Unlock the Power of Paid Social: Your Top 2024 Handbook

Jade Cottee
Jade Cottee
Content Marketing Manager
a girl with Instagram open on her phone

Paid social is a sure way to grow your business, reach new customers, engage old ones, and increase sales.

But the success of your paid social ads depends on knowing:

  • How it works.
  • The things to pay attention to when creating your campaign.
  • The right platform to use.

If all that sounds like a lot, don't worry!

Below we'll be sharing the tips and tricks for setting up successful social media ad campaigns, before ending with a bonus on how to measure the ROI your campaign generates.

Let’s get to it!

What is Paid Social? 

Paid social is a method of displaying advertisements and sponsored content on social media platforms like Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

These platforms usually have filters like age range, previous internet activity, and behaviors, for specifying your target audience.

The importance of paid social for brands

First things first, it costs money to run social media ads. But luckily, the benefits more than justify the cost.

In fact, Nick Shackelford, one of the world's leading e-commerce and Facebook marketers, believes paid ads are the real deal!

We asked him whether people should be using paid or organic advertising. And he said “Paid ads, 300%.”

No wonder digital advertisers spent 33% of their total advertising budget on paid social in 2022.

Some of those benefits are:

  • Builds brand awareness: 60% of the world's population is on social media, and people spend an average of 2 hours 24 minutes a day scrolling through social media. So, the chances of reaching your target audience with paid social ads are high. 

Additionally, you can create ad campaigns customized with your brand assets—color palette, and logo—and amplify their reach by encouraging engagement from viewers.

This makes paid social the perfect channel for promoting your brand to new audiences.

  • Allows you to define the audience: Typically, when you use traditional advertising channels like television, you have no control over the individuals who see your ads. 

Paid social, on the other hand, is quite different. You can use filters and settings to reach only those people interested in what you're offering. This makes a paid social media strategy a great marketing channel for lead generation.

That's a perfect segue to the next point…

  • Comparatively inexpensive: With traditional marketing channels, the amount you pay for ad placements depends on the length and the time they'll air. 

In contrast, social media platforms only charge per the potential number of people you wish to reach with your ad. And it can be as low as a dollar-per-ad click.

  • Lets you easily measure impact: Social media platforms use analytics dashboards to give detailed reports of your ad's performance. Plus, they display important metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) like impressions, cost per click (CPC), reach, and so on.

As a result, you're able to maximize your advertising budget and end ad campaigns that aren't working.

  • Quick results: Unlike traditional and most digital marketing channels like content marketing, paid social yields results quickly. Leads can start coming in within hours or days, instead of weeks or months, which is the case with other channels.
  • Comparatively immune to ad fatigue: In a recent survey by Hubspot, only 7% of online browsers said they clicked on an ad because they found it compelling. 34% clicked on ads unknowingly and 15% felt they were tricked into clicking. This is due to ad fatigue

Fortunately, you can create paid social posts that resemble organic social media posts and ensure your ad’s content connects emotionally with the people viewing it.

This makes people more likely to engage with the ad when it appears in their feeds, instead of scrolling past it.

Organic vs. paid reach

What’s the difference between organic and paid reach?

Organic reach is the number of people who view an unpaid social media post, otherwise known as an organic post. 

The number depends on the platform's algorithm and the amount of engagement the post receives.

Typically, organic reach comprises:

  • A proportion of your followers.
  • People connected to your followers.
  • People following the hashtags you use in the post.

On the other hand, paid reach is the number of people who viewed a post you paid the social network to promote.

Unlike paid reach, you don't need to pay to acquire organic reach. 

However, organic reach across all major social platforms has been sloping downwards.

For example, organic reach on Facebook was 6.53% in 2021. 2 years later, it slumped to 4.32%.

Within the same period, Instagram's reach dropped from 13.90% to 9.34%.

Why's this happening?

The reason is simple…

More people than ever in history are on social media platforms, creating a huge amount of content.

But people don’t have the time to comment on, like, and share every post that appears on their feed. 

Facebook explains it best:

There is now far more content being made than there is time to absorb it. On average, there are 1,500 stories that could appear in a person’s News Feed each time they log onto Facebook. For people with lots of friends and Page likes, as many as 15,000 potential stories could appear any time they log on.”

So, it’s advisable to pair organic and paid reach as part of your marketing strategy. 

This way, you'll interact with your followers, and still reach new audiences.

