Business Woman Using Social Media Advertising on Phone

Essential Guide to Social Media Advertising

Social media advertising is an incredible tool for businesses. Besides providing an open door to your target audience, it offers up fast results, detailed reporting and the ability to continually optimise ads and maximise return-on-investment. That’s not even mentioning the laser precision with which you can target your audience, based on everything from their location, age and gender to occupation, interests and more!

Put simply, master social media advertising and you’ll be ready to take your business to the next level. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know – from choosing the right platforms to setting up your campaign.

What is social media advertising?

Social media advertising refers to paid advertising on a variety of social media platforms – including Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, Pinterest and YouTube. More specifically, it’s a type of pay-per-click (PPC) advertising on those platforms…

What is PPC advertising?

In a few words, PPC is a paid form of social media marketing that allows you to show your ads on social media platforms. With traditional adverts, you pay up front and see how it goes. However, PPC is a little different. As the name suggests, you can pay for every click through on your advert along with reach and impressions.

So, you’re only spending money on the people who are genuinely interested in your products or services. It’s not hard to see why PPC ads have been a game-changer for social media advertising. Basically, it’s like putting a massive billboard on the motorway for free and only having to pay for it when someone checks out your brand.

Social Media Advertising Snapshot

Data source: Statista, https://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2022/07/18/social-media-advertising

What are the different types of PPC adverts?


It’s not just anecdotal that people are drawn to images – according to Facebook, a sequence of photo ads can draw more traffic than any other ad type. Make sure your images are in keeping with your brand style and that they’re of a high quality.

On some platforms, there’s the option to combine images and videos to create a ‘catalogue’ style advertisement. Carousel ads, for example, can feature up to 10 images and videos with links in one ad, whilst collection ads include a large photo or video, along with several smaller photos.


In the age of TikTok, shorter video ads are usually the way to go, as they’re more digestible for consumers. But if you have a particularly important message to send, there’s always the option for longer videos.

The Instagram feed supports videos of various sizes and dimensions and you can upload a video with a resolution ranging from 1080 x 608 pixels (landscape) to 1080 x 1350 pixels (portrait).

Instagram Video Ad Sizes

Stories ads

Some platforms have the option to display full-screen ads in stories. These ads last for set amount of time depending on the platform and type of content. On Facebook, for example, photo story ads last six seconds, whilst video story ads last for fifteen seconds.

Instagram Story Ad Examples

Messenger ads

Looking specifically at Facebook, you can also display ads in the Chats tab on Facebook Messenger. These can be used to start automated conversations with customers or link them to your website.

So, why is social media advertising important?

In a world where attention spans are getting increasingly shorter by the day, getting your message across has never been more difficult. Just think about all the time we spend in front of our smartphones. Whether we’re reading the news or checking out social media, we’re constantly overwhelmed by a barrage of information. Actually, you don’t even have to think about it – we’ve crunched the numbers for you.

According to a recent survey, the average time spent on social media in the UK is more than an hour and a half every day. And that is for an extremely wide age group of 16 to 64 years. Narrow that down to the 18-to-30 age group (the highest online purchasing penetration group in the UK) and it’ll be closer to 2 hours a day. That’s 120 minutes every day of looking at trivial posts, memes, people’s breakfasts – and, most importantly, adverts.

The widespread use of social media among groups with high online purchasing penetration represents a massive window of opportunity for social media advertising. It is simply too good to let it pass. In the pre-internet days, companies would kill to run adverts during the commercial breaks for the TV show that kept the audience in front of the telly for two hours a day. Nowadays, all you need to do to get the exact same reach is pay a little money to boost your social media posts.

But that’s not the only reason why this form of advertising is so popular…

9 benefits of social media advertising

Why do so many businesses invest in social media advertising? Broadly speaking, it allows brands to connect with targeted audiences quickly and effectively. But dig a little deeper and you’ll find even more advantages for your brands…

1. It brings you quality traffic

With so many people on social media, advertising on these platforms might seem like casting your net into a massive sea. But that’s certainly not the case. PPC advertising enables you to target your ideal customers by details such as their demographics and interests. This means you’re not advertising to everyone at a higher cost, you’re homing in specifically on people who are already interested in what you offer.

2. And it doesn’t stop there

Equipped with artificial intelligence and machine learning, social media advertising systems can learn based on customer action, driving more action among people who are likely to convert. This allows you to quickly test ad creatives, audiences and placements, so you can make campaign changes in real time

In turn, that allows you to be super personalised with the content you provide, targeting various audiences with different creatives and messaging to convert them better.

