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Paid Social Media Ads and How to Choose The Best Platform

It seems like the path to business success is paved on social media. Despite the mixed feelings many people have about these platforms, they can’t seem to stay away. More importantly, what they see on social media is affecting how they spend their money. About 35% of all US consumers and 50% of Gen Z consumers say paid social has influenced their purchasing decisions.

Meanwhile, the social media landscape is growing. It’s not just Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter anymore. Now we have Instagram, TikTok and more on the horizon. Not to mention YouTube, which isn’t quite social media but does account for a massive share of online video views. All offer paid social media ad opportunities alongside organic posting options.

With so many platforms to choose from, the biggest challenge is making sure you’re spending money in the right places. You want a positive return on investment, but how do you decide which channels to invest in? 

We’ll walk you through your options for different social media platforms. Before we talk about those, we need to lay some groundwork. 

Go Organic Before Attempting Paid Social

Paid social media ads can be a powerful way to promote your videos, but there are challenges. Learning to use the various ad platforms can be overwhelming and paying someone to do it for you can be expensive. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use paid social, but it does mean you should make sure you’re really ready before you jump into social media advertising.

Start by maximizing your organic marketing strategy. Most people consume multiple pieces of content before they make a buying decision. If you only have one video, even if it’s an amazing video, you’re unlikely to convert the customer. This alone is enough of a reason to get your organic social media in order before you buy ads.

So consider these other two reasons a bonus:

  • Organic marketing is less expensive than paying for ads
  • Having a good organic social media following provides social proof to leads

Let’s assume you’ve already built out your social media profiles, invited all your existing customers to follow you, and established a strong content pipeline. Now we can start building a strategy.

What is the goal of your paid social video? 

As we’ve written before, you can make video content for each stage of the customer journey. Ultimately, your goal is to turn viewers into customers, but you may have more focused goals for each piece of content along the way. 

Paid social campaigns typically break down into one of three goals:

  1. Brand Awareness: You want your video to reach as many people as possible to tell them what you’re offering and how it can meet their needs. This is a smart goal if your business is new or not yet well known. In fact, without brand awareness, the other goals are harder to reach. 
  1. Driving Traffic To Your Website: You want people to visit your website so they can access more content or explore your offer. This is a smart goal if you already have good brand awareness. If you make your video and your offer interesting enough, this goal is attainable. Just make sure you have a strong call to action built into your video so viewers know what to do next. 
  1. Lead Generation: You want people to sign up for a webinar, subscribe to your content, or request more information. This can be a hard sell on social media since your ads are being served to people who might not know who you are. They may be focused on consuming the content they came to see and consider your video a distraction or even an annoyance. 

You can overcome this barrier by getting really specific with ad targeting. Make sure you know exactly who should see your video, then place your ad in front of these people. 

Who Is Your Audience?

three women gather around a laptop to watch a video on social media

Hopefully, you spent some time figuring out who your audience is before you made your video. Now is the time to revisit those profiles. Consider what you know about your audience to figure out which social media platforms they’re likely to spend time on. 

Take a look at: 

  • Demographics: The youngest audiences are on TikTok, the oldest are on Facebook. LinkedIn users tend to have higher incomes. Use demographic information to guide your ad choices.
  • Where your are competitors advertising. Their audience likely overlaps with yours, so noticing where they spend their ad dollars can help you allocate yours.
  • Where you already have engagement. Remember when we talked about organic social? If you already have an audience on a platform, it might just be a matter of finding more of them.

Most social media platforms have robust targeting tools. The better you understand your audience, the more useful these tools become. Use insights from metrics and targeting tools to strategically place video ads.

What’s Your Budget? 

Paid social channels generally run on a bidding system. You’re not placing your ad in a specific location, instead, you’re choosing an audience and bidding on the chance to show your ad to a member of that audience. The stated goal of your video, combined with your targeting strategy and the length of your campaign will determine total campaign spend.

