What Is Social Media Advertising? Boosting Engagement with Social Media

Trevin is the VP of Business Development at WebFX. He has worked on over 450 marketing campaigns and has been building websites for over 20 years. His work has been featured by Search Engine Land, USA Today, Fast Company and Inc.

Did you know 28% of users spend their Internet time on social media? As more businesses realize the impact of social media, they rely more on it to get themselves in front of customers. While social media marketing is a great way to build your profile, social media advertising will help you reach more interested leads and earn conversions.

So, what is social media advertising, and why should you use it? Keep reading to find out!

Bonus Read: How to Do a Social Media Analysis to Improve Social Success

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What is social media advertising?

Social media advertising is a digital marketing strategy that enables you to run paid advertisements on social media platforms. This strategy involves paying to promote content on social media sites to reach interested leads and get them to check out your business.

One of the biggest benefits of a paid advertising campaign on social media is that it lets you reach a much larger audience than the people who currently follow you. Your ads aren’t just shown to everybody, either (not unless you want them to). Social media networks know a lot about their users:

  • They know general demographics such as age, gender, language, and location.
  • They know about their user’s preferences and behaviors.
  • They even know emails, phone numbers, and friend circles.

With that information, social media ad platforms let you target just about anyone you could want within reason. With social media ads, not only are you finding new audiences, you’re finding qualified audiences, the ones that will most likely be interested in your products and services.

Bonus Reading: How to Rebrand Your Social Media


What types of ads can I run?

There are several different social media platforms that work well with a social media advertising strategy. Each social media platform offers different social media types you can use


Facebook offers a variety of ads to run on its platform, including:

  • Image ads: Ads with a single image.
  • Video ads: Ads that utilize videos to showcase your business, product, or service.
  • Carousel ads: Ads that contain multiple images in one set.
  • Slideshow ads: Combine multiple photos and videos to tell a story about your brand.
  • Instant Experiences: Immersive ads experiences that are in-depth and detailed.

Each of these advertising formats allows you to showcase your products or services in a way that’s most interesting to your audience. You can use video ads to explain your products or carousel ads to show off multiple services. When you combine the variety of ad formats with Facebook’s advanced targeting, it makes this ad platform a great option for your business.


With Twitter Ads, you can create:

  • Promoted Tweets: Choose one of your past tweets and promote it to an ad.
  • Twitter Cards: Similar in layout to promoted tweets, Cards are built to showcase media.
  • Promoted Trends: Influence trends by promoting hashtags to the “Trends For You” section.
  • Promoted Accounts: Increase your brand awareness by promoting your account.

Twitter lets you choose between two main ad formats: Automatic promoted tweets and Twitter Ad campaigns. Automatically promoting your tweets takes the first ten tweets you post in a day and promotes them to user feeds. Twitter Ad campaigns, on the other hand, let you customize your ad promotion and choose from a variety of campaign goals (such as clicks, followers, or downloads) to build brand awareness and boost leads.


Instagram also allows businesses to create ads with many formats:

  • Image ads: Single image ads to engage with your audience’s visual side.
  • Video ads: Similar to image ads, except you place an engaging video.
  • Carousel ads: When a single image or video isn’t enough, try carousel ads.
  • IGTV ads: Video ads with longer duration limits than standard Video ads.
  • Story ads: Epheremal full-screen image or video ads to build your brand’s voice.

Use Instagram ads to engage with your audience’s visual side and promote your brand’s products and services.


Much like Instagram and Facebook, there are various types of Pinterest ads that enable you to create visual advertisements that appeal to your audience:

  • Promoted Pins: Single image ads that appear in users’ searches and home feeds.
  • Promoted Video Pins: Video ads to help you tell your brand’s story.
  • Promoted Carousels: Showcase up to five engaging images in a carousel ad.
  • Promoted App Pins: Promote your app to boost downloads directly from Pinterest.

Ads on Pinterest are more geared towards helping audiences discover and research relevant new ideas. Use Pinterest to inspire your audience and showcase your products and services.


LinkedIn lets you tailor your ads for your professional audience:

  • Sponsored Content: Promote content and updates directly to your audience across devices.
  • Message ads: Send sponsored direct messages to engage with individuals in your audience.
  • Text ads: Place text ads visibly in the sidebar of your audience’s LinkedIn feed.
  • Dynamic ads: Automatically personalize your ads directly for your audience with dynamic ads.

Use LinkedIn ads to spark a conversation in the world’s largest professional network and boost leads and conversion rates.


