In the world of digital marketing, “Social Media Ad Targeting” has become the key to reaching your desired audience effectively. By harnessing the precision of social media ad targeting, businesses can maximize their advertising efforts and connect with the right people at the right time. This strategy is the secret behind successful online marketing campaigns, allowing brands to engage with their target demographics and boost their online presence. In this article, we will explore the ins and outs of social media ad targeting and how it can significantly impact your marketing strategy.
What is social media Advertising?
Social media advertising is a type of digital advertising. It refers to spending money to deliver content to a target audience on your preferred social media platform.
The number of people who see your social media ads is called your “paid reach.” This contrasts your “organic reach,” which refers to people who view content distributed by the algorithm free of charge. And, when you pay to get your content out there, you have a much higher chance of connecting with the right people.
That’s because advertising on social media is a hyper-direct way to reach the audience you want. No need to cross your fingers or pray to the astrology gods that you’ll create a viral post: you can pay to make sure your amazing content gets some eyeballs on it.
Social advertising allows you to target brand-new customers or returning ones. (New friends! Hooray!) It’s also a chance to do some hands-on A/B testing.
The downside is that it’ll cost you a few bucks, but all social platforms offer flexible rates to suit every type of budget. If you’ve got a fiver on hand, you’ve got everything you need to dabble in social media ads. (More on just how much social media advertising costs below!)
The 8 Main Types of Social Media Advertising
All the major social networks offer advertising options, but that doesn’t mean you should use all of them.
When choosing where to place your ads, knowing which networks are most popular with your target audience is helpful. Where is your target group most engaged, concentrated, and accessible?
Are they targeting teens? TikTok is where to find them. Moms, meanwhile, love Facebook.
Try looking at which social networks perform well organically for your brand. Where does your content naturally strike a chord with fans? This is an obvious choice for your first social ad campaign.
Once you understand which social networks might be best for your business, look at each network’s ad types.
help you achieve one of six broad types of campaign objectives:
- App Promotion
Like Instagram, Facebook ads appear throughout the app, including in users’ feeds, Stories, Messenger, Marketplace, and more. They look similar to normal posts but always include a “sponsored” label to show they’re an ad. Facebook ads include more features than regular posts, like CTA buttons, links, and product catalogs.
Facebook is popular across many demographics, with 2.91 billion monthly active users. While millennials are the most active demographic, teenagers, Gen Xers, and even senior citizens are hanging out there, too.
With detailed targeting options for this huge pool of users, Facebook is a great platform to get started with social media advertising.
Here are the different styles of ads available as options on Facebook in 2022.
Ads are Facebook’s most basic ad format. They let businesses use single images to promote their products, services, or brand. Image ads can be used across different ad types, placements, and aspect ratios.
Pro tip: Attention to image ad specs and ratios so your product isn’t cut off or stretched.
Just like image ads, video ads on Facebook let businesses use a single video to showcase their products, services, or brand. They’re especially helpful for product demos, tutorials, and showcasing moving elements.
Ads showcase up to ten images or videos users can click through. Each has its headline, description, or link.
Carousels are a great choice for displaying a series of different products. Each image in the carousel can even have its landing page specifically built for that product or service.
Ads are an opportunity to offer viewers an interactive experience and preview before they download.
Think of it as a try-before-you-buy option: it’s good to use if you’re selling a game, app, or other digital tool or experience.
Ads are mobile window-shopping experiences that allow users to flick through your product lineup. They’re kind of like immersive carousels — just full-screen and more customizable. Users can purchase products directly from Collection ads.
Ads comprise 3-10 images or a single video that plays in a slideshow. These ads are a great alternative to video ads because they use up to five times less data than videos.
Slideshow ads are also a great way for people without video-making experience to get started.
Ads are a mobile-only full-screen vertical video format that allows you to maximize screen real estate without expecting viewers to turn their screens sideways.
Stories can be made up of Images, videos, and even carousels.
Ads show up in Facebook’s messenger tab. Since it’s where people spend time chatting with friends and family, Messenger ads can feel more personal than scrolling through Image or video ads.
People see your Messenger ads in their conversations and can tap to start a conversation with your brand.
Facebook owns Instagram. So it’s not surprising that Instagram ads support the same six broad categories of campaign objectives as Facebook ads:
- App Promotion
Instagram is most popular with millennials, though many Generation Z and Gen Xers also use the platform. However, you’ll find far fewer boomers and seniors here than on Facebook.
