Social media advertising - is it worth it?

Social media is supposed to be free, right? Isn’t good social media simply creating engaging content and watching it go viral? Why then would you want to pay for social media advertising?

What is social media advertising?

Social media advertising comes in many forms. There are three main types of advertising:

  1. boosting a specific post 
  2. digital display advertising 
  3. remarketing

Boosting a post

On a crowded platform with a lot of accounts making a lot of ‘noise’, boosting a post can be a great way to increase reach and engagement. Boosting tends to work best when you already have an established following and can also help when algorithm changes are impacting on your engagement rate. It’s quick and easy to setup and allows you to see how well a post is performing before you decide whether to boost it or not.  

Digital display

Social media advertising is not limited to simply paying to promote your existing social media content. Image, video or carousel adverts can be created, which are displayed in a user’s news feed and link back to your social channels or website. There are estimated to be around 2.77 billion social media users worldwide, so using social media channels as an advertising platform to raise brand, product or company awareness is a no brainer. With careful targeting this can be a fantastic way for new brands to build awareness.


You should have clearly defined goals and conversion objectives for your website (if not, what’s the point of it?), whether it’s ecommerce or not. If a website visitor fails to convert, remarketing allows you to remind them of the product, service or page they were viewing and encourage them to continue through your conversion funnel.

Remarketing can be setup across website display adverts as well as social media channels, but with the average adult spending over two hours a day on social media, remarketing via social channels may well be your best and quickest route to your target market.

User information

Where social media really comes into it’s own is through audience targeting. When we set up a social media profile we typically provide the platform with a huge amount of personal information including:

  • age
  • gender
  • relationship status
  • location
  • job role

Furthermore, depending on how active an individual is on any specific platform (and the way they post and engage with content), additional information can be included, such as:

  • hobbies and interests
  • frequently visited places
  • current location 
  • likelihood of having children (and their ages!)
  • specific lifestyle traits e.g. vegan, gluten free

User’s content use even makes it possible for social platforms to gauge whether a user is moving house soon, or researching a holiday and whether that holiday is a 5 star cruise or camping weekend!  

All of this collected data is accessible (anonymously) to advertisers via audience targeting criteria. Providing you really know your existing and potential customers, you can deliver highly targeted, highly effective social media adverts.

Nigel ReeceManaging Director

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