Digital Marketing Glossary

Social Media Advertising

What Is Social Media Advertising

Social media advertising is a rapidly evolving method of reaching new audiences across different social media platforms through paid placements. The major social media channels offer at least one ad format, with the majority of the mature social media platforms offering various formats and audience targeting options. Some examples of major social media channels include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest, YouTube, LinkedIn and TikTok.

Ad formats (i.e. video, static imagery, etc.) and data vary from one channel to another, creating unique opportunities for brands to diversify their strategies. Determine your marketing goals, target demographics and advertising budget before choosing which social media channels to advertise on, as not all options will be the right fit for your brand. The typical user experience on each channel will also determine the type of advertisements you will need to create. 

Advantages of Social Media Advertising

There are many benefits to advertising on social media over traditional channels (TV, print, radio, etc.). Social media ads feel much more direct, personalized and native than traditional advertising channels. As users of social media platforms share their demographic information, interests and then interact with different websites and accounts, they are providing the platform’s database with information that can be used as ad audience targeting. Advertisers can create a variety of audience segments to advertise to based on any number of interests, demographics, behaviors, or similar brands to their own that users have engaged with. 

As an advertiser, social media is very flexible to work with. There are cost controls available to work within budget limitations and ensure the best return on ad spend (ROAS). Ads can run at specific times of the day and can be changed, started and stopped at any time. Then advertisers match the tone and format of the platform they are showing ads on, the content doesn’t feel intrusive and can help remedy ‘ad blindness’ (where users consciously or subconsciously ignore advertisements due to overexposure). 

Full Funnel Social Media Advertising Objectives

Business and marketing goals should be kept in mind when planning ad campaign objectives. From there, the messaging and imagery in each ad should align with the objective you’re aiming to fulfill. Each step in the marketing funnel has its ad campaign objective and key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure success, with the eventual goal of moving the customer from the ‘top’ or ‘awareness’ level of the funnel to the ‘bottom’ or ‘conversion & loyalty’ stage. For example, a top-of-funnel social media campaign objective might be brand awareness with a KPI of total impressions/ CPM (cost per impression); the purpose is to cast a wide net to make as many relevant consumers aware of your brand or product. For added effectiveness, multiple campaigns can run simultaneously across one or multiple social media channels, each with unique messaging that speaks to the audience that falls under each stage of the funnel. 

Steps To Planning Social Media Ad Campaigns

Goals and Strategy Setting

The first step is to establish the goals you want to achieve in advertising. This should align with and be a measure of, achieving your overall business goals. Examples of advertising goals are: leads generated, number of customers reached, or completed purchases. Goals should follow the S.M.A.R.T. method. Goals need to be:

  • Specific enough that every team member understands what they’re working towards
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant to the business goals
  • Time-based

No matter your objective, setting relevant KPIs will give your team direction. To create and execute successful campaigns, marketers need to understand long-term and short-term goals, which channels are generating the highest return and which channels can have spend diverted to a different channel or campaign that is higher performing. Understanding the various unique ad formats by platform and associated optimizing KPIs by stage of the funnel, will help advertisers accurately measure success. 

Plan and Publish

It’s important to research and understand the market to set effective objectives, determine a sufficient campaign budget to achieve your goals and choose the mediums you’ll use to  advertise to reach your target audience. Knowing your audience and their online habits will avoid wasted impressions and budget. 

Once the above has been achieved, it is important that the advertiser develop a clear and impactful content strategy. Building content that is on-brand but also native to the social platform is crucial when advertising on social channels. A/B testing creative will help determine what resonates for your brand with your desired target audience. From there, iterating and refreshing content will avoid creative wear-out with your consumers.

Finally, your publishing schedule can be planned, created and ads can be trafficked. Ensure proper tracking is set-up on the backend, a clear CTA is in place and push your campaign live! 

Monitor Activity

Activity monitoring can fall under two main categories: community monitoring and performance monitoring. 

Community Monitoring

Community monitoring involves listening to users' comments on your social media ads for overall sentiment and customer service troubleshooting. Social media users can be very outspoken when it comes to seeing ads too frequently, if they really like or dislike the ad content they’re being shown, or if they’re brand evangelists that want to provide a positive testimonial for others. When effectively managed, the comment section can be used as an opportunity to seal the deal and convince a user in the consideration stage to make a purchase.

Performance Monitoring

Performance monitoring involves keeping a regular watch on the analytics of active ads vs. the goals you determined before launching the campaign. (i.e. is my CPM efficient?). As social media advertising is built on an auction system, it’s important to make sure that your cost per result is within an acceptable range and that you’re not spending too much of your budget upfront. Monitoring performance across channels will also show you which of your channels are the highest performing and providing the best ROAS. Keep in mind that there is a ‘learning period’ after first setting your ads live, so it may take up to a week to get an indication of which channels are performing well and are on track to achieving your objectives.

Post-Campaign Measurement

The final step in social media advertising is to report and evaluate your overall performance once you’ve hit the campaign end date, spent the budget, or came to the end of a reporting period. The post-report can be used to benchmark future advertising efforts, set new targets, or determine ad content moving forward. A few questions to ask when evaluating advertising performance are: 

  • Were you successful in achieving your pre-determined goals? 
  • Which ads or types of ads were highest and lowest-performing?
  • Which audience or channel was the highest and lowest-performing? 

Take these learnings into account to close the feedback loop and identify key areas of improvement and opportunities. 

How Dash Hudson Can Help

Content planning can be full of guesswork. Choosing your brand’s creative direction based on gut feeling can lead to a single opinion dominating your brand’s creative decisions, or a direction being determined based on outdated market information. The good news is, it doesn’t need to be that way — creative expertise and data should work in tandem to optimize your strategy. Vision, Dash Hudson’s proprietary technology, uses computer vision and machine learning to build brand-specific prediction models for photos and videos. By reading your content’s visual elements and understanding your audience’s unique preferences, Vision predicts which advertising content will maximize performance with your audience before putting ad budget behind it.  


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Which social media platform is best for advertising?

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This can vary from company to company and even brand to brand. The first step is to identify your advertising goals and your target audience. From there, identify which platform is best suited for those predetermined targets. Each social media platform has their unique selling points, and it’s important to find a fit that works for you.

Why is social media advertising important?

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Advertising on social media should be an essential part of every brand’s marketing toolbox. Nearly half of the global population is on social media and spending 144 mins on average per day on social media and messaging apps. This gives brands a direct line to their target consumer. Social media advertising is flexible, affordable, and is easy to measure the impact and return on investment.

Which metrics should be measured?

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The key performance indicators should be directly tied to your overarching business goals and objectives. KPIs should be actionable and tell a story about ad performance. If the goal is brand awareness, impressions, frequency, and brand recall would be metrics that tell you how many people see your ads, how often they are seeing them, and if they recall seeing your ads. If the goal is sales related, click-through-rate and conversion rate would be examples of e-commerce focused KPIs to track. 

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