January 9, 2017

Social Media Advertising: An Overview

This is the first in a series of blog posts about promoting products or services on social media.

At this stage (hello 2017!), most business owners know that they should be using social media to promote their product or service. Setting up a social profile on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn is a great, FREE way to get your message out there.

Maintaining an engaging and informative presence will go a long way towards reaching new customers. It’s also important to make sure you stay up to date with platform changes and take advantage of all the free tools and improvements social networks provide to businesses, such as call to action buttons and product showcases. 


Make use of the ‘Services’ section on your Facebook page

However, using free social media will only get you so far. These networks are businesses themselves, after all. While it’s certainly possible to maintain a free presence and slowly grow your customer base through a sustained effort of quality updates and customer engagement- you’re competing with a lot of other voices.

Organic Reach

As anyone who works in digital marketing can tell you, the Organic Reach (the number of users who see your unpaid-for updates) has consistently declined over the past number of years. In June 2016, Facebook began to prioritise showing friend and family updates over page updates.

What this means is: if you want to see a sizeable increase your audience, to have more people see your updates or to encourage more people to visit your website or shop- then you are going to have to pay as well as maintain your free profile.


The good news is that social advertising budgets are very easy to control. You can spend as much or as little as you like. Advertisers can set a budget limit and once you hit that, the adverts will stop running- so there’s no chance of hidden charges. You can also keep track of how your ads are performing and make edits as desired, even once they have started running.


Keep an eye on your budget with social advertising

One can even cancel an advertisement before its scheduled end date. This is useful if the ad is not giving you the desired result, if you’ve spotted a competitor’s ad or you have a change in circumstances. You can’t do that with traditional media! In my opinion, these flexible options are one of the things which gives social media a fantastic advantage over more traditional advertising methods.


Maybe the most genius thing about social networks is the way they use our desire to talk about ourselves to offer their customers very specific ad targeting. Without realising it, we are all contributing to their ability to improve the services they offer to businesses.

Once you change your relationship status to ‘engaged’, add a life event such as moving country, follow the page for a TV series or celebrity, add photos of your children, or like an update about cooking, you are declaring yourself an interested party. Advertisers can then use this information to reach the potential customers they desire.

While the various social networks have different levels of user targeting, as an advertiser it can be quite easy to reach the people you think will be interested in seeing what you have to offer.

Which Network(s)?

Each social network has a slightly different user base and can be utilised in different ways. In general, Facebook skews slightly older. Instagram users appreciate great design and beautiful images. Twitter is fantastic for speedy customer service.


Part of the challenge in maintaining a presence on social media is identifying which social network(s) are right for your business. The amount of time and effort you can put in are an important consideration. It’s far preferable to have one regularly updated, helpful and attractive social network profile than several unattractive or poorly-maintained ones.

The social media usage reports put out by Ipsos MRBI are a fantastic way to keep up to date of the ever-changing user trends in Ireland.

A Note On Snapchat

As I usually work with small to medium sized businesses, I won’t be including Snapchat in this series of posts. Currently, their budgetary requirements mean that their paid advertising options are only open to very large and partner companies: as of December 2016, their discover ads started at $50,000 per day.

Once Snapchat launch their more affordable advertising options for businesses in Ireland, I’ll be offering assistance in advertising with them as part of my Digital Marketing services. In the meantime you can read my previous blog post on 6 Ways To Use Snapchat For Business.

To Wrap Up

In future blog posts in this series I’ll give an overview of advertising on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram. *Update: here’s the blog post on Facebook*

 If you would like to know more, want assistance setting your social media profile or want to advertise on any of these social networks, please get in touch: