We understand the aversion some businesses feel when they hear the phrase “social media marketing.”You may know that Facebook has a timeline, Pinterest has boards, and LinkedIn has connections, but apart from that, it all feels confusing.
In an effort to demystify all these channels, this blog is going to break down three popular social media platforms for paid marketing (Facebook, LinkedIn, & Pinterest) and analyze their strengths/drawbacks in ad targeting, reporting, and overall efficacy. The goal? We’ll help you learn more about three of the best social media platforms for marketing and how they can help your business.
Why Use Social Media Ads for Business?
Social media advertising allows a business to reach new audiences that would otherwise be unreachable due to the algorithms behind organic social media posting. Creating unpaid (also called “organic”) posts is great for interacting with your followers, but there’s little chance it will bring in new customers or lead to sales unlike the earlier days of social media.
Some other benefits of social media advertising include:
- Increased brand awareness at a very cheap cost.
- Better data on the demographics and interests of your target audience.
- More traffic is driven to your site (which can potentially increase leads and revenue.)
- Build relationships and give people a chance to engage with (not just see) your ad.
Figuring out how to use social media marketing to grow your business is challenging, but it can have a rewarding payoff. Below we’ll explore what you can do to get started and the unique ad offerings of Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.
How to Start with Social Media
Before jumping in, you first need to learn about the capabilities of each platform and then pick which one best aligns with your marketing goals. Your business type and industry will determine your B2B or B2C marketing strategies on social media.
Some helpful questions to ask yourself are:
- Who is my target audience?
- Which social platforms are they using?
- What kind of social content do they best respond to?
When starting to develop a social media advertising strategy, it’s important to make a plan based on research. But it’s also important to give yourself room for testing, so you can gather data and learn more about who your audience is or isn’t (especially if you can’t answer the questions above). As a part of that planning process, let’s take a closer look at the specifics of these three top platforms.
How to Use Facebook for Social Media Marketing
As the most popular social media platform in the world, Facebook is still one of the best social media platforms for marketing. The benefits of Facebook marketing include:
- Very low-cost advertising options
- Variety of ad formats to use (video, slideshow, image, etc.)
- Great reach with local and global audiences
Let’s take a look below at some of the specific features you can use within their advertising tool.
Facebook Audience Demographics Options
Understanding demographic targeting is crucial to creating a social strategy. It helps you see who your social ads are resonating with and plan out future ad campaigns that are targeted towards the right people.
Through Facebook you can choose:
- Location (specific zip codes, counties, states, or countries)
- Age (18-65)
- Relationship status (single, married, divorced, etc.)
- Education level (high school grad, some college, college grad, masters, etc.)
- Income bracket (top 25%-50%, top 10%, etc.)
- Life Events (just moved, engaged, new job, etc.)
- Household role (parent, etc.)
- Political affiliation (likely to engage in conservative politics, etc.)
The extensive range of specific targeting Facebook offers makes it a prime hub for testing. It also makes it one of the best social media platforms for marketing.
Facebook Interest Targeting
Facebook allows you to further define your audience by allowing you to target users based on their interests, activities, and the pages they “like” related to:
- Entertainment & art
- Brands & publications
- Hobbies & activities
- Fitness & wellness
- Family & relationships
- Food & drink
- Shopping & fashion
- Sports & outdoors
Facebook Behavior Options for Targeting
This option factors into account data collected from users on their device usage, shopping behaviors, or their past intent while interacting on the platform. It allows you to target people with behaviors that fit the following buckets:
- Digital tools used (operating systems, browsers, plugins, etc.)
- Mobile device or browser details (iOS, Android, tablet, etc.)
- Purchasing behavior (for cars, fashion, tech, etc.)
- Media consumption (radio or TV)
- Residential status (homeowner, renter, likely to move, etc.)
- Seasonal events and interests
- Travel profile (business travel, frequent traveler, commuter, on vacation, etc.)
When creating your first Facebook ad audience, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll use all of these targeting options at the same time. It’s best to start simple and tighten your targeting over time based on the data you collect showing who is interacting with your ads.
Facebook’s Reporting Capabilities
Depending on your marketing goals, you can customize Facebook’s ad report columns. However, by default, your Ads Manager table will most likely include:
- Results. This shows the number of times people took action on your ad based on the objective you set it to have: link clicks, page likes, phone calls, leads, etc.
- Cost Per Result. This breaks down how much you spent on each of those results. (Total budget divided by the total amount of results.)
- Reach. The number of unique users who saw your ad.
