Social media has been the biggest cultural phenomenon in marketing and advertising this decade, so it's no wonder that so many businesses are devoting time and money to keep up with its changing nature and the new platforms that emerge.

If you have a business and are wondering how to navigate the changing landscape of paid advertising, you're already looking in the right direction. Spending on social media ads globally reached over 13 billion in the last year, and it's only expected to continue to grow.

There are currently about 2.34 billion people on social media around the world; it's a gigantic, lucrative market to tap into. However, because there's such a vast audience, it's saturated with content.

The key to improving your ad performance is to know where to place your content and what kind of messaging works best on various platforms. We're going to focus on the four most effective platforms for paid content.

 

Which social media advertising platform to use

Social Media Advertising

Every platform has its benefits and drawbacks. Some require a lot of lead time to create content and show a Return on Ad Spend (ROAS). Some turn around quick results but aren't as consistent. And others can be time-consuming and require a lot of attention. But with the right mix, you can drive consistent sales for your website through social media ads. There are tons of social media platforms, but these seem to consistently offer the best results.

 

Facebook

Facebook is the giant of the social media industry with more than 2 billion monthly users – over 25 percent of the world's population. It's an awesome network for lead generation in e-commerce as well. Businesses can use it to upload their list of email addresses and target their customers with specialized content. Some types of content that perform well include white papers, e-books, product coupons, special offers, giveaways and free shipping. This targeting is more sophisticated on Facebook than any other platform using options such as pages engaged with and interests, so you can be sure you're getting your ads in front of the right faces.

AdEspresso found that the average cost per click (CPC) of Facebook ads in 2016 was about 0.28 cents, and the cost per impressions (CPM) was $7.19. These are pretty solid numbers for advertisers and they are fairly consistent across industries. The key to getting Facebook advertising right is to refresh frequently to reduce ad fatigue and constantly A/B test for effectiveness.

 

Instagram

Facebook acquired Instagram for $1 billion in 2012, and it has since become a serious hot spot for social media advertising. The platform has more than 500 million daily active users . It has a higher audience engagement rate than Facebook and Twitter, largely because it features an easily digestible format of pictures and short videos. For that reason, it's best for businesses to curate visual content in their campaigns.

Instagram is heavily focused on the 18-29 age range and mostly skews toward females and minorities. It also lets you link an ad directly to a product or landing page so users can click right to your site. The cost is about the same as Facebook, with a price of about $5 per thousand impressions, but stats reveal that Instagram ads get a lot more engagement than Facebook. On Instagram, it's best to take advantage of the engagement; visitors from Instagram tend to stay 45 percent longer than visitors from Facebook and 40 percent longer than visitors from Twitter. Use custom images rather than stock photos and offer compelling deals. Plus you can take advantage of interest-based audiences, custom audiences and look-alike audiences.

 

Twitter

Twitter is the go-to source for breaking news these days because it provides real-time news and interactions for users all around the world. Twitter has 328 million monthly active users and is popular as a way to get up-to-the-second updates and share content. The amount of content is limited so use it as an opportunity to get a quick and concise message across. It's an important platform for organic engagement and is a great place to put paid ads. Twitter users shop online more frequently than other networks, and e-commerce stores use the platform to drive brand awareness and promote products. The average cost of a thousand ad impressions on Twitter is between $9 and $11, making it more expensive than Facebook and Instagram.

 

Pinterest

Pinterest is also a visual platform, but it's highly geared toward women. It has over 200 million monthly users. When users are surfing through pictures, you can add promoted pins to relevant content to make sure they see your post. It's great for e-commerce because you can feature high-quality images and curate a look for your brand. (Great examples are this clean, crisp Warby Parker ad and this sleek image from Moo. You can then follow to see which pins are performing best and continue to invest in them. The downside is that it tends to be more expensive than the other platforms. However, the direct link-backs make it easy to track conversions to determine your ROAS.

The bottom line here is that social media advertising is well worth it in today's virtual climate. It's important to know your audience and make sure you track the ad performance of your campaigns so you can continue to improve your digital marketing strategy.

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