3. Cost-effective compared to other forms of advertising

Not only is social media PPC advertising more reasonably priced than search engine ads, but it also brings a huge return on investment. Plus, you only pay when customers see, engage with or click through on your advert, so you’re paying for leads who are genuinely interested in your products and services.

Social Media Advertising Costs By Platform

(Data source: Statista, https://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2022/07/18/social-media-advertising)

4. Social media PPC works quickly

We all know the stresses of trying to achieve marketing success organically on social media. Whilst it’s important to develop organic social media campaigns to build brand connection and loyalty, sometimes it’s also great to have instant results. PPC advertising offers you just that, as your ads are fast-tracked into customers’ social media feeds.

5. In-depth analytics / reporting

Another great benefit of PPC advertising is that it doesn’t keep you in the dark about what’s working and what isn’t. You’ll have access to all the statistics to measure everything from impressions to conversions.

6. The sky is the limit for optimisation

With social media PPC, there’s plenty of scope to tailor your advertisements to your brand image and tone of voice – and to tweak your campaigns as you learn what works.

7. Improved brand awareness

PPC ads blend into customers’ social feeds and they can like, share and comment on them as they would any other post. Aside from the conversions themselves, that provides plenty of extra scope for brand engagement.

8. Social media PPC is diverse

From the different types of PPC adverts to the array of platforms available, there are many unique ways to target all sorts of customers.

9. Create a community of repeat purchasers and loyal customers

Social media adverts aren’t just for a single purchase – they encourage repeat customers. How? Well, everything from offering discounts to creating a targeted brand image can help to build long-lasting connections with online consumers.

What Marketers Post Vs What Consumers Want

(Data source: Sprout Social, MarketingCharts.com, WordStream)

How to create a social media advertising campaign in 6 simple steps

There’s no two ways about it. Creating a social media advertising campaign requires a lot of hard work if you want to get it right. That means spending time researching your target audience, crafting the right content for your ads, and tweaking them if they’re not performing as they should.

That said, it’s a little easier when you know what steps you need to take. With that in mind, we’ve put together a roadmap for creating social media ads…

1. Think about the purpose of your social media campaign

A good social media advertising campaign needs to serve a clear purpose. In most cases, the main aim is to increase your sales conversion rates – in plain English, to get more people to buy your products or services. That being said, not all social media advertising campaigns are about selling more stuff.

For example, let’s say that you’ve just created your brand. Like most companies, you’ve come to terms with the fact that you won’t be turning a profit for the first few months. And that’s fine! After all, no company ever began selling thousands of products within a few days of opening.

However, that’s not to say that your first few months as a brand owner should be spent staring into space waiting for your target audience to magically turn up. Instead, you should be out in the streets looking for them. Well, not literally, of course. What we mean is that you should be trying to find out the answer to these questions…

  • What are my current business objectives? Do I want to ramp up my sales from day one or to grow a dedicated audience more sustainably?
  • What kind of social media advertising campaign aligns with my business objectives?
  • What kind of audience is my brand attracting? And how can I reach more people like them?

2. Find out who your target audience is

When it comes to social media advertising, screaming into the void won’t get you anywhere. If you want your social media ad campaign to be truly effective, you need to ensure that it’s addressing the right people. After all, nothing makes a brand grow faster like having a loyal and dedicated target audience that is fully committed to your products.

When it comes down to it, it’s the customer who will make the final call on whether to buy your product or not. Buyers like to feel like they are in control – if they’re buying a certain product, it is because it’s a reflection of their personality. However, that’s not to say that you can’t influence their decision.

But you can’t exert your influence on your customers without having access to essential information about them. These are the most important pieces of data that you need to find out about your target customer:

  • Age
  • Location
  • Gender
  • Income
  • Interests
  • Purchase behaviour
  • Competitors
  • What platform(s) they use

Percentage of US Adults Who Social Media Platforms

(Data source: Pew Research Centre, Hootsuite)

However, learning how to find your target audience isn’t easy. On top of finding out how to gather key information, you’ll also need to learn how to navigate such a large volume of data. This can be extremely overwhelming – unless you have all the right tools. If you really want to hit the nail on the head, here’s what you’ve got to do:

Conduct market research

There are lots of ways to gain meaningful insights into your industry and potential customers. Do some research into popular search keywords and phrases, and embed yourself within the current discussions on social media and other forum sites. If you’ve already had customers, take a look through the analytics or create an online survey to gather more detail customer perspectives.

