Social Media Advertising Strategy Blueprint: Definition, Best Practices, and Examples

Business is hard these days, especially when you have big-league brands as your competitors. It’s getting increasingly complicated to get your message noticed, as they already captured 80% of your target audience’s attention. 

Don’t fret! There’s still a floodlode of people waiting to be your customer. 

But how can you reach them?

Social media advertising is your way to go.

Due to the advantages of social media in connecting businesses to end-consumers directly, on time, and at a low cost, many businesses utilize it to connect with the ideal buyers based on their geographic, demographic, and behavioral characteristics.

To keep up with the competition, it’s important to learn how social media advertising works and how it can build brand awareness, increase conversions, and drive website traffic. 

This article will provide a soup-to-nuts look at how to build brand awareness, increase conversions, and drive website traffic via social media advertising.

Let’s explore. 

What is social media advertising?

Social media advertising is an offshoot of digital marketing that serves paid ads to reach target audiences via social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, TikTok, Snapchat, and Reddit. Social media ads are a quick and effective way to connect with consumers, boost website traffic, and inspire sales. They’re also cost-effective, offering the potential for high rates of return.

By leveraging multiple data sources, brands can hyper-target the right audiences and deliver personalized content based on their demographics, interests, and behaviors. For instance, before the release of a new product, a B2C brand can run a brand awareness campaign to garner pre-buzz. Likewise, a B2B organization can re-engage its audience through remarketing campaigns to sell a high-ticket product. 

5 best social media ad formats

There are lots of different ad formats, and some work better than others. So, what will be the best one for your company’s advertising strategy? This is something you need to figure out by determining your target audience, the objectives for the advertisement, and which networks are most popular for that ad’s target audience. 

If you want product sales, consider a Product Carousel Ad.

If you have an immersive experience in mind and creative resources available, an Interactive Story Ad might be the ideal choice.

Or, if your goal is to generate B2B leads, a Lead Form Ad on LinkedIn could be a good gamble.

The format of the ad you choose will depend on the platform you’re playing on and your budget, but knowing the ad formats, the features, and the benefits of each will help you accelerate your paid advertising strategy on social media. 

Below are a few examples of ad formats that you can use to achieve your desired outcome.

1. Image ads

Image ads are quite popular on Instagram and great for driving traffic to your website. They can be used to promote any product or service, but are typically best suited for selling products and services related to health and beauty, food and cooking, technology, business, and marketing.

You can easily pair photos with links to specific pages on your site by including “Shop Now” buttons. Also, we’ve seen so far that images with little or no text led to a better audience experience.

For example, an ideal ad for Facebook is if the text on the image is 20% or under. You can use the ‘Image Text Check’ tool to ensure that your Image Ad text falls under the character limit.

2. Carousel ads

A carousel ad is made up of multiple images in a continuous loop that the user can slide to view the next one. This ad format is awesome for telling a deeper story about your brand and taking your audience on an interactive ride or showcasing multiple products in a single ad. 

Available for Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, and Pinterest, most carousel ad formats allow you to showcase up to 10 images/videos with individual CTA buttons within a single carousel.

Facebook will even optimize the order of the carousel images, based on each card’s performance, so if you’re using this ad format for products, you should select this automated feature.

Carousel ad examples

  • Process carousels – Cards in carousel ads are used sequentially to explain a step-by-step process of how a particular product works, from the start to the end result.
  • Product carousels – You can showcase a range of products/articles by featuring a different item on each card with a link to its own landing page to entice customers and increase the click-through rate.
  • Panoramic carousels – One long, vivid panoramic image is used to highlight multiple features and angles of a single product to better-inform customers.

3. Video ads

Video ads have an 80% higher engagement rate, but only if they are used properly. Many people only want to watch short-form video ads, which means you have a small amount of time to keep people interested in your videos—and no one wants their attention span interrupted by something irrelevant or boring!

Facebook and Instagram allow you to create short videos that appear in people’s feeds while they are scrolling or surfing.

Some examples include Facebook 360° video ads, Instagram and Facebook Instant Experience video ads, Interactive Stories ads, Snapchat sponsored filters, Unskippable video ads, and Bumper video ads. 

Unskippable ads typically run for less than 20 seconds before or during YouTube videos. Bumper ads are maxed at 6 seconds and play at the end of videos—but viewers can’t skip them because they’re so short.