Choose a Top Paid Social Platform 

Several social media platforms allow you to run paid ads.

The popular ones include:

  1. Facebook (Meta)
  2. Instagram
  3. LinkedIn
  4. TikTok

Below, we'll dig into each platform listed above, as well as its unique advertising features.

  1. Facebook

It's no surprise we're starting with Facebook, since it was the first social platform on our list to launch.

Aside from Google search engine, Facebook (Meta) is the largest digital ad platform, with 23.7% of the world’s digital ad dollars flowing through the social network.

If you choose to advertise on the platform, you can use any of the following five ad formats:

  • Images
  • Videos
  • Carousels
  • Instant experiences
  • Collections

What's the cost of running Facebook ads?

As of August 2023, the average cost per click (CPC) for Facebook ads is at approximately $0.6, the lowest of the four major social media platforms.

The cost at any given time depends on:

  • The season: The price is higher during the third and fourth quarters since many advertisers bid for ad placements during that period because of holiday shoppers. 
  • The region you're targeting: Many advertisers target regions like North America. This increases the advertising cost in those regions.
  • Your campaign objective: Facebook charges less if your objective is simply to generate awareness for your brand. But you should expect to pay more if you wish to generate conversions like app downloads and service bookings.
  • The competitive nature of your industry: Facebook's ad costs are higher for some industries than others. You can check the cost for your industry in Wordstream’s benchmark report.

Pro tip!

Before you set up your Facebook ad campaign, check out this Insense article that guides you through the entire process of creating and managing your Facebook ad campaign.

  1. Instagram

Instagram has an audience of approximately 2 billion people, with 75% ranging between the ages of 18 and 24.

It has six major ad formats:

  1. Photos
  2. Collections
  3. Reels
  4. Carousels
  5. Stories
  6. Videos

The good thing is that they all resemble organic content.

So, people are less likely to scroll past your ad on Instagram than on Facebook. This makes Instagram advertising profitable.

However, the average CPC on Instagram ($3.56) is higher than on Facebook. And just like Facebook, it varies per season, the bidding strategy you're using, and so on.

  1. LinkedIn

LinkedIn, though recent, is a 930-million-strong social networking platform, used mainly for business interactions. In fact, 4 out of every 5 users on the platform are business leaders.

This makes it the best platform for targeting key decision-makers at B2B companies.

 The types of ads available on LinkedIn include:

  • Text ads
  • Dynamic ads
  • Sponsored messaging
  • Sponsored content

And each LinkedIn ad can take any of the following formats:

  • Single images
  • Videos
  • Carousels
  • Events
  • Lead gen forms 
  • Documents
  • Conversation ads
  • Spotlight ads
  • Job ads
  • Message ads

Unlike the platforms we covered above, LinkedIn has a very high CPC of $5.26.

  1. TikTok

Running an ad on TikTok can help you reach the almost 900 million people who use the platform daily. 

And the good thing is that most are very active on the platform.

TikTok has an engagement rate of a whopping 4.25%, which is the highest across all platforms.

The only platform that comes close is Instagram, whose engagement is still far behind at 0.6%.

This is understandable since most TikTok users rarely use other social media platforms. In fact, 40% don’t use Facebook and 63% stay off Twitter.

Additionally, TikTok users are usually very active on the platform. Users in the United States spent an average of 14 hours per month on the platform in 2020.

On average, the CPC and CPM (cost per thousand or cost per mille) for TikTok ads are $1 and $6 respectively.

But you're only allowed to spend a minimum of $50/day on a campaign and $20/day on an ad set.

The various ad formats on TikTok include:

  • Image ads
  • Videos ads
  • Spark ads
  • Playable ads
  • Collection ads
  • Carousel ads

Each ad format is video-heavy and fully customizable to your brand requirements.

Choose the right platforms for your campaign

There are several social media platforms you can use for your paid ad campaign. 

But they aren’t all suitable for your business, since they support different content formats and audience demographics.

For example, if you're selling clothing items for people 24 years and below, LinkedIn wouldn't be the right platform.

That's because LinkedIn caters to an older demographic. Plus, it's more of a business platform.

On the other hand, TikTok or Instagram, with their laid-back atmosphere and younger demographic, would both be a good option.

Set Up Your Paid Social Campaigns

You've seen some benefits of paid socials and the platforms you can choose from.

The next logical question will be:

How do I get started?

Here’s a 4-step process you can use to set up a paid social campaign aligned with your business objectives.

