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The Ultimate Guide To Social Media Advertising

Written by Simply Zesty on

With advertising budgets for more expensive media being gradually reduced, we're consistently seeing positive figures for the rise in online advertising, with some reporting a 17.2% increase from 2011 to 2012. Increasingly, the trend is to allocate this ad spend on a niche basis by focusing on the relevant social network. Facebook set the trend here by making a self-serve ad system available to marketers, with no minimum spend required - similar to the way in which Google Adwords functions.

Other sites have now followed suit like LinkedIn, and Twitter is ultimately heading that way, albeit whilst dragging their feet towards making it completely open for advertisers. For brands and marketers, this represents a whole new approach to advertising: Ultimately it's more trackable, has improved targeting options and has improved analytics. There are also many untapped opportunities, most notable in mobile advertising. Facebook's problems with this are well documented, with Twitter more capable of adapting their existing ad system for mobile users.

As more advertisers turn towards social advertising, costs are evidently rising, but by looking outside of the big player of Facebook, you can run targeted ad campaigns that get you in front of the right audience as a part of their social experience as opposed to interrupting it.


1) Facebook Advertising

Case Studies

2) Twitter Advertising

Case Studies

3) LinkedIn Advertising

Case Studies

4) Foursquare Advertising

Case Studies

5) Infographic Sources

Facebook Advertising

When it comes to social advertising, Facebook is obviously the biggest platform to use. It has an incredible amount of information on how to use the platform as well as case studies and tips that you can avail of. The fact that they collect so much personal data allows you to target ads precisely, which can help drive excellent results if used correctly. Here are some of their excellent resources.

Facebook Marketing Page

As you would expect, there is a Facebook page dedicated to tips, tricks and info about the Facebook marketing platform. It is a good place to stay on top of all the latest trends on pages and advertising.

Facebook Offers

A brand new offering from Facebook and only in the process of being rolled out at the moment. Offers are seen as one of the main ways in which brands and small businesses will be able to generate real revenue through Facebook.

Learning Lab

This is the hub from Facebook that has tons of tips, tricks, case studies and other information about the advertising platform. You can also find some of the best creative campaigns and practical learning tools here to help you get the most out of the platform.

Case Studies

Although the targeting is so precise on Facebook, it can be hard for small businesses to get results, especially when they are pushing people outside from Facebook to third party websites. Here are some case studies from businesses who are getting a lot out of the platform.

- One small cheesecake company in the UK had some great success with their sponsored posts, including driving a total of 30% of their customers from Facebook ads. You can read the full story here.

- Individuals always find it hard to get a return on investment from ads, but this case study from a small local photographer called Sarah P Photography shows it can be done.

- A slightly smaller brand called Luxury Link Hotels was able to increase its fan base, acquire new customers and also increase website traffic by using the Facebook advertising platform.

- The final resource you should look at is Facebook Studio. If you click in here, you will see a huge list of all the best marketing and advertising case studies on the Facebook platform. These are all updated constantly and you will get some great inspiration for the campaigns that work best and how advertising supports them.

Twitter Advertising

Although it doesn't generate the same amounts of revenue as Facebook, Twitter is quietly emerging with its own business model that is perfectly suited to mobile. While Facebook has had problems with this area, Twitter's core function means that it's perfectly suited for mobile advertising. That said, the company is experimenting with a number of different advertising models, the main ones listed here.

Promoted Tweets, Accounts and Hashtags

Brands use promoted tweets to spread awareness among Twitter users. They are suggested to tweeters when they search specific terms on Twitter; the tweet in question will then appear at the top of the page. Targeted users may also be the friends of a brand's Twitter followers; such people are targeted in the hopes that the promoted tweet will spark conversation between the friends and thus influence their friends and followers, further spreading the brand's message.

There is a purpose to this method of stealth advertisement, however. Advertisers can choose to make their tweets specific to a particular device (iOS, Blackberry etc.) or a particular geographic area, depending on where are whom they want to promote to. The promoted accounts feature is now also being exploited by advertisers in their attempts to gain followers and online popularity.

Twitter's accounts recommendation engine, 'Who to Follow,' will promote brand accounts to users they believe are most likely to follow said account, on the basis of their similar interests and Twitter activity.

It is much the same deal with promoted hashtags, which will be shown at the top of a users trends list. Hashtags are, of course, more liable to spread and be picked up on by other users, though there is less of a guarantee that influenced users will follow the brand that is promoting the hashtag. The success of these methods can be easily followed and charted with the use of Twitter analytics. The analytics feature will monitor user trends and timeline activity that has been inspired by promotional efforts.

Age Filter

Twitter recently introduced a new feature called Age Screening. This filter will aid more age-discerning brands (specifically companies promoting alcoholic brands) to target a specific age group as well as to weed out Twitter users who are too young to be buying their products and such.

Age Screening determines whether any new follower is old enough to be compliant relevant industry or legal age guidelines. However, the technology is far from foolproof. Upon following such a brand, a user will be sent a direct message linking them to, where they will be asked to give their birth date. The age is not shared with the brand, but it is surely very simple to lie about your age on the internet.

While this isn't necessarily an advertising related development, the possibility of it being included with targeted advertising, which Twitter recently introduced, could give it more data to work from and provide users with more targeted ads.

Self-Service Advertising

Twitter introduced new methods for small businesses to amplify their Tweeters and exponentially increase their reach in February. When it first began, Twitter teamed up with American Express - and all businesses using American Express - where the first 10,000 cardholders were allowed $100 of free advertising on Twitter.

