The beginning of the new year is a great time to review your social media strategy and to ensure that your marketing budget is properly optimized to utilize the latest tools for strategies in social media advertising. In a recent Digital Drop-in webinar, Justin Belleme explored platform selection, budgeting, audience targeting, ad types, remarketing, and other topics related to paid social media advertising and promotions.

… Does anyone see my posts without advertising anymore?

Every business has a distinct business model and specific use for each paid social media platform. However, the overall goal of social media remains the same —  to place your brand in front of potential new customers, either through paid or organic traffic. With its very specific targeting abilities, social media has a strong hold on digital advertising.  Every social media platform is in the business of making money off of advertising, where they earn between 95% – 99% of all revenue. As this continues to grow, the platforms are changing, making it more difficult to reach audiences organically.

What are the paid options on Social Media?

For this segment – we will review the core elements of what the platforms allow businesses to do with paid content.

Twitter: Paid promotions are mostly used for increasing the reach of tweets. This can be identified in three ways: Promoting a business account so it gets more followers, promoting tweets, and the most expensive options is to promote trending hashtags across all of Twitter.

Pinterest: Boosting pins are paid promotions by demographics or search terms. This can be achieved through promoting pins, or creating animated pins, like a flip book of images, that stand out more from standard organic ones.

Instagram: Instagram and Facebook are strong partners in the social media world. Posts are boosted or promoted by way of Facebook, natively. You can run advertisements on Instagram feeds, which are driven from Facebook advertising.

Facebook: This is the most robust digital marketing platform on earth. We will touch on the Facebook groundwork, giving you a general overview of the core functions. There is plenty of more information to be shared through our other courses.  

LinkedIn: LinkedIn is a professional social platform that gives business related information for retargeting. The professional niche provides rich employment and educational history used to grow networks, promote content, and advertise more specific types of events, B2B (business-to-business) products, or even job openings.

Will paid social media ads deliver ROI for your business?

You must know what a visitor is worth on your website before deciding how much to invest in social media ads.  Determining this requires data. As discussed in a previous article “Does Your Website Convert?” Leah Quintal encourages businesses to consider: “What percentage of leads turn into new business,” “What a new client is worth?” and  “What percentage of traffic turns into goals?” Once these metrics are clarified, you can create a budget to generate the clicks needed to make a conversion.

Google Analytics, when set-up properly, provides the necessary information  to see what percentage of website traffic actually converts. You can see how people are finding the site, what leads are being generated by that traffic, and then what segment of that traffic turns into an actual sale.  Ecommerce websites allow for very clear conversion tracking by seeing which customers put an item in their cart and complete the check-out process. Businesses that sell to other businesses might use other metrics to track conversations like an e-mail sign-up or contact form submission.  In that case, if you are able to capture 50 new email addresses from your website, and 20 of those lead to a purchase or conversion, that is a successful 40% conversion rate. However, if you add 50 new leads to the email list, and only two buy, that is only a 4% conversion rate. Depending on the lifetime value of a new customer, and the costs associated with generating the traffic, a 4% conversion may be a success. By tracking the information gathered through traffic patterns and conversion rates, you can understand what the lead costs. By studying your customer’s behavior over time, you can discover the lifetime value of the customer. Together these metrics determine which advertising methods deliver a positive return on investment. Different advertising services offer different values over different periods of time.

Once you have determined the value of a lead, the next step is to find out the cost of a lead from each platform. Then  you can determine how best to spend the budget for a paid strategy. Testing is key to figure out which platform will help deliver the most cost effective clicks. The data below outlines general expectation for the cost per click from the major social networks.

Twitter: $1 – $3 per click, or $2 – $4 for a new follower

  • Twitter tracks engagement such as retweets, hearts, replies, and clicks
  • 1,000 followers could cost $2,000-$4,000 (very expensive)
  • The cost of engagement is within the $0.50 range; however, it does not convert well
  • Twitter is one of the more expensive social platforms

Pinterest: $0.15 – $1 per click

  • Growing industry for advertising and brand awareness
  • Cheapest click rate
  • Demographic is highly skewed female 20-45 yrs old – this could be to the business’s advantage
  • If you have a visually appealing product or service shows good conversions at a lower price point

Instagram: This is a new platform for advertising; therefore, it is difficult to calculate the Cost per Click at this time.  Instagram currently runs most of their ads through Facebook with a stronger focus on engagement and brand awareness. New advertising features are being added.

Facebook: $0.20 – $1.50 per new like ($0.40 – $0.50 per like is the goal)

  • Most popular advertising platform on social media
  • Price is rising

LinkedIn: $1 – $10 per click, the average click is $4.00 each

  • The most expensive platform currently available

The most common way to waste money in advertising is to get clicks from those who will not buy your product or service. In order to spend your budget wisely, it is crucial to have a clear understanding of your customer. The more you know about the target audience and their social media behavior, the more strategic you can be with the ads.

Targeting through social media is so granular and specific, you are able to pinpoint the “right” customer for your business. Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook are the strongest platforms for selling products, while services are more effective on LinkedIn. Twitter is used more often for conferences or engaging in conversations.

How can I target people on the platforms?

A great amount of time can be spent on the ways of targeting audiences on each platform.  

Twitter: Geographically, interests (or what people tweet about), demographics, keywords (search and tweeting about), and those who follow other accounts

Pinterest: Audience, keyword search, and  interests (based on boards)

Instagram: Mostly mirrors Facebook (same company)

Facebook: Geographically, interests, demographics, and followers (very detailed targeting)

LinkedIn: Industry, skills, job title, years on job, and education


Remarketing allows for targeting people after they have visited your website. No matter how the visitor comes to the site, by email, organic search, or direct traffic, they are added to a list on a specific social media platform. You can, in turn, run ads on that platform directed specifically to those who have previously visited your site.

Which platforms offer remarketing?

Twitter: Not recommended

Pinterest: Yes – useful for ecommerce and other niche markets like travel, event planning, homegoods, weddings, recipes, food, etc.

Instagram: Not recommended yet – but learning with new ecommerce features

Facebook: Yes, great use of Facebook advertising

LinkedIn: Yes, great use for professional promotions like events and conferences


Advertising on social media is a great way to grow your business and build the overall awareness of your brand to new, relevant audience groups. This overview provides a general starting point to launch an advertising strategy in  the social media marketplace. As you explore the targeting options, be sure to observe and understand the effectiveness of your advertising strategy through tracking conversions, audience engagement, and growth.