Step #1: Decide the business goal or objective you wish to achieve

Do you want just traffic? Or do you want people to fill out a lead generation form? Or probably you prefer people to buy right from the ad?

Whatever the case may be, it’s vital you choose a goal that’ll help you determine what success should look like.

Social media platforms usually allow you to choose an objective when setting up a paid ad campaign, depending on the different goals you want to achieve.

When setting up your social media campaign, pick a relevant objective that aligns with your business goal.

Once you're done with defining your campaign objective, the next step is to…

Step #2: Define your target audience

Advertising to everybody leads to few or no conversions.

So, create an audience persona.

You can find the details for creating it from the customer data you have on file, the people engaging with your organic account, discussions with customer-facing employees, and your research of competitors.

Step #3: Choose the platform to use

Which platforms do your target audience frequent? What do they use each one for?

You can ask your current customers or take a look at your competitors.

Then use criteria like the….

  • Demographics of the users.
  • Content types acceptable on the platform.
  • Specifications for each ad format.

…to choose a platform.

It's okay to use an omnichannel marketing strategy. But for a start, stick to one platform and get the hang of it before branching out.

This is to avoid spreading your ad spend across several channels without any results to show for your efforts.

Step #4: Budget allocation and bidding options

One good thing about social media advertising is that you can run a campaign with any budget.

And that's possible because social media platforms have several bidding options and ways you can distribute your budget.

You can either set an overall campaign budget which allows the algorithm to automatically allocate the amount set across the individual ad sets. 

Or you can manually allocate the amount of money you want to spend on each individual ad set.

What of bidding strategies?

Depending on the network, the different bidding strategies are:

  • Highest volume (previously lowest cost).
  • Highest value.
  • Cost per result (previously cost cap).
  • ROAS (return on ad spend) goal (previously minimum ROAS).
  • Bid cap.

Choose one that best aligns with your business goal.

For example, if your goal is to generate leads, you can use either the highest volume or cost per result.

Craft Compelling Ad Creatives 

The creative assets you use for your campaign have a huge role to play in its success.

The visuals capture the attention of people scrolling through their feed and help communicate your offer to people who may not be patient enough to read the text.

You can use the following guidelines to ensure the creatives you use are effective:

  1. Abide by the platform's ad specifications.
  2. Use no more than 3 font types per visual design. And ensure the font size and weight complement each other. You can also use different font sizes and colors to show hierarchy.
  3. Consider using visuals with motion since they're more likely to capture the attention of scrollers. Think videos, gifs, slideshows, etc.
  4. Subtitle your videos using compelling copy, since many people watch videos on social media without the audio.
  5. Keep your design simple, with sufficient whitespace surrounding each element.
  6. Mix it up with emojis. 😉

Boost social ad performance with influencer collaboration on Insense

Using influencers for your paid social campaign helps to amplify your brand reach, establish authenticity, and connect with niche audiences.

The numbers from Hubspot’s recent social media report are proof:

  1. 80% of social media marketers say most brands will turn to smaller creators in 2023. This shows influencer marketing works.
  2. 21% of social media users aged 18-54 have bought a product because of a recommendation from an influencer.
  3. Over 30% of social media users prefer discovering products through influencers they follow (compared to other channels).

Plus, several social media platforms have released influencer whitelisting options, which you can use to amplify the reach of your paid ad.

But, here's the thing:

Finding multiple influencers for a campaign and managing it from start to finish can be hard.

Luckily, there's Insense!

Insense is a platform that connects vetted social media influencers and content creators with brands for influencer marketing campaigns.

You can use criteria like age, language, location, and look-alike creator profiles, to find influencers and creators aligned with your brand identity and target audience.

On the other hand, influencers can create profiles showcasing their social media reach, content samples, and other relevant information, to help convince business owners to hire them.

All you need to do is fill out an interactive brief…

…get matched with any of the 20k vetted creators and influencers per the details you put in the brief…

…and you’ll receive content from the influencer or creator you choose.

That's all!

And in no time, you'll see your business's reach increase.

For example, BabyQuip, a baby equipment rental service and marketplace, recently used over 25 influencers from Insense's platform.

The result?

  • A steady flow of creator content for their campaign.
  • Over 40k views and very high engagement rates.
  • More revenue for their business.

The good part?

BabyQuip only paid an average of $150 for organic TikTok videos of 20-90 seconds.