Like Facebook, you can target your ideal viewer with custom targeting options. You can also create lookalike audiences and define your audience’s behaviors and activities, interests, and demographics.
Ads appear in users’ Feeds and Stories alongside content they follow organically. Instagram ads might also appear in Explore and the Instagram Shop browsing experience. Regardless of where they appear, all Instagram ads feature a “sponsored” icon and might include a call-to-action button.
Here are the different styles of Instagram ads you have to choose between.
Your Instagram photo or video will look like a regular Instagram post, except it will say “Sponsored” in the top left. Depending on your campaign objective, you may also be able to add a call-to-action button.
In an Instagram carousel ad, viewers swipe to scroll through different images.
Instagram Stories ads can use photos or videos up to 120 seconds long. These ads display in full-screen format between people’s stories.
Instagram wants Reels to take off, so their algorithm heavily favors video posts. Dropping a boosted Reel into the Insta-verse will probably get you a double dose of paid and organic reach.
Like a traditional Reel, ad Reels loop and can be up to 30 seconds long. Ad Reels can also receive comments, likes, shares, and saves and appear everywhere regular Reels do (in-feed, on the Reels tab, and in Explore).
This option allows you to advertise your Instagram Shop on the Instagram Shop tab homepage. Your hero image will appear as a tile among other shopping content. Users can click on your product to learn more on the product details page.
Twitter ads support three different business objectives:
Awareness: Maximize the reach of your ad.
Consideration: Whether you want video views, pre-roll views, app installs, web traffic, engagement, or followers, this is your category.
Conversion: Bring users to your app or website to take action.
Formerly known as Promoted Tweets, Promoted Ads on Twitter look like regular Tweets — images, videos, carousels, moments, or text-only ads. Advertisers pay to display their content to people who don’t already follow them on Twitter.
Like ordinary Tweets, they can be liked, retweeted, and commented on. But they are labeled as an ad: they always say “Promoted” in the lower left-hand corner.
Formerly known as Promoted Accounts, this type of Twitter ad allows you to promote your brand’s entire Twitter account. It targets users who don’t follow your brand and can help grow your business’s Twitter following.
Follower Ads are displayed in potential followers’ timelines. The ad will also show in the Who to Follow suggestions and search results.
Twitter Amplify Pre-roll allows your brand to place ads that appear before video content from 15+ categories of pre-screened brand-safe publishers.
There are two different types of Twitter Takeover.
Trend Takeover allows brands to place a sponsored ad in the What’s Happening section of the Twitter homepage and the Trending tab on the Explore screen.
Timeline Takeover is an ad that appears at the very top of a user’s timeline when someone opens Twitter for the first time in the day.
Twitter Live is free to any Twitter user, but a paid Twitter Live helps brands maximize their reach.
This is a great option for conferences, product launches, or any moment you want to share with the world.
Additional branding opportunities
Polls, hashtags, and more are all available for the discerning Twitter shopper. Branded hashtag ads, for instance, allow you to add a visual component, like an emoji, that automatically appears when someone uses your hashtag.
Snapchat ads can help you achieve three types of marketing objectives:
Awareness: Reach a large audience to increase awareness of your brand and showcase products and services
Consideration: Drive traffic to your website or app, increase engagement, and encourage app installs, video views, and lead generation.
Conversions: Drive website conversions or catalog sales.
Snapchat’s Instant Create service is a simplified way to get your image or video ad up in under five minutes. This is a quick and easy way to get started if you’ve got a simple advertising goal — for example, getting a Snapchatter to call up your pizza parlor.
For more in-depth advertising goals, there’s Advanced Create. This is for advertisers with more long-term or specific objectives and might need more control over budgets, bids, or optimization.
Some hot numbers for you: 18 to 24-year-olds are the largest age group that use Snapchat, followed by ages 25 to 34 and ages 13 to 17. So if your brand targets Gen Z audiences, Snapchat should be on your radar.
Single-image or video ads
These ads look like organic Snapchat content and are a great format for many objectives, from brand awareness to driving a specific action. Any photo, GIF, or video can be an ad.
These ads are the “bread and butter” format that should be part of every campaign. Mix and match these with any of the other ad types below.
Collection ads are used for e-commerce sales conversions. To use this format, you must upload your product catalog to Snapchat Ads Manager. You can add it manually or connect to Shopify — or many other platforms — for live syncing (recommended).
