How to run an effective social media advertising campaign?

Have you noticed organic reach going down on social media?

I’m sure you have.

The best medicine for the drop in reach is to engage your customers in creating content and creating a user-generated content campaign – because social media networks prioritise content shared by people: you and me, not companies.

However, all companies need a robust social media advertising strategy - and paid social will help you to amplify your organic reach too. Paid advertising increases the follower count of your social media accounts and helps you to reach lookalike audiences similar to your current customers. Also, advertising helps you to increase the number of social shares, which increases the site traffic, and which Google is using as one of the hundreds of search ranking signals

How to get started?

Here's how to run an effective social media advertising campaign:

  1. Know your audience
  2. Design the ad content
  3. Plan an advertising flow
  4. Create audience target groups
  5. Measure, iterate and optimise

1. Know your audience

It might sound shocking but creating your social media advertising plan starts with knowing your audience.

What are their dreams and fears? What are the problems they can solve with your product and services?

If you’ve already created and shared content, you will have an idea what type of content resonates with your customers. Your social media management platform will show the (sometimes) ruthless numbers. Google Analytics has a few neat features to help you measure and compare the engagement levels of each article on your site. And if you’ve already done social media advertising campaigns, you’ve seen the analytics dashboards provided by social media channels.

But to tell you the truth, often companies don’t know their audience.

Two (relatively) quick ways to fix that:

  1. Interview your clients and ask them why they decided to buy your product, what problem does it solve for them, and how they felt when using the product for the first time. As a result, you should have authentic phrases emerging from the interviews that potential customers find easy to connect with. At the end of the day, you’d like to attract people similar to your most profitable and loyal customers.
  2. Create a user-generated content campaign and ask your audience to post images showing how they are using the product. You can use social media aggregation tools to gather all the posts in one place and then analyse which pieces of content have the highest engagement, how your customers are describing your product, and what patterns emerge from images. Pick the best images and ask permission from the customer to use that image in social media ads.

Nothing’s more powerful in social media marketing than testimonials from other customers.

An Instagram feed embedded on the website
Hilton Grand Vacations asks customers to share holiday memories with the hashtag #myHGV

2. Design the ad content

The next step is to design the ad content. Facebook provides by far the most extensive selection of ad formats such as text updates, videos, carousels, event ads, and much more.

These ad formats might differ across channels and be continuously evolving, but one thing stays the same: your ad needs to resonate with your target audience. And while user-generated content will help, the copy texts and visuals per ad are key to success.

But isn’t it a lot of work to build a huge number of ad creatives?

Not necessarily.

We’ve been testing a concept by Azriel Ratz, which enables you to create up to 24 different versions of the Facebook ad with just three lines of copy texts and four visuals.

How's that possible?

It’s actually quite simple. On Facebook, an ad with a link includes three copy texts: the post text, the headline, and the description. If you keep each copy text short, you’ll be able to rotate them in your ad. It means that you’ll end up with six variations of the same ad.

An example of a Facebook ad with three short copy texts that can be rotated to create three versions of the same ad.
An example of a Facebook ad with three short copy texts that can be rotated to create three versions of the same ad.

Now, if you add four different images, the total number of variations grows up to 24 ads.

Note that it doesn’t make sense to create 24 ads for one piece of content if your budget is limited and you are planning to advertise multiple pieces of content. However, using this tactic will enable you to create multiple versions quickly and cost-effectively compared to creating completely unique ads. Pick a number of variations that fits your resources and budget.

3. Plan an advertising flow

I’ll admit straight up that I’ve bought products after seeing a Facebook ad.

Maybe it was a discount to a product that I was viewing just before or even something that I hadn’t been thinking to buy, but the images can be appealing - and the ads are cleverly targeted to East London hipsters like me.

But when we at Flockler drive traffic directly to our product pages, the conversion rates are very low. I’m sure many B2B companies feel this.


Plan an advertising flow moving your customers through the sales funnel.

