

What’s most fascinating about Pinterest, the platform that started out as a haven for pretty pictures and inspirational quotes, is that one-third of its users use it to follow brands or companies (Statista, 2019).

Pinterest Ad Types

Pinterest offers 4 ad types:

  • Promoted Pins
  • Promoted video Pins
  • Promoted carousels
  • Promoted app Pins

Promoted pins, using a single image of your product, are the most popular advertising format.

Pinterest also has a Shop the Look pin that helps people find and buy products within fashion and home décor Pins.

Check out our guide to Pinterest ad targeting to find out how to reach the exact audience you want.

Is Pinterest Advertising for You?

Pinterest’s primary user base is college-educated, upper-middle-class women, so if that’s who you’re trying to reach, you should probably give Pinterest a try.


TikTok is the youngest social media platform on our list, launching in 2017 globally (2012 in China). It’s owned by ByteDance.

TikTok users can create and share short videos as well as interact with other users through comments or “duets.”

TikTok User Stats

Despite being the newest platform, TikTok has experienced tremendous growth. It has more than 800 million active users worldwide. TikTok has a younger audience with 63.5% of its users under the age of 30. In the U.S., those who identify as women make up about 60% of the user base. This shifts depending on the country you look at. India, for instance, has more users who identify as men. We compiled all the leading Tiktok stats here. 

TikTok Ad Types

TikTok offers 4 ad types:

  • Brand takeover
  • In-feed video
  • Branded hashtag challenges
  • Branded lenses

Brand takeover ads show up as videos, GIFs, or images and contain a link to send users to your landing page. They show up as soon as users open up the app.

In-feed video ads are between 9–15 seconds long and show up with user videos in the TikTok feed.

TikTok advertisers have a lot of success with branded ads like hashtag challenges and lenses. These ads are fun for users and get a lot of engagement.

Is TikTok Advertising for You?

If you want to reach a younger audience, TikTok is a platform you’ll want to explore. However, it’s also important to stay on top of changing demographics—as the platform gets older, so could the user base.

Get the Most From Advertising on Social Media

There’s a lot to think before you choose the social media platforms you want to invest in. The platforms vary not only in the users they attract but in the cost of running ads.

Using this guide to social media advertising, you can decide which platform is best for reaching your target audience. From there, we recommend playing around with the platforms you’re considering to get comfortable with them before creating and running ads.

When you do your research and fine-tune your target audience, social advertising is an easy, cost-effective way to get your message in front of the people who most need to see it. Not sure how to get started with social media advertising? There are marketing agencies that specialize in social advertising so you can focus on running your business. Here are the top social media marketing agencies right now.

About the Author
With over 15 years in content marketing, Werner founded Influencer Marketing Hub in 2016. He successfully grew the platform to attract 5 million monthly visitors, making it a key site for brand marketers globally. His efforts led to the company's acquisition in 2020. Additionally, Werner's expertise has been recognized by major marketing and tech publications, including Forbes, TechCrunch, BBC and Wired.