This article is part of a larger series on Social Media Marketing.
Social media advertising, or paid social, is advertising done on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube. It gives small businesses a cost-effective way to reach specific audiences through advanced ad targeting, and in turn, producing more leads and sales. Learn how it works, how much it costs, and which platforms are the best for reaching your target audience.
How Paid Social Media Advertising Works
Most social networks have self-service platforms where you can create and launch ad campaigns to promote your business as part of your overall social media marketing strategy. There are hundreds of platforms to potentially advertise on, from major platforms like Facebook and Instagram to newcomers like TikTok and niche platforms like Behance for creatives or Meetup for networking.
While every social media platform has its own advertiser interface, the basics of how to place ads are fairly similar. Each will have guidelines you’ll need to follow for ads, including rules, call-to-action elements like buttons, and requirements for graphic and image sizes, and each will have a process and tools to help you target ads to your desired audience.
1. Find the Best Social Ad Platforms
If this is your first foray into social advertising, it’s easy to get started. First, choose just one or two platforms for ads based on your target audience. Consider your target market overall as well as customer personas and identify the social media channels they use the most. Another important thing to do during this stage is to look for how other companies are advertising on the platform, especially those who are direct or indirect competitors.
While the top social networks such as Facebook and Instagram have large enough user bases allowing you to reach almost any type of audience, don’t overlook other platforms. For example, a restaurant could be better off advertising on Yelp, whereas a company offering professional education should see a better return from ads placed on LinkedIn.
2. Create an Account
After selecting which social networks to advertise on, create an account and set up a profile. Even if your ads are going to be driving traffic to your website, people gaining awareness of your brand through them are likely to check out your social profile on the platform as well. So take the time to complete the profile by adding a cover and profile image and filling out the descriptive and business information sections.
3. Explore Paid Advertising Options
Once your account is set up, explore the ad creation and targeting tools. This includes finding what types of ads you can place on the platform, where they are displayed, what type and size of collateral you’ll need (such as for images or video), and what type of return you could expect to see.
4. Set Your Budget & Goals
Next, take some time to set a social media advertising budget and measurable goals. Both need to be realistic. If you’re just starting out, you can’t expect a massive return on a one-off ad or an advertisement run for just a few days. It’s also better to start with a small budget at first and experiment to find the ad types and settings that produce the best return on ad spend (ROAS).
5. Create Ads
Create your advertisements, including writing compelling copy that leads your audience to complete a specific call to action. This could be visiting a landing page, signing up for something, or viewing and purchasing a product online. If you need expert help with social media ad creation, including copywriting and graphic design, the Fiverr marketplace of freelance experts has options for every size of ad budget, starting as low as $5.
6. Target Ads to Your Audience
Next, set up your ad campaign, including audience targeting. This could include anything from where your audience is located to their personal or professional interests, characteristics such as household income or industry, and much more.
This is critical—if you don’t narrow your ad placement, you’re likely to see a lot of wasted ad spend. Alternatively, making your audience too narrow could mean you don’t see any return at all, as the ad might not get enough impressions.
7. Measure & Track Results
Once your ads are up and running, or when a campaign has ended, it’s equally important for you to take time to analyze your results. Use what you learn to inform future social media ad campaigns. For example, if your ads produced the best results between 6 a.m. and noon daily, you may decide to set future campaigns to run only during those hours.
5 Reasons to Use Social Ads to Promote a Small Business
Social media platforms enable advanced and niche audience targeting, making it one of the most cost-effective ways to reach the exact people you want to target. Since many people also look to social media to find reviews and recommendations, and discover new products or services, paid social has a high return on ad spend.
Here are five reasons to advertise on social channels:
- Reach the right people: Sophisticated audience targeting tools allow you to choose exactly who will see your ads. Traditional advertising outlets like newspaper ads, television, radio, billboards, and so on show ads to everyone, but thanks to social media, you can now pinpoint who will see your ads. In turn, your ads are more effective at converting leads and sales, and your ad budget goes further.
