How to start advertising on social media

How to start advertising on social media

With organic reach dwindling, many marketers are turning to advertising on social media to raise awareness of a campaign, boost their brand messages and to connect with users who would potentially be interested in purchasing a product or service. Read on to gain insight into how paid media works and the different options available for your brand.

Putting paid media behind a social media post is not only far cheaper than advertising on traditional channels, but is also a more targeted approach for brand’s wanting to get their message to the right audience. With social media advertising you are able to select the audience that will see your advert, based on their demographic factors, location and interests. Here are some of the targeting options available:

Location: Target users based in specific countries, regions and cities.

Demographics: Narrow your audience down to age, gender, language, relationship or job title.

Interests: Reach users based on the accounts they follow, adverts they interact with or apps they use.

Behaviours: Find users by activities they perform on the platform, the devices or network they use and purchasing behaviours.

Lookalike audiences: Gain new users who are similar to your existing customers.

You are also able to choose the action you want from your advert. This could be a click-through to your website, a sign up form, an app download or simply engagements, such as Likes, Comments or Shares.

When promoting your brand’s post, you are also able to select a budget and the duration you want your adverts to be served to the audience you have chosen. There are five options to choose from when selecting what action you would like to be charged for:

  1. Cost-per-click (CPC): You are charged when a user clicks on your advert.
  2. Cost-per-thousand-impressions (CPM): You are charged every time your advert reaches 1000 impressions.
  3. Cost-per-view (CPV): You are charged every time a user views your advert.
  4. Cost-per-action (CPA): You are charged when a user interacts with your advert, such as a click, Like, Comment or Share.
  5. Cost-per-like/ Cost-per-follower: You are charged when your page gains a new follower.

Each social media platform has its own unique advert styles that work best. Let’s dive into the different advert formats that you can use on each platform:


Page likes: Gain more page likes by promoting your page. You can include the call to action (CTA) for users to immediately like your page.
Boosted page posts: Increase the reach and engagements of your post by putting a paid budget behind it.

Tip: This ad type is great for posts that are already performing well organically. Check your Facebook or Twitter analytics to identify your best performing posts and boost it for even more engagement!

Link click ads: Promote your brand’s website or blog posts. This advert allows you to include post copy and an image preview link with a CTA button.

Video ads: Like a link click advert, but instead of an image you can include a video.

Carousel ads: If you have an online shop, this is the perfect advert for you. You can add up to 10 images and/or videos, with headlines, links and a CTA button.

Tip: Showcase multiple products in one ad, or tell your brand’s story through successive image cards. This option is a must for brand’s who have an e-commerce site.

Lead ads: You can get users to easily sign up for an offer or download your content without leaving the Facebook platform.

Canvas ads: Get users to interact with your campaign. This advert allows users to swipe through carousel images, tilt the image in different directions and even zoom in or out. This is a great choice for content and campaigns that are creative in nature.


Photo and video ads: Pay to have your photo or video shown to more people. This is the best way to increase your page follows and gain traction on a post.

Stories ads: You pay for your advert to be shown in users’ Stories section.

Tip: Stories ads are great for creating awareness of a brand or promotional offer. For best results keep imagery striking and keep text to a minimum.

Carousel ads: Users are able to swipe to view additional photos or videos in a single advert.


Promoted accounts: (also known as follower campaigns). Target users who aren’t currently following your account to gain new followers. Adverts are displayed on potential followers’ timelines and include a ‘Follow’ button.

Promoted Tweets: Increase the impressions of your Tweet as well as engagements by putting paid media behind your it.

Promoted trends: You can pay to promote a hashtag that appears on users’ timelines on the Explore tab.

Tip: This ad is great for getting additional exposure for your campaign! It is also used by brands who want to encourage a conversation and user-generated content.

Website cards: Lets you drive users to your website or landing page. You can include post copy, images and website URLs.

Social media advertising is helping marketers across the world tap into markets they may not be able to reach through traditional marketing channels. It’s cheaper, more effective and you’re able to report on the number of engagements or sign ups you receive. Start with a small budget and test different types of adverts to see which performs best for your brand.

Want to learn more about the basics of social media advertising in South Africa? Read our blog here.

Tags: Blog, SocialMedia, PaidMedia, Advertising, Strategy, Marketing, PR, Public Relations