- Impressions. The total number of times your ad was displayed on a screen (counting any time the same user refreshed your ad as well.)
- Amount. The actual spend of your campaign’s budget within the allotted run time.
- Bid Strategy. How you’re telling Facebook to bid in its auction to show your ad – you can use bid caps or target costs to ensure you don’t eat up your total budget too quickly.
- Attribution Settings. The finite amount of time when conversions are credited to the ad and used to optimize who it shows to in upcoming run time.
- Frequency. How many times a person in your audience is seeing the ad.
*Some of the terms above will be used again below. To avoid redundancy, please reference this list for an explanation of those terms.
Once a campaign finishes, Facebook allows you to download this data into a spreadsheet. You can even customize which metrics you want to include so you’re only looking at the ones that matter to your business.
Looking at this data will help you understand how your audience is responding and adjust your ad targeting or ad creative as needed.
How to Use LinkedIn for Social Media Marketing
If your business is geared towards professionals or companies, LinkedIn could be a great place to focus your businesses’ marketing efforts. You’ll find it has a lot of robust targeting options to help you reach your ideal audience online.
LinkedIn Audience Targeting Options
With LinkedIn Campaign Manager, you can build a precise audience with the following options:
- Demographics (age, gender, location)
- Education (fields of study, member schools, degrees)
- Job experience (job function, job seniority, job title, years of experience)
- Company (company connections, industry, size, or a business’ name, followers, and growth rate)
- Interests and traits (member groups, member interests, member traits)
LinkedIn Forecasted Results
While building your LinkedIn audience, the platform provides an estimated results tool that shows if your targeting is too broad or narrow. This is especially helpful if you’re new to running LinkedIn ads and have no previous data to go off of.
One of the benefits of using LinkedIn for social media marketing is that it shows you which demographics are underperforming while your ad is running. Then you can exclude them during your ad campaign so you see a better performance and spend with your budget. Plus, you have a cleaner audience for future ads.
LinkedIn’s Reporting Capabilities
Similar to Facebook, LinkedIn offers a wide range of data to pull from at the end of a paid campaign. By default, you can access the following metrics:
- Number of clicks
- Click-through-rate percentage (CTR)
- Average cost per click or result
- Number of conversions
- Cost per conversion
- Number of leads
- Cost per lead
- Event registrations
Depending on the goal of your campaign (e.g. brand awareness, conversions, lead generation, etc.) you can customize your view to show the metrics that best indicate success. This data will help you figure out how you can best move forward with future ads.
Want to learn more about LinkedIn advertising? View our guide on LinkedIn Ads which goes more in-depth about ad formats, audiences & more.
How to Use Pinterest for Social Media Marketing
Pinterest allows users to “pin” posts that interest them. This allows an ad’s pin to serve as its own remarketing campaign because users can see a businesses’ pin after the campaign’s initial run.
Businesses that benefit the most from Pinterest ads typically have a visually appealing product or service. For example, the following industries can find a lot of success with Pinterest ads:
- Outdoor builders & home remodelers
- Home & lifestyle businesses
- Retail and fashion companies
- Art and design services
Since Pinterest is primarily used for finding and saving ideas, a kitchen design company is likely to gain more traction on Pinterest than an accounting agency.
Pinterest Targeting Options
Pinterest has a relatively simple targeting interface compared to other social platforms. Your targeting options for ads include:
- Keywords & Interests (this is where an SEO specialist can help)
- Demographics (gender, age, location, device type)
- Placement (main feed browser or search)
Pinterest’s Keyword Targeting
One of Pinterest’s standout features is the ability to add and exclude keywords during your ad setup. Part of this is that its users view Pinterest as a search engine. People log in to search topics like “bathroom remodel with vanity” or “large playset for backyard”.
Compared to LinkedIn and Facebook, Pinterest has a less detailed approach to who you’re targeting. But if you have an active audience there, it can end up being an extremely effective advertising tool.
Pinterest’s Reporting Capabilities
By default, Pinterest offers the following metrics to monitor the performance of an ad:
- Pin clicks (who clicked into the pin to view it)
- Outbound clicks (who clicked the URL in your pin)
- Cost per result
- Click-through-rate (CTR)
While simple, all this data is good quality information that helps you understand how many people are visiting your website or landing page from Pinterest.
Is There a Winner?
So, which of the three covered is actually the best social media platform for marketing? Well, it really depends. Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest all allow you to build and target a relevant audience. They just offer very different types of targeting. Instead of picking which one you think is a winner, you should test which platform is your home run.