So, what will it cost you?

Insense has two major pricing plans: self-service and managed service.

If you wish to monitor the campaign yourself, you can choose the self-service option which costs between $400 and $1,500.

But if you want a dedicated platform manager who’s a social media expert to manage your campaign, you can choose the managed service at between $2,800 and $4,200 per month.

In either case, you will pay less if you choose to be an annual subscriber.

Book a free demo to discover how you can use Insense for your next paid social campaign.

Write Effective Ad Copy with These Tips

Another element that makes for effective ads is convincing copy.

The visual captures people's attention, while the copy convinces them to take action.

So, how can you write effective social ad copy?

✅Make it short and straight to the point

An average social media user spends most of their time on social media scrolling through their feed.

So, you must make your copy snappy and straight to the point, so they understand your message immediately.

To do that, use an active voice when writing the copy. And try as much as you can to obey the platform's character limit.

✅Focus on the benefits

Our new serum is clinically proven to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Sounds correct. And there are no grammatical errors.

But you know the problem?

Humans only react to something that appeals to their self-interest. And Someone reading this doesn’t see the benefit they’ll gain by clicking on the ad. So, they’re likely to scroll past it.

Contrast that example with this one:

Get glowing skin with this serum! Is clinically proven to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and it's also non-comedogenic, so it won't clog your pores.

Now, the benefit is very clear. So, a social media user can immediately see the benefit of clicking on the ad.

Overall, set your product’s features aside for a moment and highlight instead what benefits people will get from it.

✅Use a clear call to action (CTA)

A clear call to action prompts your target audience to take action.

Instead of generic CTAs like "click here" think of what they'll receive after clicking the button. Then use it to write the copy on the button.

✅Write several versions before you choose one

The more versions of the ad you write, the more your chances of landing one that will be successful.

It also allows you to try different strategies until you arrive at the perfect copy that will resonate with your audience.

You should write at least 10 different ad versions. Seek the opinion of a third party. Take a break. Then use the best one.

✅Be conversational

Think for a moment…

Why do you use social media? Probably to interact with friends and family, watch funny videos, and so on.

And what's the thread connecting all of them?

Conversations. That's it.

A major aspect of social media is conversations.

No one expects to see "textbook language" in a social media post. They have…well…textbooks for that.

So, use a conversational tone.

You can draw from your knowledge of your target audience, and use words they use when talking about the problem you're solving in day-to-day conversations.

For example, instead of saying "It utilizes little diesel," you could say "It uses little diesel."

Employ Advanced Targeting Techniques 

We earlier listed audience targeting as a major benefit of paid social.

Now, let’s explore the two ways you can leverage this to ensure that people relevant to your business view your ads.

Leveraging demographic and geographic targeting

With paid social, you can reach only ideal customers within a specific age range, sex, gender, income band, and so on.

That’s not all.

Most social media platforms allow you to go deeper to target people based on recent life events like having a baby, previous browsing activity, the hobbies they listed on their profile, their location, and so on.

It’s one of the major reasons why paid social ads are very effective.

Custom audiences and lookalike audiences

Custom audiences are people who have already interacted with your brand. 

It could be that they visited your website, downloaded your application, subscribed to your email list, or visited your landing page.

You can remarket to or retarget these people using social media ads.

Simply upload your custom audience list when setting up your campaign.

You can also use custom audiences to create lookalike audiences.

As the name suggests, lookalike audiences are people similar to your customers or custom audience and are a great way to reach new customers interested in your offer. 

This is because they share similar interests, demographics, and behavior with your current customers.

But, there's an important point to remember:

Use a large lookalike audience.

Because the larger your lookalike audience, the more accurate and precise your targeting will be.

Optimize Your Campaigns 

As you would expect, the work doesn't stop after setting up your social media campaign.

There are other things you can do to increase its success.

Here are some examples:

A/B Testing

A/B testing is creating two variations of your ad, and showing them to different audiences.

What’s the importance of A/B testing?

Well, general advertising principles may not apply to your own situation. So, A/B testing reveals what works better for your audience or specific situation.

Tip: When A/B testing, change only one creative element in the two variations. This could be the length of the headline, language of your post, call to action, or hashtags. This way, you can know which creative element is responsible for your audience's positive response to the ad.

You can discover how to set up A/B tests on Instagram or Facebook here.

Monitoring key performance metrics (KPIs)

KPIs are metrics for tracking the performance of your campaigns.

