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The Benefits of Social Media Ads and Differences Among 7 Key Platforms

November 29th, 2022 | 10 min. read

By Kim Kovelle

The Benefits of Social Media Ads and Differences Among 7 Key Platforms
 

Advertising on social media can feel daunting. There are so many options. But, what's more, there are so many prospects. 72% of Americans are on social, Pew Research Center notes.

So, if you're eyeballing social media ads for your digital marketing strategy, that's smart. And if you’re feeling a little nervous about taking your first steps, well, that's normal!

Zoe Marketing & Communications is here to help. With 15+ years in the digital marketing realm, we have a solid sense of the types of audiences on social media. We also have a track record of boiling down complicated things and helping people make the best decisions for them.

So, in this blog, we're going to:

  • Define what social media advertising is

  • Give 5 reasons why social ads are beneficial

  • Take a closer look at 7 of the top platforms

Namely: Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest and TikTok. And specifically: the types of ads, some examples, the audience/perks and the costs.

By the time you're done, you'll feel clearer and confident about your options and next steps.

What social media advertising is

Social media ads are a form of paid digital advertising on social media platforms. You can target your audience by demographics, interests, locations and behaviors.

That's its superpower: Social media companies have deep, rich data on their users — based on their actions and the personal info they provide. Yes, folks can opt out of some ads or limit what personal data is tapped. But there's still a wealth of details.

Plus, you can retarget people who've engaged with your ads. In other words, if someone clicks your ad but doesn't take action, you can serve more ads to them.

Ads look different on Facebook vs. Pinterest, for example — and each platform has multiple ad options. However, across the board, you can expect to:

  • Set campaign goals (branding, growing followers, driving website traffic, boosting sales, etc.)

  • Hone in on a particular audience(s)

  • Create ads with words and images/videos

  • Set and control your budget (all use a bidding or auction-style format — so you're bidding for space and people's eyeballs)

  • Track your results/success

5 reasons why social ads are beneficial

Boiled down, here are five top perks of investing advertising dollars into social media:

  1. Reaching people where they're at. Again, folks spend a lot of time on social.

  2. Targeting audiences by their location, behaviors, interests and demographics.

  3. Boosting brand recognition, leads and conversions with targeting and retargeting.

  4. Keeping competitive. As of 2021, social ads account for one-third of digital ads.

  5. Improving your credibility and trustworthiness, especially as a long-term investment.

A closer look at 7 top social media platforms

So how do you know which social is right for you? To give a better flavor, let's look at seven of the most common: Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest and TikTok.

1. Facebook

With 239 million U.S. users, Facebook remains a leading social media machine. It falls under the Meta umbrella, which also includes Instagram, Messenger and Meta Audience Network.

Generally speaking, you can target your ads for these goals or objectives:

  • Awareness

  • Traffic

  • Engagement

  • Leads

  • App promotion

  • Sales

Types of ads

Facebook offers five types of ads. They're easy to "plug and play," and include templates:

  1. Image: Centered on one image. Above it is a little body copy; below it is a brief headline and optional description. At the bottom right, there's a CTA, or call to action, button.

  2. Video: Same concept, only using a video vs. image. Great at catching attention. Aim to keep it around 1 minute tops.

  3. Carousel: These ads feature up to 10 images or videos in one ad. Each has its own link.

  4. Instant experience: These are fullscreen videos, landing pages, app downloads, etc. that load after someone clicks. You can add them to any of the above formats.

  5. Collection: This one features a cover image/video, then three product images. When you click a product, it launches an "experience" (see above).

Examples

All ads are clearly labeled "sponsored." Explore the immersive instant experience and collection direct on Meta. As for the others:

Facebook Sample Ad - Image

Facebook image ad

Video looks the same, only with a video vs. a static picture. (Note: This ad has a bolded headline; if there were a description, it would appear right under that.)

Facebook Sample Ad- Carousel

 

Facebook carousel ad

Caught mid-scroll between the multiple images.

Audience/perks

Facebook is a fave for older millennials ages 35-44, Hootsuite reports. The audience is about 57% men and 43% women. A whopping 70% of U.S. adults are on it, with nearly half checking in several times a day.

