Social Media Ads

Anniston Ward
23 November, 2022

With social media ads circling at every click, it’s hard to not notice these announcements across almost every social media platform. Since it seems that everyone is jumping on the bandwagon, as social media professionals, we have to ask ourselves, are social media ads worth it and where do I start to create advertisements on my content? 

Today, we will break down what social media ads are, what they look like across each platform and some benefits about investing in ads on social media.

What are social media ads? 

We are probably all familiar with traditional advertising, billboards, newspaper ads, TV and radio ads. But now that we have stepped into the digital marketing era, advertising on social media is another branch of this, using social networks such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and TikTok to deliver paid ads to your target audience. 

Advertisements on social media are embedded naturally, making it easy to be visible to your customers and leveraging your business or brand. There are now options to personalize your ads and appeal to all of your demographics. 

Social media ads are an investment, however most advertising today is cost effective and often lead to high rates of return. So, what does advertising on each social media platform look like? 

Types of social media ads 

Each platform has tweaks in their advertisements, however overall they all have the same objectives. 

Even though basically every social media platform out there now has advertisements, I’m going to break down the types of ads across the main four platforms for advertising today, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and TikTok. 

Advertising on Instagram 

The potentials on Instagram keep growing, and that is no different for advertising on this space. However, at the same time it can seem overwhelming to know what type of ad to run on Instagram and what comes with each format. 

Before diving into the different types of ads, to run ads on your Instagram account, you must have a business account. 

You can create ads directly in the Instagram app or in the Ads Manager platform. 

Another thing to note is that there are two general types of Instagram ads. Format-based and Section-based ads. First I will explain the ads that fall underneath format-based ads, and then those that are section-based. 

Format-based Ads 

Format-based ads are those categorized by their format and usually appear in the normal feed page. 

  • Image/Photo Ads

These types of ads are through the original type of content first established on Instagram. These are ads that appear on a static image in posts. This type of advertisement is also usually the cheapest. Since it features an image it’s smart to use this with a high-quality image.

  • Carousel Ads

A carousel is a series of images, so this is advertising that appears through multiple images or videos. If you want to display numerous products, this is a great option to show all of them off. 

  • Video Ads 

Different from reels, these are ads in video format, that allow you to get more creative and present your business or brand beyond a photo. Instagram allows you to post videos up to 60 seconds long. 

  • Shopping Ads 

Instagram has made plugging your products easier than ever before. Shopping Ads are those that allow you to promote your products by including a product tag in your ad, which links directly to your website. If you have an e-commerce business, this is a great option to allow customers to purchase your items directly from the app. 

Section-based Ads

Section-based ads are those that appear in other sections on Instagram, outside of the regular feed. Rather than being content-based, they show up in different sections. 

  • Stories Ads 

These ads are those that appear in the Stories section of Instagram and formats include images, videos and carousels. Since these stories go away in 24 hours, Stories ads are great if you want to push an urgent campaign or limited-time offer. This will make viewers want to act fast. 

  • Explore Ads

These are ads that appear in the Explore section of Instagram, a section curated for each user. Therefore, creating advertisements in this space will reach those that have similar interests to your brand, and are inside your demographics. 

  • Reels Ads

As Reels seem to take over the app, these are short video clips, 60 seconds or less, that include audio or music. These will be found in the Reels section of Instagram. Similar to video ads, videos are engaging to consumers and are a quick and effective way to catch viewers attention. 

Advertising on Facebook 

Since Instagram and Facebook are now connected with Meta, ads on this platform will look similar to those I described about Instagram. However, there are some different types of ads available on Facebook

To create an ad on Facebook, you can do this directly on Facebook or inside the Ads Manager platform, the same one linked above. Since there are more options with Facebook advertising, I won’t get too complicated. I’m going to focus on the basic ads currently on Facebook. 

  • Image ads 

Once again, these are the most basic ad formats on Facebook. This includes a single image, where you can display your products, services or who you are as a brand. Similar to Instagram, use a high-quality image to make the most of this type of ad. 

  • Instant Experience ads 

Formerly known as Canvas Ads, Instant Experience are those only available on the mobile app, that allow you to swipe through carousels, tilt your screen and zoom in or out using your fingertips. With Instagram Experience, you can include images and videos. 

  • Collection ads

Collection ads display a primary video or image, with secondary images configured in a grid-like format. Viewers can click on the collection and be able to browse through the content. This is perfect for those that have products they want to show off or an e-commerce store that you want to direct traffic to. 

  • Video Ads

These are ads that use a single video to promote a product or service. Videos typically lead to higher engagement and are more attractive than images. 

  • Carousel ads

Like Instagram, carousels include multiple images or videos that viewers can scroll through. You can add tags, descriptions and links to each image or video, allowing a lot of options for promoting your products within one piece of content. 

  • Stories ads 

Stories ads are images, videos or carousels that appear in-between Stories. For Stories, you have many editing options available to add text, audio, emojis and links to quickly appeal to your audience. In order for these to be effective, you need to be strategic in your message and the content that you include. 

