Target Your Social Advertising

Social media can be such a useful component of social media marketing, it is time to plan your paid strategy and learn how to set up an ad campaign. Let’s set up an ad on Twitter as an example, but most social media platforms will guide you through setting up a campaign in a similar way.

Develop a paid social media strategy

Define your objective

To get the results you’d like, it’s important to clearly define the purpose of your paid campaign. Do you want to gain more followers? Get more engagement with your posts? Generate more brand awareness? Encourage your customers to sign up for something or make a purchase based on a particular offer.

Setting the objective for your paid social media strategy helps guide your users to your end goals, such as an offer on your website, an email subscription form, or your social media profile itself. Goal-setting also ensures that you’re tracking the right metrics and KPIs associated with your campaign. Then you can build your campaign around this objective.

Determine who your audience

Social media campaigns should be built around reaching one of your customer personas on social media. A customer persona represents a group of similar people in a desirable audience. Unlike with organic social media, it can get expensive to reach a wide audience with ads. Narrowing down your target audience can help you allocate your budget more effectively. You can use filters and other criteria to narrow down your audience when you’re setting up your ad. You can target people by gender, age, and physical location.

Choose your platform

You should invest in social platforms that you’re familiar with and have an established audience on. If it is your first paid social media campaign, you may just want to focus on the social media platform that is currently your biggest source of leads.

Define your campaign length

Do you want your campaign to last one week, two weeks, or a month? Set specific start and end dates for your campaign.

Set your campaign budget

You can start by researching the average advertising cost on that platform. Some platforms require that you spend a minimum ad budget for each ad group. If you spend a certain amount on some platforms, you may also have access to special features. The opportunity to work with platform managers to optimize your campaign and even refine your creative content and messaging.

Develop and upload creatives

Creatives are any content that can be promoted in a campaign, such as text, images, GIFs, or videos. To develop your creatives, first familiarize yourself with the required ad specs including dimensions, sizes, and formats for different platforms. Carefully craft your call-to-action phrases and marketing messaging so that your ads land with your target audience. You might want to perform organic testing to ensure that your assets are optimized. Once your contents are ready, you can upload them to the social media platform.

Launch your campaign

Once your ad has been approved by the platform, you can launch your campaign. Your ads will automatically post at the campaign start date and time you set. Just like organic content, you can use a social media calendar to plan and publish your ads. You will likely need to do some fine-tuning to your ads to optimize their performance.

Ad formats on social media

An advertising best practice is to select ad formats based on your advertising goals. An ad format that is known to work best for that identified goal.

Advertising goals, then formats

Goal: Maximize awareness

  • Best format: Video
  • Advantage: Transfer maximum amount of information in a short amount of time

Goal: Maximize clicks

  • Best format: Static image
  • Advantage: Combine with a compelling call to action

Goal: Maximize conversions

  • Best format: Static image
  • Advantage: Combine with a click-to-purchase call to action

Goal: Maximize app downloads

  • Best format: Video
  • Advantage: Provide instruction on how to use the app

Goal: Maximize engagement

  • Best format: Video
  • Advantage: Tell stories that draw people in

Ad formats, then specifications

After you have identified the ad format(s) you want to use, choose the social media platforms and look up specific requirements for each. Search for the specifications for the ad formats you have chosen on those platforms.

For example, if you’re going to run a static image ad on LinkedIn, consult the ads guide first and then refer to the specification.

  1. Consult the ads guide
  2. Locate the specifications for a static image ad

In general, the type of ads you select will depend on your advertising budget and goals. Some ads are more expensive to run than others, so if budget is a concern, you might not choose the most expensive types of ads. Certain ads are better suited for particular advertising goals than others. It’s always helpful to identify your advertising goals first and then choose the ad formats that best support your goals. After you have selected the ad formats, consult and follow the specifications for the ad formats on the social media platforms you will use. Use the following resources.

Resources for more information

Choose social media platforms for your ads

As you begin to build out your paid social media strategy, you will want to place social media ads on certain platforms. To properly choose where to place your ads, you will want to know where your target audience lies.

Know your audience

People use social media platforms for specific purposes. Not every platform is alike, one might be for socializing with friends and family, while another is meant to help users network and grow their careers. Because each social media platform has its intended use, it’s important to choose your ad platform wisely. You can rely on testing to see which platforms your audience engages with ads the most.


Facebook has over 1.4 billion average daily users, and it is indeed one of the most popular platforms. So, if your brand has a Facebook presence, use it to your advantage. By posting GIFs, videos, static images, and carousels, you can leverage those ads to drive website traffic, grow brand awareness, increase your conversion rate, and more.


Instagram is an image base platform, and there are different ways to create an Instagram ad like stories ads and promoting posts. Whether you are leveraging influencer marketing by paying influencers to post Reels using the hashtag “#ad” or creating Instagram Stories ads, it has become an effective place to get conversions.