- Affordable: With social media ads, you choose how much (or how little) to spend per day, click, lead, conversion, and so on, so it can be effective even if your budget is small. Plus, most paid social allow you to limit ad spend to pay-per-click (PPC), meaning that you only pay when someone interacts with your ads.
- Generate leads: Social media advertising is proven to generate leads and build a contact list using ads tailored to engage your target audience. For example, you can link ads to landing pages with a compelling offer such as 10% off a first order or a free download to collect contact info like names and email addresses.
- Influence buying behavior: Social media is a powerful means of influencing people to buy products or services based on ads, brand posts, reviews, and recommendations from friends. According to a study by HubSpot, over 70% of consumers are influenced to make a purchasing decision based on social media.
- Drive traffic to your website: Targeted ads increase brand awareness with your target audience and often drive people to visit your site. Generally, the more website traffic you get from members of your target audience and ideal client types, the more likely you are to generate leads and sales.
With the right platform, ad content, and audience targeting, nearly any type of business can benefit from social media advertising. Whether you’re looking to build brand awareness, increase website traffic, generate sales, or need to diversity your marketing efforts, paid social could be the ideal place to spend your advertising budget.
How Much Paid Social Media Advertising Costs on Top Platforms
Paid social media advertising is a relatively affordable form of digital advertising. WebFX data shows that the average cost-per-click (CPC) on Facebook is 97 cents and as low as 38 cents per click on Twitter. Statista reports that small businesses spend around $530 per month on digital advertising on average.
However, that doesn’t mean your business can’t see a good ROAS with a much lower ad spend. Some platforms have a minimum daily ad spend of around $1 to $5 but also give you the option to turn ads on and off at any time.
In addition, the nature of the content shared on the platform and audience makeup could make one better for a business-to-consumer (B2C) advertiser than a business-to-business (B2B) seller. For example, LinkedIn users primarily share business-related content, making it better for B2B advertising than for direct-to-consumer.
With all that in mind, here are the most popular social media advertising platforms (not including chat or messaging platforms) worldwide and in the U.S. You’ll also find the average cost per click and minimum spending requirements, as well as what types of advertisers each is generally best for.
Number of Users, Average CPC & Minimum Ad Budgets by Social Media Platform
Advertisers It's Best For
$1/day for impressions
$5/day for clicks
$40/day for app downloads or offer claims
B2B or B2C
$10 per day
B2B or B2C
$1/day for impressions
$5/day for clicks
$40/day for app downloads or offer claims
B2B or B2C
B2B or B2C
*Based on traffic by country percentage via SimilarWeb
The actual cost of ads is not the only expense related to paid social. There can also be other costs associated with using social media advertising, such as:
- Advertisement interactions (e.g., CPC, CPM, CPV): Ad spend is usually based on some type of user interaction. You can set your budget based on cost-per-click (CPC), cost-per-thousand-impressions (CPM), cost-per-video-view (CPV), or cost per conversion. CPC is the most common, though you should select the model that best aligns with your advertising goals. For example, brands wanting to increase exposure and awareness can pay per number of impressions while those wanting to see conversions would opt for pay-per-click, such as clicking through to a landing page.
- Bidding competition: Most social ads are based on an auction system. For this reason, low-competition keywords will usually have a far lower cost per click than keywords that a lot of advertisers are competing for.
- Spending caps: When advertising on social media, you have a lot of control over how much you spend. You’ll usually be able to set a time-based spending cap (e.g., daily or monthly), a total ad campaign budget limit, or both.
- Advertising tools and software: Many businesses use tools and software to improve return on ad spend (ROAS), such as data to improve campaign results from BrightLocal or building “smart” landing pages that have a higher conversion rate. Some tools may be free to start, such as HubSpot’s marketing hub or Mailchimp landing pages, while others could cost anywhere from a few dollars to several hundred each month.
