The Ultimate Guide to Paid Social Advertising

Paid social advertising can be a game-changer for performance marketers. Businesses tend to leverage paid social because organic reach is tough in the current online landscape. The social media advertising ecosystem is teeming with life, and ripe for the taking. Before you delve into all the nooks and crannies, it is essential to learn the rules of the game.  

In 2020, paid social ad spend on social networks in the US surpassed 40 billion dollars (US). Meanwhile, that number is expected to leap beyond 56 billion dollars, with Facebook being the lion’s share of expenditures (80%).

Performance marketers in e-commerce can easily flourish in such a rich ecosystem. The challenge, however, is identifying and reaching target audiences. To tell a unique and convincing story for each stage of the buyer journey is no picnic either. Our comprehensive look at paid social advertising will help you in that regard. Below, you can check the topics covered in this article:  

1. Why Paid Social
2. Social Media Networks Comparison
3. Facebook Advertising 101
4. Facebook Dynamic Ads Best Practices 

Why Paid Social 

E-commerce stores need to push their ads through one of the top social media networks. It is a must. So, let us examine how paid social media works, and why certain networks are better than others, and what it takes to achieve the best results. By ‘best results’ we mean more engagement, more conversions, and of course, more actual sales. In this article we will be taking a look at these 6 social media networks: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, TikTok, and Snapchat. 

How do you consider which social media networks are good? Again, it is not just about being on the most trendy network. It is more about knowing where your target audience hangs out and how best to reach them. Once you are in the right place, you can define your message and produce better ads. With more relevant ads you unlock better performance and better results at an affordable price. 

Understanding the ins and outs of paid social puts you ahead of the curve, and creates better opportunities. Then you can start launching well-thought-out targeted campaigns, and ultimately increase your Return on Ad Spend

Social Media Networks Comparison 

Choosing where to run your campaigns may seem overwhelming at first. It is, therefore, wise to explore each of the 6 social media networks a bit more closely. 

Facebook 

Pros: How to reach millions, nay, billions of people with ads? Go to Facebook, which boasts over 2.5 billion monthly users. It’s a perfect place for prospecting and retargeting, and the best place to make the most out of e-commerce ads. The tracking pixel maximizes e-commerce ad conversions. Of course, this creates bigger potential for brands to improve sales dramatically and drive a lot more traffic from well-targeted campaigns. 

Vital paid social advertising info - active users on SM networks.

Active Users on Top Social Networks Worldwide as of January 2021 (in millions). 

Cons: Having Facebook as a growth channel for performance marketing has a few disadvantages. The sheer audience size makes it hard for your message to be heard or seen. In most cases, e-commerce stores and businesses often struggle when setting up the right strategy. 

Instagram 

Pros: Instagram is a place where brands, influencers, individuals thrive using organic content. As a result, ad experiences need to be more engaging and direct. So, it is a great place to explore options for paid social. Also, because it is part of the same ecosystem, Instagram advertising inherits all the pros of Facebook advertising. In addition, Instagram stories are really hot right now. It you are advertising on Instagram, and are aimed at mobile only, Instagram stories giving you awesome options such as full screen advantages and more.

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Attention-grabbing ads make all the difference both on Instagram and Facebook.  

Cons: Instagram can be challenging for paid social. Getting people to leave the platform and visit your e-commerce store is hard. It also diminishes chances to get conversions through clicks, especially if you are using Instagram story ads. CTAs may not be as effective as on other social media networks, simply because they are harder to spot. But don’t forget you essentially have the same options as on Facebook advertising, which is still a good thing. 

Twitter 

Pros: Twitter ads feature rich options for segmenting audiences according to keywords, common interests and such. Also, you can create custom CRM lists to get more accurate audience targeting. Ads can show up in search results, in profiles, and timelines, and they can be matched to readers’ interests. It is even possible to promote trends and have them show up in the trending box.  

Screen Shot 2021-04-07 at 10.37.50 PMAds on Twitter allow you to create custom CRM lists for better targeting.  

Cons: Ads on Twitter can get really expensive. Also, reporting and analytics may not be as efficient as on other networks such as Facebook or Google. It is a platform for quick, short-form content, so ads can easily get lost in the shuffle.  

Pinterest 

Pros: Pinterest can be an extremely valuable ally, especially if you are looking to promote specific products to a specific audience. Also, pins will stay for a long time and can be re-pinned. Making Pinterest ads work for you takes quite an effort, but if you stick with it, it can be worth the amount of time you invest.

Cons: While Pinterest can be a solid solution, advertising on this social network is a time-consuming process. Additionally, Pinterest has a niche audience. Quite a large group of that audience (81%) are women, aged between 25 and 50. It is not a wise investment, if your e-commerce products are not fit for that particular audience.