Identify industry trends

When a product has a spike in popularity, it’s only natural that you want to cash in on it too. But is it suitable for a long-term investment? Looking into industry trends helps you to see what’s gaining popularity, what’s losing favour amongst customers, and what remains relatively stable. This way, you can see exactly where your brand fits in – and what you can capitalise on.

Research your competition

Understanding your competition helps you to get to grips with what’s already on offer in the market, so you can pinpoint what makes you unique for customers. You’ll also be able to see what’s working for competitors, as well as their weaknesses.

Top Social Media Channels Used By Online Brands

(Data source: Hootsuite, GWI, WordStream)

Define an audience map

Now it’s time to start thinking about your potential customers in a bit more detail. What are their demographics? What interests them? Which of your products or services would they be most likely to buy? What social media platforms would they be visiting from? What would convince them to buy?

Build a buyer persona

Once you have the general picture, it’s time to flesh out the details. It can help to develop a specific character – a “buyer persona’ – who is essentially a fictional version of your ideal customer. You could even create multiple personas who reflect different types of customers. Who are they? What does their daily life look like? Why do they need your products?

3. Create fresh and effective content

The next step is to think about creating your advertisement. This will vary depending on your platform, the style of advert you choose, the products you sell, and the ideal buyer persona you’ve created. Some questions to ask yourself include:

  • What would work best for this advertisement, a video or an image ad?
  • How much budget do I have for this content?
  • What style of content would my ideal customer be most interested in?

Ultimately, it’s about tailoring your advertising to your brand and customers. For example, if your company supplies DIY shelving kits, then a photo advertisement on Pinterest or Instagram might not be the best type of ad for you. A long-form tutorial video on YouTube is likely to be a better option to engage potential customers – and help them to understand how your products work in one fell swoop.

4. Implement your campaign

Now it’s time to put your hard work into practice and get that campaign out into the world. This might sound simple, but keep any eye out for any technical hitches. For example, different platforms have different image requirements, so you’ll need to make sure each advert is tailored to the platform. It’s also important to monitor, respond to or even remove comments that consumers leave on your adverts.

5. Track your campaign

Once your advert is live, it’s not time to rest on your laurels. Instead, you should be tracking your campaign to see how successful it is. Social media platforms give you access to the data you need to understand the full impact of an ad campaign on your business. Some of the most important metrics to check out include:

  • Ad impressions – This shows the number of times your advert was seen.
  • Engagement – This is the amount of likes, shares and comments your ad has received from users. If people are barely interacting with your ad, you may need to return to the drawing board.
  • Click-through rate – If you’re wondering how many people actually clicked on your ad, this metric will show you as a percentage of overall impressions. Again, if not many people are clicking through, this can be an indication that something is wrong with your ad.
  • Conversion rate – Arguably the most important metric, this shows how many people are clicking through to your website and making a purchase.

Facebook Average Conversion Rate

(Data source: WordStream)

6. Optimise your campaign

Once you have all the data at your fingertips, it’s time to put it to use. Whether it’s issues with the click-through rate or you just want to keep improving your conversions, there are always ways to optimise your social media advertising.

For example, you can use A/B testing to tweak details of your campaigns and determine which customers prefer. Just because an ad is successful, doesn’t mean it can’t get better!

What social media platforms can I advertise on?

Here’s a rundown of the different social media platforms at your disposal with their pros and cons…



  • It’s the biggest social media platform – With nearly 3 billion monthly active users, Facebook is a social media juggernaut that’s used by consumers of all ages and backgrounds. This naturally maximises your opportunities for advertising success.
  • Full eCommerce integration – It’s quick and simple to set up a Facebook store so customers can browse your products directly on the app. Then, once they’re ready to buy, they can click through to the checkout.
  • Great option for engagement – Likes! Shares! Comments! Facebook advertising isn’t just great for sales, it’s good for engagement too! A Google search ad isn’t shareable, but with Facebook, your advertising doubles up as yet another tool to draw in more consumers.


  • Expensive – With its large userbase comes large costs. You’ll need a decent budget to get your Facebook ads into the sights of your customers
  • Losing popularity – Whilst Facebook is inarguably the social media platform with the largest userbase, it isn’t necessarily the most popular. Other platforms, such as YouTube and TikTok, are building their own followings, and are particularly strong rivals for Facebook if they offer niche content.