- Cost of ad content: Social ads may entail professional copywriting, photography, or videography and purchase of stock imagery, graphics, videos, and other multimedia content. Costs for these can range from free to hundreds or even thousands of dollars, or may alternatively be outsourced to graphic designers starting from around $10 to $15 on Fiverr.
- Social media ad management: While it’s easy to place social ads, it’s not necessarily easy to target them, and you may lack the time or expertise needed to produce ad collateral like effective copy and high-quality graphics. If you want to leave the work to the pros, Hibu is a top social media ad management service with low fees. Or for the most budget-friendly option, consider hiring a Fiverr freelancer to optimize your social ads.
Need high-quality photos, graphics, or videos to spark engagement in social media ad campaigns? Subscribe to Envato Elements starting from under $20 per month, including unlimited downloads of licensed media content.
Best Social Ad Platforms for Small Businesses
Of the 3.96 billion social media users worldwide, more than 302 million are in the U.S. While there are thousands of different social networking platforms available, small business advertisers usually start out advertising on the platforms with the largest active user bases.
These include the obvious players that come to mind when you think of social media channels, like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and YouTube. However, they also encompass others, such as discussion forum websites like Reddit and Quora and niche platforms like Meetup that businesses can use to create local networking groups, host local educational events, and more.
Every social media advertising platform has its own unique audiences and use cases. This means that while one platform might be an ideal advertising solution for one small business, it may not be the best choice for another. Below you’ll find a brief overview of the most popular platforms, including who each is best for.
Facebook is the world’s largest social network with nearly 3 billion active users. It has a wide user base covering all demographics and offers a wide range of advertising opportunities, from sponsored posts that appear in news feeds to Facebook Messenger ads. It’s affordable for small businesses, with ad CPCs averaging at just under $1 per click and a minimum daily ad spend of $5. Learn more by reading our article on Facebook ad costs by industry.
7 Facebook Statistics Advertisers Need to Know*
- More than 98% of Facebook users access the platform via mobile device
- 56% of Facebook users are male, 44% are female
- 82% of college graduates have a Facebook page
- 75% of online users making over $75,000 a year are on Facebook
- Most of the users who are on Facebook every day are outside the U.S. and Canada
- When advertising on Facebook, you’re competing with more than 10 million other advertisers
- Nearly one out of every five U.S. adults made a purchase through Facebook last year
Who Facebook Advertising Is Best For
Given the sheer size of Facebook, nearly any type of company might benefit from marketing on Facebook. However, with the nature of content shared on the platform, it’s better for business-to-consumer advertising. In fact, 51% of Facebook users say they purchased something after seeing an ad on the platform.
Facebook ads are displayed based on audience targeting, so the key to success with Facebook advertising is knowing exactly what characterizes your ideal customer profiles or target audience in general. This way you can create ads and target them strategically to reach the people who are most likely to be interested in, ready, and able to purchase what you’re offering.
Ways to Advertise on Facebook
Facebook offers a wide range of ways to advertise, including text, image, and video ads. Boosted posts are shown in the news feed, while paid ads can be displayed in many places, such as the news feed, side column, stories, and Facebook Messenger.
You can also automatically cross-post campaigns to Instagram and the Facebook Marketplace. Learn more about Facebook advertising and get step-by-step instructions on how to create a Facebook ad.
Facebook may have the most users, but YouTube has the most traffic of all social media channels and is second-most of all websites, second only to Google. Owned by Google, it’s the go-to channel for everything from news to reviews and instructional content, such as how to use Squarespace or how to change a car battery.
7 YouTube Statistics Advertisers Need to Know*
- YouTubers spend about 18 minutes a day on the platform
- A cool 1 billion hours of video is consumed every day on YouTube
- 500 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute
- There are more than 3 million paying YouTube TV subscribers
- Among YouTubers worldwide, 53.9% are male, 46.1% are female
- In the U.S., 81% of adults use YouTube
- Users return often; 62% say they visit YouTube daily
Who YouTube Advertising Is Best For
Because of its sheer dominance in the world of online video, YouTube can be equally effective for both B2B and B2C advertisers. However, as opposed to Facebook ads, which can spark instant sales, people visiting YouTube are often there for research, and so advertising toward brand awareness and lead generation, rather than conversion, is best.