Again, you can tailor your ads to a lot of audience specs. Bonus: You can post to Instagram and other Meta platforms simultaneously.

Costs

With Meta, you can set spending limits for each campaign and your entire account and make tweaks at any time.

Ad spends average $200-$1,500/month, notes digital marketing data expert WebFX, plus $1,000-$2,500/month to manage campaigns. It's $0.97/click or $7.19/1,000 impressions.

2. Instagram

Instagram hovers around 160 million users in the U.S. and, like Facebook, operates ads under the Meta umbrella. That means you can choose from the same goals or objectives as Facebook: awareness, traffic, engagement, leads, app promotion and sales.

Types of ads

Here again, Instagram offers the same five ads as Facebook. Peek at that section above for details. But, briefly, they include images, videos, carousel, instant experiences and collections.

One difference: You only get body copy for image and video ads; there's no headline and description like there is with Facebook. Also, you get less space before the "more" cut-off.

Examples

Check out the instant experience, collection and carousel examples on Meta. And:

Instagram Sample Ad - Image

Instagram image ad

Note that the body copy appears under the image, and the "more" cut-off happens quickly. 

 

Audience/perks

Instagram is most popular with ages 16-24, Hootsuite reports. Specifically, 30% are ages 18-24, 32% ages 25-34, and 16% are 35-44. Slightly more than half of users are male; the rest female.

Again, there's the benefit of being able to post to Facebook at the same time. Plus, IG engagement is high — 23% higher than Facebook, even, notes marketing guru HubSpot.

Costs

Ditto Facebook, average monthly ads run $200-$1,500, plus $1,000-$2,500 for management. It's $3.56/click (over triple Facebook) or $7.19/1,000 impressions.

3. YouTube

That's right: YouTube, which Google owns, is a massive search engine and a social media platform. And with close to 250 million U.S. users, it's a big player for ads. You can pick from three goals:

  • Awareness

  • Consideration

  • Action

Types of ads

YouTube offers six styles of video ads. It also provides plenty of tips on (and templates for) creating effective video clips.

  1. Skippable in-stream ads: These play before, during or after videos. They're up to 30 seconds, but viewers can skip them after five seconds.

  2. Non-skippable in-stream ads: Also played before/during/after videos, these ads run up to 15 seconds and can't be skipped.

  3. In-feed video ads: These appear on YouTube search results, in the column next to related videos and on YouTube's mobile homepage.

  4. Bumper ads: They're similar to non-skippable ads, only they're 6 seconds or shorter.

  5. Outstream ads: These mobile-only ads appear off YouTube, on Google video partner websites and apps. They auto-play with the sound off; viewers can unmute.

  6. Masthead ads: These bigger-ticket ads reach a "massive audience" quickly. They're available by reservation only with a Google sales rep.

Plus: Since YouTube is a Google product, you can also set up text-only ads in Google Search Ads. These pop up at the top of search results.

Examples

It's easiest to see clear illustrations of each ad type in action on the YouTube video ads format page. Here's a flavor of four common types:

YouTube Sample Ad - Skippable In-Stream

 

Skippable in-stream YouTube ad

The ad popped up at the beginning of a video. You can see the ad is 17 seconds (circled), but there's a countdown (arrow) of five seconds. You can skip after that.

YouTube Sample Ad - Non-Skippable In-Stream

Non-skippable in-stream YouTube ad

It's 15 seconds, and the video will only play after the entire ad plays.

YouTube Sample Ad - In Feed Video

In-feed YouTube video ad

This typically appears at the top of search results.

YouTube Sample Ad - Text Only Ad from Google Search Ads

Text-only ad set up in Google Search Ads

It also shows up at the top of search results.

Audience/perks

YouTube users ages 18-plus are about 46% female and 54% male, says HootSuite. Millennial men ages 25-34 are the biggest demographic.

Its giant reach is a major benefit, paired with fine-tuned targeting, including video remarketing and targeting affinity audiences, in-market audiences — even life events like moves or marriage.