Twitter also offers promoted tweets and accounts to small business owners. They do not pay to have their accounts/tweet advertised, instead it's when users engage (i.e. follow, reply retweet etc) do they pay a fee to Twitter, but it's good value for money. Twitter will, of course, target users who are likely to have an interest in their business and will promote the business in question at the right time of day so as to engage as many people as possible.

Business owners can put a cap on how much they are willing to spend, so they do not end up with a nasty shock once they become overwhelmingly popular, and they can also direct Twitter to promote them in certain geographic areas, much as a larger business can, as well as across the web and mobile devices.

Such self-service advertising is very helpful and allows small businesses using Twitter to get off the ground without having to incur a large expense to begin with.

Case Studies

- US crime television series Unforgettable saw a spike in the number of new followers when they used promoted tweets.

- Sofa Moolah experimented with a few accounts to find out how to increase traffic and followers.

- An Indian TV channel, Channel V, used Twitter advertising to increase awareness of their latest re-branding.

- Twitter compiled some of its favourite case studies on how to make better use the microblogging site.

- Another Twitter compilation for brands using Twitter advertising.

- Engaging Social Media analyses six successful Twitter advertising campaigns.

- The New York Times went out in search of small business owners who use Twitter to increase their business.

- This case study explores how BlackBerry-focused website BBGeeks gained traction with Twitter users.

- Zac Johnson monitors the effects of Sponsered Tweets.

- How HDFC used Twitter to increase their worth among customers.

LinkedIn Advertising

Compared to Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn doesn't focus as much on ads nor does it offer any major differences in how you advertise. However, despite this limitation, the site does offer greater opportunities for B2B companies due to its focus on professionals and is, therefore, a much better suit.

The reason it works so well is because, like Facebook, LinkedIn lets you target specific demographics like a particular industry, location and seniority and age. Therefore, it's perfect for any companies or people focusing on B2B. While Facebook does have GlassDoor, it targets demographics based on their likes and interests.

When you log in, you will find that ads appear in two different places. The main ads appear at the side of the page, consisting of a 25 character heading, a 75 character description, the company name, an image and a URL. The second place ads appear is just underneath the main toolbar where it is a text only ad. Depending on your ad's performance, it may be shown here.

You can choose to pay LinkedIn either by CPM (cost per 1,000 impressions) or by CPC (cost per click), the latter is more expensive, but better if you're more focused on generating leads. If you're in any way familiar with Google AdWords, you will know what to expect here. Each click will cost between $2 (the minimum CPC) and your bid.

The main thing you need to focus on is creating a strong ad that will appeal to those demographics you're targeting. First, make sure your heading and description are eye-catching and effective. As you only have 25 and 75 characters to work from, every word counts. Be specific in what you're advertising as people won't respond to general statements and include a strong call to action that's tailored towards your company3 like "get a free quote", "download now" or "free trial." LinkedIn itself provides a number of tips and guides to improve the success rate of your ads on its site.

Also, remember that you can promote LinkedIn company pages and groups through ads if you want to direct users towards them instead. Amassing extra followers can be beneficial if you have a company page as you are able to send out targeted updates.

Case Studies

- How I was wrong about LinkedIn (with two mini case studies)

- Vestas wanted to raise awareness of the brand and used banner ads to do this, resulting in 11 million impressions with a CTR of .11 - .21% among targeted companies.

- Econsultancy takes a look at PPC ads on LinkedIn to see just how effective they are.

- Neal Schaffer gives his take on developing a business on LinkedIn.

- Anvil wanted to promote Axway, a business technology solution company, and used LinkedIn ads to target its audience directly.

- did a quick case study which compared Facebook ads against LinkedIn ads.

- Kyle Lacy gives a round up of 25 LinkedIn case studies, with a wide mixture of people, companies and groups featuring in the list.

- Globla specialist Evalueserve used lead generation to build its brand and develop its relationship with key contacts.

- Dell created a group to appeal to small and medium size businesses which got 11,600 members from in just 120 days.

- LinkedIn provides a vast number of case studies, infographics and research on its marketing page.

Foursquare Advertising

Foursquare is a bit of an oddity as while there's a number of ways for a business to advertise, it recently started rolling out paid ads for brands. Since it's a location based app, most of your audience is going to be local and so your deals and offers should reflect this.

We covered Foursquare as a marketing tool recently (which you can read here) so we won't waste too much time covering this topic. To give a brief summary, the two main ways to advertise is through local updates and promoted updates. The former are available to those who liked your venue or have checked-in a number of times, while the latter are paid ads, allowing users to discover new places and deals to those near the vicinity.

Also, merchant pages and brand pages come into play when advertising any deals or offers, which has primarily been the way merchants advertised their deals on the app.

Case Studies

- This handy slideshare presentation shows seven different case studies revolving around how you can use Foursquare to promote your brand.

- StreetFight give a comprehensive case study revolving around a boutique store located in California.

- McDonald's launched a one-day campaign around Foursquare day, and found that its check-in went up by one-third on the day and increased by 40% the following week.

- Hill+Knowlton Strategies look at the American Express and Foursquare partnership and details the reasons why this campaign works so well.

- Another case study by StreetFight, this time focusing on RadioShack. This time, it found that those customers who check-in via Foursquare spend more money on the brand on average than those who don't check-in.

- Foursquare itself has a number of case studies, which can be found on its main business page.

Infographic Sources


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