Ways to Advertise on YouTube
YouTube ads are often displayed before video content, requiring viewers to take in a few seconds of the ad before being able to “skip ads” to get to the video. Paid listings also appear in right-hand related content feeds as well as on various landing pages, as in the example above.
The visual media-based Instagram, aka “Insta” or IG, has more than 2 billion users. Facebook owns Instagram, and to advertise on IG, you’ll create and deploy your ads from the Facebook Ads Manager. As with Facebook Ads, Instagram ads are PPC, so you’ll pay based on user interactions. There are also different ad placement options available, including in the news feed, stories, and reels.
7 Instagram Statistics Advertisers Need to Know*
- TikTok was the most downloaded app in 2021, but Instagram had the most downloads in Q4 of 2021 (October through December), its best quarter since 2014
- In the U.S., 55% of IG users are female vs 45% male
- Far fewer U.S. households with income of $75,000 or more (49%) use IG compared to Facebook (75%)
- Six out of 10 Instagram users are on the platform daily
- IG is the third-most popular platform with U.S. teens, trailing only TikTok and Snapchat
- Carousel posts (and ads) have the highest engagement rates, regardless of account size or number of impressions
- Marketers rate video and images equally important and by far the best type of content for engagement
Who Instagram Advertising Is Best For
Instagram is large enough to reach nearly any business’ target audience. However, it’s best for businesses (B2B and B2C) that can create aesthetically pleasing visual content as users visit the platform to look at interesting images and short videos. For example, a real estate photographer may use Instagram to reach local realtors by displaying their high-quality work, or a jewelry company may advertise on Instagram to build awareness and promote new products.
Ways to Advertise on Instagram
All Instagram ads are created through the Facebook Ads Manager. Ads can be images or videos, and be displayed in user feeds, stories, reels, and more. IG is also the most popular medium for influencer marketing.
Just when everyone thought all the social posting format options were well represented, TikTok took the social media world by storm. While it’s video-based, like YouTube, it’s more like a collection of video-based diary entries vs YouTube’s knowledge base. Just one clip that goes viral can turn someone into an instant celebrity (for better or worse). TikTok has one of the largest user bases worldwide, although it’s still picking up steam with U.S. users.
7 TikTok Statistics Advertisers Need to Know*
- Among TikTok users worldwide: 57% are female, and in the U.S., 61% are female
- Nearly half of all TikTok users are age 29 and under
- TikTok was the most downloaded app in 2019, 2020, and 2021
- TikTok is used by more members of Gen Z (born 1997-2012) than Instagram
- Worldwide, TikTok users spend nearly 20 hours a month on the app, but U.S. users spend more than 25 hours a month on the app
- Users spend more time per session on TikTok than any other channel, over 10 minutes each visit
- TikTok just increased the allowable video length from 1 minute to videos up to 10 minutes in length
Who TikTok Advertising Is Best For
TikTok is best for advertisers selling directly to consumers, and especially to consumers around age 35 and under. Businesses that find success advertising on this channel will be those that give the app’s audience what it wants in video ads, i.e., entertainment.
Ways to Advertise on TikTok
Ads appear in the first spot when a user logs in to TikTok. Ads also appear in the news feed, in branded hashtag challenges, and with Branded Effects.
Millions of users use LinkedIn to develop and maintain professional connections. Since it’s a business-focused social network, it’s a great platform for B2B advertising. Ads are on a pay-per-click basis. The average cost-per-click is $5.26, and there is a minimum daily ad spend of $10 and a minimum per-click cost of $2. While this is still fairly affordable, it can quickly become pricey for small businesses on a budget.
