Social media has solidified its position as a major platform for advertisers to connect with their customers. Last year alone, domestic advertising revenue in social media grew an impressive 55 percent, from $7 billion to $10.9 billion, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau. In 2017, eMarketer predicts this number will increase to $15 billion.

The reason for this bonanza? These platforms concentrate a large and diverse audience that is increasingly spending more time wired in. ComScore estimates that nearly 20 percent of total time spent online in the US across both desktop and mobile devices is on social platforms. A recent Pew Research survey highlights that 62 percent of US adults get their news on social media.

Clearly, you want to advertise where your audience is. So if all eyes are on these platforms, the potential for ad revenue is ripe for the picking.

Social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and LinkedIn offer a variety of advertising options. Of course, the question that follows is: Which network should you use? The answer is never cut and dry.

There are a number of factors that play into determining how to leverage social media in your ad campaign. We’ve broken them down below to help you decide which ones fit your needs best so you can get started.

Facebook

No doubt, you’re familiar with Facebook on a personal level. But from a business standpoint, it’s the big kahuna of social media advertising. In the last quarter alone, Facebook generated more than $6 million in advertising revenue, and that number is expected to keep rising. So what good is Facebook to you as an advertiser? Let’s break it down.

Users

Demographics

Facebook is the leading social media site across every demographic.

  • The most common age groups are 25–34 (24 percent) and 18–24 (23 percent).
  • 54 percent of Facebook users are female.

Tips for Facebook advertising

  • Be visual.
  • Showcase a strong value proposition.
  • Match your content with your target audience's need. Facebook has a relevance score that will define how favorably your ad is treated.
  • Include a clear call to action to encourage people to click on your link.

Costs of Facebook advertising

  • For most ads, the minimum amount you can spend per day ranges from $1 to $5.

Pros of Facebook advertising

  • Sheer dominance across all demographics
  • Global reach (big network for potentially going viral)
  • Comprehensive structure to aid brands in advertising

Cons of Facebook advertising

  • High competition
  • Difficult to capture people’s attention
  • Low click-through and conversion rates

*Q3 2016

Twitter

You know Twitter for its classic 140-character posts. For advertising, it takes much of that simple but calculated approach. This is the social media platform of considered intent, where you can reach people who may be participating in conversations around your brand or product category.

Twitter has a few forms of advertising, such as Promoted Tweets, Promoted Accounts and Promoted Trends. Unlike other sites, Twitter’s promoted content is very clearly marked as promoted.

Users

Demographics

You can reach both genders pretty equally on Twitter.

  • 25 percent of men online are on Twitter.
  • 21 percent of women online are on Twitter.
  • The biggest age group is young adults 18–29 (37 percent).

Tips for Twitter advertising

  • Use humorous or more personable tweets to humanize your brand.
  • Consider communicating a specific message when people appear to be in the market for your product or service.
  • Use visual appealing content to stand out.
  • Know the platform’s specific lingo and special characters so you can speak the language of your audience.

Costs of Twitter advertising

Costs vary according to three types of advertisements:

  • Promoted Tweets: between $0.50–$4 per engagement
  • Promoted Trends: $200,000 per day
  • Promoted Accounts: depends on your target but generally between $2.50–$4 per new follower

Pros of Twitter advertising

  • Automatic targeting feature
  • Level of interactivity with your audience through the ads themselves

Cons of Twitter advertising

  • Targeting not always precise and may not be relevant
  • Clutter of posts brings possibility that users may not want to engage with your ad

*Q3 2016

Instagram

If you’re in a creative field or looking to implement a strong ad campaign for an even stronger brand, Instagram may be tremendously helpful.

If you’re planning on sticking a stock photo in there though, you likely won’t find much favor. Instagram thrives on individual expression, so you need to meet people on their level with an equal amount of creative flair.

Users

Demographics

  • The biggest age group is 18–29 (53 percent).
  • 58 percent of users are female.

Tips for Instagram advertising

  • Be highly visual and creative.
  • Curate wisely while remaining authentic.
  • Remember, less is more.

Costs of Instagram advertising

  • Undisclosed, but figures between $350,000 and $1 million have been cited by advertisers.

