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Your Guide to Social Media Advertising: On Which Platforms Should You Be Spending Your Money?

social media platforms

Gone are the days when traditional advertising on billboards, radios, and TVs – you name it, was the way to go. But why? The question is, why not? After all, we live in a dynamic world, a world where everything is constantly evolving and transforming –and perhaps digital transformation is the greatest transformation of all.

Advertising in the digital age is often linked to social media platforms and, as a user, whether you’re casually scrolling through your Instagram feed, turning to YouTube for entertainment, or checking the latest news on Twitter, you will most likely stumble upon ads.

What do consumers want from social media ads?

Users who interact with social media ads won’t just click on any ad they see. After all, they’re exposed to ads all the time. Advertising that will engage them should be compelling and relevant to their interests. Otherwise, ads perceived as disruptive or irrelevant can do more harm than good to a brand. That being said, personalized paid advertising is key.

Although organic search is the free and perhaps more convenient option for brands, the odds of making a good profit and standing out without putting some money on the table are quite slim.

Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, and LinkedIn offer a variety of advertising options. From images, creative videos, and sponsored posts to engaging carousels, there’s a plethora of ad types on each platform that advertisers can experiment with.

So, if you have a budget allocated for paid advertising, on which social media platform should you be spending it?

1. Facebook

Thanks to the variety of ad formats, placements and targeting options, advertising on Facebook is second to none.


Before creating an ad, it’s important to know what you want to achieve and choose the right objective. Facebook ads objectives include brand awareness, reach, traffic, engagement, app installs, video views, lead generation, messages, conversions, catalog sales, and store traffic.

The Main Types of Facebook Ads 

  • Images (with captions)
  • Videos – They vary in length and can appear in-stream, in user feeds, or in stories.
  • Messenger – These ads appear between conversations on the Facebook Messenger App.
  • Carousel – These ads can fit up to ten images in which you can showcase products or services.
  • Collection – Through images or videos, these ads showcase multiple products or services on which users can click to make a purchase.
  • Dynamic ads – These ads automatically promote targeted products to people who have shown interest in them.

Targeting Options

Facebook is known for its meticulous level of detail when it comes to targeting audiences. Targeting options include gender, age, location, expressed interests, likes, hobbies, behaviors, and recent purchases.

2. Instagram

Instagram needs no introduction. It would be crazy not to consider this popular platform and experiment with its advertising tools and cool features.


Instagram ads objectives include brand awareness, reach, traffic, app installs, engagement, video views, lead generation, and conversions.

The Main Types of Instagram Ads 

  • Image ads
  • Stories ads
  • Video ads
  • Carousel ads
  • Shopping ads – To run these ads, you need to set up your Instagram Shopping Catalogue
  • Collection ads – These ads are a mix between carousel ads and shopping ads: they showcase products directly from your product catalog.
  • IGTV ads
  • Reels ads

Targeting Options 

Instagram uses the same advertising tools as Facebook. With Instagram ads, your target audience can be dictated by demographics, interests, behaviors, and more.

3. YouTube 

Every month, Youtube receives more than 2 billion logged-in users and processes around 3 billion searches. No wonder it is the second-largest search engine on the internet. Advertising on YouTube is something you should take into account.


YouTube ads objectives include sales, leads, website traffic, product or brand consideration, brand awareness, and reach, as well as app promotion.

Types of YouTube Ads

  • Skippable in-stream ads – Viewers have the option to skip ads after the first 5 seconds. As an advertiser, you only pay when they choose to keep watching past those 5 seconds.
  • Non-skippable in-stream ads (including bumper ads)
  • Video discovery ads (formerly known as in-display ads) – These ads appear alongside organic search results.
  • Non-video ads, including:
  • Display ads – These ads appear on the right-hand sidebar and contain images and text, alongside a CTA.
  • In-video overlay ads – These small banner-like ads pop up while a video is being played.

Targeting Options

  • Age, gender, and location
  • Keywords, topics, and placements
  • Interest targeting and remarketing

4. Twitter 

With over 350 million monthly active users, Twitter is an option you should consider to run ads.PS: it’s very cost-effective!