Advertising on Twitter 

Twitter may seem like a non-traditional place to advertise your business, however it has the impact to reach new audiences. You can create campaigns through Twitter Ads Manager, once you have created a Twitter Ads account. 

There are different categories of Twitter advertisements, which I will clear up below. 

Twitter Promoted Ads 

Promoted Ads appear in the regular feed and can still be interacted with in the same way normal tweets are. The different formats they are available in are the following: 

  • Text Ads: A basic tweet with no images or videos. 
  • Image Ads: Tweet with a single static image. 
  • Video Ads: Tweet with a single video, with max of 2 minutes and 20 seconds. 
  • Carousel Ads: Tweet with up to 6 swipeable images or videos.  
  • Moment Ads: Collection of Tweets, with more than 280 characters available. 
  • Twitter Live Ads: A promoted broadcast. 

Twitter Follower Ads 

Rather than promoting a single tweet, Follower Ads allows you to promote an entire account to a targeted audience. These are displayed in the “Who to Follow” suggestions section and in the search results. When shown, they also have a follow button next to the account name. 

Twitter Amplify Ads

Twitter Amplify Ads are broken into two formats, Amplify Pre-Roll and Amplify Sponsorship. These allow advertisers to join their content with recently-published video content. 

  • Amplify Pre-Roll: by selecting the content categories of their videos, their video ad will be published in curated content surrounding those categories
  • Amplify Sponsorships: this gives advertisers a 1:1 pairing with another publisher, where they can choose the time and duration of the campaign. 

Twitter Takeover

Within the Timeline and Explore Tabs, Takeovers products will display your brand at the top of conversations and boost your visibility. There are two types: 

  • Timeline Takeover: When users come to their timeline, with Twitter Takeover your brand will be at the top of conversations as the first ad. 
  • Trend Takeover: On the Explore tab, Trend Takeover puts your ads next to what’s trending on Twitter. 

Advertising on TikTok 

A newer one in the mix, but one that has been a great opportunity for brands, are ads on TikTok. Similar to Instagram/Facebook Ads Manager, TikTok has its own campaign platform to help align your ads with the right audience. I will explain each type of TikTok ad and what they entail. 

  • In-Feed Ads

These are ads displayed in the “For You” page and appear naturally. These are the most classic kinds of TikTok ads and allow users to interact with them as they usually would with a normal TikTok video. 

  • Brand Takeovers 

Brand Takeover ads pop up immediately as you open up the app, and then change into an In-feed video ad. They also appear on the “For You” page as images, videos or gifs with links. 

  • TopView Ads 

Instead of popping up as soon as you open the app, TopView ads take over the first In-feed post after 3 seconds. Then, it will show the full video, up to 60 seconds, of a full-screen video. 

  • Branded Hashtags

By using a defined hashtag, Branded Hashtags feature users using a trending dance or audio sound in line with the product. When clicking on the hashtag, it will send them to a landing page and the videos that use the same hashtag. 

  • Branded Effects 

Businesses can design their own custom filter on the app, using Branded Effects, to increase engagement amongst users. They can even create a hashtag based off this filter, allowing further visibility.

  • Collection Ads

Using full-screen mode, Collection ads allow users to browse products. This is a newer feature from TikTok and isn’t available to all users yet. 

Benefits of Social Media Ads 

Now that you understand the types of advertising available across popular social media platforms, you probably want to know if they are worth investing in or not. 

Many advertisers and marketers are taking advantage of advertisements to promote their businesses, so I will give you 5 benefits of social media ads. 

  1. Increase brand awareness

Promoting your business across multiple platforms is now accessible with social media ads. Since each social network is slightly different, you will be able to reach new audiences and create awareness about your brand. 

Through advertising, you can tell your brand story and share who you are. People all around the world can find and interact with your business. The opportunities on social media are truly endless.

  1. Boost leads and sales for your business 

With the ability to add links and product tags into your ads, it makes it even easier for users to go to your website or buy your products directly in the app. This eliminates a lot of extra steps and can boost your sales. 

  1. Low cost 

When you think of traditional advertising, you think of big campaigns where companies can spend upwards of millions just to be on TV. However, that doesn’t mean all advertisements are expensive. 

In fact, the average cost per click of advertising across any social media platform starts around just $1. That doesn’t sound bad, right? Social media has made it more accessible for brands to afford advertising. 

  1. Easily accessible 

Since most people interact with social media on their phones, if you think about it, your brand can be at the fingertips of just about anyone worldwide. With a digitally active society, accessibility to your business is available now more than ever.

  1. Analytics

Most social media sites have launched some sort of analytics feature, allowing you to track what has gone well and what you can change in your strategy. This is huge and allows brands to continue to evolve and curate their content according to their customers needs. 

Now you know the basics of social media ads and the types across just some of the platforms. The opportunities are huge and it’s never too late to start promoting your business. 

What do you think about social media ads after reading this article? Do you use them for your brand or business? Leave us a comment below! Not sure how to get started on social media? I will leave you a marketing guide for social media, so you can leverage your brand. 

Anniston Ward

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