The Ultimate Guide to Paid Social Advertising [2021 Update]

Right now, Social is the new Black.

Because the world is in a frenzy, people are flocking to their daily escapes on social.

Not only do 4.48 billion people log in to their favorite social app, but they also check in to an average 6.6 social media platforms daily. Mindblown.

The growth is impressive. And the pace of new social media network platform adoption is staggering.

Interestingly, social platforms are also penetrating the workplace. In fact, 4/10 of all internet users worldwide utilize social media for work purposes.

And, this is where marketers stepped up their game and took advantage of social media advertising for an even greater benefit. Social media ads are now a necessity, and boosting them on paid social media may just be your jackpot too.

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.

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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%).

According to Statista, ad spending in the social media advertising segment is projected to reach 153 billion dollars worldwide in 2021, and to show an annual growth rate (CAGR 2021-2025) of 10.55%, resulting in a projected market volume of nearly 230 billion dollars by 2025.

With regard to spending, since July of 2021, the 7 major social media platforms showed an impressive increase in numbers by users:

  • Facebook with a record 2.9 billion monthly active users up to date
  • YouTube standing strong at 2.3 billion
  • Instagram dominating with nearly 1.4 billion users
  • TikTok blasting at 732 million
  • Snapchat with 514 million active users
  • Pinterest hitting it with 478 million and
  • Twitter having 206 million monetizable daily active users worldwide, “the lowest” of the 7

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 media 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. The get-go of Advertising
4. Facebook Advertising 101
5. Facebook Ads Best Practices 

Why Paid Social 

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E-commerce stores need to push their ads through one of the top social media networks. It is a must.

So, let us examine paid social media best practices, 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 7 social media networks: Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, TikTok, and Snapchat.

How do you consider which social media networks are good?

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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 ROAS (Return on Ad Spend).

Social Media Networks Comparison 

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Choosing where to run your campaigns may seem overwhelming at first. It is, therefore, wise to explore each of the 7 social media networks a bit more closely.

1. Facebook 

Pros: How to reach millions, nah, 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.

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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.

Most popular SNActive 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 social strategy.

2. YouTube

Pros: First and foremost, YouTube is the second largest search engine and the third most visited website worldwide.

With a huge user base, you’re guaranteed to find suitable audiences and as long as you entertain, educate, engage them and provide solutions to their problems, they can become your long-time customers.

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On the SEO side, YouTube can help boost traffic on your website with quality content and backlinks you can add to your profile description, so you could be found on Google more often via searches.

Pro tip: Video ads.

Video content is much more engaging and clickable by users than text-only formats. It evokes emotion, so customers get familiar with the content and always get back to you.

Videos help build authority and trust with your customers.

Cons: Pop-up ads, period. Well, there's a payable solution for this with YouTube Premium which allows you to watch videos without ads and many more.

Besides that, there are quite a bunch of social media restrictions you'd need to follow, even though your account can be disabled without any reason.

And this is by far the most demanding social media platform. You'll need to step up your game with the influencers.

3. Instagram 

Pros: Instagram is a place where brands, influencers, and 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 media advertising.

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Also, because it is part of the same ecosystem, Instagram advertising inherits all the pros of Facebook advertising.

Introducing Instagram Reels: The next big deal in Paid Social

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In addition to the celebrated Stories, Instagram Reels are really hot right now.

If you are advertising on Instagram, and are aimed at mobile only to reach your audience, Instagram Reels can provide you awesome options such as full screen advantages, stories, amazing filters, mentions and more.

Instagram Reels is a huge opportunity for brands and businesses looking to drive awareness and sales from the platform.

They’re the secret to vital growth on Instagram.

Instagram Reels are a fun and engaging way to showcase your products, expand your reach and grow your community.

Like all ads, Reels ads show up on Instagram marked as sponsored.

Instagram Reels are shoppable, which means businesses can showcase products and tag them directly.

This is major. Since many Instagram creators were already featuring products in their Reels, the addition of shoppable products is a great way to increase sales and traffic to your IG Shop.

Showcase products as creatively as you want and within 3-clicks, users can actually purchase your products straight from the video.

If a user is interested, they can tap “View Products” to learn more about the product, save for later, or go ahead and purchase.