Snapchat offers engaging ad formats for you to hit it off with your audience:

  • Snap ads: Swipeable ads that draw in your audience with videos, filters, and AR Lenses.
  • Collection ads: Let your audience to seamlessly shop a collection of your products and services.
  • Story ads: Showcase your ad as a Snap in Snapchat’s Discover tab.
  • Commercials: Drive awareness with six-second, non-skippable video content.

Snapchat also offers the ability for businesses to create custom brand filters and augmented reality lenses to provide audiences with a fun and engaging time interacting with ads.

Why should I use social media advertising?

Now that you know the definition of social network advertising where you can advertise, you’re probably wondering why you should invest in this digital marketing strategy. Here are five reasons to build a social media advertising strategy.

1. You increase brand awareness

Want something seen? Social media is probably the best place for that. Posting and promoting content that’s on your website to social media is a highly effective way to drive traffic to your website and increase people’s awareness of your brand.

And with the ability to target people based on information that social media sites have on them, you’ll reach new and interested audiences quicker and easier than any other method.

2. You encourage engagement

Social media is where people go to engage with others, including brands. If you want to build lasting relationships, which need quality engagement to grow, you need to be interacting with audiences on social media. That means the ads you sponsor need to be what your audience is interested in.

3. You target more people interested in your business

Boosting your brand affinity is a step up after visibility and engagement. By targeting people interested in your business, you’ll start building brand affinity in your audience. Your audience feels an affinity with your brand after they’ve seen it multiple times and after they’ve engaged with it, either through interacting on social media or making a purchase.

When you have an affinity with your audience, you build a potentially long-lasting relationship with them. With that relationship, they’ll be that much more likely to become a regular customer of yours, relying on and trusting your brand with their future wants and needs.

4. You generate more leads

Each social media ad is connected to a landing page on your website. Some social media platforms like Facebook allow you to place a landing page right in the ad. Because your landing page includes a call to action (CTA) like “Buy Now” and often a form to fill (such as email or phone number), your landing page is how you generate and monitor leads.

5. You earn more sales

Increased leads will naturally boost your sales the more you perform paid advertising on social media. The result of your social media advertising strategy is that the more often people interact with your ads, the more you’ll be at the top of their mind when they feel ready to make a purchase.

4 tips for social media advertising

For social network advertising to work, you have to build up a social media advertising strategy. Here are four tips to keep in mind.

1. Know your audience

Knowing your audience is absolutely crucial for a successful social media advertising campaign. Paid advertising on social media requires you to know who you’re talking to, just like with any type of conversation. If you’re mentioning ponies and unicorns in a business meeting going over budgets, it’s not likely that you’ll be received well.

Same with if you’re bringing up taxes and mortgages with kids in preschool. To connect with your audience, you need to speak their language. So, if you don’t know your audience, get ready to put your research gloves on.

2. Choose a paid advertising campaign goal

What is it that you want to accomplish with your paid social media ads? Without a clear idea, it’s hard to measure the success of your social ad campaign. Knowing exactly what you want out of your campaign will save you lots of time, money, and effort.

We’ve already outlined some social network ad goals above, but here’s a refresher plus a couple more of common social media advertising goals:

  • Lead generation
  • Traffic
  • Visibility
  • Engagement
  • Brand affinity
  • Sales

3. Pick your social media platforms

This goes along with knowing your audience. Where do they like to hang out online? Once you figure that out, test out your ads on those platforms and regularly check how they perform.

Not all social media platforms may work for your brand, even if you can find your audience there. Take into consideration the possible benefits of each social platform when choosing which one to stick with. Ask yourself:

4. Blend social media ads with content

Now you start planning your campaign. You need content that your audience will like in an advertising campaign, so what content do you want to advertise? Your social media campaign should include a mixture of both organic content and your paid advertisements.

In other words, your social media campaign shouldn’t be separated into two distinct categories: paid and organic. Think about how your organic content can blend with your paid content, and vice versa. The way to keep them tied together is to have a theme for your ads and posts, a theme that moves people to action.

Get ready for social media advertising with WebFX’s services!

A social media advertising campaign takes a lot of work. You have to plan, create, test, analyze, and manage ads.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed with running and monitoring your social media advertising campaign, WebFX can help. With our social media advertising services, we’ll help you set up advertising campaigns that drive results. Whether you want to drive traffic or boost sales, as a leading social media agency with over 450 social media experts, we’ll be there with you all along the way.

Contact us online or call us at 888-601-5359 to learn more about our social media advertising packages!

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