Twitter ads objectives include reach, website clicks, video views, followers, and website and app conversions.

Types of Twitter Ads

  • Promoted accounts – These ads target users who don’t already follow your account, and appear in the “Who to Follow” suggestions and in search results.
  • Promoted Tweets – These ads allow you to display content ( text, video, or image) to users who do not follow you on Twitter.
  • Promoted Trends – These ads will appear first in the “Trends for you” section, both in the Explore tab and on the timeline.
  • Promoted Polls – Interact with users by promoting polls, which can either appear as a tweet alone or combined with an image or a video.
  • Twitter Takeover
  •  Timeline takeover: Your ad is the first ad a user sees when they open Twitter.
  • Trend takeover: Your ad is placed next to whatever is currently trending under the   Explore tab, and at the top of the Trends list for 24 hours.

Targeting Options

  • Location, age, gender, language, device
  • Online and offline behaviors
  • Event, keywords, followers, retargeting, and list targeting

5. TikTok

When you think of TikTok, you immediately think of that new cool kid on the block who doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. TikTok has become one of the fastest-growing social media platforms ever, and it’s gaining more momentum by the minute– even among older generations.


Ads objectives on TikTok fall under three categories: awareness, consideration, and conversion. They include app installs, video views, lead generation, conversions, catalog sales, and more.

Types of Tiktok Ads

  • In-Feed Ads – These ads appear as the user scrolls through the For You page
  • Brand Takeovers – These ads appear immediately after a user opens Tiktok
  • TopView Ads – These ads usually appear 3 to 5 seconds after a user opens the Tiktok app
  • Branded Hashtags – These ads encourage user engagement and fit in perfectly with TikTok’s unique user-generated-content
  • Branded Effects – These ads include customized filters that users can experiment with

Targeting Options 

With TikTok ads, your target audience can be dictated by demographics, device, interests, behaviors, and more.

6. LinkedIn

LinkedIn Ads are game-changers when it comes to B2B advertising, but this doesn’t mean that they can’t be efficient in a B2C context as well.


  • Brand awareness and name recognition
  • Website visits, engagement, and video views
  • Lead generation, website conversions, recruitment, and job promotion.

Types of LinkedIn Ads 

  • Sponsored Content
  • Single image ads
  • Carousel ads
  • Video ads
  • Event ads
  • Sponsored messaging
  • Text ads – These ads pop up in the right-hand sidebar while users are browsing the platform. Text ads are usually grouped in twos.
  • Dynamic ads – These ads are similar to text ads in their page positioning but are made to better capture the user’s attention: They are displayed on their own and show the user’s name and picture as part of the ad

Targeting Options

In addition to the usual targeting options, you can also segment your audience on LinkedIn based on: company industry, company size, fields of study, degrees, job function, job title, skills, interests, and more.

Which is the best social media platform to advertise on?

Truth be told, there’s no single right answer to this question. All of them can be!

Several factors can help you determine which platform will let you achieve successful advertising:

  • Your goals and objectives
  • Size of the platform
  • Type of audience
  • Types of ads you can run
  • Budget and expenses

Key Takeaway

Choosing the “right” platforms to advertise depends first and foremost on your business type, goals, and resources.

If it’s your first time experimenting with paid ads, start slow and focus on one platform as a trial. Facebook or Instagram are usually good starting points due to their popularity.

If you have a niche target audience, it’s worth experimenting with the social platform they’re most likely to use. For instance, are you trying to engage with a Gen-Z audience?  Then TikTok is worth considering. If you’re more interested in building brand awareness and boosting engagement, try Twitter.

If you create high-quality and compelling visual content, you can try advertising on hubs of creativity such as Instagram, Youtube, or TikTok, depending on which one is best related to your customer base. If you’re in the B2C field, particularly in the fashion, beauty, food, and travel industries, you can also try advertising on such platforms – particularly on Instagram if you use influencers in your marketing strategy.

Alternatively, if you’re a B2B brand, you’re going to find more success on LinkedIn.


It goes without saying, choose what suits your business best! 

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