Examples of KPIs include click-through rate (CTR), impressions, and cost per lead.

Before you choose a KPI, define the goal of your campaign.

Once that's done, select a KPI that can help you track your success toward the goal.

For example, if your goal is to encourage people to visit your website, the KPI you'll track is click-through rate (CTR).

But if it's simply to increase your brand awareness, then KPIs like impressions and reach will suffice.

Understandably, monitoring the KPIs of different campaigns across several platforms may be difficult.

Luckily, there's a solution…

Use Insense to optimize your campaign management

With Insense, you can optimize your campaign management with everything in one place.

Insense has a centralized dashboard you can use to monitor all your influencer or creator campaigns across the major social media platforms and easily discover what's working and what's not.

Additionally, if you work with a team, you can invite them to your dashboard, and create the social media campaign together.

So, nothing gets missed. And everyone can track the progress of the campaign.

Bonus Section: Measure ROI And Attribution 

After you've set up a lead-generation or conversion paid social campaign, the next thing is to know if it’s generating revenue.

That's where attribution modeling comes in.

It shows the various points of interaction the customer had with your brand before purchase.

Imagine this scenario:

Sandra needed a new makeup set. 

So, on Tuesday, she went on Google, ran a search query with the phrase "makeup sets sale", and landed on your sales page.

But she didn't buy.

The next day, she sees an ad from you while scrolling through TikTok. She clicks on the ad, signs up for the newsletter, but still doesn't buy.

On Wednesday, she sees another paid ad on Facebook, advertising makeup sets at a limited discount.

She clicks on the ad and finally purchases. 🎉

Notice the several touch points she had with your brand before purchasing.

Well, that's what attribution models help you discover. 

They walk back from the purchase and track the customer's journey.

There are three major types of attribution models:

1. First touch attribution model

This model credits conversions to the first interaction the customer had with your brand.

In the scenario above, that’ll be the sales page.

Although simple, this model can be inaccurate. Because it ignores the role other interactions played in the buying process.

2. Last touch attribution model

This model gives all the credit to the last touch point the customer had with your brand.

In the example we gave above, that will be the Facebook ad.

It's perfect for analyzing your sources of traffic. But it's inaccurate, for the same reason as the first touch attribution model.

3. Multi-touch attribution model

This credits the conversion to all the interactions the customer had with your brand before purchase.

Before you choose an attribution model, take note of your goals.

You can even start with the simpler models like first and last touch, and proceed to the more complicated multi-touch attribution later.

Here are two ways to set up attribution models:

  • Use Urchin Tracking Modules (UTM) to add unique tags to the end of URLs. 

You can do this with Facebook's Meta pixel or link-shortening tools like Bitly.

  • Attach a survey form to every lead generation campaign. Ask the customer how they heard about you. 

This will reveal the previous interactions they had with your brand.

Looking to Get Started with Paid Social? 

Paid social ads can help you generate leads and grow your brand awareness.

You can use the tips we shared above to set up your next campaign.

Also, you can book a free demo with Insense to find influencers and creators for increasing your ad's chances of success, and manage all your paid social campaigns from a single place.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1. What are the key components of a successful ad creative? 

The key components of successful ad creatives include high-quality visuals, short but compelling copy, strong CTAs, and a clear message.

Q2. What is A/B testing and why is it important? 

A/B testing is creating two variations of an ad that differ in a single creative element, to know what's best for your specific campaign or audience.

A/B testing helps provide data for making better decisions about your marketing campaign and gives you a better understanding of your audience.

Q3. How can I ensure my ads comply with platform guidelines? 

Always try to read the platform's policies before setting up your campaign. Pay close attention to the specifications for each ad format.

Also, avoid sensitive topics like religion, health, and politics.

Q4. What role does retargeting play in paid social advertising? 

Retargeting helps you reach people who have already shown interest in your product or service, leading to higher conversions and lower advertising costs.

Q5. How do I stay up-to-date with changes in paid social advertising?

You can stay up to date by:

  • Subscribing to industry newsletters, trade publications, blogs, and podcasts.
  • Following the platform's website and checking its training modules once in a while.
  • Being active on social media.
  • Following paid social media experts.
  • Setting up a Google alert for the platform you're monitoring.
Share this article
Jade Cottee

Get started with Insense today

Start getting UGC and collaborating with creators for organic posting and whitelisted ad campaigns.

Diverse images of creators

You might also like...