Paid Social Media Advertising: All You Need To Know

Paid Social Media Advertising: All You Need To Know
Article by Jelena RelićJelena Relić
Last Updated: September 02, 2023

Every day, around 4.89 billion people engage in social media activities and this number is expected to increase to increase to 6 billion by 2027. What makes these platforms so appealing is the variety of choices they provide. Users can inform, educate or entertain themselves, engage in conversations, create content, purchase or enjoy other social media activities.

A significant number of people who regularly use social media platforms creates a vast audience potential for marketers to reach via paid social media advertising.

Paid social media advertising is one of the fastest-growing markets — from 230 billion in 2022, it is expected to exceed $300 billion by 2024, with the United States remaining the world's largest social media ad market.

Paid social media advertising can provide numerous benefits to your business, but only if you know how to use it correctly. This article will teach you everything you need to get started.

What Is Paid Social Media Advertising?

Paid social media advertising refers to promoting your content through popular social media platforms by paying for advertising space. You can sponsor organic content or specifically design advertisement which will feature in paid social media advertising.

Social media platforms most frequently used for advertising are Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, LinkedIn and Pinterest.

Each has unique requirements and suggested best practices. For example, Instagram relies on high-quality visuals, while Twitter offers limited space for short-form content. However, all of these platforms have one thing in common — they display paid advertisements labeled as “sponsored” or “promoted” content, allowing you to target the most promising audience.

The cost of paid social media advertising is determined by the platform you choose and the competition, while the campaign's success is influenced by factors such as the ad's quality, targeting strategy and relevance to the target audience.

Paid advertising on social media can be used for many purposes, from increasing awareness and building a brand identity to generating leads, driving website traffic and increasing sales.

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Benefits of Paid Social Media Advertising

Paid social media advertising can be a powerful tool for achieving your business goals because of its benefits:

  • Increases brand awareness. Paid social media advertising can increase your brand’s visibility and help more people become aware of your business by showing your ads to a larger audience.
  • Improves engagement. Increased visibility (combined with quality and engaging content) leads to more likes, comments and followers, which can help build a stronger relationship with their audience.
  • Encourages brand loyalty. The sentiment and perception of your brand determine brand loyalty. Paid social media advertising can help your business retain the interest and sympathy of your customers by regularly appearing in their feeds.
  • Helps lead generation. Precise targeting provided by paid social media advertising can assist you in finding potential customers and capturing their details so that you can follow up on them and push them through your sales funnel.
  • Boosts conversion rates. As well as paid advertising can help you generate leads, it can boost conversions with precise targeting and carefully crafted copies.
  • Allows more precise targeting. Social media platforms offer a variety of targeting options. You can target your ad to a specific demographic based on gender, age, education, income, interests, online behavior and other criteria.
  • Provides measurable results. Paid social media advertising provides valuable insights into your ad performance, allowing you to make informed decisions about campaign adjustments and future advertising efforts.

Organic vs. Paid Social Media: Key Differences

Paid social requires a budget for advertising campaigns to increase your content's visibility beyond your followers. Paid advertising allows you to expand your reach, raise brand awareness, increase traffic and generate more revenue.

Aside from the cost, there are other distinctions between organic and paid social media.

Let's go over them all:


As we said, the cost is the first and most obvious difference. Organic social media is free, while paid social media requires a budget for advertising campaigns. The cost of paid advertising varies depending on the platform, the type of ad and the targeting options you choose.


Organic social media refers to the content you share with your followers for free, but organic content reach is limited to your existing followers or people who come across your posts through hashtags, shares or other people’s likes. On the other hand, paid social media allows you to reach a much larger audience beyond your existing followers.


Organic social media does not offer targeting options; your content is only visible to your existing followers (and eventually their followers if they engage with your content and expand its reach). Paid social media, on the other hand, allows you to reach a more specific audience by targeting specific demographics, interests, behaviors and locations.


Paid social media campaigns provide detailed analytics and insights to help you adjust and optimize your campaigns for better results. Organic social media analytics are more limited; you'll need social media marketing tools to get more detailed insights.

How To Come Up With a Winning Paid Social Media Strategy in 7 Steps

  1. Establish Your Business Objectives
  2. Identify Your Target Audience
  3. Determine Which Platforms You Will Use To Advertise On
  4. Examine Your Competitors’ Social Media Advertising Strategy
  5. Perform Keyword Research
  6. Use a Content Calendar To Plan Your Content
  7. Track the Success of Your Campaign

Although paid social media advertising differs depending on your industry and business goals, here are some general guidelines for developing a strategy that brings great outcomes:

1. Establish Your Business Objectives

Without setting clear business goals, you won’t know if your paid social media advertising is going in a good direction.

Set SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound.

SMART goals are specific (for example, 20% more traffic in three months instead of just "more traffic"); something you can achieve, track progress on and connect with your brand's message and values.

Some popular social media goals include: driving more traffic to your website, finding new customers, making more sales or signups, increasing engagement and listening to conversations about your brand.

By setting SMART goals, you can measure your success and get the most out of your social media strategy.

