A Guide To Social Advertising Success

Getting started with a paid social media strategy can be daunting and time-consuming.

As a leader in social media advertising (say three times faster), we often have clients asking us if we can fix their existing campaigns to improve ROI.


They didn’t step back and focus on the overall strategy.

They jump into social ads with their audience idea yes they are a platform idea yes, and they’re creative idea Fits this possible audience and possible platform.

Gathering data before creating an ad is just as important as setting up and refining the ad itself.

I recommend collecting two main datasets to create an overall strategy:

  • Learn about the landscape of social media advertising.
  • Understand your audience and their relationship with each social platform.

Once you understand the social media landscape and identify your ideal audience, you can create a social advertising strategy with realistic goals to complement your SEO and other digital marketing efforts.

First: Understand the landscape of social advertising

Your target audience may not exactly match the total number of social users. Still, some social networks have so many active users that it might help you incorporate them into your strategy.

For example, if you know your target audience is on TikTok, start there.

Then, when it’s time to scale and test, you might consider Facebook because of its huge user base (after all, maybe you’ll learn something about a “new” target audience).

Here’s an insightful chart from Search Engine Journal that lists the top 10 global social advertising platforms and their monthly active users:

Image via Search Engine Magazine, August 2022

Here is another useful chart Action Opportunity Fund This breaks down some of the basics of the top social networks we see today.

Next post: How to start creating a social ad campaign

As mentioned above, when you’re ready to start social advertising, you don’t necessarily only want to choose Facebook, for example, because it has the most users.

Likewise, you don’t just want to assume your audience isn’t on Facebook because you think your target audience is younger.

The good news for advertisers is that each platform provides detailed audience insights that you can use to match your ideal audience without spending a fortune on blind testing. (More on that later.)

When it comes to paid strategies, there are three bullet points, each with subsections.

Audience Personas: Build Your Audience Demographics, Interests, and Behaviors

Audience personas let you understand your ideal audience, including demographics, interests, and behaviors.

This step is always the first for us and we have several different ways to collect this data:

In-depth analysis

Google Analytics, to be exact.

The Audience section in Google Analytics is a great place to start because it has valuable insights that can guide your social advertising strategy.

It will show you who is currently interacting with your website, but more importantly, who is contributing to conversions/transactions.

This data includes age, gender, location, and more.

For example, if you find that the 18-24 age group has a higher conversion rate than the 45-54 age group, you may want to optimize your campaign for the younger age group.

Go where you think your audience is and interact

Believe it or not, some of our clients came to us with an idea for a social ad campaign, but they weren’t actively engaging with their audience on social networks!

For example, with the rise of TikTok, building influence can take a while.

So we always recommend setting up your social media accounts first and then going out and seeing what people are talking about – you might be surprised by what you learn.

Research your competitors

Observe how active your competitors are on social media and how they market their products or services.

It’s an easy way to make sure you don’t miss out on any opportunities, and is often a good starting point to start your social advertising strategy.

You can learn more about how to research your competitors here.

Audience Segmentation: Understand where they are in the customer journey (awareness, consideration, conversion, etc.)

Next, it’s important to realize that while you may only have one demographic in terms of demographics, you can (and should) further segment those audiences into where they are on the journey.

We typically segment an audience three times:

  • people who haven’t heard your brand.
  • Those who have been in contact with your brand In the pastbut only for blog posts or educational resources (meaning they’re still learning).
  • people ready to buywhich is usually shown by having an item in your cart or by talking to someone in your organization over the phone and expressing interest in purchasing.

While these three segments are generic, you can think specifically about your business to come up with more specific segments that you might want to target, often called “audience personas.”

This is a big topic, so you can learn more about creating audience personas here.

Audience segmentation is often done in parallel with lead generation, retargeting, and remarketing campaigns (more resources on different campaign types later).

Audience Personalization: Develop audience-specific content and messaging at the right time in the audience journey

In short, there should be different content and information for people who haven’t heard of this company versus those who have been in contact with it before.

Once you’ve defined your segments, it’s time to start personalizing your content, the type of content you write depends on the platform.

The next steps include:

  • Match your audience to two or three platforms, then expect different ad creatives based on your audience persona. On your journey, you should have analyzed the landscape of social media options and researched where your audience is!
  • Advertise on each platform and see what works. You may only want to focus on one social platform, but we recommend at least two as they complement each other well. Also, since each platform has unique ad formats, we recommend creating specific ads for each channel while maintaining the same look and feel for consistency.
  • Optimize your ads. Again, this is a big topic. Adjusting your audience segments, your content, when you publish that content, etc. is an optimization skill in itself. Remember that you don’t want to make too many big changes without collecting enough data.
  • Expand your strategy. Don’t be afraid to try other networks as your ads grow and optimize. You’ll start to understand what’s working and what’s not – while this varies on every social network, you’ll start to get a baseline of where to start testing. In the long run, this will help you save money and time when scaling.

Finally: Setting up the campaign

While this article focuses on social advertising strategies, successfully setting up ads isn’t always straightforward, as there are so many different campaign types.

Expert Tips: When setting up a campaign, I recommend starting with three campaigns (leads, remarketing, and retargeting) to ensure you engage with your audience at the right time in their journey.

Here’s an example to help you get started:

Exploration (Awareness)

  • audience: Those who have never heard of your brand.
  • Activity goal: reach, consciousness.
  • messaging: User-centric. What problem are you trying to solve?
  • content type: Educational articles, industry news, research stories.

reposition (consider)

  • audience: Those who have interacted with your brand in the past, but only on your website, social media, or educational resources.
  • Activity goal: Engagement, clicks.
  • messaging: Focus on the benefits of using a product or service to solve a problem.
  • content type: eBooks, white papers, company events.

Remarketing (Decision)

  • audience: A person who is ready to buy, usually manifested as having an item in the cart or talking to someone in the organization.
  • Activity goal: Convert, buy.
  • messaging: Focus on why they should choose your solution to solve their problem over your competitor.
  • content type: Testimonials, reviews, case studies.

For step-by-step instructions for each social network, see the following resources:

final thoughts

Ultimately, creating an effective paid social media strategy takes time, and you’ll be constantly reiterating, revising, and optimizing.

As with anything, a successful business is about testing, but doing research before jumping into paid media – and then using paid media as another part of your testing – is critical to complementing your overall strategy for a successful SEO and other digital marketing efforts.

Always define your goals, consider the level of engagement you want and expect, then use the steps above to achieve it!

More resources:

Featured image: Dean Drobot/Shutterstock

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