7 LinkedIn Statistics Advertisers Need to Know*
- More users are male (57%) compared to female (43%)
- There are more than 57 million company profiles on LinkedIn
- More than 46 million B2B decision-makers use LinkedIn, as do 17 million opinion-makers and at least 10 million top-level executives
- Among U.S. workers, 72% of those employed full time have a LinkedIn profile vs 10% employed part time
- The average LinkedIn user makes just a bit under $50,000
- Mobile and desktop advertising work equally well on LinkedIn, unlike most other platforms
- 49 million people shop LinkedIn for job opportunities every week
Who LinkedIn Advertising Is Best For
It’s best for B2B businesses and those offering products and services targeted toward professionals. For example, a tech company selling military-grade ruggedized tablets may use LinkedIn ads targeted at decision-makers in public safety and manufacturing companies. Another example could be a digital marketing agency specializing in generating leads for the real estate industry, targeting real estate agents and brokers.
Another excellent use case for LinkedIn advertising is in the realm of education. There are more than 120,000 schools with profiles on the platform, and many users are interested in topic-based learning (such as a course on social media advertising) and continuing education to help them progress in a professional career.
How to Advertise on LinkedIn
LinkedIn offers two advertising services: a fully managed service and a self-service ad platform. Businesses looking to create their own ads should choose the self-service ad platform. There, they can build and manage ads in-house. If LinkedIn ads are out of your budget, keep in mind there are many other ways to promote your business on LinkedIn organically.
Snapchat’s original format limitations (immediately disappearing content and short-length video) limited its advertising appeal. It lost money in 2014, earning just $3.4 million. It has, however, made many changes to the platform in terms of format and allowed content types raking in over $4.1 billion in 2021.
As with most social media platforms, Snapchat advertising is auction-based. This means that those willing to pay more will get better placements and see more impressions and, in turn, clicks or conversions. With a minimum ad budget of $5 per day, it’s a good way for B2C sellers to increase local brand exposure for a business or generate engagement and sales.
7 Snapchat Statistics Advertisers Need to Know*
- Snapchat Stories was such a great idea that Facebook and Instagram both cloned it as quickly as possible
- On average, Snapchat users spend 30 minutes every day on the app
- In 2019, users opened the app about 30 times a day
- 61% of Snapchat users are female vs 39% male
- Among U.S. teens, over 80% are on Snapchat every month and more than one in three say it’s their favorite platform
- Most Snapchat users are under the age of 35
- 30 million Snapchat users play Snap Games
Who Snapchat Advertising Is Best For
Snapchat is a great ad platform for business-to-consumer sales and brand awareness, especially among younger consumers. It’s also smart to use Snapchat ads in conjunction with ads on other platforms, as virtually all Snapchat users are on other social media sites, including the nearly 90% of Snapchat users who are also using IG.
Ways to Advertise on Snapchat
Snapchat ads can make their way into users’ Friends Stories as well as Snapchat’s “Discover” landing page. Plus, Snap Games represents a unique social media advertising opportunity for B2C companies marketing to younger consumers.
Like Instagram, Pinterest is a social networking platform based on visual content discovery. However, as opposed to a news feed, Pinterest users create their own collections of “pinned” content organized onto boards. Users visit Pinterest to discover new things, whether that be interior design and home decor or travel tips and fashion trends.
Using Pinterest for small business marketing is easy, even for beginners. B2C businesses with products or services that fall into one of its wide range of categories should consider Pinterest ads for a low-cost, high return network. For more information, read our article explaining how to sell on Pinterest.
7 Pinterest Statistics Advertisers Need to Know*
- 50% of active Pinterest users are in the U.S., higher than most other platforms
- 77% of users are female vs just 23% who are male (the most disparate of any platform)
- Nearly half of all U.S. adult women are on Pinterest
- 80% of U.S. women who are mothers are on Pinterest
- The average Pinterest user makes between $50,000 and $75,000 annually
- Advertisers can reach more than 200 million people
- 90% of users pinning at least weekly make buying decisions on Pinterest
Who Pinterest Advertising Is Best For
Pinterest users are actively searching for specific things, from house plans to house plants, decorating ideas, color schemes, and more. This makes it a good option for B2C sellers looking to place bottom-of-funnel, high-converting advertising and marketing content. And obviously, with the demographics above, it’s an effective platform for those wanting to reach U.S. women in general, and moms, in particular.