Additionally, if your brand already has a solid presence on TikTok (or just Reels itself), you’re ahead of the game with a stockpile of creative.

Reels content can take a lot of time to create, but if you can mine from user-generated content for your paid social ads, you’ll be able to start advertising faster than competitors.

Also, we anticipate Reels being a bit more affordable Instagram advertising option than Stories, with the potential for more customer interaction than feed ads.

 

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 paid advertising, which is still a good thing.

4. Twitter 

Pros: Twitter ads feature rich options for segmenting audiences according to keywords, common interests and such, and is a perfect example of a social network for raising awareness and engagement on many topics for a broad audience.

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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, so you'll need to organize your budget and resources carefully for your campaign.

Also, reporting and analytics may not be as efficient on Twitter as on other platforms such as Facebook or Google.

Twitter is a platform for quick, short-form content, so ads can easily get lost in the shuffle.

You'll have to think smart with paid social ads here. Twitter ads are quite different than your usual Instagram ad.

5. Pinterest 

Pros: Pinterest can be an extremely valuable ally, especially if you are looking to promote specific products to a specific target audience and raise brand awareness.

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Also, pins will stay for a long time and can be re-pinned, so it's clever to use paid social here.

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.

So, in general terms regarding paid social ads on social media platforms, Pinterest is not a wise investment if your e-commerce products are not fit for that particular target audience.

6. 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 with paid social media advertising there.

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You are encouraged to create engaging ads because content created for this platform needs to be immensely engaging.

Interesting video posts drive a lot of organic traffic for businesses on this social network because users tend to react more to video ads rather than usual Twitter Facebook social posts.

Sales begin with lead generation, and fast-growing businesses should get started with using paid social on TikTok since there's lots of traffic and target users can be easily reached.

Cons: Bear in mind that because this is a trendy, fairly new social media network, that means many of its methods for paid social media marketing are in experimental mode.

You need to design new content for social media ads on platforms like this one.

Also, you often kill your budget and waste resources by treading new advertising ground without any tangible results.

In addition, ad formats have low campaign flexibility.

7. Snapchat  

Pros: Snapchat is usually used by brands that are looking to attract younger audiences.

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This social platform has a large user base, though mostly 12 and 17-year-olds.

While these users may not be the preferred audience for most marketers, it does have solid e-commerce capabilities for product catalogs, video paid ads and even features pixel targeting.

Cons: For the most part, the platform has decreased visibility.

Users get paid ads in their feeds and may easily get fed up with the lack of organic content.

This makes them unfollow business accounts, and avoid interacting with these social media ads.

All in all, social media advertising on platforms like Snapchat needs a cautiously tailored campaign for successful and profitable paid social media marketing.

The get-go of Advertising

With all the pros and cons of social media advertising 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 media advertising, it is constantly evolving and improving.

Facebook Advertising 101

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Online retail orders across the U.S. and Canada marked a staggering 146% growth in 2020.

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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, which means you are already moving in the right paid social media advertising direction.

Facebook ads are not complicated and the whole process can lead to amazing results.

Remember, as a platform for paid social marketing, Instagram is part of the Facebook ecosystem, so you are not disregarding audiences on Instagram; far from it.

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.

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You will also learn more about bidding automated rules, what is the best course of action for advertising e-commerce stores, and generally about social media marketing on Facebook.

 

What Are the Essential Facebook Advertising Terms?

Okay, so you have to start somewhere.

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

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 or VC.

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

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

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.

Where do Facebook Ads Appear?

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

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.

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.

Though, 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'll find the right Facebook ad bidding strategy.

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 campaign.

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

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 or 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, well 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.

How to Craft the Best Video Ads for Facebook? 

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Spruce up your creatives with Creative Automation

There are so many ways to create a powerful paid social media 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 ad 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 paid social media advertising campaign.

Optimize your Paid Social Strategy using Location-Based Advertising

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More people are exposing themselves to ads in general than ever before, and we may not even be fully aware of them.

You can't escape ads, especially if you frequent a certain location or browse on your mobile often, and they kind of end up staying with you for a while.

