Amid constant adjustments to social media algorithms and search engine rankings, getting your content noticed can be challenging. While organic search is the free and more comfortable option, the chances of going viral without putting some money on the table are slim.
In comes paid social advertising, which involves advertisements served to social media users and is increasingly looking like the surest way to bring in traffic and sales from day one.
According to a recent survey, 75% of Gen Zers and 48% of millennials are making purchasing decisions influenced by social media ads and in 2020, social media ad spending in the US was valued at $40.3 billion.
Whether a big or small business owner, social media advertising is a must, especially if you want to stand out from the crowd, gain content views and drive more sales.
How to Manage Your Social Media Advertising Campaigns
To manage a successful social media advertising campaign, considering the following:
Run your ad campaigns manually.
Out of the three ways to manage a campaign, running it manually will be your cheapest and most straightforward option. All you have to do is choose an advertising platform and set up your campaign.
Running an ad campaign manually allows you to invest 100% of your budget into testing ads and finding the best rather than spending extra money on ad management tools or agency fees.
Plus, taking charge of your own campaigns can let you develop an eye for advertising to learn and improve your campaigns in the future. Instead of letting someone else do the work, you can become an expert and speak the language, even if you hire outside advertisers down the road.
Becoming an advertising expert takes time and commitment, which means that the more time you invest in advertising, the less you can spend in other areas of your business. If you are a business owner, spending hours mastering advertising might not be conducive to a busy work schedule.
Additionally, just because you invest a lot of time in becoming an advertising expert does not mean your ads will succeed. If you’re stepping into the advertising world, it may be a gamble to invest all that time and risk not getting the results you want.
Who is it ideal for?
Running your campaigns manually may be your best bet if you’re operating on a tight budget and don’t have the means to hire an advertising agency.
However, unless you’re already a seasoned advertiser, you will need to be willing to invest time and effort to learn.
Run your ad campaigns using automated software.
With social media ad spending in the United States expected to reach more than $122 billion by 2026, it should come as no surprise that there are now a plethora of third-party tools to help you manage your campaigns.
Companies can also utilize automated tools like Adext, which uses AI to manage the entire campaign and allows you to focus on other areas of your business.
With so many tools on the market, you’ll be able to save time, optimize campaigns and ensure that their money is going toward ads that will turn into sales.
While third-party tools are often relatively affordable, they are still an additional cost to consider.
Just like manually running your own ad campaign, automated software risks spending money but not getting the desired results. Since you aren’t controlling the entire campaign process, it might be more challenging to identify where the ads manager is falling short.
Who is it ideal for?
For merchants working on a tight budget but also don’t have the time to invest in running their campaigns, using third-party tools is the happy medium. Creating a successful campaign is achievable with automated software and minimal invested time.
For business owners with limited resources, this is likely the best option.
Hire a professional to run your ad campaigns.
While this option is often the most expensive, it’s also the simplest and will likely reap the most benefits. Rather than relying on your own expertise or automated software, hiring a professional is likely to be the best option for achieving the results you want.
The most obvious advantage of hiring an advertising professional is that they know what they’re doing. As a result, the chances of getting your desired results are much higher.
Hiring a managed service also means zero work on your part, so you can invest time and energy into other areas of your business that need more focus.
Although you’d be paying a fee and ad spend, the hope is that your advertising will turn into consistent sales and keep you net positive.
The primary downside to hiring an ad agency is that you could waste a lot of money if you don’t hire a good ad agency.
Make sure to perform your own research to hire trustworthy professionals. Unfortunately, some agencies are only self-proclaimed experts who lure customers into wasting their money.
Who is it ideal for?
Hiring a managed service is the ideal solution for those who have the budget to spend and are eager for immediate sales.
Since social media advertising is easily measurable — if your ads aren’t performing up to your standards — you'll know who is responsible and if you need to hire a new and better agency.
How to Build a Creative Social Media Advertising Strategy
Making a successful social media advertising campaign is one thing, but crafting a creative ad strategy is often another matter. Before you begin, consider the following:
Determine what to sell.
If your ecommerce business only produces and sells one product, or if you already have an obvious bestseller, you can skip this step.
However, if your business has a large product catalog, you'll need to identify which of your products are most valuable and should be central to your advertising efforts.
Once you calculate your product's value, you can determine which ones generate high profits but are underrepresented in the ad account and adjust accordingly. While you can create a good advertisement for an average-selling product, featuring a bestselling product will likely result in more conversions and sales.
Research your audience.
Before selling to your audience, you must understand who they are and what they want. Knowing the functional purpose of your product and what your customers want isn’t always black and white.
