A Beginner’s Guide To Social Media Ads In 2021

Women receiving notifications on social media

A Beginner’s Guide To Social Media Ads In 2021

Social media ads are generally cheaper than paid search ads (PPC), have better targeting, and have a higher ROI. So, why aren’t more businesses using them? As they always say, knowledge is power- and the more you know about social media ads, the more confident you will be to use them as part of your overall marketing strategy.

What Is The Aim Of Social Ads?

Like all online advertisements, social media ads can serve multiple purposes. What’s most important is that you have a definitive aim in mind before you start designing your campaign. Some of the aims you might have:

  • Generate leads for your business
  • Get sales through direct to consumer (DTC) ecommerce.
  • Improve your brand awareness
  • Get customers to visit a physical location (like a restaurant)The kind of campaign you will build, the audience you will target and how much you should spend are all determined by this initial aim, so choose carefully.

How Do Social Ads Work?
You will have seen social media ads before, when scrolling through your Instagram feed or Twitter timeline. Many people comment how accurate, Instagram ads are (sometimes creepily so), as they often show you products you are already interested in, and sometimes a product you didn’t know about but feels like it was made just for you. But how do they do it? The answer is microtargeting.

Microtargeting has got quite a bad reputation in the last few years, but it is really one of the best tools for connecting your ads with an audience that is interested in them. If an ad is truly relevant to a user, they don’t even register it as an advert, just as another piece of content they are interested in.

Targeting is normally achieved through a “pixel code” which when placed on your site is a code that can track a user across the internet, throughout various services and platforms.  Think about the last time you looked at a pair of trainers, then saw them later that day on Instagram, then the next day you saw them again in a sidebar advert on a news website. Only you are seeing those ads and you are seeing them because the original site you looked at the trainers on was running a tracking pixel code. This sort of tracking is also known as “remarketing”.

Compared to search engines, our social media of choice knows far more about us. Consider the following…

Google normally knows your:

  • Name
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Location

But, Facebook knows:

  • Name
  • Age
  • Location
  • Gender
  • Sexuality
  • School
  • Political views
  • University
  • Workplace
  • Favourite films, music and TV
  • Taste in food
  • Who your friends are
  • …much, much more!

This allows you to target ads incredibly granularly. For example, want to show your ads only to people over 40, who are vegan, interested in cycling, fans of Alan Sugar, who live in a town different to the one they grew up in, and have recently moved to a new house? With Facebook Ads you can! We’re not sure quite what product that customer would be interested in, but the point is, if you can think of any grouping of people, Facebook probably lets you target that group.

Lookalike Audiences
Here’s where it gets really clever. Say you have an online store or even a mailing list, that means you have a list of people you know are interested in your business and its products/services. So, if we upload that list to Facebook, the chances are most of those email addresses will be linked to a Facebook account.

Those Facebook accounts let you know what those customers are interested in. Then you can create a “lookalike audience”. This is an audience which comprises different people to your current customers but have many factors in common, maybe they’re the same age, live in the same town, and are interested in the same sports? This can be one of the most powerful tools for gathering leads.

Types Of Ads
Google search ads look the same, and importantly, they look like ads, they’re always at the top of them page and they even have the word Ad next to them. Social media ads, particularly those on Facebook, have a much wider variety of ad styles available. These include:

  • text ads
  • video ads
  • static image ads
  • image/video carousel ads

Think about what your product or service is, and which would be the best way of showing it. For example, if your product is an adventure holiday service, you would probably want a video showing all the different activities available on the holiday. If you were advertising a local construction service, a carousel of before/after pictures of the building work would be the best choice.

Why Isn’t Everyone Using Them?
As we said, social ads are cheaper than search engine ads, have better targeting and better ROI – so why isn’t every business using them? Well, as powerful as they are, they can still be confusing to set up for those without experience in how to manage a successful ad campaign. Even a successful campaign doesn’t always start as one, a social campaign needs a lot of time spent on it, especially in the first few days and weeks of the campaign.

Anyone setting up a campaign and just leaving it running to “do its thing” is unlikely to garner any meaningful results. Without careful attention and refinement, you’re likely to spend a lot of money without seeing any real results. However, with expertise and attention, a social ad campaign can be the most important lead/sales generating tool at your disposal.

Need Help With Your Social Ads?

At Carden Digital, we have a paid ads team who have experience creating, managing and refining campaigns. We can work with you to build profiles of your existing and ideal customers and work to make ads that appeal to them directly. We tirelessly refine the ad targeting to reduce wasted ad spend and get you the highest ROI on your investment.

If you’re looking for professional help with your social media ads, you’ve found it. Speak to Carden Digital today.

Dave King

Dave King

Dave King is the Co-Founder and Director of Carden Digital and the wider Carden IT Group. Dave’s background is in IT services, but he has experience across the online space. His love of all things digital lead him to create a digital marketing branch of the business, with a focus on paid advertising, SEO, web development, social media, graphic design and content writing.