Have you dipped your toes into the paid social media waters? If it looked questionable to you, not to worry.

We’re going to give you the rundown on how social media advertising can benefit your brand, how to pick the right platform and the various types of ad formats.

Why Advertise on Social Media?

Advertising your small business on social media can have major benefits for your brand. In fact, 55% of small businesses in the U.S. advertise on social. Here are just some of the reasons why:

Reach Your Ideal Customers

Social media trends come and go and platforms are continually changing up their algorithms (cough, cough, Instagram). This makes it increasingly difficult to reach your audience via organic posts. In fact, the average reach of an organic Facebook post is only a sliver over 2%.

While it seems counterintuitive, social platforms are more pay-to-play than you think. By running ads for your small business, you can drastically boost your reach.

What’s most important is that you’re reaching people who actually want or need your products or services.

Luckily, social sites have some of the best targeting around. Once you’ve identified your ideal buyer persona, all you have to do is input that information into your chosen ads platform.

For example, Facebook allows you to target who sees your ads based on a variety of factors including age, gender, language, interests or even relationship status.

It’s Not One Size Fits All

Social media advertising can be done, and done right, at any budget. Granted, the more you spend the more reach you’ll have, but you can get started for as little as $5.

Boost Your Businesses Credibility

Starting out as a small business can be hard. Consumers check ads and look for social proof before picking up the phone or clicking the “book now” button. But how do you garner social proof before you pick up your first client?

By leveraging social media advertising you can help your businesses build brand awareness. Consider it the “fake it till you become it” method.

When your customer sees an ad, they assume you’re a well-organized business — you’ve thought of everything. If you’ve thought of ads, you must have your business operations under control.

Choosing the Right Platform

According to results from a study run by Bain, customers who have engaged with a business on social media spend 20% to 40% more money with that business in the long term than other customers. But, as you may be aware, each social media platform has its own flair.

From Facebook to LinkedIn to TikTok, you can’t and shouldn’t be on them all. Rather, you should focus your marketing efforts on the sites that help you reach your goals.

Knowing Your Clients

To choose the right platform, you need to analyze your audience to figure out which platforms they hang out on and then publish ads on the sites they already frequent. The best way to do this is to define your buyer personas.

This is what you know about who you are looking for. Once defined, you can narrow down the platforms based on how well they enable you to target your ideal audience.

One of the ways to figure out where your customers are hanging out online is a simple survey. Ask existing customers what social sites they use or where they look for information on new businesses.

In addition, social sites like Facebook can help you locate your audience. When setting up your paid ads you can provide information about who your customer base is and let the algorithm choose who will see your ads.

Picking the Right Ad Type

Depending on the platform, your ad options may vary. But when it comes to social media advertising, you can break down the types of ads into 5 general categories.

  • Photo Ads These are the most common types of ads. They are easy to create, just ensure you are using high-quality photos. These types of ads are great for building brand awareness, driving traffic to your website or making sales.
  • Video Ads – Short, compelling content can keep your buyers’ attention. Did you know 84% of people say they’ve been convinced to buy a product or service by watching a brand’s video?
  • Stories Ads – Stories ads display in full-screen format, allowing your product to be in full focus as long as you have your customer’s attention.

Fun fact: According to a study by Instagram Business, half of the users surveyed said they visited a website to purchase a product or service as a result of viewing it on a Stories ad.

  • Messenger Ads – Not all social media advertisements come in the form of pictures or videos. Messenger ads pop up between conversations in your users’ Chat tab. If a user is intrigued, they can click on the ad and start an automated conversation or be sent to a landing page of your choosing.
  • Search Ads – This type of ad appears to those who are already looking for your product or service. So if your customer is on YouTube searching for legal advice, they’re more likely to see your advertisements for your law firm. Lucky them.

Iterate and Evaluate

Landing on the type of ad that works best for your business, product or service is an ongoing process. You’ll want to A/B test the types of ads you push, the audiences you send them to and the copy, video or imagery.

By testing small variations in your social ads you can identify which content makes the biggest impact on your desired audience.

Determining the success of your ads will depend on the overall goals and objectives you set. Are you trying to boost engagement? Increase traffic to your website? Or boost sales? Whatever your goal, tracking the metrics that matter will allow you to determine the success of each ad campaign.