These ads showcase your products in a video or picture and allow you to feature 4 clickable product tiles along the bottom.
You can also create Dynamic Collection ads. Once you upload a product catalog and meet a few conditions with the Snap Pixel, Snapchat can automatically create dynamic product ads.
Snapchat story ads are single image or video ads — but in a series. You can have between 3 to 20 of these ads in a sequence, mimicking the experience of tapping through a friend’s Snapchat Story.
In addition to appearing between organic Stories, your Story ad is listed on the Discover page, which can bring in great views.
Want guaranteed ad views? Commercials are your answer. These video ads appear in Stories content; the first six seconds are unskippable (though they can be up to three minutes long!).
AR Lens ads and Filter ads
Snapchat’s AR lens ads are like sponsored camera filters. You create a “face lens” or a “world lens,” and Snapchat users can apply them to their content.
Filter ads, meanwhile, are static image overlays users can add to Snaps.
LinkedIn ads help your business with three types of marketing objectives:
Awareness: Create more awareness of your company or brand.
Consideration: Drive website visits, increase engagement, or encourage video views.
Conversions: Collect leads and drive website conversions.
LinkedIn is much more business-oriented than the other social networks in this post. It offers targeting options based on professional qualifications like job title and seniority.
LinkedIn is much more business-oriented than the other social networks in this post. It offers targeting options based on professional qualifications like job title and seniority.
Let’s get down to business.
There are a variety of different formats of ads you can choose from under the Native ad umbrella. Pick between single images, carousels, documents, videos, or event ads, and then set your budget.
Whatever your style, it’ll appear right in the LinkedIn feed alongside organic content (though it will be marked as promoted content.)
Send direct, one-on-one messages to your target audience’s LinkedIn inbox. It’s like starting a personal chat with all your favorite people simultaneously!
You can send a personalized direct message or interact with a Conversation ad, where users are given a choose-your-own-adventure series of prompts.
LinkedIn Dynamic ads are personalized automatically for every single person that sees them.
This AI magic trick allows you to automate individualized campaigns at scale, using personal data like the recipient’s company name, job title, photo, and more, gleaned from their profiles.
A little spooky? Or enough to grab their attention.
These are boosted posts — content created as you would as a regular user of LinkedIn, but then given a little paid boost to get in front of more people. (More about boosting LinkedIn posts here!)
They’ll appear in the usual content stream, though they’ll be highlighted as promoted posts.
LinkedIn’s Text ads are as simple as it gets. Fine-tune your target to reach only the people you want, and only pay for those who click through.
This could be your option if you want to reach a specific professional audience and have a clear value proposition that doesn’t need any razzle-dazzle to hammer your point home.
One note: they only appear to desktop users, not on mobile devices.
Pinterest ads work with six types of business goals:
- Brand awareness
- Video view
- Catalog sales
Pinterest has significantly more female users than males.
Advertising on Pinterest is refreshingly straightforward. Ads are just regular pins (static, video, or catalogs) you pay to show your desired audience.
Your paid pins will appear in users’ home feeds, category feeds, and relevant search results. They’ll be clearly labeled as “promoted.” Easy-peasy!
YouTube ads can help you work towards the following business goals:
YouTube has more male than female users. The audience is well spread out among age groups up to 65.
Choose between skippable and unskippable (up to 15 seconds) for this option. These run before, during, or after videos across YouTube. You can reach hyper-detailed audiences or broad demographics.
These quick ads are unskippable and just six seconds long. They may play before, after, or during a video, much like the longer in-stream ads (above.) This is a great option if you’ve got something short and snappy to share.
In-feed video ads
In-feed video ads on YouTube involve a thumbnail of your video next to some text, enticing viewers to click to watch the video. They may appear next to videos, as part of search results, or on the YouTube homepage on mobile.
Masthead ads are pretty VIP — they’re only available to book through a reservation with your Google sales rep.
It makes sense since this featured ad appears at the top of the desktop site or mobile app and autoplay for up to 30 seconds. That’s what we call premium positioning, baby!
TikTok ads can help you work towards the following business goals:
- Website visits
- App installs
- Online sales
TikTok users are youngsters! Almost seventy percent of TikTokers are under 34 years old.
Though TikTok’s mantra is “don’t make ads, make TikToks,” they offer paid branded solutions. Read on for the full menu.