An effective social media advertising plan moves the audience from awareness and interest to desire and action (conversion).

If a potential customer doesn’t know anything about Flockler’s technology and how it enables brands to display social media feeds on the website, it’s not very likely that the person will click an ad promoting our 14-day free trial. We are all on Facebook and other social media channels to entertain ourselves and, let’s be honest, setting up a social media wall can’t compete against the Trump memes.

If you install Facebook pixels on your website, you’ll be able to serve ads in an orchestrated order, starting from an ad that helps you to raise awareness. If a potential customer clicks the link or perhaps views the video, the next time they sign in to Facebook you can serve another ad moving your customers towards conversion.

Here’s an example of an advertising flow for Facebook:

Step 1: Start your advertising flow with a brand-related video (the shorter, the better) and advertise it to a broader audience using detailed interest targeting such as plant-based recipes, dog training, entrepreneurship – or whatever theme you’re all about. Don’t make the video all about you and your services or products; share helpful content aligned with your brand.

If you don’t have a video, use a piece of content that’s relatively easy to read and beginner level.

Step 2: Create a target group from the people who’ve watched 25% of your video (one of the cool features of Facebook Ads Manager). If you are a B2B business, I’d recommend sharing a more advanced piece of content after the entry-level content. If you have a consumer product, create a carousel ad that showcases the benefits of your product from customers’ point of view. Authentic user-generated content will improve the effectiveness and conversion rates of your advertising.

Step 3: By using Facebook Pixel (needs to be installed before Step 2) create a Custom Audience of people who have visited your website. Then create a Lead Form Ad to provide an exclusive offer or downloadable material, and gather email addresses.

Note! The Custom Audience needs to reach a certain size before you can use it for advertising. Add a few pieces of content to grow your list of visitors before moving to Step 3.

4. Create audience target groups

Now that you have variable copy texts and flow in place, the next step is to use the tools provided by social media channels to create Custom Audiences.

Facebook and Instagram are by far the most advanced channels and here are examples of target audiences you can create to increase the effectiveness of your advertising:

  • Audience 1: A lookalike audience based on the existing fans of your Page
  • Audience 2: People who’ve watched 25% of your previous videos
  • Audience 3: People who've engaged with you on Instagram or visited your profile
  • Audience 4: People who've visited your website in the last 30 days.

The list is endless - and Facebook is bringing in new features weekly. One of the best ways to stay up to date on the latest development is subscribing to podcasts of Rick Mulready and Buffer.

On X (formerly Twitter), try the so-called 'follower look alikes' (Audience Features settings). It enables you to target followers (and lookalikes) of specific accounts. To give you an example, we’ve targeted our influencer marketing articles to the followers of Amy Porterfield. Most of her followers are marketers - and they are likely to be interested in the questions we cover on our blog.

On LinkedIn, I’d recommend targeting ads based on skills, as that’s something that a LinkedIn user can add to their profile and feel they are good at. It's highly likely that they'll be interested in learning more about the same topic.

5. Measure, iterate and optimise

Now that we’ve talked about targeting, it’s time to pull the rug under your feet. If the content doesn’t work, even the most effective targeting is useless. Social media advertising is based on auction pricing, which means that your content is competing with other ads targeting to reach the same audience.

A rough estimate is that you should spend 60% of your time to plan and create ads - and 40% to iterate and optimise.

In addition to multiple variations of the same ad and advanced tools like Facebook’s Dynamic Ads, the beauty of social media advertising is that it can be modified in real-time. Vary between shorter and longer, humorous and serious, formal and fictional. If your ad seems to be lacking in reach, try broadening the target group. If the number of link clicks is low, try changing the headline.

Be creative. Measure. Learn.

With Flockler, you can gather and display social media feeds from your favourite channels. See the full list of supported content types and sources

Flockler helps marketers like you to create social media feeds and display user-generated content on any digital service. Keep your audience engaged and drive sales.

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