Social Media Advertising 101

Social Media Advertising 101

If you use social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, you know that it doesn’t cost any money to create your accounts and that posting your content is free. Have you ever wondered then how these sites can afford to operate? Part of that answer is paid advertising.

Businesses small and large buy paid advertising on social media sites in order to target messages and ads to specific users of the particular platform. Advertising on social media platforms like these is a great way you target and increase your reach to your audience. If you’re interested in advertising your own company on any of the social media sites, we put together an overview of some of the options that are available to you and some basic advertising terminology you’ll find on these sites.

Facebook Ads

With more than a billion users, Facebook offers a massive network of consumers who can be reached through its display advertising. You see these display ads on the right-hand side of a Facebook user’s page, and they consist of an image and text. After you create your own Facebook display ad, Facebook will promote the ad to those users whom you’ve told the site that you want to target. You can select your Facebook audience by country, city, distance from your business, gender, and interests for advertising purposes. For example, a business owner who runs a yoga studio and apparel shop in Atlanta, GA, could choose to market to Facebook users who live in Atlanta, are female, range in age from 22 to 55, and have shared an interest in yoga.

The cost of your display ad is determined on the Pay-Per-Click model; i.e., you’ll be charged any time a Facebook user clicks on your ad.

Facebook Promoted Posts

You can also select to promote a post that you have shared to your followers. When you promote a post, Facebook gives it more prominence in the News Feeds of your followers. You can also select for a promoted post to be shown to friends of followers, helping expand the reach of your content. Any status update, link, image, video, or offer that you share from your personal account or from your company’s Facebook Page can be promoted to more users by clicking on the “boost” link in the bottom right hand of the post. When you choose to promote a post, you select a top cost range you’re willing to pay. Promoted posts start at $5, and total cost is determined by audience size and geographic location.

Twitter: Promoted Tweets

Twitter offers many advertising options, but one of their most popular and most affordable for SMBs is self-service Promoted Tweets. These are tweets that you pay to reach a particular audience you have in mind, even if they are not on your follower list. For instance, you can segment an audience by gender, interests (fashion, gaming, food, etc.), and location (country, state or city). Then, your promoted tweets can appear in the timelines or search results of Twitter users in this defined audience.

Promoted Tweets can appear on mobile, tablets and desktop devices; you’re only charged when your Promoted Tweet receives a click, retweet, or reply. Your campaign runs for as long at it takes to meet the pre-set budgeted amount that you’ve determined in advance.

Let’s say you own a ski shop in Chicago and you’re having an end-of-season ski equipment sale and the majority of your customers are male. With a Promoted Tweet, you could advertise this sale to those Twitter users who fit your target market: in this case, male Chicagoans who enjoy skiing.

TrueView Video Ads on YouTube Videos

As the third most-popular website on the Internet, YouTube is an advertising juggernaut that can help you reach almost any target market through its advertising platform called TrueView. While watching videos on YouTube is free and registered users can upload unlimited videos at no charge, reaching a specific target market that you identify is a paid service. The TrueView platform is managed within AdWords for video, with targeting and bidding options much like Google AdWords campaigns. These TrueView ads operate on cost-per-view (CPV) pricing methods, meaning you’re charged only when people from your identified target audience watch your video.

Videos can be longer than 30 seconds, and there are three formats: in-stream, in-search, and in-display. In-stream videos are shown similar to a T.V. style ad and play automatically before or during another YouTube video. You only pay for videos that viewers choose to watch completely, or that they don’t skip after the first five seconds. In-search videos are those that appear above or to the right on a search results page; the in-display option appears along side other YouTube videos or on Google Display Network websites.

LinkedIn Sponsored Updates

LinkedIn’s paid advertising feature, Sponsored Updates, completed its full roll-out in July 2013. Members with a Company Page can deliver content into the homepage feed of “any segment” of LinkedIn’s premium-audience database of 225 million members. Sponsored Updates are labeled as “sponsored” so readers will know it is paid advertising. Members can follow a company from the sponsored post, as well as like, comment on, and share these posts, much like they can interact with native updates. The main difference is that your messages can be seen by a broader audience.

Sponsored Updates uses a CPC (cost per click) or CPM (cost per impression) pricing model and can be promoted in up to 20 languages across 200 countries and territories.

What’s Your Social Media Advertising Plan?

These are just a few of the paid advertising opportunities on some of the most popular social media sites. It’s not just large businesses with big budgets that can reach their audiences on social media. Using some of these tactics, you can target your audience too.

Do you have plans to use paid advertising on social media? If so, which sites will you use? Let us know by leaving a comment!

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Amy Neeley

Amy enjoys helping small- and medium-size businesses (SMBs) navigate the online marketing world with tips, trends, and best practices they can use. She has written for Fortune 100 companies, non-profits, and SMBs, and her articles have been featured on sites like Yahoo! Small Business Advisor, MarketingProfs.com, and other industry publications. Amy can often be found walking her dogs, Lola and Marlo, and keeping up with the news via Twitter.

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