To further know your audience, consider the following tips:
Whether positive or negative, customer reviews are valuable insights into what your customers want and how they view your product. These reviews can come from your online store, blogs, YouTube videos or Reddit posts.
Google Trends and keyword searches can help you understand how customers think about different products or topics.
Search for related hashtags on your brand’s social networks. This could be an excellent opportunity to find organic search for your products.
Use a creative platform.
The genesis of social media has opened the doors to many new opportunities for digital advertising, allowing businesses to take advantage of the innate capabilities of platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter.
While there are limitations to social media platforms, they're still opportunities for businesses to get creative in their customer interactions. Whether it's building out a FAQ section, interacting with customers directly or crafting a consistent presence, social media can change the avenues and direction of your advertising plans.
Create a digital marketing campaign.
Once you know your product and audience, it’s time to start putting the pieces into action. Here are four steps to get you on your way to building a successful digital marketing campaign:
Define your goals
Setting clear and reachable business goals is a vital foundation for creating a successful campaign.
It can be easy to jump into a campaign with lots of vision and ambition, but if you don’t have a focused approach, these ambitions may fall short. Whether it’s brand awareness, more social media followers or a higher SEO ranking, make sure you have a definable goal to guide you in your decisions throughout the process.
Identify your target audience
Make sure to know your audience, clearly and concisely. The more you understand who your customers are and what they want, the better you’ll be able to refine your advertising to better meet their needs.
Create customer personas
A customer persona is a detailed description of your target customer, highlighting their demographics such as age, location, occupation, income and other details that may influence how they make purchase decisions.
Determine your budget
Assessing your budget is key to determining your limitations and how you should allocate your resources.
Luckily, social media marketing is generally less expensive than traditional marketing, so your investments in digital will often give you more bang for your buck.
Improve your performance.
Return on advertising spend (ROAS) can clue you in on whether your ads are working, but they can’t tell you why if they aren’t.
You can also use the AIDA system to help businesses understand how customers experience advertisements and content. Designed in 1898, AIDA is a behavioral model that highlights the four effects an ad should produce in a customer:
Attention: How the content stops the prospect.
Interest: How the content holds the prospect.
Desire: How and why the content causes the prospect to explore further.
Action: How the content effectively sets up the final desired results, from purchases to conversions.
Best Social Media Platforms to Advertise On
When deciding where to place your ads, keep in mind that each social media site holds a unique audience — find out where your ideal customers are and meet them there.
The most popular platforms for social media advertising include:
As the largest social media platform in the world, it’s safe to say that Facebook is a reliable choice when deciding where to advertise. Facebook is popular among a wide variety of demographics, meaning there’s a good chance your target audience is engaging with the platform, too.
Aside from allowing Facebook users to connect and share content online, the platform also offers merchants the opportunity to advertise their products and services online. Here are a few Facebook advertising options that can help you meet campaign goals:
Image and Video ads
Image and video ads are the most basic ad formats provided by Facebook and among the simplest to design. Through a single high-quality image or video, advertisers can highlight new products, services and brands, and use them at any point of the sales funnel.
Stories ads are full-screen image, video or carousel ads that are presented through Facebook, Messenger or Instagram. However, unlike typical stories, stories ads do not disappear after 24 hours, giving them greater breadth and freedom of expression.
Carousel ads allow advertisers to show two or more images or videos within a single ad. Each ad can be presented with its own headline, description, link or call to action (CTA).
Slideshow ads are video-like ads that use up to ten images or a single video, displayed within a slideshow. They differ from video ads due to their fast-loading and easy-to-create nature.
Collection ads make it easier for people to discover, browse and purchase products from their phones. Each ad features a primary video or image with several accompanying images in a grid-like layout, pulling together in an immersive experience.
Messenger ads are presented in the Chats tab of the Messenger app. If a customer taps on the ad, they’ll be sent a detailed view of the product or service, complete with a call to action to go to a site or begin a conversation with an agent.
Playable ads are an interactive video ad designed for mobile app advertisers to drive customers to their application with a demo-like process. By allowing users to test-drive your app before downloading or purchasing, you can entice them without being intrusive.
Known for its glossy photos and videos, Instagram is an ideal platform for brands with visually appealing products and easily incorporated into visual media. Instagram also holds a massive user base, with the second-highest engagement rate among social media platforms and one of the youngest audiences.
If your business and target market fit both characteristics, Instagram ads could be your best option, offering advertisements such as:
Image and Video ads
Because Instagram advertising relies so heavily on images and videos, photo and video ads are the most common type you will use and come across. Between posts by their friends and followers, users can see advertisements pointing them toward a company’s page, website or store.