Costs

YouTube suggests starting small, with an average spend of $10-$50/day. WebFX notes you'll average $200-$1,500/month for ads plus $1,000-$2,500 for management. It's $3.21/click or $9.68/1,000 impressions. 

4. LinkedIn

If you're marketing to other businesses and professionals, LinkedIn is a strong ad contender. It counts about 170 million U.S. users among its ranks. It offers three objectives

  • Awareness

  • Consideration

  • Conversion

Types of ads

LinkedIn provides four ad types, along with plenty of guidance on how to create them:

  1. Sponsored content ads: These in-feed ads include five formats:

    1. Single images

    2. Documents (e.g., case studies, white papers, etc.)

    3. Videos

    4. Carousels (up to 10 images or "cards")

    5. Events

  2. Message ads: These text-based ads are sent to prospects in LinkedIn Messaging. They include one CTA. You can add a lead-gen form. And there's no character limit.

  3. Dynamic ads: There are three types:

    1. Follower ads: Desktop ads that let people follow your page with a click.

    2. Spotlight ads: Help drive web traffic or registrations or show off a new service.

    3. Jobs ads: Personalized ads targeting top talent. Appear on desktop and mobile.

  4. Text ads: Simple ads that appear with a small image (a profile image is best) and bit of text in the right-hand side or top of the desktop view.

Examples

LinkedIn offers examples of its ads on its website. Scroll down to see a few examples:

LinkedIn Sample Ad - Sponsored Content

LinkedIn sponsored content ad

This one features a strong single image, description and headline.

LinkedIn Sample Ad - Message

LinkedIn Messaging ad

This pops up in your message inbox. Note the clear CTA, or call to action.

LinkedIn Sample Ad - Text

LinkedIn text ad

This features three options popping up to the right side of the feed, in desktop view.

Audience/perks

More than a third of U.S. adults ages 30-49 are on LinkedIn, the Oberlo blog reports. That's followed by ages 50-64 at 33%, then ages 18-29 at 30%.

Higher education levels are common: 51% have a bachelor's or advanced degree, Pew Research Center notes.

Costs

LinkedIn says costs depend on your goals and auctions. WebFX again puts the average at $200-$1,500/month for ads and $1,000-$2,500 for management. It's $5.26/click or $6.59/1,000 impressions. 

5. Twitter

Around 23% of U.S. adults use Twitter, Pew reports. While it's experienced some turmoil and ad pauses in late 2022, this 2006-founded platform is still worth considering. Its three goals are:

  • Awareness

  • Consideration

  • Conversion

Types of ads

Twitter provides a lot of ad options — eight total. Here's an overview of the suite: 

  1. Promoted ads: Standard ads that can appear in five formats:

    1. Image ads (single image)

    2. Video ads

    3. Carousel ads (up to 6 images/videos)

    4. Moment ads (collections of Tweets)

    5. Text ads (look like native Tweets)

  2. Follower ads: Designed to attract new followers.

  3. Twitter Amplify: Aligned with premium video content from relevant publishers. Includes:

    1. Amplify pre-roll: Ads are served from 15+ categories.

    2. Amplify Sponsorships: A higher-end product with more publisher/category control.

  4. Twitter Takeover: A super-premium product for desktop and mobile. Includes:

    1. Timeline Takeover: Ads appear as the "first ad of the day" for users.

    2. Trend Takeover/Trend Takeover+: Ads go alongside what's trending.

  5. Twitter Live: Broadcast options for livestreams like product launches, conferences, etc.

  6. Dynamic product ads: Offers deeper retargeting and prospecting options.

  7. Collection ads: Product roundups featuring a main image with smaller images below. Includes single-view options, customizable destinations and space for up to 6 products.

  8. Twitter Ad Features: These flexible options include polls, conversation buttons, app buttons, website buttons, branded hashtags and branded notifications.

Example

To get better visuals, browse Twitter's ad formats page.

Twitter Sample Ad - Promoted Image

Twitter promoted ad

This one is the image option. Note the "Promoted" tag at bottom left and "Install" CTA button.

Audience/perks

Almost 9% of all internet users are on Twitter, Hootsuite notes; about 56% are male and 44% female. The platform has reported that 80% of its users are "affluent millennials."