Make a short video and pay to get it into the streams of the people! Of course, you’ll have the option to target specific demographics, but ultimately, your success will come down to whether or not your video captures users’ attention.
Branded hashtag challenge
Hashtags and challenges are the heart of TikTok. Join by paying for your branded challenge at the top of the trending pile. Engagement goes beyond click-throughs; branded hashtag challenges have an average 8.5% engagement rate.
Ideally, your creative idea for a challenge will spark users to spread your brand’s vibe throughout the TikTokosphere.
There are a few other types of hyper-specific opportunities for ad placements on TikTok’s wider family of apps (many of which are unavailable globally).
How much does social media ad targeting cost?
The infuriating truth for each platform is: it varies! Budgets can be set on all social media sites to suit your financial needs… so you could spend $5 or $50,000.
Results, of course, will vary accordingly — but the point is, there’s an almost infinite spectrum of pricing.
That didn’t stop us from breaking it all down by platform, though, so read on if you need to hear this sentiment again in a more specific context.
There’s no hard and fast rule regarding Facebook ad budgets. The cost of Facebook ads depends on several factors, including audience targeting, ad placement, campaign duration, the competitiveness of your industry, time of year, location, and time of day.
But one important takeaway: setting the right campaign objective is the most important thing you can do to control Facebook ad costs. (Getting this right will also help you achieve success in your goals.)
For example, on average, an “impressions” campaign objective costs $1.85 per click, while a campaign with a “conversions” objective costs $0.87 per click.
The cost of Instagram ads depends on various factors – there is no average or benchmark price. Some cost factors include your target demographic, industry, or time of year.
The best way to evaluate your budget is to set up a draft campaign in Ads Manager and look for the Audience Definition and Estimated Daily Results modules. This will tell you if your budget settings will be sufficient to reach your desired audience within your desired duration.
There’s no minimum spend for Twitter ads, so you can pay as much or as little as you like. But that doesn’t mean the cost of Twitter ads is entirely up to you.
Like most social media platforms, Twitter runs its ads on an auction system. You set the bid you’re willing to pay for a certain action and a daily budget for your campaign.
In general, the higher your bid, the more likely your ad will be served to your target audience. But this is not the only factor.
When considering which ads to serve, Twitter also considers how engaging your ad is. A high-demand audience will also be more expensive to reach.
We’re repeating ourselves here: the exact cost of Snapchat ads varies wildly depending on your objectives, formats, audience, etc.
One cold hard fact we can share is that there is a minimum spend of $5. (What that $5 gets you depends on your shopping. Sorry!)
Surprise, surprise: it depends! The cost of a LinkedIn ad will entirely depend on your specific campaign goals, your desired audience, and your ad format choice.
You start every campaign by placing a bid that suits your budget. LinkedIn ads are sold through ad auctions, angling to reach the audience. The more popular the audience, the higher the price, and the more popular it will get. Tweak your target audience.
Our guide to Pinterest advertising offers some firm-ish numbers: “While every campaign and ad format varies, the average cost of Pinterest ads in 2021 was $1.50 per click.”
So, your final bill will vary wildly depending on how many clicks you get, what kind of ad you create, and who your target market is, but… hey, at least you’ve got a starting point, right?
There is no firm cost for a YouTube ad. That’s probably not your desired answer, but it’s true! So many factors come into play here that it’s impossible even to give a ballpark number. As YouTube says, “You’re in charge of how much you spend.”
You set a maximum cost-per-click you’re willing to pay, but your actual costs may even be lower, depending on your desired audience or placement in demand.
There may not be a straight answer about how much TikTok ads cost, but there are some minimum budgets to work off of.
Since TikTok ads are based on a bidding model, daily campaign budgets are set at USD 50.
Social media advertising examples to learn from
Yes, we are aware that this has been a lot. But before we get into some crucial advice, it’s time for some inspiration.
This Facebook uses the carousel format to showcase one product in multiple colors. (And yet… we want to buy them all?)
Manufacturers of this bed cleverly targeted people listening to Chill Hop — perhaps an audience of people who love feeling sleepy and cozy and are abnormally into bedtime.
Take some inspiration here to think outside the box about your target audience. What kind of content might they be consuming?
On TikTok, Threadbeast promoted a video showcasing its subscription box product by shooting it in a very authentic, unboxing-video-style way that would blend in seamlessly with organic content while still standing out with an intriguing call to action: “Who wants a mystery box?”
