Where to start with paid ads on social media

Where to start with paid ads on social media

There’s a lot to learn about paid ads on social media. Which channels should you use? Which groups should you target? How much should you budget for your ads?

You could spend hours researching to get answers to these broad questions. Or, you could read on for our essential yet concise intro to paid ads on social media, where we’ll focus on the most popular social ads platform, Meta (Facebook and Instagram advertising).

Here, our Paid Ads Specialist Cara Bousfield shares what you need to know about social media advertising, featuring insights from the podcast episode “Where to start with paid ads on social media”.


Your Facebook and Instagram advertising strategy


Before you get started with setting up your social ads and spending big money, you need to sit down and carefully consider your Meta (Facebook and Instagram) advertising strategy.

The first, and most important, thing to consider is if paid ads on social media is the right focus for your business, and if so, why?



In particular, consider what you want to achieve with these ads. Are you an established business looking to get more sales? Are you a new business wanting to raise awareness of your brand? Are you trying to reach out to new audiences?

Once you’ve established these key elements, you can start to think about the best type of ads to promote your business, products or services. There are a lot to choose from, including static image ads, video ads, Instagram story ads and carousel ads. Explore your options to find which type is best to work towards your specific goals.

Next, you need to think about your Facebook and Instagram advertising targeting. Who do you want to see your social media ads? This will vary drastically from industry to industry, and even business to business. The targeting options available on the Meta platform are really impressive, so you can be quite particular with your ICP (ideal customer profile). It’s essential to have your targeting strategy nailed down before creating your ads.


Thumb-stopping ad creative and copy


Effective paid ads on social media demand impressive visuals that drive action. Your ad will be amongst hundreds, if not thousands, of ads your potential customers see in a day. For it to have any impact, it needs to stand out.


Pooch & Mutt for Underwaterpistol
Image source: Underwaterpistol for Pooch & Mutt


Alongside your ad visuals, you need powerful ad copy and a convincing call to action that encourages users to click through.

How exactly you achieve this is completely dependent on your business and design expertise. If design and copy isn’t something you’re confident in, it might be worth working with an agency to develop thumb-stopping social media ads that get the clicks (and the ROI) you want.


The cost of Instagram and Facebook advertising


One of the most common questions we get from brands who are just starting out with paid ads on social media is: how much should I spend?

You might be unsurprised to hear that the answer to that question is: it depends.



When deciding on your Facebook and Instagram advertising budget, there are a lot of factors to consider, including:

  • How many campaigns do you want to run?
  • Do you want to promote multiple products or services?
  • Are you targeting the country you’re based in, or are you targeting a wider overseas audience as well?
  • Are you targeting a small audience, where you have a specific age range and interest-base, or a wider audience?

When it comes to budget, you need to have enough funds to run your chosen campaigns and target the audiences you want to target. The amount of campaigns and the size of the audience varies massively from business to business, which is why it depends.

But, if that’s not good enough for you, there is also a general rule of thumb that you should aim to spend between 2-5% of your sales revenue on marketing. That should give you a bit more of an idea of how much budget you should dedicate to paid ads on social media.


The increasing popularity of video ads on social media


No introduction to paid ads on social media would be complete without discussing video ads in further detail. As we’ve already mentioned, there are lots of different types of ads that you can run on social media. Video is an option that is becoming more and more popular, and perhaps also more and more effective.

Wherever possible, video ads should definitely be part of your social ads strategy. They’re a great way to connect with your audience as they can tell more of a story about your business, helping your brand stand out against the competition.

Video ads are also a great option for if you’re launching a new product, as they can better show off its features than a written or static ad could.

Multiple studies have proven that consumers prefer video content over static images. For instance, Facebook video ads get 10-30% more views than other ad formats. On Instagram, this number is even more impressive, with video posts and ads getting 38% more engagement than images.

If that’s not a reason to embrace video in your social media ad campaign, then we don’t know what is.


A note on TikTok advertising


Speaking of video, if you’re just getting started with paid ads on social media, you might be wondering if TikTok is worth investing in.

TikTok is the fastest-growing social media platform ever, so it’s an exciting time to experiment with advertising on the platform. ‘Experiment’ is the key word here though, as TikTok advertising is still relatively new and there’s a lot to learn.

Before embarking on a TikTok ad campaign, you need to think about your strategy, content and audience to establish whether it’s the right platform for you. TikTok is typically targeted at a younger audience, and it’s a great place to share playful ads that don’t have a particularly high production value. If this sounds like the sort of thing that would work for your business, then experiment away - and let us know how it goes!


This blog post features insights from "Where to start with paid ads on social media", an episode from our Setup for Lifetime Value podcast series featuring Paid Ads Specialist at Underwaterpistol Cara Bousfield. You can watch the full episode here.


A helping hand from the paid ad experts


Here at Underwaterpistol, we have over 21 years of experience supporting some of the world’s best-known ecommerce brands with stand-out paid media strategies.

With thumb-stopping visuals, inspiring copy and powerful calls to action, we drive high quality traffic to stores, engaging with your potential customers in the right place and at the right time. Talk to us about how we can support your paid ads strategy.


Are you keeping up with your competitors?


Your customers see up to 10,000 (!) ads per day – yours needs to command attention. That's why we’ve packed this free guide with creative advice from our Art Director, Francesca Boyd, our Design Lead, Sara Azmy, and our Copywriter, Zara Kenyon.

We'll reveal the cost-efficient tricks and tactics that elevate your brand across every platform, so you can scale up your ROI and ROAS to achieve your best year yet. 

Download your free copy here!