Twitter also notes brands have success using "a wittier, faster, or more current version of their voice," thanks to its 280-character limit.

Costs

Rates vary based on your goals and auctions, Twitter says. WebFX reports ads are about $200-$1,500/month, plus $1,000-$2,500 for management. It's $0.38/click or $6.46/1,000 impressions. 

6. Pinterest

With 91 million U.S. users, Pinterest is on the "lower" side, but its power has grown. Specifically, its ads blend right in with the "discovery" feature its users love. Ad goals include:

  • Awareness

  • Consideration

  • Conversions

  • Offline sales (i.e., in-store purchases)

Types of ads

Pinterest includes six ad options:

  1. Standard ads: Displays content or services in a basic vertical or square image.

  2. Video ads: 6-15 second videos that rely on engaging visuals to grab attention.

  3. Shopping ads: Easily transfers product or service Pins into ads.

  4. Carousel ads: Allows 2-5 swipeable static images (no video) with different links.

  5. Collections: These ads, once tapped, launch a fullscreen view that shows one featured "hero" image/product and up to 24 secondary images.

  6. Idea ads: These feature multiple pages of video (1-60 seconds) and image content.

Examples

Pinterest's ad formats page gives samples of each type.

Pinterest Sample - Standard Ad - 1

Pinterest standard ad

Here's a look at a standard ad, both before it's clicked …

Pinterest Sample - Standard Ad - 2

… and after.

Audience/perks

Pinterest touts data that its ads are 2.3 times more efficient per conversion vs. most social media. And, at 77%, women are the leading users, HootSuite reports (most ages 24-35).

While it's extra conducive to products and brands, industries from education to nonprofits have found success on Pinterest.

Costs

Pinterest costs do tend to run higher, WebFX reports, at $1.50/click and $30/1,000 impressions. Averages run $200-$1,500/month for ads and $1,000-$2,500 for management.

7. TikTok

This video app has seen a flurry of success in the U.S. starting around 2018. Roughly 92 million U.S. adults are among its ranks, though it does skew younger. Its four goals include:

  • Drive website traffic

  • Increase app installs

  • Grow online sales

  • Attract new sales leads

Types of ads

TikTok also offers four ad types:

  1. TopView ads: Appear as the first video users see when opening the app. It's considered TikTok's "biggest billboard."

  2. In-feed ads: Classic ads appearing in the main "For You" feed. Videos are ideal and have sound on (TikTok suggests 9-15 seconds), but you can also use static images.

  3. Branded Hashtag Challenge: Lay down a challenge to TikTok users to spark trends and excitement.

  4. Branded effects: Customize games, stickers, filters and special effects for your brand to increase the odds of going viral.

Example

Visit TikTok's ad page and scroll down a bit to see samples in action.

TikTok Sample Ad - Sponsored

TikTok in-feed ad

Here's an in-feed screenshot. Note the "Sponsored" tag and "Sign up" CTA button.

Audience/perks

About 60% of TikTok users are female and 40% male, reports Wallaroo Media. Gen Z is the top demographic at 60% of those ages 16-24; 26% are ages 25-44.

TikTok touts that 81% of people use TikTok to discover new brands and products. It's also visually compelling: Ads fill six times the screen space of traditional banner ads.

Costs

Here, you're looking at a minimum average daily budget of $50 for campaigns and $20 for ad groups, WebFX notes. Rates run $1/click or $10/1,000 impressions.

What are my next steps for social media advertising?

Thanks to rich user data and targeting abilities, social ads are powerful. There are a lot of options out there — and more to come. But this blog helped you get your footing.

We outlined five distinct benefits. And we dove into specs and samples for Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest and TikTok.

Looking to add social to your marketing — and get help with management? Talk to your advisor at Zoe Marketing & Communications. We'll tap our 15+ years of digital experience to help.

And learn even more about your digital ad options with these articles:

Kim Kovelle

As Zoe Marketing & Communications’ content manager, Kim Kovelle brings nearly 20 years of writing and editing experience in metro Detroit. She has strong roots in community journalism and a knack for making complicated topics make more sense.