Social Media Advertising

by Brian Toomey, JB Analytics CEO

Facebook, Linkedin, Instagram and other Social Media 

In most cases media buying on social media platforms is more like display advertising than search. You are advertising in the hope of catching the attention of an interested party in the course of general browsing rather than showing your ads at exactly the moment the user is engaged in a search for your product or service. 

For instance, if you were selling a vegan protein supplement on Facebook you might target ‘vegetarians’ or ‘health enthusiasts’ or audiences similar in demographics and interests to your existing user base (‘lookalike audiences’). Whereas with Google or Microsoft search campaigns, you could target those search results triggered by someone actually shopping for protein supplements at that exact moment. 

Targeting: Person vs Action

In display and social, you are targeting a person. In search (and directory advertising on platforms like Yelp) you are targeting an action. 

For this reason, both general display and social media advertising usually have a much lower conversion rate than search campaigns, but this can be balanced out by lower media costs. It can be good to experiment to see which yields a better ROI. 

Types of Ad Formats

There are a huge range of different formats available (see examples below), ranging from small text only to carousels and video.

Facebook Ads

Marketplace ads

Facebook Marketplace Ads showing boots

Sponsored in feed

Image of Sponsored feed showing avocados on toast


Who to Follow

Screenshot of Twitter Business with Follow button

Promoted in-feed

Screenshot of twitter feed with ad


Promoted in-feed

Screenshot of LinkedIn Promoted in-feed for tracking your fleet


Screenshot of a Follow button in a LinkedIn sidebar


Skippable video

Red car sitting on edge of bridge


Man in red shirt with the Cookie Monster

What to do

No single format or targeting option is superior for all advertisers. The best choices should match your intent and audience. Are you trying to gain followers, drive immediate sales, reach past buyers or site visitors, build the brand with highly sharable content, or get leads? The choice of platform, ad format/s, Call to Action (CTA) and targeting options should be informed by those questions. 

In all cases, we recommend the following:

  • Consider mobile and desktop separately. As with all display advertising, mobile can have a high rate of accidental click. Unchecked, many advertisers on Facebook and other social platforms will find that the bulk of their spend goes to mobile. 
  • On platforms such as Youtube, exclude as many children’s channels as possible. You may be targeting a 35-year-old high-income earner, but their 3-year-old may well be watching Sesame Street videos on their phone. Accidental clicks in these cases can build up to a very significant sum very quickly. 
  • Run ads with a range of creative, for better learning over time. 
  • Test a range of targeting options. 
  • When using video, ensure that start and end cards are included.

Use UTM tracking parameters on all destination URLs.

  • Google and Microsoft Ads offer a single tick box to enable tracking that is compatible with Google Analytics, but at the time of writing, all social platforms need URL tracking parameters to be explicitly defined.
  • Avoid spaces and special characters, and stick to consistent capitalization.

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