Pros of Instagram advertising

  • Most popular social media among millennials
  • Ideal for businesses with appealing visual content

Cons of Instagram advertising

  • Visual nature makes it harder for industries outside of fashion or entertainment to be successful on the platform
  • Heavily skewed demographic to younger generations with low purchasing power

*Q3 2016

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the “social media for professionals,” or more aptly, a virtual networking site. The main portion of LinkedIn users here are people looking for jobs, new contacts or industry reports.

You won’t find too many pictures of pugs or GIFs here. This is a site that’s treated as a place of business. Of course, LinkedIn still has personality, but when you’re advertising here, it’s important to stay somewhat buttoned up.

Users

Demographics

  • 31 percent of adults 30–49 use LinkedIn.
  • 30 percent of adults 50–64 use LinkedIn.
  • 59 percent of LinkedIn users are male.

Tips for LinkedIn advertising

  • Focus on the business side of things here.
  • Share value-added content.
  • Get to the point with a strong call to action.

Costs of LinkedIn advertising

LinkedIn offers two bidding options, cost-per-click (CPC), and cost-per-impressions (CPM).

  • $10 per campaign to access Campaign Manager
  • $2 minimum bid for both CPC and CPM

Pros of LinkedIn advertising

  • Not overcrowded with noise from too many advertisers given niche market and purpose of site
  • Unique targeting opportunities due to professional characteristic

Cons of LinkedIn advertising

  • A somewhat less active community
  • Pervasive spam
  • Very expensive CPC

*Q3 2016

Pinterest

Did you ever have a bulletin board as a kid? Well, digitize it, and you have Pinterest, a site for posting things you like from around the internet. Other people can follow and share these boards, which is what makes it social. And for advertisers, that what makes it lucrative.

Users

Demographics

  • 34 percent of adults 18–29 use Pinterest.
  • 28 percent of adults 30–49 use Pinterest.
  • 27 percent of adults 50–64 use Pinterest.
  • 85 percent of users are female.

Tips for Pinterest advertising

  • Show off your merchandise.
  • Keep your creative campaigns focused around one theme.

Costs of Pinterest advertising

  • CPM: about $30
  • Six-month commitment for brands wanting Pinterest’s advertising launch: $150,000 per month

Strengths of Pinterest advertising

  • Great for promoting products, replete with a “buy” button
  • Easy to drive traffic to external sites

Weaknesses of Pinterest advertising

  • Hard to get noticed
  • Difficult to automate

*Q3 2015

YouTube

YouTube is one of the most effective channels for advertising. Every month, people watch 3.25 billion hours of video on YouTube. It’s a friendly platform for creating brand channels as well as an effective tool for what’s known as TrueView advertising.

TrueView creates a win-win situation: Viewers can decide if they want to watch an ad or skip it, while marketers only have to pay when people show some level of engagement.

Users

Demographics

  • 80 percent of YouTube’s views are from outside of the US.
  • YouTube users are 62 percent male.
  • The biggest age groups are 25–34 (23 percent) and 35–44 (26 percent).

Tips for YouTube advertising

  • Be funny if you can or at the very least honest and authentic.
  • Capture people’s attention in the first five seconds.
  • Consider using celebrities (celebrity-driven ads tend to score above average).

Costs of YouTube advertising

  • Average cost-per-view (CPV) when advertising through Google directly ranges between $0.10–$0.30, but this price can be significantly reduced through the right third-party solution.

Pros of YouTube advertising

  • Massive audience and popularity
  • Improves search ranking on Google
  • Viewers who watch TrueView ads 23 times more likely to visit or subscribe to a brand's channels

Cons of YouTube advertising

  • Stiff competition

*Q3 2016

Take the next step

Now that you know the ins and outs of advertising on these platforms, which one do you use? That depends on a number of factors, from your target audience to your total budget. As you make your decisions, stay mindful of the task at hand, and measure your success along the way.

Ligia Aguilhar

Ligia Aguilhar

Ligia Aguilhar is a Content Specialist at Strike Social and holds an MS from Medill. She was born in Brazil and has traveled the world, from Silicon Valley to Seoul, to cover tech.