Due to the nature of the content, it’s best for B2C businesses that can produce visually interesting, entertaining, or informative content. For example, an RV rental company may use Pinterest ads to promote the idea of road trips by sharing an article about amazing road trips to experience. Another example could be a money management app that advertises an article about tips on how to save money for a house.
How to Advertise on Pinterest
Businesses can advertise on Pinterest through promoted pins and Pinterest ads. Creating Pinterest ads is easy. Simply log in to your Pinterest business account and click the red “+” button in the upper right-hand corner of the screen. Then select “create ad” and follow the prompts to build your Pinterest ad. Learn more about Pinterest marketing.
Twitter content includes text, image, and video media, and it’s the social media platform users turn to for news, quick brand interactions, and topic-based discovery and discussions. Advertisers can reach millions of users through Twitter ads in feeds, called “promoted tweets.” It has a low average cost-per-click, giving businesses with just about any size advertising budget the opportunity to gain exposure through its network.
7 Twitter Statistics Advertisers Need to Know*
- 83% of the world’s leaders have a Twitter account
- 28% of Twitter users are 18-24 years of age
- The breakdown of users is 70% male vs just 30% female
- 77% of Twitter users make more than $75,000
- One in four users checks Twitter multiple times each day
- 2 billion tweets are sent every year at a rate of 9,281 per second
- 80% of Twitter users access the platform via mobile device
Who Twitter Advertising Is Best For
Twitter is best for businesses sharing news-worthy content via ads for both B2B and B2C companies. For example, an event venue could advertise upcoming events or headlining acts. Another example would be a food truck that frequently changes its location. With Twitter ads, a business could target its ads to display to users within the same city its currently in, gaining local brand awareness and driving visits.
Twitter is also noted as a platform where people can interact with brands and influencers barrier-free and in real time, and where people expect brands to respond to issues 24/7/365. For this reason, it’s also a good opportunity to turn issue resolutions and brand interactions into word-of-mouth advertising.
Ways to Advertise on Twitter
Businesses can advertise on Twitter using paid ads, promoted tweets, or, like Instagram, by working with influencers. To create a Twitter ad, first set up your Twitter ads account. From there, begin the new ad creation process, which starts by entering your ad’s objective, then walks you through all steps including inputting your budget, ad targeting, and designing and launching your ad.
Reddit is a community forum made up of millions of users worldwide. It offers businesses the chance to advertise over the platform via sponsored posts and banner ads that display in the right column of the site. It’s one of the cheapest social media advertising platforms, with an average cost-per-click of just 75 cents and a minimum daily ad spend of $5.
7 Reddit Statistics Advertisers Need to Know*
- 63% of Reddit users are male, 37% are female
- There are more than 130,000 active communities on Reddit
- Just over half of all Reddit activity occurs on desktop devices, but 70% of video views on the platform happen on mobile
- Posts with questions get the most comments, but posts without questions get the most “upvotes”
- Reddit users are on the site for about 10.5 minutes at a time
- 25% of Reddit users are age 25-29
- About 23% of U.S. adults aged 25-29 use Reddit
Who Reddit Advertising Is Best For
Reddit ads target users by location, subreddits, interests, and device types. Businesses wanting an affordable way to reach niche audiences, such as an event venue promoting an upcoming local concert or under a subreddit for that band or its genre, would be good candidates for Reddit advertising. It’s best for B2C advertising, although B2B advertisers can also use the platform to reach niche or local audiences.
How to Advertise on Reddit
To advertise on Reddit, first, do your research and get to know Reddit and its community to determine if your business is a good fit for the platform. Once you have found your audience on Reddit, set up an advertising account. From there, you can create ads to be displayed within subreddits or in the right-hand column.
