The era of social media advertising is in its Golden Age. There’s never been a better time to start placing ads on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and more, even if you’ve never done it before. But if you dive into social media advertising without knowing what's what, you could potentially waste your marketing dollars and end up with a bunch of ineffective advertisements that don't drive conversion or sales for your brand.Fortunately, this guide can help break down everything important you need to know about social media ads, including the types of ads available, how to create engaging ads, and where you should place the ads after making them. Let’s get started.
The Purpose of Social Media Ads
Why advertise on social media?There are many critical reasons. Social media platforms have several billion users shared between them, so odds are you’ll be able to reach your target consumers very easily just by leveraging these free platforms.Additionally, social media platforms can help you reach various marketing objectives depending on the types of ads you create. For example, social media ads can help you:
- Increase leads to your website or business or your conversion rate into paying customers/clients
- Increase awareness of your brand, which can be helpful when you are trying to expand
- Driving people to your website or online store
- And more
Social media ads are accessible, effective, and can even be budget-friendly if you make the right ads for your brand and place them in the right spots.
Types of Social Media Ads
Social media ads are more varied than TV advertisements, which are video-only, and banner ads, which are image-only (with a few exceptions). There are three main types of social media ads you can create, each with distinct advantages and uses.
Video ads are the longest-form and most potentially valuable, although they may also be the most expensive. Video ads are close to classic television commercials in that they play a short video advertising your products or services to your target audience.Depending on the platform you choose, video ads can be anywhere from as short as 15 seconds to as long as two or three minutes. Regardless, all video ads have to follow the same process of introducing a problem, introducing a solution, and providing a call to action for your target consumers.Since making video ads that convert is difficult for brands without a lot of video marketing experience, partnering with a video marketing agency like VisCap Media may be helpful and allow you to reach your marketing goals more readily.
Image ads are classic Internet advertisements that have been around since the dawn of Google. Taking the form of banner ads, pop-up ads, and now single image ads on social media platforms, image ads consist of one or possibly two pictures and are very easy for your target consumers to digest.Unfortunately, they are also easy to dismiss. Your target audience can simply scroll past image adds with a flip of their thumb. So any image ads you create have to be eye-catching, informative, and engaging enough to drive conversion with a single picture and some text.The upside to these limitations is cost – image ads are often cheaper to produce than video ads – and versatility. It's easier to fit a lot of image ads on social media platforms, as you aren't necessarily limited by video content caps.
Text ads are technically a version of image ads, but they rely on getting your point across and engaging with your users through text alone rather than imagery or photos. Text ads work better for certain industries than others.In general, you’ll want to stick with either video or image adds when marketing on social media platforms, as these types of advertisements are more interesting to scrollers.
Alongside the three primary ad types mentioned above, you’ll also find that social media platforms sometimes have specific advertisement types that are unique to them.
Instagram, for instance, allows you to make “Stories” ads that slip in between Stories content generated naturally by the platform’s users. These ads only pop up for around 15 seconds unless clicked on, and then can be up to 120 seconds long (if they’re videos).These ads, when carefully crafted to appear natural and to appeal to your target consumers, can be incredibly successful due to their non-intrusive nature. However, the first 15 seconds of your video content have to be top-tier in every way (engaging, informative, entertaining) in order to draw attention and get people to click on the rest of the ad.
Facebook Marketplace and Premium (Sponsored) Ads
Facebook Marketplace ads are advertisements that only appear on the Facebook Marketplace. These include several subsidiary types, including:
- Sponsored stories, which are ads that leverage social context to increase marketing efficacy
- Page posts, which take a part of a normal Facebook page and turn it into an ad
- External website ads, which use ads on Facebook to divert traffic to external websites
- Object ads, which drive traffic to another place on Facebook, such as your social media business page
You can also make/purchase Facebook Premium ads, which are more expensive. However, you can advertise in more potentially lucrative areas with these ads. For example, you can place premium ads on desktop and mobile News Feeds, the right-hand side of the screen for desktop users (giving you more space for larger images), or even Facebook log-out screens.Because platforms have specific ad types available, this just makes it more important to determine the right platforms on which to advertise and why.