Instant Experience ads
Instant Experience (IX), formerly known as Canvas, ads are an immersive full-screen format designed primarily for mobile devices. They can be supported in both Instagram stories and feeds.
Like with Facebook, collection ads are designed to help users uncover, browse and purchase products — all from their mobile devices. Each collection ad includes a cover video or image with smaller product images added below.
Explore feed ads
Explore feed ads lie within Instagram’s Explore page, where users go to discover new content, watch new videos and find new shopping experiences. With these ads, businesses can find receptive customers where they want to be found.
Polling sticker ads
Polling ads are an interactive format used in Instagram stories to drive engagement and find what customers are looking for. These ads, while simple, can be very effective in giving your audience a way to interact with your business.
Instagram Shopping ads
Instagram Shopping ads enable customers to tap a product tag to learn more information about an item and find out how to purchase it. These ads are used within Instagram Shop to maximize the reach of your products and boost shoppable posts.
As the go-to platform for discovering breaking news and engaging with small and big-name influencers, Twitter has been one of the most popular social media channels since its launch in 2006.
Twitter ads offers several different options for brands to create advertising, including:
Image and Video ads
Twitter image and video ads allow businesses to highlight their products and capture the attention of potential customers. Easy to create and use, their ads can point people toward a site or drive campaigns via viral engagement.
Carousel ads allow you to tell a story and drive users to your website or app. With up to six horizontally swipeable images or videos, you can showcase multiple products or promotions.
Moments ads allow users to craft a collection of Tweets to tell an immersive story beyond the normal character limits. They can provide different perspectives and promote unique stories.
Twitter text ads resemble a standard tweet, including likes, replies, favorites and retweets. These native ads are meant to feel like regular Twitter content, allowing users to expand the reach of their business organically.
Follower ads promote an account to a targeted audience, building awareness and attracting new followers. They appear as Promoted Tweets in the target’s timeline, appearing natural and allowing for organic discovery.
Twitter Amplify ads
Twitter Amplify Ads are pre-roll advertisements that work to align brands with the premium content your customers are already watching, from highlights to viral clips. By going where the customer is already located, you can build off of a pre-existing audience.
Twitter Takeover ads
Twitter Takeover ads place your brand at the top of the conversation as the first ad of the day. When your target audience refreshes their Twitter Timeline, your ad will be the first one they’ll see, leading to greater engagement.
A relatively newer player in the social advertising game, TikTok holds enormous potential for reaching potential customers, especially among younger audiences. In just three years, the platform has grown in the US from 35.7 million users in 2019 to more than 94 million in 2022.
TikTok ad options are growing and include:
Image and Video ads
In-Feed ads allow brands to achieve their marketing objectives in an easy, flexible way. Appearing in a user’s For You Feed, these ads are designed to capture attention and drive engagement.
Hashtag challenges ads
Branded Hashtag Challenge ads transform how brands interact with their audience by sparking trends and cultural movements through viral challenges or hashtags.
Pinterest is another highly visual platform, decorated with whimsical wedding photos, cooking videos and fashion reels. It is an ideal platform for social media advertising considering its users typically use the platform to find and purchase products.
Pinterest ads use a highly targeted search engine, allowing brands to advertise via the following options:
Standard and Video Pin ads
Standard and Video Pin ads are the primary option advertisers, allowing brands to present high-quality content that will stand out in people’s feeds. Through these ads, you can capture people’s attention and drive them toward engagement.
Carousel Pin ads
Carousel Pin ads is a Standard Pin, but with multiple images. They are a fantastic way to showcase the different features and capabilities of a product or even to advertise multiple products at once.
Idea Pin ads
Idea Pin ads are a multi-page spread to share ideas, show off the personality of the brand and drive people towards your store with unique content.
As the world’s largest professional network, LinkedIn has an extensive professional user base and can target customers based on job qualifications. Unlike most other platforms that focus on B2C advertising, the nature of LinkedIn advertising also makes it better suited to involve B2B advertising campaigns.
There are several types of LinkedIn ads, including:
Single Image and Video ads
Carousel Ads allow brands to tell an interactive story through a swipeable series of cards, images or videos in the LinkedIn feed. These brands are extensively customizable, from the content to the landing URL.
Event Ads allow businesses to amplify LinkedIn events or webinars to drive maximum attendance.
Document Ads help brands and businesses collect leads and drive customer engagement by sharing documents within the LinkedIn feed.