As opposed to social platforms that represent the start of a user’s journey, Quora is a search results powerhouse. Seventy-seven percent of Quora users come by way of online search. Like Reddit, it’s a forum for asking and answering questions. And as with Reddit, answering questions on Quora is a valid and valuable marketing tactic, especially when you can get your reply into early answers.
7 Quora Statistics Advertisers Need to Know*
- 77% of users find Quora content through online search; 60% via Google or Bing
- 75% of Quora visits happen on mobile devices
- 67,000 questions get asked on Quora every day
- Quora ads convert 4x more than ads on other platforms
- In order of popularity, the top five brands most often mentioned on Quora are Google, Starbucks, Amazon, Coca-Cola, and Intel
- On average, Quora advertisers enjoy higher click through rates (91%) and lower costs-per-click (26 cents with a $1,000 ad budget) compared to other platforms
- 57% of users are male vs 43% who are female, and users 18 and older making more than $100,000 per year spend more time on Quora than LinkedIn
Who Quora Advertising Is Best For
Quora is equally appropriate for B2B and B2C sellers. However, we give the edge to business-to-business advertising because of the type of content on the platform, the way marketers use it to answer questions, and the demographics of its users. Like Pinterest and Reddit, it’s also a good option for those wanting to reach ready-to-purchase buyers, as people go to Quora searching for answers and solutions.
Ways to Advertise on Quora
You can launch Quora ads in minutes to appear in the news feed as text ads, image ads, or promoted answers. Targeting options are sophisticated, including contextual targeting based on interests or content engagement, audience targeting, including lookalike audiences, targeting based on user behavior, or broad targeting to reach a wide audience.
Types of Paid Advertising
Ideally, your social media strategy will encompass a combination of marketing tools, including both organic content marketing and paid social. While placing paid social ads or sponsoring organic posts are the obvious tactics when considering paid social, it’s not the only option available to you. Here are some of the most effective strategies and tactics:
- Search engine marketing: Search engine marketing (SEM) is a broad term that encompasses both paid and organic tactics for ranking higher in online search results on Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other search engines. Paid search and display ads are the two most popular tactics within SEM. In addition, local businesses often want to get into the Google Maps “three-pack,” which is another way advertising on Google can help.
- Paid social media ads: Paid social (another term for social media advertising) enables businesses to reach users who don’t follow their social profiles through paid ads. These could be created ads, sponsored posts, and other types of placed content available to advertisers. Like paid search engine marketing (e.g., Google Ads or Microsoft Ads), ads are on a cost-per-click basis, where advertisers pay when users interact with their ads, making it a cost-effective and short-term advertising channel to quickly reach your marketing goals.
- Remarketing: Remarketing is a digital advertising strategy where ads are displayed to users who have previously visited your website on third-party websites. These include sites like social platforms, news and information websites, and other platforms monetized with ad networks, such as AdSense. It’s highly effective as it’s essentially targeting warm leads. Plus, the cost-per-impression is usually very low, making it an affordable option for increasing brand awareness or keeping your brand top of mind with prospects. For example, you can use it to reduce friction between interest and landing a sale for those who placed items in an online shopping cart but didn’t complete the purchase.
- Co-marketing: Co-marketing is a referral lead generation strategy where two businesses join forces to promote each other, creating a mutually beneficial partnership and in the process expanding their overall reach. An example of this could be a co-working office partnering with a coffee shop to offer its coffee within the office. This way, both businesses get to promote their product or service through the other, which increases the reach for both. This type of marketing could happen online as well as offline.
- Influencer marketing: Influencer marketing is when someone with a lot of clout, like a celebrity blogger, helps promote your business or products, usually for some type of compensation. For example, a social media influencer who is an avid hiker may get paid by a company that sells insoles for hiking boots. For that matter, you see this all the time in sports, where professional athletes are sponsored by companies to promote their brand and products by wearing logo apparel or using the products on the field. Another example is to have influencers create unpacking and review videos of your product.