Familiarity is always powerful draw marketers have up their sleeve, and with the constant rise of mobile usage, Location-Based advertising can come in handy when exposing your target audience with something they can familiarize with.

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On paid social like Facebook and Instagram, Location-Based ads can be created for a particular locality, city, region or country. The dynamic creative and the messaging differ based on all these filters.

 

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Modern location-based advertising allows businesses to expand their reach without the need of a physical store.

But this is not the case with paid social. If you are an e-retailer with a global audience, then location-based advertising is just the right tactic for you.

Location-Based Advertising types and categories:

You can categorize Location-Based advertising into online businesses with a global audience, businesses with multiple brick-and-mortar stores, as well as businesses with physical storefronts that are also using their website to sell directly to consumers.

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Types of Location-Based Advertising techniques:

  • Hyperlocal targeting - used to drive purchases and increase conversion or share relevant messages to increase brand awareness typically to a smaller group of customers
  • Geofencing - also geo-aware targeting or geo-targeting uses location data and pushes relevant ads to smartphone users; you essentially create a virtual fence around a location and anyone inside that range can be targeted
  • Geo-conquesting - a form of geofencing where instead of creating a virtual fence around your location, you set it up around a competitor’s store, and
  • Beacons - for serving extremely targeted content which works if there is either a physical store or physical object since there is hardware involved.

Location-Based advertising can massively benefit your paid social strategy.

You can personalize at scale, use localized messaging in video ads, capture multiple markets using their local language at the right time and place, increase customer engagement with product, location, map, and directions or even beat bigger brands by supporting smaller ones.

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

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A simple acquisition process makes it easy to calculate attribution

In order to drive conversions and set audience targeting, Facebook marketers have to understand the differences in Facebook vs. Google Analytics data.

Facebook Attribution vs Google Analytics, for comparison's sake, may shed some more light.

Well, of course, we're talking about the differences between what you are tracking in Google Analytics and Facebook Ads Manager.

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GA and Facebook Pixel gather data in different ways. It is important to make a distinction between people-based tracking and cookie-based tracking.

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Moreover, GA and Facebook Pixel have different approaches to conversions.

Additionally, a unique approach is required for campaign optimization.

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, so try out these paid social best practices.

There is a reason why Facebook DPAs are among the most effective methods of increasing ROAS.

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

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 in paid social media marketing, you might want to dive into these stunning Facebook ad examples.

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.

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

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.

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To meet all these challenges head-on, you may want to rely on these amazing Facebook dynamic ads best practices for social media marketing.

Paid Social Media Marketing and Apple’s iOS 14.5 Privacy Update

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Heads up on the newest Apple iOS 14.5 privacy update.

Back in April 2020, Apple revealed their plan to release the Identifier For Advertisers (IDFA), or in short, iOS 14, the company’s latest mobile operating system update.

And with all traffic buzzing mainly online, it was a huge step back for Facebook advertisers and online marketing.

Updates slowly came to everyday marketer life, many expressed discontent, and there are still those dealing with the iOS 14 Facebook tracking update.

But, worry not because Hunch brings you 4 Smart Steps to deal with the iOS 14.5 impact.

For creating a better strategy for your campaigns, we encourage you to focus on these 4 initial steps, since you’ll have limited access to user data:

  • Personalize with Owned Brand Data
  • Prioritize Specific Conversion Events
  • Unlock More Data with UTM
  • Optimize Goals on Google Analytics

We are still to summarize the effect the new iOS 14.5 update has had on the businesses overall, including, for example, audience, budget, and paid social media marketing in general.

Embrace Your Ultimate Strategy for Paid Social Media Advertising 

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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, for example, 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 is a perfect example that opens more doors than any other method in paid social media marketing.

Use paid social to turn your campaign strategy around and unlock the full potential of your product catalog.


Frequently Asked Questions

1. How to advertise in social media?

Advertising on Social Media is very easy for a business. A simple search will lead you to advertisements that you can target at various ages, interests, and other groups.

Facebook is still the best place to advertise. It costs less, has more reach, and is way easier to use than other social media networks.

2. What is social media advertising?

Social media advertising is a form of digital marketing that uses social media platforms to reach target customers.

Paid social media marketing is mostly used on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and Pinterest.