Conversation Ads work by engaging prospects in LinkedIn Messaging to drive professional conversations and promote products or services.
Message Ads allow businesses to send direct messages to prospects to spark immediate action and begin conversations.
Lead Gen Form ads
Lead Generation Forms make it easy for brands to collect quality leads from ads on LinkedIn through pre-filled forms or documents.
Text Ads can drive new customers to your business through items such as compelling headlines, brief descriptions or optional images.
Spotlight Ads showcase a brand’s products, services or events to increase traffic to your website, landing page or store.
Follower Ads take advantage of existing connections to promote your LinkedIn page and acquire additional followers.
Snapchat is one of the most casual social media platforms, with an audience primarily among millennials and Gen Zers. However, with $2.8 billion in revenue in 2021 and an audience size of over 300 million, Snapchat is no laughing matter and is a significant opportunity for advertisers.
There are several different Snapchat ad types, including:
Single Image and Video ads
Single Image and Video Ads are full screen ads that are easy to create and can be used for all business objectives, from awareness to purchase.
Collection Ads showcase a series of products through four tappable tiles, providing a frictionless path for users to browse, select and purchase.
Story Ads make it simple to reach users with a series of 3-20 Singe Image or Video ads, either through the Content page or a branded tile in the Discover section.
Lenses AR ads
Lenses AR Experience ads allow brands to create interactive moments with augmented reality experiences that users can play with or send to friends.
Commercials are non-skippable ads that appear for six seconds up to three minutes. They are used within Snapchat’s curated content to engage with the audience and drive brand awareness.
Filter ads use Snapchat’s various artistic overlays to drive conversations as they visit different areas or participate in viral engagements.
Want to learn more about which social channels might be the best fit for your business? Take our omnichannel personality quiz to find out.
Social Media Advertising Tactics
Once you’ve determined your social platform and the types of ads you want to display, it’s time to put your advertising wheels in motion. To help get you started, here are several tips to get more eyes on your content and turn viewers into customers:
Targeting an audience means zoning in on a select demographic, whether age, gender, occupation or interest.
By using keyword search, surveying and interviewing customers and creating clear customer personas, you can get a better picture of your customers and target them more accurately.
Not only should you target new and potential customers, but you should also make sure to retarget existing customers. This will help remind customers of your brand even if they’ve already made a purchase and is more cost-effective than advertising to potential customers.
Promote on social media platforms.
A critical aspect of social media advertising is upping your social media strategy.
Promoting and repurposing your organic content across social media channels as support for advertising campaigns can help you to tell your brand story and make it stand out from competitors.
Paid search and social ads.
Using remarketing lists for search ads (RLSA), you can tailor your PPC search ads based on whether a customer has visited your online store and which pages they viewed. This way, you can target users who are already familiar with your business.
You can take this up a notch by combining paid search with social ads to target both those who know and don’t know your brand. By first targeting social ads, you can build brand awareness and help customers become more familiar with your products. Then, when they see your PPC ads, they’ll feel more comfortable and inclined to click on your website.
Improve quality score.
Quality score is a ranking metric that search engines use to indicate the quality of your keywords and PPC ads and an essential aspect of social media advertising. The higher your quality score, the higher your ad will rank and the more impressions it will get at a lower cost per engagement.
By posting organically to social advertising platforms and tracking engagement with each ad, you can pinpoint which paid ads are top-performing.
Optimize user engagement.
One of the key ways to bring traffic to your website and consequently drive sales is by optimizing your ad content.
Among other ranking factors like keywords, page speed and mobile friendliness, one crucial SEO factor is user engagement. These metrics include click-through rate (CTR), bounce rate and conversion rate.
Even if user engagement isn’t a core ranking factor for search engines, high CTRs and conversion rates will still achieve better organic search rankings and more conversions.
Mobile-friendly ads are a must.
With over 98% of Facebook users accessing the app via a mobile device, your ads must be available for mobile use.
Not only should your ads physically fit on a mobile screen, but they also need to be designed with the mobile user in mind. This means legible branding, large and clear text, eye-catching graphics and interactivity whenever possible.
BigCommerce integrates with over 150 marketplaces, social channels and search engines so you can sell more everywhere.
The Final Word
In the ecommerce landscape, social media advertising is one of the most efficient and effective ways to reach your target audience and turn them into customers. No other advertising options can deliver the kind of consistent, scalable leads as social advertising.
As more and more retailers dip their toes into social media, it’s crucial that you understand the ins and out of this advertising medium and start strengthening your strategy. With these tips under your belt and actionable goals to guide you through the process, you’ll be way ahead of the curve.