  • Diverse range of adverts – Whilst the platform has traditionally been centred around images, the new Instagram algorithm has given more weight to video content, enabling the platform to grow and adapt to threats from competitors, such as TikTok. From photo or video ads to stories, Instagram advertising offers businesses many unique ways to promote their products and services. You can even find ads in the Explore tab, where users look for new content to engage with.
  • Highly targeted – Like Facebook, Instagram goes all out on targeted advertising. It’s not just demographics and locations that you can target, but behaviours and interests too.


  • Smaller audience – This is both a pro and a con depending on your business. Instagram still has a huge audience, but it’s generally limited to one particular age range, 18-34 year olds. So, if you’re hoping to target a younger audience, it’s absolutely ideal! If your products are aimed at someone older, it might not be the best choice.
  • No room for text – It’s no secret. Instagram is all about photo and video content. Unfortunately, that means if your product needs a written explanation or requires text to really make it sell, it’s not the most suitable platform for your brand.



  • Reach diverse audiences – TikTok is overflowing with niche audiences, so it’s a great place to market unique products. With so many popular influencers on the platform, it’s also easy to reach those off-beat audiences who would love your brand.
  • Maximises awareness – There are plenty of ways that followers can interact with TikTok advertising aside from the usual likes and comments. They can even utilise snippets of your videos within their own content. And with branded hashtag challenges, there are so many ways for your ads to go viral.


  • Costly – TikTok isn’t cheap. Unlike Facebook and Instagram, which can be used for smaller campaigns, you really need a strong budget behind you for TikTok advertising.
  • Aimed at younger audiences – A whopping 25% of TikTok’s US userbase is between 10-19 years old. So, it’s obviously a better choice for brands that advertise towards younger audiences. However, when you consider that around 20% of users are between the ages of 40-49, it’s clear that TikTok could be opening up to broader demographics in the future.



  • Cost-effective – YouTube advertising is comparatively low-cost, with skippable videos charged on a Cost-Per-View basis, so you’ll only be charged if a viewer watches to the end of the ad or the first thirty seconds. Unskippable bumper videos are charged for every thousand impressions on the video.
  • Engaging video content – Informative and engaging video content makes a huge impact on YouTube, as viewers enjoy content that’s meaningful and attention-grabbing. That means if you have an ad that doubles up as a make-up tutorial or DIY explainer video, customers will simply enjoy it as content rather than feel like they’re just looking at a corporate advert.


  • Lack of choice – You won’t be able to select the videos that your advertisement appears on. That means you could potentially end up advertising on a video that doesn’t fit your company values, which could affect your reputation.
  • Skippable adverts – Longer video adverts on YouTube are skippable after five seconds. As they can interrupt the videos they play on, this can also become irritating for viewers who may even install adblockers to avoid advertising altogether.



  • Niche-focused – Like Instagram and TikTok, Pinterest advertising is all about interests and hobbies. This means it’s an ideal choice for smaller brands who are hoping to increase brand awareness, as it’s not swamped entirely by the biggest names.
  • Perfect for visual shoppers – According to Pinterest, 75% of their users say they’re always shopping. And with images being a huge part of the platform, it’s the perfect choice to appeal to consumers and inspire them to spend.


  • Picture perfect – As Pinterest is an image-focused platform, your photos need to be of a very high quality. You’ll need to spend a bit of extra time and money on getting clear, inspiring photos of your products.
  • Lifestyle focused – As mentioned, Pinterest is all about interests. If you’ve got stunning photos of jewellery, hand-made recipes or shabby-chic furniture, it’s a great option! If your business focuses on double-glazing or carpeting, then another platform might be better for your brand.

How to choose the right platform

When deciding which social media platforms to advertise on, your best way forward is to adopt a pragmatic view. First of all, do some research on all of the main social media platforms in order to gain a firm grasp of their demographics. And remember – you should do this even with the ones that you don’t know about. In our experience as a social media advertising agency, sometimes it’s the most overlooked social media platforms that end up delivering the best results.

In many cases, the social media platform that you choose will depend on your target audience and the kind of product you’re trying to sell. If you’re a soft furnishings retailer, for example, you might be better off advertising on Pinterest rather than TikTok – even if the latter has more users.

