Social Media Advertising

As consumers increasingly spend more time on social media, large platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn have become major players in the advertising industry. These social media platforms possess a vast amount of user information that can be effectively utilized to personalize advertisements and target consumers based on their interests or connections. Custom/tailored audiences and lookalike audiences are also effective targeting approaches that blend well with social media channels. (Details about targeting options are covered in the section Targeting. Targeting).

Social media platforms offer marketers a wide range of options to advertise and engage with consumers. For example, on Facebook, in addition to organic reach, advertisers can “boost” their posts to expand reach within their fan base, or they can choose from a vast range of other paid advertising options to finely target audiences. These options are covered in Chapter Facebook. Similarly, Twitter provides various advertising options, such as promoter tweets, trends, and promoted accounts, that show up on users’ news feeds, while on YouTube advertisers can use branded channels, promoted videos, and in-video advertising.

Social media ads are generally configured to achieve one or more of the following objectives:

  • Drive traffic to websites and online stores.
  • Drive traffic to physical retail outlets or events.
  • Generate sales and leads.
  • Install apps.
  • Encourage engagement, both behavioural (e.g., stimulate “likes”) and attitudinal (Cognitive/Affective).

Call-to-action buttons such as “buy”, “join”, “install”, or “like” are frequently used in ads to prompt users to take action. Users can click on a “buy” call-to-action, for example, to purchase an item from the marketer without leaving the social media site.

However, click-through rates (CTRs) for social media ads are generally low, usually below 2.0 clicks per thousand impressions for most markets. It takes a large number of impressions to generate the number of clicks that the advertiser is paying for. Nonetheless, these ads help to generate visibility and can stimulate attitudinal engagement. They generate salience, affinity, and feelings and emotions for the brand.

Social media marketing is primarily outbound in nature and tends to interrupt users. As such, it needs to be well-directed, contained, and managed so that users are not overwhelmed by the content.


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