If your brand targets a niche audience, consider placing ads on Twitter. Twitter offers a community-based connection that not every platform offers. It offers timely interactions and updates. Since conversation and engagement are encouraged so heavily on the app, Twitter helps users feel connected to brands.


YouTube is an effective space to advertise video content if your audience is between the ages of 18-49. YouTube now reaches more 18-49-year-olds than every cable TV network. YouTube prides itself on being community based, and they do this by prioritizing original video content, and fostering engagement in the comments section.


If your brand caters to other businesses; rather than consumers, LinkedIn might be the place for your ads – it’s widely considered the place for professionals and business leaders to interact.

Social media is an ever-changing industry. What worked for your brand last year may not work for your brand this year, so don’t be afraid to pivot your social strategy if necessary.

The most important thing to remember is that your social media ad strategy should be based on your audience’s preferences. This means you should prioritize gathering data and cultivating relationships with them to know how to best serve them.

Remarketing on social media

Think back to a time when you visited a company’s website and looked at a product but left without making a purchase. Maybe you were still considering whether or not you wanted to buy it, or you just got distracted by something else. Then later you saw an ad for the same product on one of your social media profiles. That’s remarketing in practice.

Remarketing or retargeting displays paid ads to target customers who have visited your website, app, or social media profile. Remarketing gives you another opportunity to reach potential leads to customers. Remarketing gives you another opportunity to reach potential leads or customers.

By increasing the number of times customers see your ads, you help ensure that your brand will be in their minds when they’re evaluating their purchase options. Remarketing also helps companies personalize their marketing. Rather than displaying ads to random users, remarketing targets previous visitors and creates a personalized experience for them. This can lead to more conversions.

Remarketing can be used with various digital marketing channels, including paid search, display, email, and social media. There are two main types of remarketing: pixel and list-based.

Pixel-based remarketing sends ads automatically to users after placing a cookie into their web browser that tracks the pages and products they view. A cookie is a small file stored on devices that allow you to track user behavior and analyze traffic. When the user leaves your website and browsers their social media profiles or other websites, ad networks like Google Ads or Facebook Ad Manager are notified to display specific ads to that user based on what they looked at previously.

If you have the email address of potential customers, you can also use list-based remarketing to personalize the ads you send them. List-based remarketing uses lists of existing customers or visitors who have provided you with their email addresses and shows specific ads to them. Be sure to handle all user data you collect with care to protect users’ privacy. Platforms like Google and Facebook hash all data when it’s uploaded for this purpose. Hashing is a security method that turns the personal information in your email lists into randomized code. 

To start list-based remarketing, you’ll upload your list of email contacts to the platform of your choice. Your audience will then start seeing your ads as they browse through that platform.

Remarketing best practices

  • Personalize your ads based on a specific audience. Rather than displaying ads to every user who visited your profile previously, segment audiences into interest-based groups. Custom audiences allow you to create relevant remarketing campaigns to reach highly-specific groups of people by uploading your email lists of existing customers and followers.
  • Remarket to past purchasers. Almost half of the overall revenue from U.S. online retailers comes from repeat customers. For example, if someone purchased a toy from your company previously, you could remarket to them with additional offers on children’s products.
  • Limit the frequency of your ads. It helps you avoid the risk of having a potential customer feel overwhelmed.
  • It’s also a good practice to untag visitors who have followed through with a purchase. It helps ensure people don’t see too many of your ads after they’ve already converted.

Create an effective call to action in your social ad

A call to action or a CTA is an instruction provided to the customer that tells them what to do next. Calls to action can be found in every kind of marketing, and they can be very persuasive and effective strategies to get customers to take the action you want. Typically, CTAs are buttons, clickable images, or links that you are instructing users to click.

Writing a call to action

The first and most important thing to consider when writing your call to action is your brand goals. What are you hoping to achieve with each social media post, and how will your CTA help you get there? If your goal is to generate more website traffic, maybe you hope people will click on a link that you’ve posted that sends them to your homepage. Make sure to give them a reason to click. Ask yourself, why should they click? What will they get out of if?

Use clarity

It’s important to prioritize clarity in your call to action because you want users to clearly understand how clicking on it will benefits them. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be enthusiastic, witty, or animated in your language. It does mean the first priority is for users to understand what they are being asked to do.

Use action words

The goal of using a call to action is to get users to act in some way. Be clear and direct in your phrasing, so they know they are being instructed to do something. Action words (or verbs) like: sign up, visit, click, download, shop and follow are effective ways to communicate the action you’d like people to take.

Use urgency

Using urgency can be effective to compel users to feel like they need to act now. Your goal is not to trick or exploit customers by forcing them to do something, but if you are offering something in return, the deal may not last forever – you should be clear about that in your CTA. Using words like “today only” communicates to them that the offer has an expiration date and could encourage them to act on it.

Use your brand voice

The tone you’ve opted to use in your captions and copy should be reflected in your CTAs. Your brand’s voice should be consistent across all marketing channels. Is your brand warm and inviting? Cool and succinct? Casual and silly? Make sure your CTA feels that way too.

Happy learning and good luck!

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