2. Identify Your Target Audience

One of the most important steps of successful paid social media advertising is figuring out your target audience. Knowing your audience's interests and pain points will help you create content they will find interesting and enjoyable.

An excellent way to accurately identify your target audience is to create a customer persona — imaginary persons representing your audience's different types of people.

To create your customer personas, group your customers into small groups and find out what they have in common. Look at their age, gender, job, where they live and what they're interested in. Try to figure out how your content can help them — do they hope to learn some new skill, get in shape or similar?

3. Determine Which Platforms You Will Use To Advertise On

When you discover which social media platforms your target audience is using, focus your efforts on those platforms.

You don't have to be present on every social media platform. If your target audience is not using the platform, there is no reason for you to use it either. For example, if you're trying to reach an older population, you probably won't have much success on TikTok.

By focusing on the platforms that are most relevant to your audience, you can maximize the impact of your social media efforts.

However, it's a good idea for most brands to have a presence on the "big four" social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

4. Examine Your Competitors’ Social Media Advertising Strategy

Some of your competitors are likely using social media to promote their business too. To get ahead of the game, investigate their profiles and content to get a sense of what kind of content your target audience likes, as well as what they don't find interesting.

Pay attention to which social media platforms your competitors have the most success on and which ones they might neglect. This insight will tell you whether your target audience prefers one platform over another or if your competitors are missing out on potential opportunities.

Keep an eye on your competitors' social media activity regularly to stay informed and to learn from their successes and mistakes.

5. Perform Keyword Research

Using keyword research tools, choose the keywords most relevant to your business and include them in your paid social media advertising.

If your business is new and you operate in a highly competitive niche, focus on long-tail keywords that will deliver more qualified prospects. They are frequently less expensive to bid on and have less competition.

Include your keywords in your copy, image and video descriptions to boost your audience’s likelihood of discovering your advertising.

6. Use a Content Calendar To Plan Your Content

Before creating paid social media advertising content, consider what you are promoting and what your audience likes to ensure that your content aligns with your SMART goals.

Depending on the platform, your content can include various forms: texts, images, videos, links to blog posts or anything valuable and engaging.

Ensure that your content is not purely promotional but provides value to your audience — informative and entertaining content will likely generate more engagement and sharing.

To ensure regular posting, create a content calendar that outlines when and where you will post your content. Finding the right frequency to post can be tricky, but it's essential to balance between posting too much and not posting enough.

7. Track the Success of Your Campaign

After your paid social media advertising campaign starts, you can track its performance by looking at metrics.

Social media platforms often provide built-in analytics for business users, where you can see many important metrics, such as reach, impressions, cost per click and response rates.

Monitoring campaign success will give you insights into what content performs well and what doesn't, so you can make all the necessary adjustments promptly.

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Best 7 Platforms for Paid Social Media Advertising

  1. Facebook
  2. Instagram
  3. YouTube
  4. Twitter
  5. TikTok
  6. LinkedIn
  7. Pinterest

Here are the seven most popular platforms for paid social media advertising:

1. Facebook

With 2.963 billion monthly users, Facebook is the largest and most popular social media platform ever. Although it’s not the favorite among the young population, Facebook offers many advertising advantages, such as its Messenger app, which is great for customer support.

Who uses Facebook? Facebook is the most popular social media platform among American adults, particularly those over the age of 40. They use it frequently, with 51% using it multiple times daily.

What kind of content has the most success on Facebook? Create interactive content that is a great conversation starter and has the potential to go viral. Consider humorous, inspirational and video content because they produce the best results.

What kind of paid advertising is available on Facebook? Meta ads (previously known as Facebook ads) are available in various formats, including image, video, dynamic, instant experience, poll, carousel, slideshow and Messenger ads.

Why should you advertise on Facebook? Advertising on Facebook is an excellent way to raise brand awareness, reach new customers and grow your business.

2. Instagram

In January 2023, Instagram had 1.318 billion users. Ideal for personal and professional usage, this social media platform gathers lovers of high-quality visual content worldwide. At least a part of your target audience is most likely among them.

Who uses Instagram? Small and large businesses, brands, influencers and artists... In a nutshell, everyone uses Instagram. Because it is the most popular among younger people, include Instagram in your social media marketing plan if your target audience is under 40.

What kind of content has the most success on Instagram? Instagram is all about high-quality images and videos. For the best results, create entertaining, humorous and motivational content.

What kind of paid advertising is available on Instagram? Instagram offers story, explore, feed and reel ads in various formats, including photo, carousel, collection, video and shopping ads.

Why should you advertise on Instagram? Instagram is the right platform for you if your target audience is under 40 and your business relies on visuals. Furthermore, it provides excellent targeting options, increasing the likelihood that your target audience will engage with your content. If you’re considering collaboration with influential people in your industry but having a hard time finding them, contact top influencer marketing agencies and level up your business game.

3. YouTube

The world's second most popular search engine, YouTube, has more than 2.6 billion active monthly users, while YouTube Premium and YouTube Music have over 50 million subscribers worldwide. If your company can connect with its customers through video content, this is the platform to be on.