Want to know if advertising is worth it? Read our list of Google search statistics for all the details.
Best Advertising Tools & Resources for Small Businesses
Social media advertising tools can help you more effectively and strategically build, manage, and optimize your social media marketing and advertising efforts. There are tools available that do everything from saving your business time through automating social posts to analytics tools that give you the insights you need to create better ads.
Here are some of the top social media advertising tools for small businesses:
- BrightLocal: If your business relies on local customers, BrightLocal is a must-have tool. You can see your Google, Bing, and Yahoo listings all in one place, see which keywords are driving traffic to your site or location, and use real data to improve your paid and organic local search engine optimization (SEO) efforts. Also, check out our full list of the best local SEO tools.
- Canva: Canva is a free graphic design platform where you can easily create graphics for your ads with an intuitive online editor. You’ll also have access to thousands of customizable templates designed to meet the criteria of social media ad platforms.
- Envato Elements: Envato Elements is ideal for those planning to advertise for the long term or who want high-quality media to ensure their ads look 100% professional. With a monthly subscription comes access to all the site’s high-quality videos, graphics, and images, including unlimited downloads.
- Sprout Social: Sprout Social is a social media scheduler with robust social media listening or monitoring tools. Beginning with the lowest-tier plan, you will have a smart inbox that gathers mentions of your brand on social platforms to help you get more warm leads and convert them.
- Facebook Ads Grader: The Facebook Ads Grader is one of several free tools from WordStream that analyzes your Facebook ads and grades them based on several factors. Results will show you where your ads need improvement, and they compare to those of your competitors.
- Semrush: Semrush has fantastic tools for advertisers. For example, you can view your competitors’ Google ad history and even see how they performed, giving you a better ability to create high-performing ads right out of the gate. Other features of this robust platform include advanced keyword research, competitor domain, and ad analysis, advertisement keyword gaps, and much more. Learn more ways to use Semrush for advertising in our write-up, where it tops the list of best SEO audit tools.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What’s the difference between paid search & paid social?
Paid search (e.g., Google Ads) and paid social advertising are both pay-per-click advertising platforms, but they work very differently. The main difference is user intent and targeting. Where Google Ads reach already-active searchers, social media ads tap passive interest and turn it into buying activity among your target audience. Learn more in our head-to-head comparison of Facebook Ads vs Google Ads.
Do I need a social media manager?
As your business grows, hiring someone knowledgeable about the social platforms where you advertise is ideal, but it might not be your first marketing hire. For example, it could be more important to focus on content marketing to drive web traffic than to focus on social media marketing. However, if your business relies heavily on social ads to bring in business, hiring a social media manager to oversee your social media marketing and advertising could be important from day one.
How do I advertise on Yelp?
Yelp is one of the largest online business directories. It’s free to use Yelp for your business, but you also have a number of options for advertising on the platform. For example, you can choose to make your Yelp business listing land at the top of relevant search results, add call-to-action (CTA) buttons to your Yelp pages, or pay to remove competitors’ ads from the bottom of your business page.
What are the best social media advertising agencies?
The best social media advertising agency will depend on your business’ unique needs, goals, and budget. However, those that are generally regarded as the best social media marketing agencies for small businesses include Lyfe Marketing, Hibu, and Fiverr Pro.
Paid social allows you to reach and convert your target audience in a cost-effective way. Top social advertising platforms will enable you to easily target ads by user demographics and interests for a higher return on ad spend and more effective campaigns. It’s a great way to get discovered by people who fit your customer profile, but who are not actively searching for it.
The last thing you want is to waste money on ineffective ads that get lots of clicks but few conversions. If you lack the expertise or time to master the art of PPC advertising, a better and more cost-effective strategy for the long run is to outsource to an agency like Lyfe Marketing. They have the experience and know-how to manage your online ads, so they generate the leads and sales your business needs to grow.