4. Interactive ads

Interactive ads are a lot like digital games – they keep users engaged and encourage them to interact with the content. They often experiment with new technologies to push the boundaries of what’s possible, and they seek to engage audiences beyond just clicking on an outbound link.

Interactive ads allow you to recall sentiment that helps build connections with your audience and make them stay; the longer the avg duration, the lower the cost for the advertiser.

There are four types of interactive Ads on social media.

  • Instant experience ads – formerly called Canvas Ads – allow brands to create interactive experiences. A good example is Jeep. The brand knocked it out of the park with a “Choose Your Own Adventure” split-screen, immersive experience.
  • Stories ads (Instagram and Snapchat) – give advertisers a new way to get users’ attention: by placing ads between users’ Stories. These ads will only be viewable for a limited time, depending on the type of content. For example, a photo may only be viewable for six seconds, while a video may be viewable for up to fifteen seconds. However, these ads can be as long as 120 seconds for both photos and videos on Instagram and can be viewed for only 24 hours. When the time is up, the ad will disappear from the user’s Story.
  • Messenger ads – Facebook and Instagram – can be initiated by the brand in a Messenger chat.
  • Conversational ads on Twitter are Tweets with call-to-action buttons. They’re often used by brands to fuel promotions of hash-tagged products. By doing this, brands can get people talking about their product or service in a fun and engaging way.

5. Lead form ads

There’s no doubt that ads specifically designed to generate leads can be extremely effective. After all, what’s not to like about acquiring new customers who are interested in your newsletter, follow-up services, event registrations, or webinars?

That said, these types of ads work best when the creative clearly illustrates what the customer is actually getting. Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn all offer their own special contact form that can even pre-fill the customer’s details based on their social media profile.

So if you’re looking to create an effective lead-generation ad, be sure to make use of these platforms’ capabilities.

You can try two variations on the standard image or video Lead Form Ad:

  • Promotion ads are used to ask people to submit entries to a competition, register for an event, for follow-up meetings or future deals and discounts, in return for their contact details
  • Carousels and “drip” ads are used to target the same customer several times with different ads, to increase their interest in your product/service; the series ends with the lead ad linking to a contact form.

Key Components of a successful social media ad 

Your social media ads will be lucrative if you use a down-home folksy approach to advertising and home-spun pitches.

1. Research and testing 

Research alone won’t give you the answer to whether you’re doing the right thing. It will give you an indication as to what your customers think, what they don’t believe, what they don’t think, what they worry about, what they don’t worry about, all sorts of things.

I have a nice quote from Leo Burnett to share at this point. He said, 

“ People have no idea what they’re going to do until they’re actually asked to buy the product.”

If people had relied on research that would never have been a lever or TV or an airplane. 

Testing is the thing that makes this business so fascinating and people neglect it to an astounding degree. It’s the thing that tells you whether they’re going to buy, whether they’re prepared to pay for it When they’re prepared to pay for it, and so on.

2. Audience targeting 

Even a boring message sent to the right person will outperform a brilliant message sent to the wrong person. So targeting is extraordinarily important in social media advertising because it allows you to focus your advertising efforts on the people who are most likely to be interested in your product or service.

By targeting your ads to a specific audience, you can save money and increase the effectiveness of your advertising campaign.

There are several ways to target an audience on social media, including targeting based on demographics (such as age, gender, and location), interests, and behaviors. 

By understanding your target audience, you can increase the chances of getting a positive response to your ads and ultimately achieve your advertising goals.

For example, if you are a clothing retailer targeting young women, you can use social media advertising to reach women between the ages of 18 and 35 who have shown an interest in fashion and clothing.

This targeted approach allows you to reach the people who are most likely to be interested in your products, rather than wasting money on ads that may not be as effective with a more general audience.

3. A clear call-to-action

A successful social media ad should have a clear and concise message that communicates the value of the product or service being advertised followed by a clear CTA. 

A call-to-action tells the audience what they should do next, such as visiting a website, signing up for a newsletter, or making a purchase.

A CTA can also be used to increase engagement with your ad, provide clarity, and drive conversions.

4. Catchy campaign creatives 

Campaign creatives are visuals (images, gifs, and videos) used in the ads. A social media ad should have a strong and visually appealing design that captures the attention of the target audience. It should also reflect your brand’s personality.