Who uses YouTube? YouTube is equally popular among all genders, while visited mainly by internet users aged 15 to 35, which make up 77% of its users.

What kind of content has the most success on YouTube? The only type of content you can publish on YouTube is video. Whether you will use short or long-form video content depends on your business niche and audience’s interests.

What kind of paid advertising is available on YouTube? Ad formats available on YouTube include text, image and responsive ads within Google Ads on Display Network. Video ads are available in TrueView, non-skippable and bumper ad formats.

Why should you advertise on YouTube? YouTube advertising is a cost-effective way to promote your business and reach millions of users. Almost every business can find its target audience within the YouTube user base.

4. Twitter

Twitter users are likelier to engage with your content because it is a highly conversational platform. Twitter had 450 million active users at the start of 2023, participating in entertainment, business, political and social topics.

Who uses Twitter? Twitter is most popular among Americans, who account for one-quarter of all users. The most active age group is between the ages of 25 and 34.

What kind of content has the most success on Twitter? You have 240 characters to capture your target audience's attention and interest. For the best results, follow trending topics, ask questions and interact with your audience in real-time.

What kind of paid advertising is available on Twitter? You can easily find the ad formats that best suit your business goals among Twitter's many ad formats. Select from image, video, carousel and takeover ads.

Why should you advertise on Twitter? Twitter is ideal for increasing brand awareness, cultivating a loyal customer base and driving conversions and sales.

5. TikTok

One of the most downloaded apps, TikTok, generates more than 1 billion active monthly users. With its debut in 2018, this social media platform created quite a stir and its popularity hasn't waned in the last five years — in fact, it has grown even more!

Who uses TikTok? 80% of TikTok users are between the ages of 16 and 34.

What kind of content has the most success on TikTok? TikTok supports only short-form video content, among which the most popular are pranks, tutorials and other amusing and catchy content.

What kind of paid advertising is available on TikTok? Use TikTok Promote, a paid feature, to achieve your advertising goals (video views, website visits or new followers).

Why should you advertise on TikTok? TikTok should be a regular part of your social media marketing strategy if you're trying to reach a younger audience that needs to be entertained in order to engage.

6. LinkedIn

Professional network, ideal for job opportunities, can equally benefit growing your brand. In 2023, LinkedIn reached 900.2 million active monthly users worldwide — indicating your LinkedIn ads' potential reach.

Who uses LinkedIn? Both entrepreneurs and employees, men and women, younger and older adults use LinkedIn to advance their professional careers.

What kind of content has the most success on LinkedIn? LinkedIn supports text, photo and video formats, but it emphasizes consistency because each post reflects your brand image.

What kind of paid advertising is available on LinkedIn? Sponsored content, message ads, dynamic ads, text ads or a combination of all four types.

Why should you advertise on LinkedIn? Use LinkedIn to improve your business branding and network with other companies in your industry.

7. Pinterest

Ideal for product discovery, Pinterest posts are the most bookmarked pages ever. Pinterest is ideal for getting inspiration and ideas for DIY projects, fashion and style, interior design, cooking recipes, inspirational quotes, etc. In January 2023, Pinterest reached 450 million active monthly users.

Who uses Pinterest? The most dominant Pinterest audience is women, which make up 80% of its active users.

What kind of content has the most success on Pinterest? Just like Instagram, Pinterest is all about visuals; use high-quality vertical images with concise copies for the best results.

What kind of paid advertising is available on Pinterest? Promoted pins are Pinterest’s advertising in two formats - single image or video.

Why should you advertise on Pinterest? If your business’s audience is primarily women and is focused mainly on visually appealing content, Pinterest is the place for you to be.

Paid Social Media Advertising: Final Thoughts

Thanks to precise targeting, various ad formats and measurable results, paid social media advertising can be a powerful tool that helps businesses reach their target audience and achieve specific marketing goals.

To experience the full potential of paid advertising on social media, you must carefully plan and implement your campaigns, keeping in mind your audience, goals and budget.

By following the steps outlined in this article, you can create effective and successful paid social media campaigns that drive engagement, conversions and growth for your business.

If you are not a marketer, you may struggle to understand and implement the advised steps of social media advertising plan. With that in mind, we've compiled a list of the best social media marketing agencies to help you develop a personalized approach that will pave your way to success.

Paid Social Media Advertising FAQ

1. What is paid advertising on social media?

Paid advertising on social media is a form of online advertising where businesses pay to promote their brand, product or service to a targeted audience on social media platforms.

2. What is PPC vs. paid social media?

PPC (pay-per-click) is a form of online advertising where businesses pay each time a user clicks on their ad. PPC ads are typically displayed on search engines and targeted based on keywords that users are searching for.

Paid social media is also a form of online advertising, but businesses pay to promote their content on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and others.

3. What is an example of paid advertising?

Examples of paid ads include Pay-Per-Click (PPC), Google Ads, Google Display, programmatic advertising and social media advertising (Meta Ads, Twitter Ads, LinkedIn Ads).

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