The most common costing models for social video advertising are: 

  • Cost-Per-View (CPV) – Cost of the ad divided by the number of views
  • Cost-Per-Click (CPC) – Total cost of your clicks divided by the total number of clicks
  • Cost-Per-Mille (CPM) – Total spend, divided by impressions, multiplied by 1,000

Paying attention to these metrics can help you understand how well your ad is performing. It’s usually a good idea to have a target range for at least one of these metrics before you start a campaign. That way you can tell whether you’re achieving a positive return on your investment.

If your campaign goal is awareness, you’ll want to pay attention to cost per view. If website traffic or lead gen is your goal, then cost per click is a more relevant metric.

Facebook & Instagram 

Facebook and Instagram are both owned by Meta and their advertising is integrated across both platforms. When you run an ad, you can choose to run it on either platform or on both.

Facebook is still the big player among social media platforms with 2.93 billion monthly active users in 2022. Since Facebook includes such a broad range of users, this platform is a good choice if your goal is brand awareness. It’s also a smart place to start for brands that have broad appeal or serve a wide demographic market.

The average Cost Per Click of Facebook ads was about $0.97 across all industries in June 2022. Keep in mind that this is an average. Your actual cost could be much higher or much lower.

Instagram is smaller (but still huge) with about 1 billion monthly active users. More than two-thirds of that audience is 34 years old or younger. If you’re marketing to young professionals or new adults, this might be the right platform for you. 

Keep in mind that average CPC for Instagram ads tends to be higher than for Facebook. The average as of June 2022 was $1.37 per click

Video ads in Facebook can show up in-feed, between organic videos from other creators, on the marketplace, or on stories. On Instagram, video ads can show up in-feed, on stories, in reels, or on the explore page. You can choose to show your ads in all of these places, or pick and choose the ones that fit your content.


Because LinkedIn is a professional community, their audience tends to be older and have more disposable income. Although LinkedIn technically has only about 66.8 million monthly active users (in the U.S.), it’s a wealth of opportunity for B2B marketers. Many business decision makers spend time on the platform, and users are likely to welcome content that supports their professional goals.

Ads are also more expensive on LinkedIn. You can expect a cost per click around $5.58. One benchmarking site found that CPC varies by job title of the target audience. For example, the CPC is lower if you’re targeting education professionals and higher if you’re targeting IT.

You’ll get the best return on your investment if you’re meticulous about targeting. Our guide to LinkedIn Video Marketing will walk you through the essentials.


Twitter is a unique platform. It’s much smaller than Facebook and Instagram but doesn’t offer a focused audience like LinkedIn. Even so, they’re a great choice if you have an app you’d like people to download. 

Why? Because Twitter is like a personal injury lawyer, you only pay them if you achieve your objective. If your goal is to get people to install an app, you only pay per install. Your cost depends heavily on the goal that you choose.

Other goals for Twitter ads include:

  • reach
  • followers
  • engagements
  • website traffic
  • video views.

Their targeting options are interesting too. You can target people based on specific keywords or hashtags they’ve used recently. It’s a way to make sure that the people who see your ad are interested in what you have to say. 

Twitter is still predominantly text focused, although you can share photos and videos there. They support both promoted ads and in-stream pre-roll ads. Keep your ads as short as possible, because Twitter is a fast-paced platform. 


TikTok may be the new kid on the social media block, but they’ve already changed the scene. The platform hit 1 billion monthly active users in 2021. It’s grown far beyond its roots as a place for young people to post dance challenges and lipsync videos. But TikTok still skews young. About 42% of the audience is between the ages of 18 and 24. If you want to reach younger audiences, TikTok may be the platform for you. 

Besides in-feed ads, marketers can also select brand takeovers (ads that appear when users first open the app), top view (ads that take the place of the first video in the For You feed), branded effects, and branded hashtag challenges. 

Cost for these different ad types vary, but you can expect to pay around $10 per 1,000 impressions for in-feed ads. All other ad types are much more expensive. You’ll need at least a five figure budget to get started. 

That might be part of the reason so many marketers are partnering with influencers to get their brand in front of more users. 

Jumping into paid social media might seem daunting, but your video has probably been a significant investment – to get your money’s worth, you also need to invest time and resources in getting it viewed.

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