TikTok 

Pros: Following trends is a vital component in performance marketing, and TikTok is as trendy as it gets. Fresh and new platforms are often a good place to get a head start, because there is less competition. Content created for this platform needs to be engaging, so you are encouraged to create engaging ads. 

Cons: Bear in mind that because this is a trendy, new social media network, that means many of its methods for paid social media are experimental. You need to design new content for ads. You spend money by treading new advertising ground without any tangible results. In addition, ad formats have low campaign flexibility.  

Snapchat  

Pros: Snapchat is usually used by brands who are looking to attract younger audiences. It has a large user-base, though mostly 12 and 17-year-olds. While this may not be the preferred audience for most marketers, it does have solid e-commerce capabilities for product catalogs, and even features pixel targeting. 

Cons: For the most part, it has decreased visibility. People get ads in their feeds and they may easily get fed up with the lack of organic content. This makes them unfollow business accounts, and avoid interacting with ads.  

With all the pros and cons neatly out of the way, it is time to uncover the basics and biggest advantages of Facebook paid advertising. Remember, Facebook boasted 9 million active advertisers in Q2 2020 and it is still growing. As a territory for paid social advertising, it is constantly evolving and improving. 

Facebook Advertising 101 

Online retail orders across the U.S. and Canada marked a staggering 146% growth in 2020. Diversifying social investments for a bigger return is the first step towards conquering this huge market. Undoubtedly, Facebook and Instagram are already a part of your paid social line-up. That means, you are already moving in the right direction. 

Facebook ads are not complicated and the whole process can lead to amazing results. Remember, as a platform for paid social, Instagram is part of the Facebook ecosystem, so you are not disregarding audiences on Instagram; far from it.

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Now we will take a look at the core elements of Facebook advertising. Below you can explore essential Facebook advertising terms, how to create high-impact ads, and how to get better targeting options. You will also learn more about bidding automated rules, and generally what is the best course of action for advertising e-commerce stores on Facebook. 

What Are the Essential Facebook Advertising Terms?

Okay, so you have to start somewhere. Launching campaigns may seem simple on paper, or even while you are reading this article. However, running a successful campaign on Facebook is a multi-layered process. Acronyms await around every corner. The best first step is to know the platform’s terminology by heart. So, are you 100% certain what retargeting means? What about Facebook advertising abbreviations? Even if you know some of them or all of them, it is not a bad idea to brush up on your knowledge of essential Facebook terms such as ATC, CBO, CTR, CRO, ATC or VC.

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Get to know all of the essential Facebook advertising terms and why the are important. 

What are the Best Facebook Ad Objectives for E-Commerce?

Facebook ad objectives are divided into three simple categories:

  • Awareness (Top-of-the-Funnel) objectives are best suited for campaigns that tickle user interest with products in your e-commerce store. 
  • Consideration (Middle-of-the-Funnel) objectives are for people who have been to your store, and are curious to learn more about your products and brand. 
  • Conversion (Bottom-of-the-Funnel) objectives are where all the action happens. People that have the most potential to convert into actual customers, so you are motivating and directing them to your store to make a purchase. At this stage, you know their sweet spots. 

There are many different sub-layers to each approach. Where do you direct traffic? Which products should you point to? How to drive people to your catalog sales? Knowing Facebook ad objectives, determines your next move for future campaigns. 

facebook ad objectives

This is where everything begins. Fine-tune your Facebook strategy based on ad objectives.

Where do Facebook Ads Appear?

Wait a second, where do ads show up once the campaign is launched? There are various options for Facebook ad placements. For example, you can opt for in-stream video ads, which are terrific for top-of-funnel-marketing and brand awareness. Common options are Desktop and Mobile news feeds. This means people on desktops (laptops) and mobile devices will see your ads in their feeds. The goal is to send a clear message, so you tailor your products/offers for both standards. You can also choose to use Audience Network placement - i.e. your ads appear on third-party apps and websites that are part of the Facebook Audience Network. These give you ample choices for ad formats. Explore more options for Facebook ad placements.   

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Engaging Instagram ads put into powerful context, with appropriate product-related messaging. 

How to Optimize Campaigns Using Facebook Ad Bidding?

What is Facebook ad bidding and how does it work? It is an effective auction system that constantly balances the needs of advertisers with the needs of Facebook users. That way advertisers improve ROAS. It often requires additional optimization. However, making Facebook campaigns profitable for e-commerce, requires you to understand the auction system, so you can set up an effective bidding strategy. This may call for additional A/B testing, more optimization, but eventually you will find the right bidding strategy for your Facebook dynamic ads.