Average Time Spent Per Day On Social Media In US

(Data source: Statista, WordStream)

Similarly, brands that are trying to appeal to a younger audience will typically be better suited to Instagram, YouTube and TikTok rather than Facebook or Twitter. But there’s more to making an informed decision than studying the demographics of each platform. These are some of the most important factors that you also need to take into consideration…

eCommerce integration

Some platforms will have more complex eCommerce integration than others, so it’s important to consider how you want your social media to link up with your website. For example, some social media sites allow you to place CTAs directly on your profile to encourage conversions, including visiting your website or signing up to your newsletter. Others, including Facebook and Instagram, enable you to browse products from the app before linking through to your website checkout page when it’s time to pay.

Types of adverts

Social media platforms offer different types of adverts – from branded filters on Instagram or Snapchat to video adverts before a YouTube video. The most popular types will vary between platforms. Images go well on Facebook, whilst TikTok is the home of short and sweet videos. Once you have a clear idea of the type of customer you want to appeal to, it’s important to think about the types of ads they’ll be looking for.

Return on Investment (ROI)

When you’re advertising on social media, your ultimate goal is to turn followers into customers. So, you want to be sure you’ll have a great return on investment for the ads you’ve paid for. According to research from Hubspot, 40% of marketers saw the highest ROI from Facebook, followed 30% for Instagram. This shows that both of these platforms are great options for social media advertising – but that doesn’t mean you should overlook other options which might be more suited to your brand.

Which Social Media Channels Provide Most ROI

(Data Source: HubSpot’s 2021 State of Marketing report, HubSpot)

Where your product fits

Ultimately, the most important factor to consider is what works for your product. You could advertise your product on a leading social media platform as much as you like and still get little to no return. Meanwhile, if you advertise on social platform that’s tailored to your niche, it’s more likely to boost your ROI. For example, video content flourishes on Instagram, YouTube and TikTok, so they’re naturally ideal places for make-up and beauty advertising.

What platform your audience is on

Similarly, there’s no point in advertising somewhere you have no audience. If you’re advertising to the older generation, for example, TikTok might not be the smartest choice. It’s important to be aware of the platforms your target audience likes to use.

What actions you would like your customer to take

When choosing a social media platform, consider what your end goal is. What do you want customers to do? Sign up to a mailing list? Purchase a product? Or just follow and share to more potential customers? Platforms like Facebook have plenty of scope for engagement, whilst Instagram offers product tagging and shopping options.

Social media advertising checklist

  • Develop a clear purpose for your campaign

Be clear on what you’d like customers to do once they’ve interacted with your social media advertisement, e.g., make a purchase, subscribe to your newsletter.

  • Pinpoint your target audience

It’s no use trying to appeal to everyone. Make sure you’ve done your research into who your ideal customers are, including by researching the competition and developing a buyer persona.

  • Decide on your social media PPC budget

How much are you prepared to spend on your campaigns? Defining this right from the start will ensure your advertising sticks within your budget.

  • Choose the social media platform(s) to advertise on

The platforms you decide to market on should always be influenced by your customer base and your products. Research the platforms your ideal customers like to use before making a decision.

  • Decide on the type of advert to use

This will be influenced by the platform you choose, your audience, and the products or services you offer, among other factors. Make-up products, for example, often benefit from video tutorial ads.

  • Create content for your campaign

Your advertisement content needs to fit with your branding style and be consistent across all platforms. Make sure any photos or video are high-quality.

  • Implement your advertising

Remember that certain platforms will have different image requirements than others, so you might need to complete some last-minute photo-editing. Don’t forget to respond to comments from consumers either.

  • Track and optimise your social media ads

Once your PPC ad is live, it’s not time to relax yet. Make sure to track the performance of your adverts to see what is working and what isn’t. You can use this information later to optimise your ads.

Maximise your social media advertising results with the experts at Hoopla Marketing

Social media advertising is a broad subject, encompassing a variety of platforms and advert styles. For the uninitiated, it can quickly become a confusing minefield. If you’re up all night worrying about your social media ad campaigns, it’s time to call on the experts.

At Hoopla, we have a wealth of experience creating dynamic paid social media campaigns that convert for our clients. From conducting industry research and developing a paid social media strategy to creating, implementing and optimising your content, we’re here to skyrocket your paid social ads into the stars.

If you’d like to learn more about our services, give us a call on 0161 731 0048 or send us an email at info@hoopla-marketing.com.

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