Key Components of Social Media Ads
The types of social media ads you create are crucial. But regardless of whether you make an image ad, a video ad, or some amalgamation of the two, each ad your marketing campaign produces will need to include a few key components. As touched on earlier, these components are:
- An introductory hook that provides a pain point or problem that resonates with your target audience. Using a hypothetical video ad as an example, if you sell recycled clothing to apparel lovers who don’t want to spend money on wasteful clothing product, you would start your ad by introducing the problem of wasteful clothing manufacturing processes and high apparel prices
- A solution immediately after the introductory hook that highlights your product or service as the go-to choice to alleviate the pain point. Following the above example, you would present your recycled clothing as an attractive and affordable alternative to normal wasteful clothing options
- A call to action at the very end of your video ad. Finishing the above example, your video ad might include a link to your online store or website, or a telephone number ready for a viewer’s call
The same key components must be present in any image-based ads you create, although image ads are somewhat more limited. You have to include the pain point through either text or imagery, the solution through text but preferably imagery, and a call to action or link button at the bottom of the image.These three steps are vital for every social media ad you create. They create a logical story that can potentially resonate emotionally with your target audience, leading them naturally to your app or store.Without ensuring that your social media ads have these elements, you run the risk of wasting your marketing budget on ineffective ads.
Where to Post Social Media Ads
Now that you know the types of social media ads you can make, as well as what each social media ad needs, let’s look at the different platforms on which you can post ads. We’ll also go over why different platforms are better or worse for different goals than others.
Facebook has the most comprehensive advertising interface of all the social media platforms, including an API that lets you manage social ads through various third-party tools. Facebook also has the most monthly active users. Additionally, it’s the parent company of Instagram, so in many cases, making it out for one platform allows you to migrate it to the other with a minimum of fuss.Video and image adds work particularly well on Facebook, and you can make a business profile page for linking to for added conversion efficacy.
Instagram ads are closely tied to Facebook ads. You can make both image and video ads on this platform, although the short attention span of most of its users means that your video ads have to be punchy and engaging from the get-go to be effective.In many cases, you can advertise successfully on Instagram by creating engaging content related to your brand and simply gathering followers over time. These aren’t “ads” per se, but they work the same way by drawing people to your brand via good video content.
Twitter presents different challenges (and opportunities!) for marketers compared to either Facebook or Instagram. Remember, Twitter is a primarily text-based platform, so most of your ads here will focus on engaging text and quick links to your site or app store. There are three different Twitter ads you can make:
- Promoted Tweets are great for promoting brand recognition or boosting engagement. These Tweets show up directly on users’ timelines or based on various search terms
- Promoted Trends, which allows you to make an ad by choosing a hashtag topic and putting that topic on the list of trending topics. This type of ad can be great for generating new traffic, but only in certain industries
- Promoted Accounts, which are better for finding and adding new followers. With these ads, you promote your Twitter account directly, so it’s best used if you have a social media manager who runs your Twitter account and posts new content regularly
Targeting and Social Media Ads
There’s one last aspect of social media ads to keep in mind: targeting.Through targeting, you’ll both change where your ads are shown on a social media platform and help the platform’s advertising algorithms be more effective at putting your ads in front of those users most likely to visit your store or website.Depending on the platform you use, different targeting controls may be available. But all platforms will at least allow you to target a few basic attributes:
- Demographics, which are attributes like age and sex. Demographics can affect whether one group of people or another is more likely to be interested in your products. For example, women typically buy more nice apparel than men
- Region, which helps you narrow down your demographics by location. This type of targeting can be especially helpful for local businesses that get most of their traffic from people near their geographic area, such as dental practices
- Interests. Many social media users spend their time scrolling through pages or profiles related to their interests. Targeting people based on their interests can help you connect with consumers that would be a perfect match for your brand
When using targeting controls, be as specific as possible. In social media advertising, it’s better to be more specific than more generalized. You’ll never be able to advertise to everyone on Instagram or Facebook, but you may be able to advertise to most of the people in your brand’s specific niche.
Overall, social media ads are a complex and multifaceted topic. It’ll take a lot of time before your company generates top-tier ads that convert and raise revenue… at least if you try doing it all alone.Your marketing efforts will be more successful if you partner with a skilled video marketing agency like VisCap Media: experts in social media video advertising for brands across many industries and niches. Contact us today to see the kind of video content we can make for your social media marketing campaign today!SourcesNumber of social media users 2025 | StatistaMost used social media 2021 | StatistaOnline clothing purchasing by demographic Great Britain 2020 | Statista