So, make it simple, professional, and credible. Run A/B tests by tweaking the visuals to optimize the performance. 

5. Relevant and compelling copy

The body copy of the ad should provide more information about the product or service being advertised, and should highlight the benefits and features that are most relevant to the target audience.

The copy should be engaging and easy to read and should use persuasive language to encourage the audience to take the desired action.

Include a differentiating feature in your headline and talk about benefits rather than features in your ad copy. You can also use data (number of customers or reviews, average rating, etc.) in your ad copy as trust signals.

Here are some tips to write intriguing social media Ad copy.

a) Open with a big number

We, humans, are attracted to numbers. We capture information better when they’re provided with numbers. 

For example, you can use headlines like:

  • 287,000+ people will read this post today.
  • 5 million students can’t be wrong
  • 20,000+ people couldn’t stop raving about our discounts

b) Use Unpopular opinion in your headlines

Tell us something uncommon and unpopular and we’re all ears! You can use this strategy to improve click rates on your blog/article ad campaigns. Use headings like:

  • You don’t need to be a noisy influencer on LinkedIn to be noticed.
  • Here are 5 simple things you can do if posting is not your thing

c) Make your customer – not the product – the hero

Nike is the best example of making the customer hero. You can take inspiration from these headlines:

  • The shoe world if you do
  • Hit the ball as loud as you can
  • Move more, move better
  • Find your greatness. Find your limit. 
  • Your Limit is only YOU!

d) Research and replicate the best ads of time

It’s important to stand out and own a distinctive brand voice but you can still do this by drawing inspiration from successful brands. For example, take a deep dive at the Facebook business success stories for inspiration.

Those case studies will give you valuable insights into reaching your social media advertising goals. You can also explore the Facebook Awards or The Shorty Awards winners.

6. Create a sense of urgency

Creating a sense of urgency can help to motivate the audience to take action sooner rather than later. This can be achieved through limited-time offers, exclusive deals, or other incentives that encourage the audience to act quickly.

7. Campaign budget and success metrics 

Break down the campaign budget into two brackets – Fees/Expenses and Ad Budget – to track the ROI effectively. 

Fees/Expenses: keep this amount separate from the actual budget if you’re working with a social media advertising agency or individuals such as a copywriter, graphic designer, or video editor. 

Ad Budget: This includes the amount you’ll pay the advertising platform(Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Bing) to run the ad campaign. Determining the ad budget can be intimidating if you’re a beginner. So, it’s better to consult a search ads marketing agency. It will help you with budgeting, mapping the goals (in terms of reach, engagement, clicks, likes/shares/followers, etc.), and tracking the results. 

8. Testing and optimization

You can’t get better at creating better social media ad campaigns if you’re not testing things and optimizing them for better results. Testing and optimization help you determine which ad elements are most effective and can improve the performance of all types of campaigns. You can use analytics tools to track UTM parameters as visitors interact with your ad and take action. Re-evaluate, test, and repeat.

7 Eye-catching Facebook ad examples for inspiration

It’s always a good idea to take inspiration from successful ads and use that inspiration to create your own original ads that reflect your brand and messaging. This can help you stand out and differentiate yourself from your competitors.

To take inspiration from successful ads for your campaign, you can follow these steps:

  • Identify the ads that are resonating with your target audience. Look for ads that are getting a lot of attention and engagement, and consider what makes them effective.
  • Analyze the key elements of the ads. Consider the messaging, visuals, and overall creative approach used in the ads that are resonating with your target audience.
  • Determine how you can apply these elements to your ad campaign. Think about how you can use similar messaging, visuals, or creative approaches in your ads, while still maintaining your own brand identity and voice.

Here are some of the best Facebook Ad examples from successful brands for inspiration.

1. P.F. Chang’s

If you’re thinking that this is the modern century and a staple of old-school advertising, sweepstakes won’t work for you then you’re wrong. P.F. Chang used the same old-school strategy to spark a 3x engagement rate to win over entrants, signaling the diversity of Facebook’s platform.

So, what makes this ad work? Giveaways, providing a compelling prize for entrants. Its simple imagery contrasts and the big-ticket prize made it a blockbuster.

2. TaskRabbit