How to Save Time and Cut Cost with Facebook Automated Rules?

Running ads on Facebook can involve a lot of fine-tuning and that’s okay. Facebook automated rules were created for that purpose. They allow you to methodically zero in on the weakest and strongest elements of your campaigns. So, for instance, you can easily eliminate non-performing ads, or scale up top-performing ads. You can also take care when scheduling ads, and optimize based on time of day, day of the week to ensure better engagement. In addition, you may also increase the budget at any time. If you notice a sudden ROAS uplift that might be the right time to adjust the rule (the budget increases automatically). Learn how best to set up your own automated rules for Facebook

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Adding key rules, such as specific TOD, can make all the difference for your ads.  

How to Craft the Best Video Ads for Facebook? 

There are so many ways to create a powerful paid social strategy. These days, getting better engagement is often attributed to video ads. To achieve this you will have to go through the process of crafting these ads. Now, there are truly amazing video ad examples to be made, but you will definitely need the right tools to create them. Creating templates will hopefully be a lot easier now, but there are other methods of improving your video ads, such as creative automation. You can rely on a wide range of predefined templates to craft just the right creatives for your campaigns. 

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Spruce up your creatives with Creative Automation. 

How to Narrow Down Location Targeting? 

You have probably heard of Facebook geofencing. It is an effective Facebook marketing technique that relies on the ability to precision-target specific users within an exact physical location. This alone is a very powerful tool. For instance, you can strategically target shoppers near a competitor’s location or you can pinpoint people attending certain events. Also, if users make purchases in, say Apple stores, these same users can be targeted later on. How do you go beyond that? Easy, just take your time to explore your options and master Facebook geofencing

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Laser-precise targeting. Narrow your location targeting up to 100m. 

What is the Winning Formula for Analytics if Clicks and Sessions Do Not Match?

In order to drive conversions, set audience targeting, Facebook marketers have to understand the differences in Facebook vs. Google analytics data. Facebook Attribution vs Google Analytics, for comparison sake, may shed some more light. Of course, we are talking about the differences between what you are tracking in Google Analytics and Facebook Ads Manager. GA and Facebook Pixel gather data in different ways. It is important to make a distinction between people-based tracking and cookie-based tracking. Moreover, GA and Facebook Pixel have a different approach to conversions. Additionally, a unique approach is required for campaign optimization. 

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A simple acquisition process makes it easy to calculate attribution. 

Want to Create Mind-Blowing Facebook Ads?  

It may sound a bit cliched, but with the help of Facebook dynamic product ads, crafting mind-blowing messages for customers is possible. There is a reason why Facebook DPAs are among the most effective methods of increasing ROAS. First of all, you use certain features such as geolocation targeting to send the right message and get more engagement. However, with a bit more creativity, you can add elements that make your ads more personal, “more human.” In fact, if you really want to make a difference on paid social, you might want to dive into these stunning Facebook ad examples

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 Highly engaging ads such as this one, will intrigue users so they won't resist swiping up.

Facebook Dynamic Ads Best Practices

With Facebook advertising you can push things beyond the limits of traditional ads. With Facebook dynamic ads you can go even further. Mind you, getting a ROAS uplift is a constant challenge in performance marketing. There are other pain points as well, including high frequency, losing audience interest, ad fatigue and so on. To meet all these challenges head on, you may want to rely on these amazing Facebook dynamic ads best practices

strikethrough priceFacebook dynamic ads best practices example: win over shoppers with strikethrough for discounted products.

How to Prepare for iOS14 Update Issues?

Apple’s announcement for the iOS14 privacy update has shaken up the industry. People were bracing themselves for a decrease in audience sizes, delays in performance reporting, changes to Attribution Windows. More importantly, the biggest question was: how it will affect Facebook tracking? To prepare yourself for this, check out these 4 simple and smart tips to outmaneuver the impact of the iOS 14 Facebook tracking update. 

Embrace Your Ultimate Strategy for Paid Social 

Okay, you are on your way to conquer the realm of paid social advertising. By now you understand that diving blindly into any social media network is not an option.

Performance marketing requires you to stay focused at all times. Using Facebook ads is clearly the way to go. Otherwise your ads may get lost in the massive whirlpool of fast information on Twitter, or in the uncharted realms of trendy networks such as TikTok and Pinterest.

You want to achieve the best results, the best ROAS, so people can hear your brand voice echoing across social media plains. 

Your strategy will get better by the week, if you take the time to create more personalized ads. Through automation and brand owned data, dynamic creative opens more doors than any other method on paid social. Now, you can turn your strategy around and unlock the full potential of your product catalog.