Got Milk used promoted Tweets to share videos of special “Milk Gram” deliveries made as part of a campaign. Twitter users could tag a friend who might get a special IRL surprise and find themselves in the next promoted video. The circle of life!
The takeaway? Consider blending real-life experiences with digital ones to generate content and spark delight.
Best Tips for Social Media Advertising Beginners
1. Know what business objective you’re trying to achieve
It’s no accident that we start each section of this guide by reviewing the business objectives each type of social media ad can help you achieve. It’s awfully hard to achieve your goals if you don’t know what your goals are in the first place.
Understanding your ultimate goal is critical. It ensures you choose the right social network to advertise on and find the right advertising solution within that platform. Your goal will even guide your creative strategy.
2. Know your target audience
The ability to micro-target your ad campaigns is one of the key benefits of social media advertising. That’s why we’ve listed some audience considerations for each social network.
Keep in mind that they all offer quite specific ad targeting. Know exactly who you’re trying to reach to take maximum advantage of these targeting options. This ensures you get the best bang for your advertising buck.
After all, there’s no point in advertising to soccer moms in Florida if your audience is young male video gamers in New Jersey. Developing audience personas can help you understand which audience segments to focus on.
3. Let your organic posts inform your ads
You’re likely already posting content on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram every day. Maybe LinkedIn and Snapchat, too.
Some of these posts will resonate with followers, while others won’t. Track which ones are clicked, liked, shared, and commented on. These high-performing messages make the best candidates for social ads.
Start small if you’re branching out into a new network with your social media advertising. Use what you’ve learned from your organic posts as a starting point. However, know that those lessons will not necessarily translate across social networks.
4. Pay for what matters: Impressions or Engagement
To control your budget, consider whether you want impressions or engagements.
You’ll often pay by cost per thousand impressions (CPM) or click (CPC). If you pay every time someone sees your ad (impressions), your message can cast a wide net. But if you’re paying for engagement, you only want people interested in doing business with you to engage.
You don’t want to pay for engagements irrelevant to your business goals. The wording of your ad should help people identify whether it’s for them.
Both engagement and impressions campaigns can be valuable for your business. You just need to choose the right one to align with your business goals so that you only pay for real business results.
Here’s some more information about which metrics to track to make the most of your social media marketing campaign.
5. Design your ads with mobile in mind
More than 3.25 billion active social media users access social networks on mobile devices.
That means most social media ads are viewed on mobile devices. Your mobile ads should be optimized for the small screen. Incorporate images that are easy to view on a pocket-sized device. (Unless you choose desktop placement.)
If you have a brick-and-mortar business, you can use “geofencing” to target mobile users when they are in a specific zip code. This means they only see your ads when they are close enough to walk in your front door.
6. Test your ads to optimize performance
One of the great benefits of social ads is instant feedback. You can gauge the effectiveness of a sponsored post in minutes and follow up with advanced analytics reports.
The best practice is to test several ads with small audiences to determine what works best, then use the winning ad in the primary campaign.
Testing one ad against another to determine what works best and refine your strategy is known as A/B testing. It’s a critical part of your social media advertising efforts. We teach you how to do it in our social media A/B testing guide.
7. Measure results — and report on them
Just as knowing your goals before running an ad campaign is important, it’s important to measure results. This will let you know whether you’ve hit your targets. It shows you what worked and what didn’t so that you can improve going forward.
Measuring your results and having factual data about the value your ads bring to the company (purchases, leads, and so on) is a key part of proving ROI.
And if you can prove that your ads are paying off, that will ensure you get the budget you need to continue your work.
You can also use tools like Google Analytics and Hootsuite Impact to measure results across networks from a single dashboard. A social media report is a great way to track your results and look for great content to promote with social ads.
In conclusion, social media ad targeting is crucial in maximizing the impact and effectiveness of your advertising campaigns. By harnessing the power of advanced targeting capabilities offered by platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn, you can precisely reach your desired audience segments and deliver highly relevant content. This level of precision allows for improved engagement, higher conversion rates, and a better return on your advertising investment. However, it’s essential to approach ad targeting strategically, considering demographics, interests, behaviors, and custom audiences to ensure your ads resonate with the right people at the right time. With careful planning, monitoring, and optimization, social media ad targeting can be a game-changer for your business, enabling you to connect with your ideal customers and achieve your marketing objectives in the digital realm.