Top tips when starting advertising on social media

You’ve got to think ahead when advertising your business on social media. Here are our top tips for getting it right.

Social media has reached a phenomenal 4.62 billion users and counting. So, if you can advertise your business in this space, you’ll generate more sales... right? If only it were that simple. Users may be skyrocketing, but this doesn’t make it easier. It actually means you need to think ahead. So, how do you cut through the noise and make an impact on the right people? Here are three tips to get you moving in the right direction.

Success comes from planning

First and foremost, pull together a comprehensive plan of action and decide how you want to use social media. Do you want to actively sell? Maybe you want to advertise only? Or perhaps you want to get people talking about your business? Choose which approach you want to start with, then focus on doing it well. When it comes to choosing your social media platform(s) of choice, research is key. Try to understand your ideal buyer – what are their interests? Which platforms are they most active on? That’s where you should establish a presence, so you’re right where they can see you. You can find out which channel is best for the content you want to share here.

Content is king

They say social media is like a cocktail party. If you work the room and join the right conversations, people will remember you. When we say ‘the right conversations’, this means being in tune with what’s trending in your community and creating content around it. You’ll also need to make sure your content is fit for purpose for your chosen social media platform(s). This means making sure pictures and videos are the right dimensions for each platform, the accompanying copy is a good length, and you use relevant hashtags to reach more people.

Following each channel’s guidelines will help make sure it’s the best it can be; discover an always up-to-date guide on sizing best practice here. And remember, 46% of users browse on their phone, so it’s got to look good on a phone screen. There are some handy free tools like and Pablo, where you can quickly and easily create branded content, make it mobile-friendly, re-size it and more.

Observe, analyse, tweak or repeat

This is where you review what’s working and what isn’t. Ask yourself:

  • Is there a day/time when your audience is most active online? If so, try posting your next piece of content at that same time/day.

  • Is there a type of post that they consistently engage with? Or one that gets little or no engagement? It might be time to rethink your approach.

  • Is one channel or post thriving in particular? Maybe you could ride the momentum and put some paid spend behind it. This means spending a little money (anything from £5 to £5,000) to make sure a popular post is seen by more people.

As well as looking at likes, comments and shares, you can pull analytics reports through each channel’s free analytics tool. For example, this one for Facebook:

Plus, you can make the most of a whole suite of tools available on the market to suit reporting needs. Once you have your findings, just make sure to keep tweaking your approach if you spot that something isn’t working and repeating the process until you get the results you want. Find out how to get started on Facebook here.

Good things take time

Getting the most out of social media isn't black and white. Just like moving abroad, when getting to grips with different social media platforms, you’ve got to learn the culture, norms and familiarise yourself with the new space. Then, after a little while, it becomes second nature. The key is planning, optimising and measuring, so you’re always improving and not repeating mistakes. And finally, don’t forget to have fun with it! It’s a social space after all, so there’s lots of room for creative, more casual interaction with current and potential customers.

Ready to start advertising on social media?

If you're looking at Instagram to start your social advertising journey, Katherine George, business.connected adviser and founder this social platform.

Step 1: Create a customer persona

It all starts with your customer.

This statement is true for all aspects of marketing. But when it comes to Instagram advertising – all social media advertising for that matter – it’s never more important.

The first step in any successful Instagram ad campaign is creating your customer persona. Personas allow you to understand your customers in more detail. They turn customers into real people instead of mystical aspirations you only want to meet.

You might find it helpful to draw a picture of your customer. A stick person is fine, but give them details such as:

  • age

  • gender

  • occupation

  • interests

  • shopping habits

  • what inspires them

  • why they are on Instagram

All this information is vital for your ad targeting, but it also helps you with your content.

Having a customer persona, complete with name, allows you to have a one-to-one conversation with your target audience. On a psychological level, it makes creating content easier, and from an advertising point of view it makes customers easier to find and target.

Step 2: Be ready to advertise

Make sure that:

There is nothing worse than starting an ad campaign only to discover your biography is out of date. Spend 10 minutes checking your account before you start.

Step 3: Make sure your content will do its job

Content is king, and with Instagram Ads having strong organic content is paramount.

All adverts created in Instagram use organic content, turning your regular posts and Stories into supercharged advertising campaigns. So, make sure your content:

  • is clear

  • explains what you want your customers to do

  • highlights what you want to promote or sell

Before you start advertising, select the posts you want to promote, but also review the rest of your content.

  • Is your Instagram Grid working as a shop window?

  • If someone views your profile, will they see a wide range of your products/services?

  • Will they want to follow you?

  • Will content on your Grid support them wherever they are in the sales funnel?

Step 4: Set your advertising objectives

Boosting a post because Instagram tells you to isn’t a good reason to advertise. Instead, spend some time thinking about your business goals and how Instagram adverts can help you achieve them.

  • What do you want this advert to achieve?

  • How will this support your goals?

  • Lots of people want more followers but will that ever bring sales or a return on investment?

  • How do people buy? Is it from the website or via a messenger chat?

Once you know the answer to these questions, you can then set the correct advertising objective.

  • If you want more people to visit the website, select Traffic.

  • If you want more people to follow you, select

    Profile Visits.

  • If you want more people to message you, select Messages.

Remember: with social advertising, you can’t have your cake and eat it too. Your adverts will be optimised to reach the people who are most likely to do what you want them to, so choose carefully.

If you want lots of website traffic and select the ‘Traffic’ objective, don’t be disappointed when you fail to draw in lots of followers. It’s not you, it’s just how the platform works.

Step 5: Define your audience in Ads Manager

Once you’ve started creating your advert, Instagram will ask you to define your audience. It will prompt you to select ‘Automatic’ but please don’t. This shortcut is tempting but unless you can be sure your audience on Instagram is the right customer for you, it will limit your adverts’ results.

Instead, create a new audience using your customer persona. Select the right location, age, gender and, more importantly, their interests.

Creating an audience in Instagram that matches your perfect customer will allow you to get the best results from your Instagram ads. You’ll be able to find those people who are most likely to become customers and bring them into the sales funnel.

Step 6: Analyse your results

Once you’ve defined your audience and chosen which ads you’re going to serve them, you’re good to go. But it’s not over when your adverts finish. Don’t forget to review and analyse your results.

Check Instagram analytics and see what results your campaign has brought. But don’t forget to look outside Instagram as well.

  • Look at your website analytics – has traffic gone up?

  • If you have a physical location (a shop, for example), have you had more visitors?

  • Check your other social channels – do you have more followers?

All adverts should trigger action, so checking all your analytics gives you a stronger idea of success.

Ready to explore more of what social media has to offer? Read our beginner’s guide to social media advertising, then discover the latest tools that can boost your online marketing efforts.

Or perhaps you’d like personalised guidance from a business expert? Our V-Hub Digital Advisers are on-hand to help you out.

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