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Getting Started: How To Advertise on Social Media

Learning how to advertise on social media is a great way to reach new audiences, land more clients, and increase your ROI. If you’re hesitant about spending money, find out how to get started easily.


With all the different social media platforms at our fingertips, it’s a wonder we have time to use any of them! As an Independent business owner, you might be hesitant about learning how to advertise on social media. We often hear the same questions: “How do I know which social media channel to use,?” “How do I make sure I’m not wasting my money?”

Unfortunately, organic social typically just isn’t enough these days. We’re constantly fighting complicated algorithms that hide business posts and prioritize content for followers who’ve already engaged. None of it helps when you’re trying to broaden your reach.

As business owners, we’re fighting an uphill battle to get in front of more people on social media… unless we’re willing to pay for it via ads and sponsored posts. With the data you already have – whether it’s from speaking to your clients or using organic social media, you can create a solid advertising strategy and continue improving on it to spend on the right platforms at the right time. This way, you can count on a return on investment!

Why use advertising on social media?

Organic reach is practically a thing of the past.  While it’s still possible to reach new audiences on each platform, tech companies have made it harder to figure out the algorithm. No, this doesn’t mean you should swap your organic strategy with a paid strategy. Organic reach is still valuable for engaging with your current followers and providing a good introduction for potential clients who view your profiles.

Yet, these days it’s important to learn how to advertise on social media so you can expand the effort you’ve already put into the organic side of your digital marketing. You can use different types of ads to reach most of the goals in a typical sales funnel. Social media ads can broaden your brand awareness with greater reach, they can prompt more action on sponsored posts, and they can even capture users’ information for lead generation from social media.

A variety of factors will impact your ads, but every test is an opportunity to learn something new and adjust. When you think of advertising as something that you should continually optimize–not just a switch to turn on–it can give you better results in the long run.

5 signs you’re ready for social media advertising

If you’re ready to dip your toes in social media advertising, consider these five scenarios– these are typically great starting points for advertising newbies. Even if these don’t apply to you, we recommend taking the plunge if it’s something you’re considering.

  1. You moved to a new city and don’t know too many people in your new town – Start building your network with The RisingTide, and set up social media ads to get in front of your new audience.
  2. You’ve lived in the same place for years but are having a hard time getting in front of people who want to hire you – Advertising can help you build brand awareness with the audiences you want to target
  3. You’re not getting enough referrals to get your business to where you want it to be – Word of mouth is always a strong source for leads, but it’s never great to limit yourself. Advertising can bring in more leads, especially from different markets that you might have not served yet
  4. You’ve invested a lot of money in a lot of different things, hoping they would bring you more business and they haven’t panned out how you’d hoped –  You might be hesitant to spend even more money on social media marketing, but it’s a great way to see more ROI quicker
  5. You’re frustrated and ready to try some new (and proven!) strategies – Ad campaigns are highly versatile and let you start as small or as big as you like, giving you a simple way to test and optimize

How to choose the right platform

The most important question you can ask yourself is: Where is my target audience hanging out? If your audience simply isn’t using a platform, it’s not a good fit for you to advertise on.

Ask yourself the following: Which one can you be consistent with? Which one is your strongest; where do you already have the biggest following? Which one do you enjoy using most?

If you already have an organic Instagram strategy or consistently post on other platforms, take a look at the analytics you already have. Where do you have the most monthly active users in terms of engagement? The most effective social media ads will leverage the information you already have.

How to maximize your efforts and (and investments!) with social media advertising

  1. Have an end goal in mind– Do you want an inquiry? Email address? Traffic to a blog post? Map your advertising campaigns to each part of your sales funnel so you know what you’re trying to achieve.
  2. Have a plan– Even though your work is AMAZING, it usually isn’t enough for someone to see it and instantly want to hand you money. Create a plan and clear calls to action that lead new visitors to that end goal.
  3. Speak to your ideal clients– Don’t fall into the trap of being general. Your ideal clients have busy and cluttered social media feeds. And in busy spaces, general = boring. Use the targeting tools available to you to make sure your ads are being seen by the right people and use specific language to speak to them!
  4. Start small– Don’t put hundreds of dollars in before you know what’s working. Start small. You can always increase your budget later!
  5. Test, test, and test some more– Some of the best marketers we’ve ever worked with and learned from spend up to 30% of their marketing budget on testing what is working before they start scaling their ads. Test images, copy, and different audiences to find what is working best, then you can be sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck!

Types of social media ads to use

Similar to the platforms, the types of ad formats you choose should align with your goals and target audiences. Try some of the following examples below and see what works for your business:

  • Facebook ads – Facebook ads don’t offer as much targeting as they used to, but you can still target specific audiences for lead capture, conversion, or more likes to your Facebook page
  • Instagram stories – Instagram stories have been growing more and more popular since their debut, and now nearly 500 million Instagram users use stories daily. Stories are excellent for short CTAs and highly visual ads.
  • Instagram ads on feed – Creating a sponsored post on your feed is still a great tactic on Instagram. Some great ideas include pushing lead magnets, such as downloads or registrations for webinars.
  • Video ads – Video ads are one of the most successful ad formats, and they only continue to grow. In fact, 85% of people say they’ve been convinced to buy a product or service from a brand’s video. You can create video ads on platforms like YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook.
  • Pinterest ads – Pinterest ads are perfect for Independent businesses that offer a visual service, such as florists, photographers, wedding planners, and caterers. Pinterest’s targeting through search allows you to place ads for conversion when you know your audience is looking for something similar.

Optimize your advertising landing pages

High-quality social media ads not only depend on your messaging and visuals but where your audience lands as well. If you have the most compelling ad that leads to a landing page that doesn’t make sense, the ad can, unfortunately, end up being a waste of money.

When building your ad campaign, always think about the end goal that you want to achieve. If you want to start with awareness, you might just want users to click on your ad and read a blog post. For lead generation, you could link your ad directly to a contact form to have users submit their information. For conversion, you should direct users to a landing page that offers more information as well as a clear CTA, whether it’s to schedule a call, purchase a service, or register for an event.

The action that users take after clicking on your ad should match exactly what you’re asking for within the ad. Furthermore, the branding and messaging style should also match all the way through. Any differences could confuse people and cause them to drop off the landing page.

Continue to test different platforms and formats

Once you start advertising on social media, it’s not something you can set and forget. We recommend starting small with your budget and number of campaigns so you can continually monitor and see what works. If something isn’t working, no worries! You can always turn the campaign off, pivot, and try again.

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