What are the best social media platforms for paid ads?

With over 244 million social media users in the U.S. (a whopping 70% of the population) it’s no surprise that social media is vital for businesses. According to a recent study, Statista found that users hang out on social media sites for more than two hours each day.

For businesses looking to engage with social audiences, it’s proven to be a worthy investment. Globalwebinex found that 59% of the population uses a social platform specifically to research products. And The Manifest found that 67% made a purchase after seeing a social media ad.

So, the question isn’t should you advertise on social media – but which sites are best for reaching your audience

Social media for business advertising: Experts say start with Facebook

“When it comes to social media advertising, there is one — and only one — gorilla in the room, and that’s Facebook” says Bob Benz, President of digital marketing agency, Purplegator. 

The numbers back up this opinion. According to the Pew Research Center, 69% of U.S. adults use Facebook and 74% check it daily. So it’s no surprise that Social Media Examiner reports that  93% of social media advertisers turn to Facebook for paid ads. 

“Though some social media sites perform better than others for reaching certain demographics. For example, Instagram is effective for reaching Millennials and Generation Z audiences,” says Benz, “but for targeting women interested in fashion, DIY home decor and cooking, advertising on Pinterest is a winner.”

“Twitter tends to be big with the tech crowd, while LinkedIn is the leader for reaching B2B decision-makers,” Benz adds. “We’ve even had success engaging teens and young adults via Snapchat.” 

Image credit: Pew Research Center

Jessica Romero, Facebook and Instagram ad strategist for Selahlotmarketing adds, “Facebook also rewards advertisers who do their audience-building homework. They like it when you help out their algorithm by filling in the detailed audience section with specific demographics, likes and interests of your ideal audience. This reduces your costs by targeting only interested users, plus it increases your ad relevancy scores and helps your ads appear above the competition.”

Ad relevancy refers to how closely your ad copy aligns with your audiences’ interests. Since social media focuses on delivering value to users, relevancy is key to any successful paid ad campaign. Per-click costs are a driving factor, too. You control these through bidding, which is setting a maximum amount that you’ll pay when a user clicks on your ad.

Speaking of clicks, Facebook also has the lowest average ad costs among top social media sites.

Image source: DigitalMarketing

The timing of your ads also figure into your success. Many social media experts have found that the best time to run Facebook ads is weekdays, between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Particularly, Wednesday tends to be the highest click traffic day on Facebook, while Sunday tends to be the slowest.

Instagram works best for visual brands and Millennials

Instagram is a social media powerhouse boasting over 1 billion active accounts and 500 million daily users. According to Statista, 59% of these users are under 30 years of age and include the  Millennial and emerging Gen-Z populations.

Instagram is a photo and video-driven platform. Unlike Facebook, you can’t post text-only ads. It’s ideally suited for brands banking on visual impact, like fashion, beauty, athletics, personal care, healthy lifestyle, home decor and baby products.

“Beauty-related ecommerce stores and local beauty services like aestheticians, waxing, lashes and cosmetic procedures, tend to do much better on Instagram on Facebook,” says Romero. She also advises Instagram advertisers to “boost their organic results by using relevant hashtags in each post, because users actively seek new products and local services using hashtag search.”

Instagram advertising tends to cost more than Facebook, but it’s the place to reach younger consumers. According to Sprout Social, video ad formats outperform photo ads by 21% and carousel ads by 18%l. One benefit is that Instagram is owned by Facebook – so it’s easy to combine marketing efforts to target audiences across both platforms. 

Instagram users are also more receptive at certain times of the day, reports Social Sprout. Ads posted on Wednesdays at 11 a.m. and Fridays between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m convert the best, while ads running on Sundays get the least attention. 

Twitter reaches all types of local and online prospects

Twitter averages over 326 million people on its platform each month, and WebFX reports that 53% of Twitter users bought a product they discovered on Twitter. Experts say it’s popular with the online tech, gadget and business services crowds, and highly effective for local promotions. 

Twitter ads come in three varieties — promoted Tweets, promoted Trends and promoted Twitter accounts. Promoted Tweets typically combine a pitch or offer, like a coupon, with a call-to-action, like “Shop Now.” Promoted Trends and accounts are helpful in building your Twitter following.

Similar to Instagram, Twitter users rely on hashtags for search and trend-spotting. So if you use Twitter for your business, be sure to add hashtags to boost your ads and organic reach. 

Twitter ads also perform best at certain times of the day. Saturday is the slowest Twitter day, but Tweets sent around 9 a.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays tend to get good engagement.

Use Pinterest paid ads to sell lifestyle and DIY products

The online research group, Comscore reports that Pinterest reaches 83% of U.S. women between ages 25 and 54. This supports Benz’s opinion that “Pinterest ads excel for fashion, home and food-focused marketing that targets women.” 

“Pinterest is the best social media site targeting women,” adds Jeff Moriarty, marketing manager for Moriarty’s Gem Art. “Pinterest paid ads perform well for our jewelry business due to low cost-per-click, high engagement and image-heavy content.”

However, Pinterest reports that 38% of its users are men — specifically dads looking for home and garden DIY. So, if your target market includes men or women who are into DIY, home topics or fashion, Pinterest is worth considering.

It’s an evergreen platform and its paid ads, or “Pins,” are less time-sensitive compared to social media sites that run continual news feeds. Video, photo carousel and buyable pin ads all have staying power 24/7 through Pinterest’s search engine-friendly boards.

Use LinkedIn ads to reach business audiences

LinkedIn boasts over 530 million users and most use the platform for business reasons. Lewis Goldstein, the president of Blue Wind Marketing says “LinkedIn is more expensive than other social media sites like Facebook, but where else can you advertise directly to millions of decision-makers worldwide?” 

You can create several types of ads on LinkedIn and target audiences by professional title, job type, industry and location. LinkedIn says it accounts for 80% of B2B-focused social media leads and over 46% of social media-generated traffic to business websites.

Posts published on Wednesdays between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. and at noon receive the most engagement, followed by Tuesday through Friday, between  8 a.m. and 2 p.m. 

Other social media sites to consider

Social media is an ever-changing landscape and new platforms are always on the horizon. Some additional options to explore include:

  • Snapchat is the realm of Generation Z and these teens will soon be entering the workplace and become active shoppers. 
  • Quora is a social information site that engages 300 million unique people each month.
  • YouTube is officially the most popular social media site built to reach audiences organically through branded videos.
  • TikTok is a fast-growing video-focused platform that lets advertisers engage with Generation Z users via influencers.

Whatever your business online marketing strategy entails, advertising on social media is a necessity. Marketers large and small who embrace this medium will be set to reap the rewards of a growing consumer base.